Posted by Editor on 07/19/02
Mountain Bike Nationals
This report made possible by Snowcovers and Rocky Mountain.
It is dry here at Sun Peaks, site of the 2002 National Mountain Bike Championships. Unlike last year, when the riders had to contend with cold temperatures and mud, this time it is hot and sunny. The ground is so dry that the downhillers are sending up chocking plumes of dust all down the course; even in the wooded sections, where it feels almost like sawdust underneath.
The course for the downhill is pretty much identical to last year, although faster in the dry conditions. Out of the gate the riders go immediately into a steep, fast open section. This flattens and actually goes up slightly before sending them into the first wooded singletrack portion. Most of the singletrack sections are not too, too technical, although riders hitting them at high speed can get into trouble negotiating some of the corners.
There are three sections in the upper half where riders are having difficulty. The first is just tight and twisty among the trees, with a drop-off and a log to get over. If the riders hit it too quickly they are coming to grief. The other two are Twisted Sister and Twisted Sister's Sister. Twisted Sister's Sister is actually open only to the Elite and Expert riders, and in training many are having difficulty.
After going through Twisted Sister the riders cross a service road (the alternate route heads off to the right down the service road before doubling back to rejoin the course at the base of TSS) and then hit TSS. After a couple of sharp corners and small drop-offs they do a short bridge section and then hit the main drop-off. This is where everyone is crashing. At the drop-off the fast route is to the right off a couple of sawed-off logs - the drop is about four feet. Too little speed and the rider does an endo, do it right and you rocket into the banking at the bottom and straight out. If they stay left it is a controllable ride, but the time penalty can be as much as 5-6 seconds.
Once out of Twisted Sister's Sister there are a couple of sections of singletrack to be negotiated without sacrificing too much speed, but this lower half is all about speed and pedalling.
Tomorrow morning is the seeding run, with the championship in the afternoon. Still to come this afternoon is the Team Relay and the Dual seeding run (finals tomorrow evening after the downhill).
Dustin Adams is the clear favourite for the men's downhill, but the women's race should be very interesting. Cassandra Boon will go up against Michelle Dumaresq, the controversial transgendered rider who won last week's BC Cup on essentially the same course.
Most of the top cross-country riders, including the Commonwealth Games team are arriving tomorrow afternoon. They will do their races on Sunday and head straight out again, before leaving on Tuesday for Manchester.
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