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March is a time of looking ahead. The world goes quiet in anticipation of the celebration of life that is spring, and it is almost as if you can sense nature holding its breath just a little bit. And in the world of mountain biking, we're all done with the preliminaries too. The days are getting longer and warmer, the rain and snow are struggling to keep us from claiming back our trails. Geometries have been tweaked, layups tinkered with, components have been upgraded and the wheels have grown a size, and just like that, we find ourselves on the eve of the first World Cup of the season. But before the madness starts up again, take this opportunity to look back at the excellent mountain bike buffet that was March - if you didn't have time to sample all the starters when we served them up, grab a plate of Best Of and pop it in the microwave, this stuff is what all leftovers should taste like. But save some room, April will bring the entrees, and you know the menu will be supersized. We're still holding our breath, just a little bit...

Vital MTB Power Rankings

We've had an off-season full of rider, team, and wheel size news, but all the gossip goes mute when the start gate goes beep in South Africa for the first World Cup DH of 2014 on April 10. New for the 2014 season, we were stoked to introduce the Vital Power Rankings, a time travel machine that attempts to look into the future and predict how each upcoming race will pan out. Since there are as many opinions as there are race fans, the first ever ranking didn't please everyone - but fear not, in another few days our predictions will be replaced by actual results and we'll point our crystal ball at round 2 in Cairns. Maybe we'll get it "right" then?

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First Ride: Guerrilla Gravity Megatrail

In a day and age where most manufacturing, welding, and assembly happens in the Far East, it is quite refreshing to see the inner workings of a more homegrown operation like Colorado-based Guerrilla Gravity. These guys are building the bikes they would want to ride, and they're doing it all in-house. Their designs may appear simple, but if the devil is in the detail the Megatrail should probably come with pentagram stickers, given the impression it left on us after our exclusive first ride.

Deceptively simple, convincingly good.

2014 Australian National Mountain Bike Championship Downhill Race

If you don't win the World Cup or the World Champs, there's still one way left to get a special jersey for the upcoming race season, and that is to win your national championships. Troy Brosnan and Tracey Hannah did just that, and will get to wear the coveted jersey sleeve for the remainder of 2014. Check out all the action as it went down - is this a sign of things to come for the Aussie pinners?

Winter is summer when racing down under.

First Look: SRAM's 7-Speed X01 DH Drivetrain

SRAM has been very busy launching new products over the past few months, and downhillers have not been left wanting. In addition to the radically improved BoXXer, SRAM also introduced a DH-specific version of its X01 drivetrain. Taking all the benefits of "XX1 technology" and adapting it for modern gravity warfare has created a drivetrain that is quiet, secure, and offers an optimized gear range with more clearance at the crank. Check out all the details in our First Look feature.

Less is more - everything you want, nothing you don't.

2014 Oceania DH Championships

This year it was the Kiwis' turn to hold the Oceania MTB Championships and a newly-renovated track at Mt. Hutt, just outside of Christchurch, was the venue. With locals like Sam Blenkinsop and a freshly-healed Cam Cole keen to show their wares for the upcoming World Cup season, it was set to be a rad race. Brook MacDonald had a new bike and made the trip, as did the Masters brothers, Wyn and Eddie. All that was left to do was hope Cyclone Luci wouldn't throw a tantrum...

Cyclone Luci does Christchurch.

Bike Checks

Hope Team Green goodies on Drew Carter's Santa Cruz Bronson race bike -  simple, sweet, and Bike of the Day on March 27. All the Bike Checks can be found HERE, and if you didn't share your bike yet - add it HERE.

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ONE LAP: Brandon Semenuk & Crew in Mexico

Brandon Semenuk rips the downhill trails just like he does the slopestyle course. Check out this super pinned DH run down what is essentially a river re-purposed as a trail with Luca Cometti, Jason Schroeder and John Keep, somewhere near Tijuana Mexico. Pinned and sketchy!

A river runs through it.

2014 Vital Test Sessions

We rolled out a bunch more Test Session reviews in our quest to help you choose the perfect trail bike for 2014. While it will always be a question of different strokes for different folks, the cream is definitely rising to the top by now. Check out all the reviews to date and find out which bikes made an impression on our test team.

We got rowdy rallying the Rallon - and we got richly rewarded!

Cam McCaul vs Tyler McCaul - Vital MTB's Wheel of Fortune

Cam McCaul and Tyler McCaul go head-to-head in Vital MTB's newest challenge, Wheel of Fortune. $100 is up for grabs as the wheel determines the tricks these dirt jumpers must perform. It's pure comedy, full of banger tricks and features special guest host, Jack Fogelquist. Who will take the win?

Step up, step up - spin the wheel and try your luck!

Tested: All-New 2014 Intense Tracer T275 Carbon

Designed from the beginning as a purpose-built Enduro and all-mountain slayer, the new Tracer T275 Carbon is the next evolution of an already popular machine. Not only does it feature a full carbon frameset, but Intense took the opportunity to update several key features from the aluminum Tracer 275 predecessor. In addition to 10mm more travel, the bike has more aggressive geometry with a full 1-degree slacker head angle, 0.5-inch longer wheelbase, increased standover, and comparable top tube/reach measurements. By moving to carbon Intense dropped nearly 2.2-pounds (1kg) of weight. We were lucky enough to get to rally one for a couple of months, and we came away smiling.

If this isn't Intense we don't know what is.

Vantage Point

We see lots of great shots from all our members on a daily basis, but some stand out. Sean St. Denis captured this unique angle of Roy getting all upside down and twisted, and it was our Daily Shot on March 14. If you want your shots to be considered too, upload them HERE.

Upside down AND sideways - it looks even scarier from way up here!

Around the Web

Totally awesome stuff we found on the internet...

Redemption - Dustin Schaad Exorcises His Rampage Crash Demons

Dustin Schaad is one lucky guy. He took what was one of the gnarliest crashes we've ever seen at Rampage 2013, and he walked away from it with a sprained wrist and a sprained ankle - that's pretty light fare given that he essentially fell off a building and ragdolled down an exposed cliff face. Well, not only has he recovered, but he's gone back to the line in question and nailed it. Sweet redemption! After you check out the video below, revisit the horrifying crash as it happened.

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

CHRISCROSS - Chris Akrigg Does Cyclocross

Chris Akrigg discovers a new form of biking and proceeds to dominate it as thoroughly as anything else with 2 wheels he rides. Cyclocross riders better hope he doesn't start showing up to races!

We still don't get cyclocross, but we'll watch Chris ride anything with two wheels all day long!

Jonty Neethling Pre Season Summer

The younger Neethling has style for miles and the skills to pay the bills. Making the most of South Africa's summer, Needles Junior takes you for a pinned run down his home trails followed by a little smooth operator dirt jumping action. Rad!

Threading the needle.

Enduro Is Going Downhill

Just when we thought everybody agrees that mountain bike riding is now to be referred to as "Enduro", along comes Bas van Steenbergen to up the game and attempt to rewrite the dictionary definition of the E-word once again. At the end of the day, call it what you like, this is pure shred and we'll gladly have a second helping!

The only word we know for this is shred.

Getting Loose with Loosedog

After watching this video, you'll see why Josh Lewis is nicknamed "Loosedog." Full tilt down the mountain, getting launched all cattywampus - just another day for the Loosedog!

Team Loose on the prowl.

Sending St Maxime with Team Commencal

This looks like just about as much fun as you can have on a bike! Cam Cole, Remi Thirion, and one of the Ruffin brothers jump and rail their way down a pretty awesome-looking run in St. Maxime in the South of France. A lot of love went into building and maintaining this track that much is for sure.

Sea, Shred, and Sun in the South of France.

Rallying the Intense Tracer T275 with Bernat Guardia

There's launching a bike, and then there's launching a bike. Bernat Guardia wasted little time getting the new Intense airborne, and by the looks of it, he got real comfy real quick. The Spanish pinner is always a delight to watch, and there's something extra exciting about sending it with trail bikes.

Gotta love sausage trail dogs!

Magnus Manson Rallies the Coast Gravity Park

Last time we heard a Canadian teenager talk about conquering the World Cup, it ended up in a Chainsaw Massacre. Only the future will tell how far Magnus Manson can go, but one thing is for certain - the kid knows how to ride a bike!

Live your dream, don't dream your life!

Best of Vital will return next month!

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