Windham World Cup Finals Day 1
Words: John Parkin
Photos: Rob Parkin
August already, where did the season go? The US has returned to the World Cup calendar with Windham, New York hosting the World Cup Finals and it promises to be a good one. Today the riders checked the course out.
The short chairlift climbs into the low cloud that has descended on the mountain specially for the World Cup. The running joke in the pits is that the World Cup series should start visiting the drier parts of the world where they could really benefit from the rain the series inevitably brings! On a more positive note the weather is set to clear out for the rest of the week so the track may dry out in time for qualifying and racing at the weekend. The only dry race so far this year has been Fort William in Scotland, so maybe the riders will be able to test out their dry tires for the second time this year here in Windham.
The UCI World Cup Start Gate. The track starts at the very top of this small mountain, they have even gained a few extra feet with a start ramp which sets riders up for the first corner into the muddy rutted woods section. Riders will have to practice pedalling this short start straight so they can judge their first corner entry speed come race day. One of the main goals of World Cup practice is to familiarise yourself with the track at the speed you intend to race it. Anything less and you’re wasting your time. Riders may well be hesitant in the first practice sessions nevertheless as they get up to speed and wait for the track to dry out and therefore be closer to what they will be racing on come the weekend.
The course is littered with rocks but none as big and as awkward as this one. The entry is relatively fast and the feature is so large you are hitting it totally blind making line choice on the landing particularly hard. There is a stump and a rut on the lander and you want to aim between them to get a good line for the next awkward S bend corner. We may well see riders hitting the tree at the exit if they fail to scrub off enough speed or land in a bad spot.
East Coast America. The humidity keeps the scenery luscious and green and the grass sections nice and slick. The rock too seems to hold the moisture keeping it fairly slippery under foot. The top guys know not to do too much corning on the rocks so as to avoid a fall.
There are a lot of wide open fast sections on the course so the times should be tighter than ever. The average speed is set to be fairly high, especially if the track continues to dry out. This section has multiple line options with the faster being straight off the middle of the 20foot huck to flat. The lack of a decent landing means the riders are going to have to hit it full bore and really stretch it out if they want to maintain their speed into the next section. The safer wide line does offer up the inside line round the next corner which depending on the conditions may well end up faster.
Brendan gets grilled by Dirt TV. Check the home page for more video highlights from the race.
The final jump is a dirty great huck to flat into the finish area. Many riders have already complained about the lack of a landing and there is talk of reducing it’s height to make it safer and less of a harsh landing. As usual there is the customary sprint to the line instead of a feature at the finish line like for example motocross.
Monkey works on one of the new Trek World Racing Session team bikes. The team haven’t released the geometry of these bikes but we can assume they have been tweaked from the stock version to make the riders more comfortable at the speeds they hit. This bike also features the new tube profile that Trek plans to include in the 2011 stock bikes that should be released in the next month or so. Monkey is a legend of the sport and is currently employed by Trek World Racing to drive the team truck across North America and to wrench on the team bikes.
You can tell the XC crowd is in town when they rock up in pimp cars like this one. The Trek Subaru team recently went through a re-branding process when Trek Bikes incorporated Gary Fisher into the line up. The team stays the same as far as roster and staff go but everything has been re-branded including the team Impreza.
Is is a sasquatch or is it Sam Hill? Sam is back for the final two races of the year. More on that tomorrow with an injury update. Sam crashed hard earlier in the season at Fort William and tore ligaments in his shoulder putting him on the side line for much of the season. This will be one of his first rides on a DH bike since his injury so the jury is out as to whether he will be back to his usual form or if sitting on a couch while the rest of the racers have been training and racing will hold him back. Knowing Sam he will give it all he has come race day. He knows only one speed.
Also here, Jill Kintner of Transition Bikes makes her first appearance at a World Cup Downhill event. Her boyfriend Bryn Atkinson has been coaching her over the winter to bring her up to speed for downhill racing. Previously she has concentrated on 4X racing where she has been very successful to the point of not needing to take it any further. She plans to take that success over to downhill and win the World titles she has in 4X.
It’s only Wednesday and Justin Frey of Fox is already hard at work tuning and rebuilding suspension. He has to be one of the most committed and hard working individuals on the circuit. His job involves many hours driving the truck and trailer across the country as well as countless hours spent fettling suspension for the world’s fastest racers. It’s no small coincidence that he’s in for the running of the World Cup series overall title, proof of his consistency.
Spotted at the Marzocchi pits, brand new shiny gold coating on a 888 fork.