Posts Tagged ‘XC’

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World Cup downhill – DH – racing – 2009 is off and away

April 21, 2009

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 

Australian down hill extremist - Sam Hill

Australian down hill extremist - Sam HillAt just 20 years old, teammate Brendan Fairclough is also no stranger to DH racing. As a former Junior World Cup DH Champion and 5X British National Champion, Brendan continues to move up the ranks at the World Cups, posing a threat to some of the sport’s most experienced athletes.Briton Brendan Fairclough

There has already been one world cup qualifying event which was held at Pietermaritburg in South Africa. Hill finished in 4th place being beaten by Greg Minaar, Mick Hannah and Steve Peat.
The ladies race was won by Tracy Moseley with Emmeline Ragot coming in second and Sabrina Jonnier third.
But it is the British siblings who they all have to beat – the 2008 World Championship was won by Gee Atherton and Rachel Atherton – it is going to be an exciting year to see whether anyone can knock the Athertons from their lofty perch.
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XC, freeride or downhill – what current biking jargon means

October 28, 2008

Here is an explanation for the wiser members of our readership of what the contemporary biking terms are all about and how they are practiced. For this I am indebted to the Independent who recently produced an article called ‘The Complete Guide to Mountain Biking’.

After each of the descriptions of the three fashions of mountain biking: XC, freeride or downhill I have added a brief video of how the art should be practiced.

XC or cross country:  involves pedalling up and down hills and through forests, double-track farm lanes and bridleways – all of which are known as “trails” within the mountain-biking fraternity. XC riding is the equivalent of a nice, long walk, and many trips are possible on an “ordinary” bike.

Thanks to iamfreetofly for the video – as you will see it is not as easy as you might think.

Freeride or freestyle riding: involves cycling over purpose-built jumps and obstacles – often in a setting no larger than a few acres – repetitively testing one’s nerve, skill and cartilage. For those old enough to remember Kick Start with Peter Purves, this is the motor-less version.

Thanks to watanidiot for the video, which does also include some downhill.

Downhill riding: perhaps the most exhilarating version of the sport, in which mountain bikers use gravity to propel themselves through forests, down hillsides and along rock-, root- and obstacle-strewn trails. It sounds dangerous, but it is no more so than skiing or snowboarding, and offers similar thrills: fantastic views and fast action.

Thanks to Bistecot for the video.

So as you can see there is plenty of room for choice in terms of which form of biking you practice. Each form has its own bespoke and specialised bike for when you become an expert. In the meantime a good all round mountain bike should be able to handle most of the obstacles and terrrain that you put in its way.

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US ladies Olympic mountain biking medal hope

August 6, 2008

For eight months, Mary McConneloug’s routine was anything but ordinary. Joined by her husband, Michael Broderick, McConneloug traveled all over Europe in an RV so both could participate in high-level mountain bike races.

As a result of her success at the races on her European voyage, the last stop on McConneloug’s journey will be in Beijing for the Olympics. McConneloug is one of two women on the U.S. women’s mountain bike team.

The process to qualify for the Olympic team was a grueling one and McConneloug devised a plan with Broderick to accrue enough points to make the team.

“Our program is not like most in the professional cycling world,” McConneloug said. “We’re kind of the blue-collared, grass roots that came up with doing all the work ourselves. There’s no team manager except us. We’re figuring the logistics and we’re training ourselves. It’s pretty incredible to be able to realize how we’ve gotten here and chosen to do it.”

When they aren’t traversing through Europe, McConneloug and Broderick make their home in Chilmark, on Martha’s Vineyard. They met at a mountain bike race in California 10 years ago and “instantly fell in love.” Their partnership expands to the racing world, as Broderick was one of six men nominated for the U.S. Olympic long team, although he did not make the final cut.

Naturally, Broderick will be in Beijing, though his role will be more than just a supportive spouse. He is also responsible for maintaining McConneloug’s bike, an essential task in mountain biking.

“When we could join our forces together and travel together, and he could help me with the mechanics and I could help him with the nutrition and the laundry, it was just like this little force that when we joined we became stronger together,” McConneloug said. “And here we are 10 years later, loving it.”

McConneloug’s race will take place Aug. 22 at 3 p.m. The event is typically a 30- or 35-mile offroad race up and down a mountain, usually lasting anywhere from one hour and 45 minutes to two hours and fifteen minutes.

This will be McConneloug’s second Olympics, and she is hoping to improve on her ninth place finish at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

“It was a pretty solid finish to be in top 10 in the world at the Olympics, but I don’t feel like it was my best race ever,” McConneloug, 37, said. “I had been working really hard all season just to qualify and the criteria was set up for qualification that made it really difficult to be on form for the actual event itself. They changed the selection criteria this year and now that we’ve qualified we have the chance to rest a little bit and now build up in time to reach peak fitness in the end of August.

“I’m really hopeful for good legs and also good luck.”

Participating in the Athens Olympics was an awe-inspiring experience for McConneloug, a Fairfax, Calif., native. She did some reading on the history of the Olympics and had an appreciation for how the games gave nations a peaceful way to compete amidst wars.

“I went there with this awe and respect for the games,” she said. “I was honored just to be there representing. I was really just incredibly proud and amazed to be there.”

While those feelings are still strong this time around, McConneloug is going in with higher expectations. With a second chance to live out her dream, she is determined to make all of those months in an RV driving around Europe pay off.

“I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, I’m smarter than I’ve ever been in the racing world and I know how to play the game so I want to go there and do my best and see if I can’t pull off an amazing finish,” McConneloug said. “It’s an opportunity and I think I’ve learned over the years that if we’re really focused on what we’re doing and we believe what we can accomplish we can do it. I’m ready to go there with an open heart and open mind to all the potential that can lie ahead.”

Mary McConneloug of Chilmark is one...
Photo by Courtesy
Mary McConneloug of Chilmark is one of two women mountain bikers competing for the United States in Beijing.
And here is a video of Mary discussing her US National XC victory of 2007 – way to go Mary, lets hope she maintains that position in Beijing.

Thanks to Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald for the article and dave99biker for the YouTube video.