Seen at the World Cup (no spoilers)

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by Simon Brooke, Sep 12, 2005.

  1. Simon Brooke

    Simon Brooke Guest

    I went up to the Mountain Bike World Cup round at Fort William at the
    weekend, mainly to support two riders from my club who were competing in
    the mens cross country. They both did OK considering the strength of the
    field, Gareth 63rd and Bruce 73rd out of about 120 starters. Mid table
    respectability as they say, but the top of the table was all pro teams.

    So: other observations...

    The stars were amazingly approachable. Many of them just wandered about
    in the crowd and seemed happy to speak to anyone. The kids all got
    autographs from Steve Peat, the Athertons, Tracey Mosely and others. I
    had quite a long chat with Cristoph Sauser about the new Rush (brief
    summary: it's amazingly light for a real full suspension bike, and he
    likes it, but he's sticking to his Scalpel for now because it's lighter
    and he know it better). We watched Gunn-Rita Dahle warm up on rollers
    (and berate her mechanic about the setting of her deraileur). We watched
    Steve Peat on the rollers too.

    Indeed, this weekend rather changed my attitude to the downhillers. I've
    always seen them as essentially brainless adrenaline junkies looking for
    thrills without being prepared to put the work in to earn them. That
    isn't (entirely) true. I walked up more than half of the downhill
    course, and it had technical sections which, regardless of gradient, I
    would have great difficulty riding at any speed. Furthermore, it's not a
    matter of letting gravity do all the work - despite all their clobber
    they were all pedalling hard for considerable sections of the course,
    often at quite fantastic cadence, and Peat's bike had a cassette on as
    close ratio as any time-triallist. Nor is it a matter of going flat out
    all the time. During the women's race I spent some time by a jump in a
    birch wood with trees tight on both sides just before a fairly sharp
    right-hander into a boulder-strewn gully. Judging the speed for that
    jump needed to be fairly precise, because overcooking it would have been

    But at the same time, they are loonies. At another similar sized jump 200
    metres further down the course they were jumping to a height of at least
    three metres off the deck and travelling twenty or thirty metres in the
    air. Not content to do this, most of them performed acrobatics in the
    air, laying their bike out horizontally or whatever. That can't help
    their performance aerodynamically, and it can't improve their chances of
    a clean, fast landing. It's pure display - pure showing off. Their big
    flappy clothes can't be helping their speed either.

    What's more, quite a lot of them were riding with injuries. I saw Celine
    Gros about twenty minutes before the start of the womens downhill,
    wearing a 7stanes shirt and limping around on a plastered ankle, quite
    relaxed, cheerfully talking to children in very fractured English. What
    a shame for her, I thought, being here and not being able to ride. Not a
    bit of it. Next time I saw her she was a blur a metre off the ground
    down a narrow alley through the woods with corduroy to land on. Mad!
    Then one of the British riders - I think Neil Donoghue - came down to a
    good position in the mens' event with a broken wrist. At the end you
    could see how much pain he was in, but he still did it. Another rider
    rode it with a broken hand. And so on. Rachel Atherton raced despite
    having a horrible looking crash on the four-cross the previous night
    when she collided with another rider and both went off into the crowd.

    Apart from the human injuries I saw two riders complete the course with
    flat tyres (one front, one rear); one with a broken crank; and two with
    broken transmissions. Given that I wasn't at the bottom until two thirds
    of the way through the men's event that certainly isn't the full tally.

    Brief summary: mad, of course. But very skilled cyclists, as well. And
    the guy who won, especially so - in a very hotly contested field he
    managed to pull more than two seconds out of his nearest rival.

    The bikes:

    GT had a bike with an epicyclic in the frame ina Nicolai Nucleon/GBoxx
    stylee but it clearly wasn't a Rohloff. I asked the mechanic if it was a
    Nexus 8 and he confirmed it was, saying the bike was 'in production' and
    'affordable'. It was very heavy, though - probably about 17 Kg.

    Greg Minaar's Honda was no longer 'top secret' this year, and I was able
    to get good photographs of the transmission. Indeed, my last memory of
    the event was of Minaar's mechanic standing in the queue at the burger
    stall, with the Honda superbike... I was not able to establish for
    certain whether it has a primary chain and epicyclic, but I don't think
    so. I think the plain disk centre left in this photo
    represents the position of a secondary shaft and that the disk above it
    with the concentric rings and hexagonal nut-like feature represents the
    output shaft, and what you're looking at is something developed from a
    moped gearbox, probably with seven or eight speeds.

    The new Cannondale Rush is of course for me utterly droolworthy; quoted
    weight for the racing bikes 'about 10Kg'. The carbon/titanium Lefties on
    these and the Scalpels were a new model I haven't seen before and were
    marked '88', but Cristoph Sauser confirmed they were 100mm travel and
    air sprung. In common with almost all the other top teams, the
    Cannondales had SRAM X0 transmissions, with gripshifts. Shimano
    transmissons were pretty rate, and the only SRAM X0 trigger-shifter is
    saw was on a very nicely specced Orange 5 on the Orange stand. It was
    clearly a 'next year's model' and was considerably less boxy and
    industrial looking than this year's Oranges. Most of the top cross
    country riders were riding on double, not triple, front chainsets.

    The only new frame which impressed me as interesting was an Orbea carbon
    hardtail which had clearly been designed with real thought to use the
    compliance of carbon to achieve the equivalent of softtail performance
    without an actual suspension unit. The frame was a prototype and was not
    being raced. There was a carbon Colnago hardtail being raced by a woman
    in Colnago team colours, but it looked disappointingly ordinary and
    certainly wasn't leading the field.

    Finally, the organisation.

    Superb. Free shuttle busses (lots of them - frequent service) from
    park-and-ride carparks up to the venue; more free shuttle busses from
    close to the start/finish area out to interesting points on the cross
    country course; and the cable car up to the top of the downhill course
    (which I didn't use because I didn't fancy the queue). The only thing
    I'd criticise was the shear volume of the PA system. It was so loud that
    it made it actually painful to be around the arena.

    Over all, an excellent weekend. Even the weather was fine.

    [email protected] (Simon Brooke)
    Ring of great evil
    Small one casts it into flame
    Bringing rise of Men ;; gonzoron

  2. Andrew

    Andrew Guest

    "Simon Brooke" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]

    <There was a carbon Colnago hardtail being raced by a woman
    in Colnago team colours, but it looked disappointingly ordinary >

    Choke, Gasp! I loath and detest MTB's but suspect that a full carbon
    Colnago, with exposed weave, albeit on chunky tyres and straight bars cannot
    look ordinary

    Really going to have to consider blackballing you from the club if you keep
    making public statements like that

    I'm off now to polish my CT2 with Carbon Chorus Groupset and whisper
    lovingly into its ear

  3. wafflycat

    wafflycat Guest

    "Andrew" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]

    > I'm off now to polish my CT2 with Carbon Chorus Groupset and whisper
    > lovingly into its ear
    > A

    Just don't fondle its bottom bracket in public ;-)

    Cheers, helen s
  4. wafflycat

    wafflycat Guest

    "Andrew" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]

    > I'm off now to polish my CT2 with Carbon Chorus Groupset and whisper
    > lovingly into its ear
    > A

    Just don't fondle its bottom bracket in public ;-)

    Cheers, helen s