Accessibility Widget: On | Off

Is straighter and faster really that bad for a World Cup track?

Create New Tag

1/17/2017 10:14 AM

Photo

meaningless off-season DH discussion : )

alright, so the 2016 mont sainte anne track world cup DH track had a wide open, super fast section that skipped a piece of the old, arguably more fun, track. the track in general had too few turns according to the riders and media. there seems to be a lot of backlash about that speed section and the "straightness" of MSA from the riders. it came up a bit in our 29ers in WC DH thread, so instead of derailing that thread, i just started this one.

in the trackwalk slideshow from MSA, the course was revered as having too few corners and this section in particular is pretty darn straight. at that time, i thought the course was going to be lame based on the photos and sentiment in that slideshow. then the RAW vids came out! all i wanted to watch were those wide opens sections. they was SO insane to me.

watching the race webcast, i never once thought, "hmm, there are no corners on this track" because the speeds were so insane and what may look straight, really wasn't when the riders are going so freaking fast.

so why so much angst against "straight and fast"? obviously i'm not arguing that entire tracks be straight down the hill, but i often find tight corners lackluster to watch compared to longer, more drawn out, high-speed corners that require focus and courage (trust in the tires) to ride at speed. the first corners at leogang or cairns come to mind. faster, bermed corners like in andorra or lenzerheide are exciting to watch when they're blown out and dusty, but those can get repetitive, too. at lenzerheide riders said they even forget which corners they're in b/c there are so many. if there's going to be a "moment" it often seems to happen in the fast sections, not a tight corner.

watch some of the highlights below, MSA starts at 4:45. the fast stuff still gives me chills.


what do you all think?

is it racing season yet? : )
|

1/17/2017 10:30 AM

A line has to be straight, to be great!

|

I can ride my bike with no handlebar!

1/17/2017 10:33 AM

more rough and tech needed. doesnt need to be twisty and techy. i want straight lines down wide open boulder fields with line options. i don't want dh to be like nascar where you have to take the single, fast line to win.

|

1/17/2017 10:46 AM

When I used to race, I hated the high-speed fire road sections between the woods. I remember the first track I raced that had them and that was Angel Fire. Basically just tuck, hold on, watch for water bars, and don't touch your brakes. Actually, I still hate those transfer sections even not racing. I'm thinking specifically Whistler's "Expressway" which you have to take to get from most of the Garbo trails to D1/Too Tight. It's sketchy, and I almost always kick a huge rock up into my downtube. In my opinion, it's just not fun to ride, not particularly challenging, and can sometimes get sketchy.

But, that's what makes it fun to watch - it can sometimes get sketchy. And when the world cup riders are hauling the mail that fast and get sketchy, well...it's terrifyingly exciting.

|

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

1/17/2017 11:23 AM

Guys are probably didn't like it because Rachel smoked most of them in the speed trap if I remember correctly wink

I agree that having some of these rough wide open sections add some excitement. Most exciting moment I can remember is Hill bombing down at Val di Sol on a big straight into a big wide turn...

|

1/17/2017 11:38 AM

A bit of everything makes it great. There aren't many races,so at least make them different.
In the early days,the tracks in USA were mostly fireroad full speed,and Europe were super tech/muddy. Now it looks all the same.

|

26 years in the woods

1/17/2017 1:31 PM

Speed, hot, nasty badass speed. I really don't understand where all this hate for fast SECTIONS of track comes from. A fire road top to bottom is not what I want but holy sh*t watching the guys and girls haul at MSA was insane. Any sport should push it's top tier to the edge, and this, combined with crazy tech sections, is why I watch DH racing.

Anything that seperates the ballsy from those that aren't so ballsy should not be removed from tracks.

|

1/17/2017 2:41 PM
Edited Date/Time: 8/20/2018 5:18 PM

+that Hill bombing Val DI Sol on the wide open turn was the coolest thing ever.
The homies and I from Sierra Nevada Shredders Don't like the Straightaways (like in first the photo), we don't think all bad though
Riders going extremely highspeed look cool to watch BUT...
Riders going highspeed while hitting Jumps and or Turning is more Awesome!!! Full committed and the risk of Crashing HaRD is what makes it so awesome.
The jumps in Pietermaritzburg WC track are a good example of going high speed and being fully committing.

http://www.vitalmtb.com/videos/member/Mountain-Bikings-Best-Rip-Mega-Course-in-Rhythm,32791/iceman2058,94

|

1/17/2017 2:53 PM

As heard from the B-Zone and in the pits: It's not so much that "fast and straight" is bad, it's that many tracks are being over-groomed and run down machine-built sections, instead of running more raw track designs.

For example, Schladming had some big, fast straight sections, but then went into heinous tech sections (at speed); Leogang did not (in theory, it got rough from the weather, but if it had been dry...well, "meh" - Rupert Champman summed it all up pretty well).

Fast is great, so are straights, but what needs to change is the Nascar corners (out), man-made rock gardens (out), clear-cutting for TV (out). Bikes are amazing, so are riders...let them showcase what can be done. Laurie Greenland had an interview about it, Troy Brosnan has been vocal, so was Rat. The UCI is doing a fine job of making DH boring again, bit by bit. Lenzerheide, Vallnord, and VDS are all excellent examples of what makes for a "World Cup Caliber" track (in the eyes of the riders). MSA was almost too fast (it wasn't "interesting fast" for most, it was lazy building in the eyes of many - despite showcasing some super wild and exciting riding); Ft Bill is old and tired; Lourdes is a mint track, it's just inconvenient with a tram uplift; Cairns has two uphills...that's enough on that.

There is a fine line between circus act a la Rampage and blasé racing, and that's the sweet spot WC racing needs. Schladming is the benchmark, and I think Vallnord is onto a winning recipe as well. The powers that be need to aspire to please the riders, not the ratings, because happy riders produce amazing race and thus fantastic spectating i.e. super action for the hungry eye on Redbull TV live stream. Keep it raw and exciting, but keep it thoughtful and smart too.

|

1/17/2017 6:34 PM

Surely accessibility and viewability is important though? If all we did was please the riders but that reduced exposure and sponsorship and therefore their pay- would they be satisfied then?

I cant help but feel that the majority of those that are being vocal are using it as an excuse for something else ie poor performance/ general disenchantment. This could be applied to Chapman, Rat, Hill. Not Greenland. But hes young so maybe just bandwagon.

Its a strange thing at the moment, and its pretty hard for me to question the riders that actually race on these tracks but from photos and videos most of them are pretty technical and tough AND high speed. For 2016 there was Lourdes, Fort William, MSA, Vallnord, Val di Sole....

With Sam Hill i definitely think it was an excuse for not getting results he wanted and being off the pace. I have a little understanding of him (being and racing from the same town in Aus) and this fits with his personality.

Ratboy is a different animal but I cant help but feel its the same thing...pressured to get top level results, doesnt want to, motivations changed etc. Want an easy out? Blame something externally...pretty simple human behaviour.

Chapman, throwaway line I think. Brosnan, cant remember his comments.

What would be great is if some of these guys actually got a proper interview done - ie ask some critical questions. If I was in Loosedogs with the ratboy interview my response would have been "Are Lourdes, Fort William, MSA, Vallnord, Val di Sole not technical?" and "If you are not scared and they are easy why is it so hard to win?"

Totally agree though that there needs to be a balance. As a die hard DH racer and DH race watcher it seems in as good a place now as Ive ever seen (watching since 07). Sure there should be more races, but I think we all agree there? So Id argue the balance is pretty good.

The evidence will be in:
-views of WC DH over time. Is it increasing?
-Rider attendance/ competitiveness. Is it increasing?

|

1/17/2017 8:06 PM

Bring back Yard Sale

|

1/17/2017 10:48 PM

Good tracks oughta have a mix of everything. The danger is when one starts adding arbitrary elements to an otherwise good track. Kind of a track bureaucracy: oh, there's no straight? Then let's kill the rad tech section for one, just because there should be a straight.

In F1 drivers like both fast and slow tracks (Spa and Monaco). It depends more on the flow than anything else.

So while I got nothing against straights, they need to fit in with the track. Why not use crazy fast straights after real heavy sections to give riders a moment to breathe and focus on the next section, while showing the viewer some fast and loose riding?

|

1/18/2017 2:48 AM

No harm having a bit of both. It's not like MSA is smooth is it. Watching the worlds fastest going fast is cool.

|

1/18/2017 2:53 AM

Years ago Jurgen Beneke and I were discussing tracks that would look good on TV (to the masses) and he said, "there are three things the general public likes, high speed, big air and crashes. If we want to get downhill racing on TV we need a 60mph section, and a couple of huge airs (this was 1999, Sol Vista size jumps didn't exist yet) the rest should be technical for the true fans and for the fun of the racers".

I agree, the technical sections look slow and it is hard for someone who doesn't ride to realize the skill it takes to ride such treacherous trails.
I actually love the occasion high speed section, they don't take much skill bit going 60 on a mountain bike is fun!

In short all tech isn't fun to watch for most people but everyone appreciates high speed and big air. So they should be added to the mix but keep it technical for the racers and true fans. Mount Snow and Durango both had a good mix of high speed and tech (not much bigger air back then except Wentz sending the drop in Durango!).

|

1/18/2017 3:28 AM

A straight line section or 2 fair enough, but why not tape some flat turns in there to make it interesting? I dont think adding or removing fast sections would make me watch, but taping sections wider would, every section taped as wide as reasonably possible and then see who has the most imagination

|

1/18/2017 7:08 AM

I think the fast straights at msa are awesome and completely unique, if they were to be gone then I feel the WC is missing really, rough and flat out speed sections, I'd like to see more tracks with sections like it personally asong as they ain't flat and featureless like PMB

|

1/18/2017 7:25 AM

russthedog wrote:

Surely accessibility and viewability is important though? If all we did was please the riders but that reduced exposure and sponsorship and therefore their pay- would they be satisfied then?

I cant help but feel that the majority of those that are being vocal are using it as an excuse for something else ie poor performance/ general disenchantment. This could be applied to Chapman, Rat, Hill. Not Greenland. But hes young so maybe just bandwagon.

Its a strange thing at the moment, and its pretty hard for me to question the riders that actually race on these tracks but from photos and videos most of them are pretty technical and tough AND high speed. For 2016 there was Lourdes, Fort William, MSA, Vallnord, Val di Sole....

With Sam Hill i definitely think it was an excuse for not getting results he wanted and being off the pace. I have a little understanding of him (being and racing from the same town in Aus) and this fits with his personality.

Ratboy is a different animal but I cant help but feel its the same thing...pressured to get top level results, doesnt want to, motivations changed etc. Want an easy out? Blame something externally...pretty simple human behaviour.

Chapman, throwaway line I think. Brosnan, cant remember his comments.

What would be great is if some of these guys actually got a proper interview done - ie ask some critical questions. If I was in Loosedogs with the ratboy interview my response would have been "Are Lourdes, Fort William, MSA, Vallnord, Val di Sole not technical?" and "If you are not scared and they are easy why is it so hard to win?"

Totally agree though that there needs to be a balance. As a die hard DH racer and DH race watcher it seems in as good a place now as Ive ever seen (watching since 07). Sure there should be more races, but I think we all agree there? So Id argue the balance is pretty good.

The evidence will be in:
-views of WC DH over time. Is it increasing?
-Rider attendance/ competitiveness. Is it increasing?

great post. re: questioning riders who say tracks aren't tech enough - i totally agree. i can't speak to their motive, but all the tracks you listed seemed extremely technical and plenty rough. are they bored of the venues? possibly. if all the tracks looked like sea otter, i could see their point. i understand the perception that MSA track sections were taped lazy in some spots and disliking the man-made sections of leogang are acceptable but i don't look at the WC and say "wow, look at all the groomers on the circuit."

|

1/18/2017 8:14 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/18/2017 8:19 AM

russthedog wrote:

Surely accessibility and viewability is important though? If all we did was please the riders but that reduced exposure and sponsorship and therefore their pay- would they be satisfied then?

I cant help but feel that the majority of those that are being vocal are using it as an excuse for something else ie poor performance/ general disenchantment. This could be applied to Chapman, Rat, Hill. Not Greenland. But hes young so maybe just bandwagon.

Its a strange thing at the moment, and its pretty hard for me to question the riders that actually race on these tracks but from photos and videos most of them are pretty technical and tough AND high speed. For 2016 there was Lourdes, Fort William, MSA, Vallnord, Val di Sole....

With Sam Hill i definitely think it was an excuse for not getting results he wanted and being off the pace. I have a little understanding of him (being and racing from the same town in Aus) and this fits with his personality.

Ratboy is a different animal but I cant help but feel its the same thing...pressured to get top level results, doesnt want to, motivations changed etc. Want an easy out? Blame something externally...pretty simple human behaviour.

Chapman, throwaway line I think. Brosnan, cant remember his comments.

What would be great is if some of these guys actually got a proper interview done - ie ask some critical questions. If I was in Loosedogs with the ratboy interview my response would have been "Are Lourdes, Fort William, MSA, Vallnord, Val di Sole not technical?" and "If you are not scared and they are easy why is it so hard to win?"

Totally agree though that there needs to be a balance. As a die hard DH racer and DH race watcher it seems in as good a place now as Ive ever seen (watching since 07). Sure there should be more races, but I think we all agree there? So Id argue the balance is pretty good.

The evidence will be in:
-views of WC DH over time. Is it increasing?
-Rider attendance/ competitiveness. Is it increasing?

sspomer wrote:

great post. re: questioning riders who say tracks aren't tech enough - i totally agree. i can't speak to their motive, but all the tracks you listed seemed extremely technical and plenty rough. are they bored of the venues? possibly. if all the tracks looked like sea otter, i could see their point. i understand the perception that MSA track sections were taped lazy in some spots and disliking the man-made sections of leogang are acceptable but i don't look at the WC and say "wow, look at all the groomers on the circuit."

I've been thinking about this since watching Ratboy's interview and I understand where they are coming from (on a lower level!). I believe the biggest stoke of mountain biking is when it gets so intense you get totally thrown into the moment. No thinking, just doing, a very Zen state. Many Eastern philosophers say the only time you can experience true happiness is in the moment.

I have fond in my own riding that as I progress, trails I used to love become much less enjoyable because they aren't demanding enough of my attention to put me in the moment (in other words they don't scare me at all). I and everyone posting here are not nearly on the level of a World Cup top 10 racer so our view is from less skilled/experienced eyes.

I'll give you an example in my riding. I used to really enjoy the trails in Fruita, Colorado. Now, after riding trails that scared the heck out of me at first and still scare me a bit (think the huge jumps at Sol Vista years ago and s steep techy trails like Goats Gully, In Deep, King Kong and Ride Don't Slide) those Fruita trails don't really engage me. As a matter of fact it takes a while to really enjoy riding in the US after returning from BC every year.

I can only imagine that a trail that scares me likes Goats Gully does, is practically a warm up for Ratboy. To get him scared and force him into the moment must take one heck of a gnarly trail!

A second thought is time gaps, when time gaps greatly decrease the track has to be less challenging. As the competition improves times will always tighten up a bit but when there are 7 racers all on the same second there obviously isn't much on the track separating them (causing mistakes or way different approaches/lines).

|

1/18/2017 8:42 AM

i just want faster and turny-er and MORE RACES AND SCHLADMING TO COME BACK

|

1/18/2017 12:58 PM

The funny thing is that the straight at MSA basically replaced a straight. I mean it was one left hand turn up into those narrow woods, straight for a bit then a sweet right hander and back onto the piste. It was cool and all, but not a big deal.

|

1/19/2017 7:16 AM

I was there at MSA in 2016 (I didn't miss many since ~1997 or so) and seeing the straight line we're talking about in person was a big highlight for me this year. Yes it was straight, but it was not groomed. Some weird (awesome) bike sounds could be heard. Every spectator present was buzzing from the insane speed these racers we going.

The track has some much less interesting sections at the top and I'm not sure I understand why this particular section is the example that came out. Adding a straight and fast AF section where the fastest speed of the season are reached cannot be a bad thing IMO.

On a slightly nostalgic note, I would add that it could almost be viewed as a tribute to the origin of WC racing at MSA in the 90's, where there were even more very fast open sections on the ski pistes. That in itself is great! I think the different venues should try to develop some character and specificity and become classics instead of trying to be all the same. I think WC DH racing is pretty good in that regard and it should be promoted. For example, hosting a WC on a non-steep section of the mountain at Champéry would suck. MSA is a good place where wide open and insanely fast sections are not out of place, both historically and due to the terrain.

|

1/19/2017 8:42 AM

I agree with A.P., Jergen Benke, and others who have said there is definitely a place for high speed ripping. If the track or trail isn't technical enough, go faster, and it will get a different kind of technical than rock gardens or tight turns. Think Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans. No room for error because things are happening extremely quickly. Spomer speaks correctly when he says that although it looks straight, when your going 40+ it might not feel quite so straight. It makes for very exiting viewing and riding.

Having raced MCA as a pro in '99, the track was truly insane. It was really long, unbelievably rough, and very very fast. There were some long straights that were high speed, like 40+mph, that got rougher and rougher as the week went on. 3 minutes into that track, hanging on was really tough and things were very sketchy at that speed. I saw a few truly savage crashes from the chairlift on these high speed, "non technical" sections. There were several places coming off long, steep, rock and hole strewn sections of open, grassy ski runs where you had to brake hard before heading into the trees that were very memorable.

|

5/19/2017 10:22 PM

There a good place to rest (briefly) leaving you with more energy to really perform in the tech sections as far as racing is concerned
And for spectators a crash or two can really excited the masses when a racer is going 60km/hr + and they make for some cool photos , not to seem barbaric but I've been riding/ racing dh and DJing for 20+ years and I still love taking a good kick in the dick by mother nature. The pain from broken bones fades but memories don't. I remember every injury I've had , makes you feel alive.

|

5/26/2017 7:01 PM

Relentless straight sections suck because they justify 29" dh bikes.

|