Every issue we pose a topical question and get various people to answer it. This time it is…You have ridden race tracks all over the world, but if you had to choose the best, which would it be?
DIRT ISSUE 128 – OCTOBER 2012
Words by Mike Rose. Photo by Malcolm Fearon
The four people on this page have been racing downhill for what seems like forever, but we wanted to know which, out of all the downhill mountain bike tracks they have raced on, has been their favourite.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.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 explosionTracy 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.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.