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Archive for the ‘mountain biking’ Category
Adventure Racing is one of the extreme sports that we blog about regularly, and it is best to remember that it is an extreme sport – witness the tragic death of 3 participants in the Raid du Mercantour last weekend, 21st June.
Adventure Racing is an example of how the mixture of terrain and weather conditions can catch out even the most experienced of runners and trekkers.
When I first started writing about Adventure Racing, the first thing that crossed my mind was that, whilst physically and mentally challenging, a long hike through difficult and varying terrain was a bit ‘tame’.
I apologise profusely to all Adventure Racers – and hasten to add that that thought lasted less than 10 minutes as my research broadened.
Since then I have been impressed and amazed at the antics that the sportsmen (and women) get up to, and think that, as an extreme sport, it is probably one of the best.
Don’t shoot me down in flames if you don’t agree… but Adventure Racing is quite something.
For those of you who are not too sure what Adventure Racing is all about, it’s a combination of two or more disciplines, including orienteering (if an orienting map is used) and/or navigation (when non-orienteering maps are used), cross-country running, mountain biking, paddling and climbing and related rope skills. An expedition event can span ten days or more while sprints can be completed in a matter of hours. There is typically no dark period during races, irrespective of length; competitors must choose if or when to rest.
You need to be superfit. You need to have a team you know well and trust. You need to have mental and physical stamina. And you need to know how to do all the above disciplines … and more.
It’s many sports all rolled into one…
The first official Adventure Race was “The Raid Gauloises”, held in New Zealand in 1989, and consisted of 400 miles of mountaineering, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing and rafting over a two week period. The first U.S. race was the Eco Challenge, held in Utah in 1995.
Adventure Racing has become so popular that it has even had a TV series made in its honour – the Odyssey series (trainingsept ):
So why do it? Well, it has been said that Adventure Racing is one’s own personal road to self-discovery as it allows an individual to find his or her limits and push through them because the ‘Race’ often takes participants out of their comfort zone by challenging them with unfamiliar surroundings, often while sleep deprived and physically exhausted.
Anyone can become an Adventure Racer. It’s an easy crossover for cyclist, runners and water sport enthusiasts. Many former tri-athletes, marathon and ultra-marathon competitors looking to add more spice to their chosen fields have taken it up. Some sportsmen found themselves suffering recurring injuries in their sport and so turned to Adventure Racing as an alternative. Aging athletes, on the other hand, discovered that while they can no longer keep up with 20-somethings in a foot race, in a 24+ hour races, they have some competitive advantages!
As with ALL sports, accidents and tragedies DO happen.
This is the RAID season in France and there are many keen participants.
“I’m used to hiking in mountains since I’m a kid, doing a lot of alpinism, skiing, climbing…I’ve discovered adventure racing about 10 years ago and I love it!” says Carine Porret.
“I like adventure racing because I’m a racer, I like the spirit and the race parties!….” says Franck Salgues
“I’m Brasilian living in Miramas,France,in a beautiful winery,I travelled the world for the past 7 years to compete in diferents AR,” says Karina Bacha.
I could give you hundreds of quotes.
“I was born with a compass in the hand! I participate in a lots of orienteering competitions with all my family…my three daughters and my wife are like me: addicted to!….” says Michel Denaix.
But I won’t!
As I said above, this is the Grand Raid season in France, but on Sunday in the Grand Raid du Mercantour in the South of France about 80kms north of Nice, the region suffered adverse weather conditions and three runners died under tragic circumstances. It was the ‘running stage’ of the race and had already been reduced from 100kms to 80 because of the abundance of snow still around. The alarm was raised as a number of competitors had not returned by the 6pm cut-off time, and emergency services were scrambled in an attempt to locate the missing people. All 3 were in their 50’s and it is suspected that they died of hypothermia and hypoglycaemia. Our sympathies go out to their families.
This is not an extreme sport for nothing…
Instead of talking about one extreme sport today, I am going to wax lyrical on an area which supplies just about everything you could possibly want to do on an active summer holiday (we’ve already covered this region for the winter season) – Chatel in the Haute Alpes.
In the whitewater sports they offer canoeing (two-strong team), canyoning (jumping, sliding, daredevil abseiling), hydrospeed or whitewater bodysurfing (a slippery, fast, exhilarating experience), rafting (a 7km ride down the Dranse) and kayaking.
Then there’s bobluging… a 650m descent with 7 bends, an average speed of 7m/sec – definitely a fun-filled thrilling descent. There’s a chairlift to get you back up to the top. The bobluge is open from 28th June to 31st August – weather permitting, and closed over the lunch hour.
And then of course there’s the ubiquitous mountain biking.
The Portes du Soleil has around 650 km of marked mountain bike trails and seemingly endless single track to explore. Using the 24+ lifts that are adapted to carry bikes in the summer, you have access, from Chatel, to almost every resort in the Portes Du Soleil including Morzine, Les Gets and the Swiss resorts of Morgins, Champery and Les Crosset – this really is prime mountain biking country and ideal for mountain biking holidays.
ffredt gives us an idea of what the mountain biking is like:
There are also many downhill mountain biking tracks. Châtel bike park is situated at Pré-la-joux and accessible by Pierre-Longue and Rochassons chair lifts, it consists of 13 trails of all levels of difficulty (including 12 downhill courses) and one “Cross park”.
The 27th and 28th June will see the PassPortes MTB event celebrating its 6th birthday. More than 20,000 people have now participated in this 80km circuit. The event takes place at an altitude of between 1000 and 2250m and covers resorts in France and in Switzerland discovering the Portes du Soleil area and its fabulous landscapes.
You can check out the link here if you’re interested in taking part yourself:
There’s a second competition on the 3rd, 4th and 6th July called the Chatel Mountain Style contest. Professional and amateur riders will compete over the 3 days on the 300 metre long “Face” course. 22 Pro Riders from all over the world have already entred the competition.
There is also a good range of climbing routes available in the area.
Plaine Dranse is an excellent place to learn with more than 26 routes, but its the Essert waterfall which will suit our readers I think. You can abseil and canyon at this 250m landmark, with two semi-wet and wet routes and six 30-50m descents. Plus the Pas de Morgins which offers 50 climbing routes of 10m-40m and with a difficulty level of 3 – 7.
Of course there are artificial climbing walls too…
And then there’s the Fantasticable…
This is for the thrill seekers, the adrenaline junkies of this world. Dizzying speeds and astonishing heights in a ride that is unique in the Alps. Safely harnessed you can fly over the Plaine Dranse hamlet at nearly 100kph, 240m up. The length of the first run is 1,200m and the second one is 1,325 and participants must be no less than 35kg and no more than 120kg.
Watch TheBukakeMaster experience the Fantasticable. I love the superman music and the euphoric laughter!
And, of course, paragliding where you can go for a first tandem flight with a professional.
In the video below from nick6kcin the versatility of the bicycle is superbly demonstrated and shows how the sport of mountain biking has evolved over the years. From use as a ‘push bike’ where we probably all started to downhill mountain biking, xc and four cross, the bike has come a long way. The 2009 season kicked off with the recent announcement that two of the best in the world of downhill racing, Sam Hill and Brendan Fairclough had found a new sponsor.
But first a little background reading to bring those who are new to the sport up to speed.
Downhill mountain-bike racing began in a low-key fashion back in the 1970s, and in recent years has grown rapidly in popularity. The Union Cycliste Internationale recognised it as a sport in 1990, when it sanctioned the world championships. It has yet to be made an Olympic discipline.
Downhill races are held on steep descents, usually narrow, tree-lined and rock-strewn, in the world’s most rugged and mountainous regions. Riders hurtle downhill at speeds that often exceed 40mph, frequently leaping several feet into the air off jumps and other obstacles along the route.
The competitor who completes the course in the fastest time is the winner, and each race typically lasts about five minutes. Think of rally driving crossed with downhill skiing — though without the roll cages or the snow.
This year’s World Cup events kicked off in South Africa last weekend, and the British leg will take place in Fort William, Scotland, on June 6-7.
The world championship which this year takes place in Canberra, Australia at Mt. Stromlo. The Championships will be staged from September 1 to 6, 2009 and are expected to attract more than 30,000 visitors from up to 40 countries. The event will involve more than 750 of the world’s top riders who will compete in the four mountain bike disciplines of Cross Country, Downhill, Four Cross and Observed Trials for the honour of being crowned World Champion.
Specialized announced in November 2998 a much anticipated decision to sponsor Team Monster Energy in 2009—home to two of the most notorious faces in downhill racing, 2X World DH Champion Sam Hill and 2006 Junior World Cup DH Champion Brendan Fairclough.
Next season, the two-man team will ride the Specialized Demo 8—the same race rig trusted by Decline Team America—known for its generous travel, patented FSR suspension, durable chassis and killer good looks. In the pre-season, Sam and Brendan will also train on the Stumpjumper FSR, Specialized’s premier XC Trail bike, along with the 4X-winning SX and P3.
Known as downhill’s man to beat, Australian Sam Hill is a 2X World DH Champion, the 2007 World Cup DH Series winner and a World Cup podium veteran, not to mention the Australian MTB Cyclist of the Year, 2004-2007. Sam has been an unforgiving competitor since he started collecting wins internationally in the U19 category, gaining more notoriety every year for being both hellishly fast and methodical about his strategy on the race course.
In the video below from viiselminha we see why Sam is one of the best in the world
As we move into mid April it is time to be thinking of putting away the skis and snowboards and at the same time dusting off the mountain bike. A little time spent at this time of year ensuring you have the right kit will help you to avoid disappointment when you get a sudden call from a mate to go out to the mountains only to find you never had the brake fixed on your bike. So here are a few reminders.
Body protection and your helmet
You may well have grown an inch or so since last year so it is as well to check out the kit you wear.
The single most important item of personal clothing for downhill mountain biking your helmet – ensure you always wear a helmet to protect your head against accidental falls. It is not enough to assume that you are talented and very competent to perform downhill mountain biking because safety is a very important issue as well. On no account must you put your life in peril and so wearing a helmet at all times is the best downhill mountain biking tips that you can get.
Other kit will include shoes, gloves and knee and elbow protectors – again you will have probably grown and there is nothing more uncomfortable than forcing your feet into a pair of shoes half a size too small. We also recommend that you take a light weight back pack – so important for carrying that Mars Bar or other essential sustenance which is so appreciated after an hours biking. We also recommend you ensure your body is well hydrated whilst mountain biking so take along enough liquids and water to ensure that you don’t get thirsty.
Maybe Santa crammed a brand new mountain bike down the chimney but whatever the situation and this applies to new bikes as well it is very well worth your while giving your bike the once over. Check nothing is loose, the saddle, the handle bars, the chain – check the brakes are working properly and the gears are sliding from one to another in the right manner. Oil the chain, check the pedals, make sure the tyres are in good order and you have no punctures, check the tyre pressure. Nothing too onerous here – just some basic common sense.
Where to go
It pays to search for relevant downhill mountain biking tips. One place where you can find useful downhill mountain biking tips of where to go is through online sources and via mountain biking forums. We also suggest (if you are not already) that you become a member of a downhill mountain biking club. Never be afraid of asking a question: mountain bikers are on the whole a friendly crowd and always willing to share their tips and experiences
So get ready for what will be a wonderful summer of mountain biking and we thought you would like to see the video below from XTremeVideo of some great action shot in South Africa, Andorra, Spain, the UK , France and Italy.
Ok so that was rather extreme, but that is what we are all about – whatever you skill levels we hope you have a great time.
Due to popular demand, the deadline to enter the New World Tour de Wakatipu mountain bike event has been extended to the 5th April, 5pm. This is the inaugural 2009 Easter event. Ignore the previous deadline and spread the word!
$65 per person
$45 Junior (19 years and under)
For all entries $5 go to Cure Kids.
We first told you all about this event a few weeks ago… 7th March to be exact, and it seems as though so much attention has been drawn to the event that the response has been fantastic – 500 confirmed entrants so far and expected to climb to 700 or so.
Remember that the 45km event takes place in previously inaccessible parts of the district, traversing a course from Millbrook Resort to Chard Farm. The entries for the event now close on Sunday 5th April. The race is on Easter Saturday, 11th April.
The event, which caters for elite, sport and recreational mountain bikers, “has caught the imagination of people from all over the region and other parts of the South Island,” says Geoff Hunt, director of Southern Traverse and organisers of the event.
“This is an event which offers people exclusive access to the right
bank of the Kawarau River. The chance to go to places which are
usually off limits has created a huge response with over half the
field entered in the recreational division. This indicates clearly
the demand from ‘social athletes’ for events of this nature and we
are pleased to be able to provide a course which suits all levels.”
So, if you’re in the vicinity, and looking for something different to do – go to the official website and sign up quickly on the online entry form…
And while we’re reminding you about forthcoming events, if freediving is what you’re interested in, don’t forget that the Dean’s Blue Hole Competition starts tomorrow, 1st April and will go on until the 11th.
Dean’s Blue Hole is the world’s deepest blue hole (underwater sinkhole), which plunges 202 meters (663ft) to the ocean floor, in a bay on Long Island, Bahamas.
Good luck everyone…