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Helmet-clad racers speeding around on mountain bikes is about the last thing you’d expect to find on the grounds of a Buddhist temple, but that’s exactly what you’ll see at Katsuo Temple this November.

The Red Bull Holy Ride, coming up on its third year, is a downhill bike race through some of Japan’s sacred sites. This year, the event will take place at Katsuo Temple in Minoh City, Osaka on November 3. Racers will speed across the hundreds of steep steps leading up to the temple and make their way through tight turns. Here are a few photos from the 2010 race:

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The Red Bull Holy Race has taken place at two other sacred locations across Japan: Iwashimizu Hachiman-gū, a Shinto shrine in Kyoto, and Ishizuchi Temple in Ehime Prefecture. Since the events took place at actual Shinto shrines, the racers were blessed by a priest before the race began.

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This year marks the third Holy Ride sponsored by Red Bull, but is the first to take place at a Buddhist Temple. This year, the race is limited to 100 experienced mountain bikers and watching is free on the day of.

Pictures and words are great, but you really have to see the Holy Race to fully appreciate how steep and bumpy of a ride participants have to go through:

It totally shatters your idea of a nice, peaceful temple visit, doesn’t it?

Source: IT Media
Images: YouTube (donut magazine)