What is your favourite race track? | The Question

Regular readers to the magazine will be familiar with Mike Rose’s monthly topical questions which he dangles like worms on a hook in the sea big fish of the bicycling world. This months catches of the day are Steve Peat, Cedric Gracia, Tracy Moseley and Greg Minnaar.

Have a read and let us know what your favourite track is.

THE QUESTION 128

Words by Mike Rose

YOU HAVE RIDDEN RACE TRACKS ALL OVER THE WORLD, BUT IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE THE BEST, WHICH WOULD IT BE?

The four people here have been racing downhill for what seems like forever, but we wanted to know which, out of all the tracks they have raced on, has been their favourite.

 

Photo:Kathy Sessler

STEVE PEAT SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE

It has to be the early days of Maribor, Slovenia. I think it was ‘99 when the track was at its best. Looking back at it all now the track was a little ahead of its time. It had everything, it was long and started off fast with huge floaty jumps down steep fade–aways, huge berms would catch you spit you out hauling ass across the ski pistes. Then it shot into the woods for some rooty technical turns, in and out of bomb holes, then it shot across fast pistes again and hit another technical wood, which was more rocky this time (now the infamous Maribor rock garden), and then went into a section we all named ‘Star Wars’ because of its natural half pipe shape. Once it popped out of here it had a series of nice dirt turns, almost like a new–school pump track bit, which were so fun to hit. By this time you were on the last section heading into the finish arena and the fans could catch glimpses of a rider traversing from one wooded section to another across fast grassy pistes. The last wood was a full commitment moment, if you were on a good run and wanted to win then you stayed off the brakes and got fired out of the bottom into the final few turns and jump before the line. It was a classic track and racing on it was awesome.

 

Photo: Victor Lucas

CEDRIC GRACIA       CG RACING

I liked Vallnord in Andorra, it has a lot in it; off–camber, rocks, jumps, a big wood garden and of course some massive roots everywhere (which get bigger by run time). The view is incredible as well, and I can see my house! I like it a lot because it’s home and I can do anything I want…even taking a shit behind a tree which everyone is going to ride through…this makes me laugh a lot!

It’s funny thinking about Nevegal in Italy because it was the track that everyone was scared of; rocks, roots, high speed! But everyone was happy to be there and we could do crazy stuff…of course there was too much testosterone around that made us do stupid stuff! And if you had someone like Shaun Palmer in the package it was an explosion.

Photo: Duncan Philpott

TRACY MOSELEY     T–MO RACING

It is a close battle between two, the early Mont Sainte Anne track in Canada and Maribor (Slovenia) back in the day. I think Maribor in 1999 takes it for me. It was the first time the World Cup visited the country and we used the super slow two–man chairs to get to the top, but it was worth the slow uplift! It started at the very top of the mountain, no riding down to the start, and it was a proper length five–minute plus track, which had everything to challenge you. Super fast open piste sections, a big step–down, rooty tight woods, rock gardens, an amazing natural gully near the bottom and then fast flat piste turns to finish. It really did have everything and it was mostly natural. The ultimate DH track in my book.

It must have been good as I only lasted one day of practice as I knocked myself out at about 30mph on a jump and went home. So even with that incident I still have amazing memories of the track.

Photo: Kathy Sessler

GREG MINNAAR       SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE

When I think back to all the tracks I’ve raced on, the Austrian tracks like Kaprun, Leogang and Schladming spring to mind as the best tracks the UCI has taken us to. But if you had to combine the three tracks then head east, and go back 11years…Arai Mountain in Japan is that ‘Perfect Wave’ we have all been in search of. The top section was deep in the Samurai jungle, mid–pace clay base section that had amazing flow, with patches of roots and shaley rock sections. Mid–track was all high speed with natural fade–aways, gaps and drops all in the open. Towards the bottom you had off–camber switchbacks and fast sections of single track, and one of the biggest step–ups the World Cup had ever seen. Whips were being thrown left, right and centre until race day. The whips then turned into scrub nose manuals, breaking the finish line beam with your handle bars as you panicked, revved and tried to ride it out on your front wheel. This track had it all, the variety made it for me. Although the way I see it, the track is like water temperature when surfing, and being on the bike is more like the shape and size of the wave. Arai is that secret spot.

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  1. Brock

    Always loved the rocky and looseness of Nevegal back in the day, even named a few sections of our home track after it. The 2002 Les Gets WC track was brilliant too, amazing to watch live on Eurosport and even got to ride it in a slightly closed down form (10 years ago, jesus I’m definitely getting old). Would have loved to given the Vail Champs track a run, flat out big lines, anyone remember Joel Panozzo’s rough crash in Vail? How he got up I don’t know!

    Too many greats to choose from!

  2. treehuggergraeme

    Longmoor

  3. Leon

    Willengen ! haha !

    1. Troy

      Not a race track as such but Scousers N Wales. it was the closest thing to the alps for a while.

  4. Dexta

    Nannerch back in the day for sure

  5. James

    Anyone remember strathyre?

  6. Jamie

    Agree with those boys – The Scouse Track (Llangwyfan as it was also known…) was absolutely the coolest track in the universe, ever. Miss that a lot!

  7. joe

    nannarch for sure think its missed by everyone

  8. Downhill d

    Arai city (and mountain) is now called Myōkō, in Niigata. Ski resort closed in 2006… Not sure if the track is still open ??

  9. Jake boylett

    Nelson nz we got a 6min track I made for nat champs just fast smashing turns different bush on the way down roots rock off camber big natural jumps no bems just ruts it’s sick

  10. Rod Fountain

    Bumming Woods: South London.

  11. ClericX

    Any one have a video of the 1999 maribor track?

  12. InsaneShane

    Val di Sole WC Track is rad. Rode it few weeks ago. Insane!

  13. Howie

    If champery was loamy. That’d be the one! Or the secret trails in morgins, dam there fun! :D

  14. Alex

    One more for Nannerch – either DH or XC

  15. kuciite

    korde was the best

  16. James

    Another one here that misses The Scouse Track.

    Fantastic / Fast track.

    Had some of my best riding days there with friends and people I didn’t really know.

    The bottom section and the last 3 drops.

    The pallet section in the dip bit.

    Push up wasn’t too bad

    30 mins from my house.

    Could go after work in the summer.

    Had my best / worst crash there. Bent a V12 axle that I still have. I stumble across the knackered pedal in my garage every now and then and laugh to my self.

    I rode it for the first time when it had trees!

  17. Trevor

    val di sole! rock n roll ruff and fast.

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