Downhill Competitions

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leapb4ulook
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Downhill Competitions

Post by leapb4ulook » Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:50 pm

We're putting together the Downhill Comps for next year's UK Series, and as we're being a bit experimental I thought it would be good to run it past you guys and see what you thought. So, first a bit of background...

The first proper DH comp in the UK was in 2005, in Scotland. Then nothing happened in the way of DH for a while. Just so we're clear DH is one-man timed descents. Then, in 2011 we put together a single DH comp on a service track in Wales. I was expecting 18 riders and we got 24. Everyone seemed to have a good time so we called it a success and decided to do more in 2012. We did three, one in England, one in Wales, and one in Scotland. Again, they all proved more successful than I thought they'd be, especially the Scottish one.

So, we wanted to step the game up a bit and do DH comps on woodland singletrack, but at the same time we don't want to leave behind the riders who like riding service tracks and we don't want to make the tracks so difficult that new riders don't want to do them. For next years comps we're thinking at the moment that we should do three different comps on three different kinds of track; one service track, one single track (although its not in the woods), and hopefully one mountain track. Wherever we go we're always up against getting permission, paying whatever the owners decide to charge us, and the logistics of running a uplift, etc. which can make organising them a real challenge.

Questions. What kind of tracks would you guys like to do for DH comps (and not just UK riders, I'm interested in what everyone thinks)? How would you judge the success of comps; is it by how much the riders enjoy it, by the numbers of competitors, how much the comp costs/makes? What do you think the future of DH should look like; should they be on tracks that need a brakeboard to do fast? What would make people go to a DH comp; is knowing how hard or easy the track is going to help?
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Post by WSG7 » Sun Nov 18, 2012 1:10 pm

yes i think it would help knowing the difficulty, but to attract more people you could try to get a pro to go??

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Post by Michael » Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:23 pm

i NEED to get to a downhill comp soon!
I like the idea of swapping kinds of track. I think it was Scotland that did this?

The redbull rampage is really nicely set up, with a fairly big area (though i'm not suggesting an area anywhere like the side of a cliff in Utah) and no set lines. Just a start and a finish line. The riders are allowed to dig some of their own trails and lines. Something like that would be awesome :D

Oh, and was the kent descent classed as a downhill thing or what? Cus that was a fun track :)
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Post by Brennig » Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:31 pm

Although service tracks are awesome they are a bit samey. I'd love to do some singletrack as I've never done any, some open mountain would be awesome, with just a start and finish. I might have spotted the perfect spot, 600 m decent, around 40% and on ridable grass with plenty of rocks and drops.
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Post by Jockass Dave » Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:31 pm

WSG7 wrote:yes i think it would help knowing the difficulty, but to attract more people you could try to get a pro to go??


Brindy was at all the 2012 comps, as were several other world class riders. And Duncan.
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Post by Ian@KentATB » Sun Nov 18, 2012 4:48 pm

I guess it's quite hard one to pitch. I personally like the idea of some single track. I prefer varied tracks with bits of both overall. I don't think knowing difficulty would be that useful, as it is just to subjective.

I think judging a comps success should be the enjoyment factor. If you want greater number of competitors. I would say do the England track nearer the Midlands.

You have done a heroic job of getting this all organised, making sure everything runs smoothly, and even getting people to venues, but I can't help but feel the turnout would increase massively with one of the events at central venue.
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Post by belac » Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:49 am

a bit of everything is the best compromise, but very hard to find (i'm still searching).

the bikers here have been holding lots of urban downhill events in the last couple of years and involved hitting man made features on the way down. that not only increases riders but also spectators and media interest. maybe that type of course could be aimed at a higher skill level and those who don't feel happy hitting jumps and drops have a seperate class.

spose the other biggy in downhill is do you cater for the break riders who can ride more terrain or the mass who ride without. getting permission to ride big mountains would be easier with breakboards i guess.

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Post by leapb4ulook » Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:21 am

Michael wrote:Oh, and was the kent descent classed as a downhill thing or what? Cus that was a fun track :)

Yeah, it was a kind of downhill comp in that it was timed one man descents and we're looking at doing something similar next year. I've just got the build the track first.

Jockass Dave wrote:And Duncan.

:D

Ian@KentATB wrote:If you want greater number of competitors. I would say do the England track nearer the Midlands.

I don't know if we do want more competitors. I think 25 is about right, any more and everyone has a long wait between rides. Yeah, location is a big issue (damn you geological upheaval and various ice ages, or damn you human civilisation for settling where you did). Would love to do a comp on the Malvern Hills, but we'd never get permission. Maybe we should take another look at The Wrekin.

belac wrote:spose the other biggy in downhill is do you cater for the break riders who can ride more terrain or the mass who ride without.

We've tried to go for tracks that can be ridden brakeless but having brakes gives you an advantage, and more so with future tracks. I'm a big believer in not separating riders based on the equipment they chose. In freestyle comps we don't put riders with a TK Pro in their own class just because their board is better suited to what they're doing. I also think that having more tracks that require brakes makes Downhill less like Boarderx.
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Post by The 6th degree » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:22 am

Is there nowhere around the Peak District - maybe Macclesfield where you could find some DH runs?

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Post by leapb4ulook » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:46 am

I have spoken to a Ranger at Macclesfield and they said 'No chance', but maybe we should try more official channels.
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Post by The 6th degree » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:51 am

Yeah - there seems to be a better relationship with Forestry Commision, so it would be worth giving them a try.

The Ranger could just be a miserable git.

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Post by ade_mcc » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:59 am

Questions. What kind of tracks would you guys like to do for DH comps (and not just UK riders, I'm interested in what everyone thinks)?

Variable track surfaces - gutted I couldn't make Scotland this year as the wooded sections looked ace. The European DH-ers are lucky with their ski slopes but I struggle to find places with sufficiently long descents without breaks for gates or uphill sections.

How would you judge the success of comps; is it by how much the riders enjoy it, by the numbers of competitors, how much the comp costs/makes?

Success is knowing that I rode to the best of my abilities and had a fun day with like-minded people without falling off too much! When a days riding becomes frustrating due to waiting to ride, or faffing about, or if I get to the point where it would have been easier to just go and ride somewhere without the hassle of 'other people', then not so successful.

What do you think the future of DH should look like; should they be on tracks that need a brakeboard to do fast? What would make people go to a DH comp; is knowing how hard or easy the track is going to help?

I don't think perceived difficulty is an issue - I think many riders rode Dave 2011 and then bought brakes or changed boards or practised firetracks for 2012.
Given the nature of the sport - I think if huge numbers of competitors and spectators and TV coverage is desired, then BX and freestyle has the easier package.
Tracks need to be found where a) access is allowed, b) technically challenging for pros to get a good time; rest of us can get 'a' time, c) separate downhill track and uplift track.
Macclesfield forest is a lovely run, but it isn't a competition track - once you've flatlined it there's nowhere else to gain speed from.
Get a hill with separate track and uplift track and we can all get more runs in - a suitable wooded track with separate firetrack would be excellent.
I would be keen for the ATBA to run track days - basically everything except the competition element itself, but landowners permission and uplifts all day. Great practice without the knackering legs.
Now, only issue is finding the right track....

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Post by sir seymour » Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:41 am

For a competition to work, the track needs to be accessable for a large range of riding abilities as without the numbers paying their entry, there is nothing to pay for the comp in the first place. You know my views on what i would like to see in a downhill comp rog. Something techy, probably only manageable on a brakeboard and probably too intimidating and dangerous for someone riding brakeless unless you like the 'fly - crash - get up, fly -crash - get up' riding style of JC. That's not going to work in the real world and will only happen when Pete can be persuaded to run a restricted entry noSno downhill event like we were pondering on the downhill track at bardonecchia. Chances of noSno organising something - zero.
If it could be logistically possible, it would be good for a UK series to start with a firetrack comp, get the buzz going and the core of riders who are going to attend the events together. Next comp something a bit more challenging (tighter trails) and so on. This may help with those a little more unsure of riding the more challenging terrain to get a confidence boost and push their own riding further as the series progresses.
It may also help to not focus solely in the advertising of an event as a competition. My downhill riding didn't get good through competing, it was from freeriding with other riders on mountains with uplifts, giving maximum time and energy on actually hitting trails rather than dragging my arse up the hill. I'm sure riders who have ridden in the UK series too will have found that the setup is very condusive to bettering your own riding even when you don't perform well against other riders. (my worst runs on the euro tours were without doubt on the competition tracks - it does something funny to my head).
Maximum ride time and smiles on riders faces is the judge of a good comp for me. Forget media coverage and spectators, this is mountainboarding.

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Post by Brennig » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:38 pm

It would be nice to have a large freeride/downhill orientated core of riders across the country. Mountain biking has grown so much in the last few years, people who would never usually take part in extreme sports are now heading to Scotland, the Lakes and north Wales at every opportunity they get. Even if we could grab a tiny percentage of them we'd have a large group of regular riders. The fact that you need to drag your board uphill to ride downhill will always turn away some people but we could do a lot more to draw in new riders. I think brake-boards is the main thing, although some people think the 'extreme' look is cool it doesn't do the industry any good.
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Post by leapb4ulook » Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:23 pm

ade_mcc wrote:Tracks need to be found where a) access is allowed, b) technically challenging for pros to get a good time; rest of us can get 'a' time, c) separate downhill track and uplift track.

We've got one of those.

sir seymour wrote:If it could be logistically possible, it would be good for a UK series to start with a firetrack comp, get the buzz going and the core of riders who are going to attend the events together. Next comp something a bit more challenging (tighter trails) and so on. This may help with those a little more unsure of riding the more challenging terrain to get a confidence boost and push their own riding further as the series progresses.

That's the plan for next year.

Looks like we're heading in the right direction. Let's hope it works and plenty of riders turn up.
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Post by Ian@KentATB » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:48 pm

The 6th degree wrote:Yeah - there seems to be a better relationship with Forestry Commision, so it would be worth giving them a try.

The Ranger could just be a miserable git.


I think the FC is massively variable between regions. Down where I am they are awful to deal with.
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Post by GoofyMark » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:01 am

Interesting stuff, it would be great to get more variety into the terrain in the comps.

As a side note Rog, if you could get permission to use the footpaths at the top and bottom of the Whinlatter DH track, you would get a nice mixed terrain track, the singletrack at the top is well surfaced and super twisty, and the bit at the bottom is chock full of roots and rocks.... Awesome fun on tired legs;-)
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Post by leapb4ulook » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:06 am

GoofyMark wrote:As a side note Rog, if you could get permission to use the footpaths at the top and bottom of the Whinlatter DH track, you would get a nice mixed terrain track, the singletrack at the top is well surfaced and super twisty, and the bit at the bottom is chock full of roots and rocks.... Awesome fun on tired legs;-)

Permission to use those tracks isn't a problem, the problem is not being able to close the tracks to walkers, cyclists, etc.
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Post by Brennig » Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:01 am

That problem can easily be solved be equipping us with lances.
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Post by Jasper » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:21 am

Questions. What kind of tracks would you guys like to do for DH comps (and not just UK riders, I'm interested in what everyone thinks)?

Personally, i looked at POV videos of the tracks and thought, nah i doubt il be able to get down it without a brake. I would love a tighter, twistier track, preferably like allestree or hemlock as this is what i ride, and a lot of people ride at weekends if they're not freestyling. The advantage of this as I see it is that A. These trails are often fairly short, usually under a minute in lenth and thus wouldn't need an uplift, so people could get lots and lots of runs in, plus this might encourage more new riders as they would get lots of oppurtunity to master the track over the day as opposed to only getting 5 or 6 long runs at somewhere like Dave. B. the thing about places like Hemlock is that in the same 'line' down the hill there are several mini lines within it, some slower and wider corners and some hard inside lines for the more experianced. Downside is, because these runs are often short, it may not attract people from such a wide area.

How would you judge the success of comps; is it by how much the riders enjoy it, by the numbers of competitors, how much the comp costs/makes?

For my personal success i would firstly say how much i enjoyed it and secondly if i managed to ride the track as well as i could of and managed to atleast get down it clean.

What do you think the future of DH should look like; should they be on tracks that need a brakeboard to do fast? What would make people go to a DH comp; is knowing how hard or easy the track is going to help?

I like the look of some tracks in last years DH series, but I think it should be more varied with different aspects of freeride/DH, maybe have atleast one track that a brake wont give u an advantage and then maybe one where it does, then the hardcore downhillers who want to win the series can prove their ability at the different aspects of DH and not just at fast service tracks. Deciding on difficulty factor is certainly a deciding factor for myself, i want to know that i can atleast get down a track without falling (too much) and especially without causing myself injury because i didnt have a brake. And nothing against brakes, i just cant afford one. Or if i did buy one, i certainly wouldnt have the money to get to a comp
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