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7/21/2010 11:19 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/22/2010 9:30 AM

So we have all seen the story about Griz and heard so many stories at this point of all the serious injuries at Sol Vista. So I have to ask the question. Who at USA Cycling is inspecting these courses before they are raced on? I have heard that they really don't. So my first question is why, and my second is when? Is someone going to lose their life before action is taken?


7/21/2010 11:25 PM

All the stuff at sol vista was well built i think people were just pushing it because it was nationals so more people crashed


7/22/2010 8:47 AM

Yeah, that would suck if some person were to "loose" their life. Maybe by then medical science will have come up with a way to "tighten" their life.

To my knowledge, USAC takes a cursory glance at the mountain cross and downhill tracks and goes over the cross country stuff with a fine tooth comb. Only after enough bmx-crossover weeners or whatever complain about a mountain cross course will USAC demand a change be made. And if dangerous features on the downhill track have go-arounds then USAC seems to not care about that too much either.

The reason riders got hurt at national champs is because this sport is dangerous and racers are pushing themselves at a big event like that. It has nothing to do with the safety of the course construction. The landings are big, the berms aren't moving, and there isn't deadfall, tree stumps, and re-bar sticking out in the middle of the courses. The tracks there are only as dangerous as you make them which is true of just about anywhere- even public land/open space trails.


7/22/2010 9:33 AM
Edited Date/Time: 10/4/2011 5:11 PM

Sorry but many of the people that got hurt are friends of mine. Not really talking so much about the pro course but the Am course. Many thought that it was a bit over the heads of Cat 2-3 riders. Yeah I know this sport is dangerous I've been doing it for over 15 years now. WE still need more oversite in my opinion.


7/22/2010 9:52 AM

i know that on the pro course there was re-bar and stumps. the stumps were fine but the re-bar on the outside of the turn was a little sketchy. i think the worst over site was not padding certain trees. on the outside exit of the hip jump there was a tree, which was unpadded, which i saw and heard about a ton of people hitting, including me. i think just padding a couple commonly hit trees would have saved a bunch of people from being injured.


7/22/2010 10:00 AM

Trust me folks I've done a week of looking into this. They (USA Cycling) looks more at the XC course than they do the DH and MTX track.


7/22/2010 10:05 AM

Any exposed re-bar comes from dipshit spectators cutting under the tape to cross the course and not replacing the pvc poles that cover the re-bar. Luckily that kind of thing tends to get spotted quickly and is an easy fix for people paying attention.

You can ride down The Stranger on a trail bike. People getting hurt last weekend is a result of them pushing themselves. It would be nice if USAC did more than just glance up the hill from the xc finish line and say "Yeah, that's a downhill track over there" but I reckon if anything needs more oversight it's just us, the riders, checking ourselves before wrecking ourselves.


7/22/2010 10:22 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:19 AM

Kiran wrote:

i know that on the pro course there was re-bar and stumps. the stumps were fine but the re-bar on the outside of the turn was ...more

Well, now they know which trees to pad Wink
I'd be willing to bet that all of the crashes were due to rider error or poor bike setup this past weekend (including mine), not course construction. The jumps were spaced correctly, lips were shaped well, rocks were painted, etc etc.


7/22/2010 12:24 PM

Course construction was not the issue in just about every case. The only exception in my mind being the "big doubles" on the AM track, they were too small. The run in was the same as it was last year for jumps which were twice the size, which lead to massive amounts of over jumping.

Completely agree that in reality it all comes down to rider error. If you're not sure you can ride something, then don't.

Wild Bill ask yourself what "They" need to oversee. A cry for safety oversight will not bring safety, it will bring useless rules and regulations. To quote some jackass comedian "you can't fix stupid".


7/22/2010 1:45 PM

Of course it's "rider error." But you have to keep this in mind when building gap jumps. Sol Vista is built with a lot of love, but the fact of the matter is the place makes you push yourself. The features are very--er...--progressive. I think many would agree that, considering the progressiveness of the place, some larger case points or bridges in between lips would be welcome. Myself and several of my friends have had hospital visits after going for some the jumps there.

Sure, you can tell people to "harden the f up," "pedal," "commit," whatever, but when you're hittin' these things for the first time (or second or third), rider error happens. If we're going to "try to fix stupid" we should all stop hitting these jumps. Go ask someone who doesn't ride gravity if hitting gap jumps is "smart." "To err is human."

Compare the list of Flight for Life and ambulance trips to a regular MSC race and I think everyone would agree that the number was higher. Sol Vista is high consequence. Like I said, it's built with a lot of love and I respect that, but it's a daunting place to try to ride pinned.

I think Wild Bill brings up a good point when it comes to tracks that are open to the public.


7/22/2010 2:10 PM

Larger case points, maybe. Bridges between gaps- no way. If you effectively make it a table like that then you're going to give people false confidence and hacks that shouldn't be rolling over lips will still be getting bucked and crashing. The looks of a big gap jump is the primary filter feature of them. If you can't look at a 25 foot gap without shitting your pants, then you should know not to try hitting it.

First time hits- get some one within your reach of ability to tow you in. It's worked for me on the things that I have jumped there. And I know what I shouldn't bother hitting. Of all the things I could have beefed it on up there, a mistimed bunny hop over a log is what has caused my worst injury in 12 years of mountain biking. That could have happened on any trail.

The courses are tough but controlling your speed for a jump or steep or loose section is part of the race. Sometimes you have to slow down to win.


7/22/2010 4:07 PM

I think Wild Bill brings up a dangerous point when it comes to capping creativity and progression in the name of safety. Especially when calling for oversight from a governing body that does not have the first understanding about the intricacies of our sport. Our sport has come a long way in the 20-30 years of its existence, I remember not too long ago the idea of jumping a mountain bike was considered crazy by those with in the sport, we have moved on.

As far as asking some one that does not ride... of course they think it is stupid otherwise they would ride. That was not the point of my comment. The point is that people, especially in this country, have increasingly begun to cling to the idea that there is someone out there who is going to magically determine the definition of what is a good idea for them. This is apparent with many of the modern laws in this country.

Gnar, I'm sorry to hear about your hospital trips. I to have had many a hospital trip resulting from my decisions in this sport. When you pick yourself up off the ground who do you blame? Was it the bike's fault, the jump's fault, the rock's fault, the line's fault, the hill's fault, the wind's fault, OR was it your fault for choosing to be there and try. I don't want to come off obtuse, it is just that responsibility for one's own actions must be taken.


7/23/2010 7:22 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:19 AM

Here's what I think is funny. In my first post I never blamed the jumps or track construction. Most of you start to go off on a tangent about exactly that. That Is not what I am talking about here. I think a few of you know what I'm talking about.

In other forms of racing I have been involved with (Motorcycle Road Racing, DH, and now Air Racing we have a few folks that set the standard for run off areas, or where hay bails are placed. In my opinion DH needs that. Not someone to oversee track design, but more to minimize injuries when someone does do something "stupid".

Best example is Moto GP. Every year those bikes get faster, and are now reaching speeds of over 200mph. At some point after 2000/2001 or so the speeds led to many fatalities. Run off area standards were changed and the invention of the "air wall" has really made a difference in how many riders were being injured or killed. Not saying we need to have 150 feet of gravel run off for each turn or an air wall on every tree. Just an official that walks a track that says I would like to see more padding on that tree or could you get the trail crew over here to trim this stump in this landing down a bit.

Another couple of things we also need to think about. Racing at Big Bear is done because of an injured rider, an exposed rebar, and a good lawyer. So we have a closed judicial case that set a president that could be used against another promoter or ski resort in the event of an accident. Yet in the 5-6 or so years since most still use rebar because it's cheep. All it will take is someone else to get hurt in the same way and their lawyer is going to have a field day with yet another law suit. Like it or not people love to sue in the U.S.

As I said above safety needs to go hand in hand with progression. Our equipment such as helmets and things such as a Leatt have come along way, but how we mark tracks has not very much. I think we have gotten to the point now that some changes need to be made.


7/23/2010 8:06 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:19 AM

i see your point for sure, and though a lot of the responses are not about your original post, some people have indicated that USAC course inspections (at this time) aren't really about safety. should they be? possibly.

i understand your moto GP comparison, but in MTB, speeds, control of the racing environment and technology aren't the same. i've also heard it said from mountain safety that if one tree is padded, EVERY tree on the mountain has to be padded. ANY tree on the course could take a rider out. so could any rock or any piece of dirt.

every rider get a walking inspection and plenty of practice time so they can judge their skill against the course presented to them. every rider then makes the decision to go down the course at all. the rider determines their level of speed and control on the course. it is the rider's decision.

while i see your point on safety and rules about it, i think it would be hard to come up with some blanket rules that apply to DH racing.

example: if there was a "no tree closer than 10 feet from the course" rule, who would ever ride or build races courses on the east coast?


7/23/2010 9:43 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:19 AM

Ah man my boss is going to hate me for this, I need to stay out of these things, but it is fun.

I see your point with Moto GP. Safety is a good thing and rules must be applied responsibly. To play devil's advocate, again, I will draw your attention to Group B Rally Cars. Group B was basically a no rules prototype race class that was started in the early 1980's. These were for all intensive purposes the fastest rally cars ever built, the kind of crap Ken Block would be scared to drive let alone make a cool slow mo video with. It was the golden years of rally, but the FIA cut Group B within four years of its inception due to injuries and fatalities. Basically, the cars were too fast. This is the basis for much of my point. Now, I do not have a death wish and I do not want to see anyone hurt, but there is a line that must be respected when safety oversight is called for because let's face it there are plenty of people that would like to see this sport and many others disappear.

Liability lawsuits, 100% percent correct. Hands down the biggest enemy of anyone trying to do anything in this country. Which is the reason I have to wave the yellow flag at mandating safety reforms, if it's made black and white it is much harder to undo later. Besides a document such as USAC's rulebook is blood in the water to good lawyers.

To refer to the original post: you're right USACycling does not appear to do much in the way of safety oversight. At nationals they do require every rider to take at least two practice runs before you are allowed to race and the course was supposed to have been checked over. Personally, I feel their level of involvement was appropriate.

IN MY OPINION: if you see something on course that to you the rider (aka the actual expert in the situation) appears unsafe, find an official, bring like minded riders and state your case. It works, I've done it. Do not rely on an old dude in a blue polo shirt that has never ridden downhill to make a decision like that without rider input (obviously that is a sweeping generality some officials are riders and not old).

As far as changes that need to be made. What Sol Vista does needs to be USAC law. I am referring to safety items like painting potential hazards, clearly marking dangerous obstacles, and use of collapsible moto markers where applicable . The whistles too were a welcomed addition.

In conclusion, the sport is not perfect and that is the beauty of it. Safety needs to be kept in mind but it is more the rider's responsibility than a governing body's. Even though USAC has lost sight of it, they work for you, without you there is no "they".

Now back to work with me.

BTW: the post's title is Course Standards.


7/23/2010 11:25 AM

Scary courses that are a bit over my head have made me a much better rider. I honestly feel like a God at Winter Park but a noob at Sol Vista. I wish the course was a little longer at Sol Vista, but I don't know how to do that.

It'll be cool if they did a race down silky - time-trial style not mass start. It could be like our version of the A-line race at Crankworx.

I wish there were course standards for Super-D, most of those have gotten pretty tame and boring IMO. I hope Keystone uses the same course from a few years ago, that was the tits. 20+ minutes and barely any uphill, f-yeah!

On another note, I feel funny. My acupuncturist just gave me some crazy herbs! Yee-haw!

Safety is overrated, if you're worried then wear more pads and practice.


MRP - VP of Business Dev.

7/23/2010 12:49 PM

i think the am course was more of a downhill course than the pro course. the procourse seemed like a technical slopestyle course. i mean solvista could have easily made the pro course a proper downhill track with some gnarly rock sections instead of one rock section and 126438723658278729 jumps. i think this is the reason racing here is soo much different then racing everywhere else. it seems here people think racing is jumps and drops but to mee downhill means you are going fast downhill over more natural terrain with rocks and trees and steepturns or fast flat turns NOT building jumps and drops on every 10ft of the trail


7/23/2010 2:03 PM

Your exaggeration is is outdone only by your terrible grammar.


7/23/2010 3:29 PM

I added the -est to fast in my rally car reference. Sorry K.shiz.


7/23/2010 3:52 PM

ryanstevens wrote:

i think the am course was more of a downhill course than the pro course. the procourse seemed like a technical slopestyle ...more

We rode the am course last year. This year was much more of a DH course. The Am course was riding down a flat beach. The pro track had rocks, jumps and turns.

Sol Vista has terrain limitiaions. to increase the level of difficulty they add jumps. Jumps are fun, those of us that raced that track, liked the jumps. Sol Vista did a great job and made the best track given the terrain they had.

The track was one of the most fun things I've ridden in a long time. Everything was built really well. My only complaint was there needed to be a larger gap from the wood bridge as you had to shut it down/scrub hard off the end of it to touch the landing.



7/23/2010 6:28 PM

dgodard wrote:

I added the -est to fast in my rally car reference. Sorry K.shiz.

Not you. Mister Stevens.


7/23/2010 8:09 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/23/2010 8:11 PM

Do you really need to come on here as an "administrator" and correct spelling and grammar? Jus sayn'. A bit unprofessional for someone that is supposed to be representing Vital MTB.


7/23/2010 9:27 PM

Shit happens.


7/24/2010 4:15 PM

If you want people to listen to your opinion then you should present it in such a way that makes you look well read and informed. I would hope that by the time you're out of middle school you would know the difference between to/two/too, there/they're/their, and other basic grammar rules. Like our esteemed colleague Pete just mentioned, an occasional slip or typo certainly does happen.



7/24/2010 4:36 PM




7/24/2010 8:21 PM

I hate to do this WBK, but I will. As a representative of SolVista Bike Park and member of the trail building crew, I personally walked the 4x track and pro DH track with both the head UCI official and the official in charge of the gravity events at this year's nationals. While I attended to other matters, I observed both of them walking the am DH track as well. All of these inspections were conducted prior to the onset of practice.

I found the officials to be inquisitive, interested, and concerned during these walks. In several instances (both on the walks and after, and on each of the courses) the officials asked us to modify the course/s and we complied. IMO, the UCI officials were chiefly interested in safety and fair competition at this event.

I hope this answers your questions.


7/24/2010 8:34 PM

did they not inspect the amateur course. No complaints it was fun and safe but just wondering


7/24/2010 8:41 PM

" While I attended to other matters, I observed both of them walking the am DH track as well"

Please see above post for this quote.


7/25/2010 2:34 PM

To return to the original question, and do a bit of restatement, the problem with your proposal is that there is no one at USAC even remotely qualified to make such judgements about downhill tracks. A set of standards and/or a qualified inspection team would be a wonderful thing to have from your governing body, it is just one of many things USAC does not provide you for your hard earned licence fee, and unfortunately I would guess the addition of such an entity would be pretty high up on the list, in terms of cost, of currently unfulfilled requirements. Such is life for the American downhill racer unfortunately.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am on the Sol Vista trail crew, although I am not here to comment or debate about the safety of our features. I will say that if you feel the method of marking courses being used is outdated or unsafe, you should email the race promoter and let them know that.


7/27/2010 5:01 PM

ballr wrote:

I hate to do this WBK, but I will. As a representative of SolVista Bike Park and member of the trail building crew, I ...more

Sweet post... Thanks.