As the year grew longer I personally became pulled into the MTB scene after a far too long absence of interest.
I loved the MTB scene in the 90's and early 2000's while following the progress of Cadel Evans and Mary Grigson as they went from race to race. The vibe around the sport feels the same today as it did then. Big things are happening, particularly in Australia.
The dirt disciplines are (re) presenting as something fresh in comparison to the road scene, bedevilled as it is by the twinned issues of imperfect governance and doping.
It's not that MTB doesn't also struggle with those problems, for example, it remains to be seen how effectively Cycling Australia (CA) manages MTB now that it has full control of the reins.
The Marathon scene shows just how strong MTB is at the grassroots, but the question remains, can that mass participation be converted into even greater success, particularly at the elite level?
There is also some tension between established marathon event promoters and CA but I think that's a good thing. Competition keeps everyone on their toes.
That grassroots strength also means MTB appears to be more focussed on the racing. Less politics plus dirt and flowy trails equals more fun. Who knew?
Chateaux and scenery are nice ways to kill time over a six hour road stage but so is a bash through a rock garden in the bush and communing with nature.
Here are my five best MTB moments of 2013.
1. The rise of Australian Olympic Cross Country (XCO) with the success of Dan McConnell and Bec Henderson
We already know the exploits of both riders, a WorldCup round victory and second overall for McConnell while Henderson also picked up two wins on her way to claiming the under 23 title. Both riders will be looking for a similar success in 2014 and the hope is that they will spur on a younger generation of riders to give XCO a serious look.
2. WorldCup rounds and a world championship awarded to Cairns Queensland
This announcement coincided with the rise of McConnell and Henderson and signalled a return to the pre-2000 glory days for Australian MTB. Cairns will host WorldCup rounds in 2014, 2016 and a World Championship in 2017. It's like 1996 all over again.
3. Caroline Buchanan
There isn't much else to say about Buchanan that hasn't already been said, but Australia's Queen of the Dirt became Australia's Queen of Cycling, taking home the 'Oppy'. A rare win for a woman let alone someone who specialises in BMX, Downhill and 4-Cross. It was a clear boost for those who like their tyres fat and knobby.
4. The consistency of our gravity gods
While XCO was languishing of the global stage for a decade, our downhillers kept the flag flying. Overall victories may have been thin on the ground in 2013 there wasn't a race where an Australian wasn't in the mix. Mick Hannah, Troy Brosnan and Sam Hill were all in the top-ten at the end of the season, while Tracy Hannah rebounded from an injury riddled season to finish 11th and junior rider Dean Lucas finished fourth.
5. The Enduro World Series
Run outside the aegis of the UCI the Enduro World Series cohesively presented this relatively new discipline to the world. Enduro is designed to showcase the all round skills of a rider and missed by most of us was the performance of Jared Graves who finished second overall. Time will tell but Enduro may represent the future of the sport.