Anatomy of a Race-Track // 2018

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Somewhere between reflection and hindsight, “Anatomy of a Race track” have been a staple in post-race analysis for us in 2018. With many repeat venues and repeat tracks on the UCI World Cup circuit it has proved pretty fruitful to dig into the key characteristics and core features that (or break) these tracks. Having these “anatomoy” posts to look back on and review before we hit the same venue again or even race at different tracks that have similar characteristics allows us to set tactics for practice and racing that meet strategic goals.

The usefulness of digging into the core features of a given track is probably a lot less “rigid” than I’m making it sound but in a nutshell lines, sectors, sections, tactics and techniques needed can be more readily quantified and qualified if we use some standardised review and reflect systems… Anatomy of a Race Track is just that. Review & Reflect.

For your conviencene here’s the 2018 season’s crop of AoaRT all in one spot for your scrolling pleasure. Comments & Questions welcome. Enjoy.

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Anatomy of a Race Track – Lenzerheide, Switzerland Sliced right through the guts of a bike-park, within trails that are as flow simple as bike park gets, but the Lenzerheide world cup track ain't parky no more After three mid-summer trips to the same venue and track on the UCI 3+1 deal we finally got ourselves to Lenzerhide in early September for World Championships. Gone were the blistering hot sun and dust bowl conditions of previous July's and in-slid changeable weather, 0730 starts and all the other World Champs weirdness By in large the same race course as previous years, we had one new, fresh cut section of merely 50m but this abrupt trip through some loamy goodness also altered the entry and exit sections meaning riders had a good 40 second stint of new puzzling to work on for race day For all the previous years talk of "park", 2018's StraighLine track was eroded, chopped, whopped and hollowed out to a proper test; not "fun" to ride or race, but a true challenge for attention, preparation, bike set up and mental acuity! Three words seem to stand out every trip to Lazerhorn. Patience, Accuracy & Focus. All neseccary on this track to deal with the loose surface and razor thin margins. Although pure downhill, Lenzerheide demands prime execution of simple riding tactics. Much focus stays on the main rock section and the plunge drop but having spent over 12 hours trackside the following jump out – Early braking before all the filthy turns under the lift; this allowed long and consistent pressure through the turns, keeping grip and generating speed – Exit Speed; with 3 "uphill" exits of key sections, lines and execution needed to work back from those points – Horse power; pedaling was rare but when needed was demanding quickly – Light – the vision was poor in many sectors; low autumn light and the transition from high speed open to dappled woods meant track walk attention and visual scanning was key – Precision – Directness – go straight #mtb #lenzerheide2018 #dh #shimanorider #ridefox #worldchamps

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Anatomy of a Race Track: – La Bresse, France. World Cup Finals 2018 Transplanted from the town centre to the ski-resort at Hohneck. It was 2 min + of fresh bike park gone race track. Maybe more awkward and odd at first as the taping pulled riders over the side and back of berms and into short and steep jumps at high speeds. Once day 1 practice was done the loamy nature of the top and bottom sections had riders frothing for more Hard sprint to start and to continue after the jump line. Some good "joker lane" chocie and then the now infamous steeper section as the hill broke away and dropped half of its elevation in a quarter of its distance. The consensus was positive from most. The weather made for a wild battlefield though and after a fair and square qualifications in tricky wet conditions. Finals gave us a mixed back of wet to sticky for the elite men. The track once wet demanded even more physically from riders. The cold temperatures compounded this and as is so often the case a potentially poor track was turned world class fast @nukeproofbikes @foxracingeurope @rideshimano @shimanomtb @high5sportsnutrition #shimanorider 📸 – @mozim ^ @danhearn #labresse #worldcup #finals #mtb #mtbtraining #gainzzz #coaching #raceday #art #vosges

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Anatomy of a Race Track // Mont Sainte Anne 2018 The classic; no substitute possible. MSA is long, rough and fast. In its current "modern classic" layout it's over four minutes of big hits and wild times that demand intelligent riding, pristine tactics and some solid conviction & commitment to race run strategy 2018 must have seen MSA have a harsh winter & wet spring because the first comments on track-walk on Wednesday were mainly about how beat up and rough and raw the track was. Minus the new "Tarzan" section the whole hill was sharp, rough edged, loose and just crying out for tyres to hit it and clean it up on it's way to becoming a true world class challenge The HUGE storms that rolled into afternoon practice on Thursday were followed by blistering sun and high winds on Friday, which gave us a rapidly drying track in the open, but with just enough tree cover in the woods things on the more technical and precise terrain remained moist right through to race day morning The fast drying open sections though now had huge ruts, once soft and pliable the soon become rigid and deep, meaning even more demands on core and torso strength and more potential for fatigue inducing rapid bracing As conditions kept evolving every practice session counted, knowing what you were gonna face pre-quali and finals was crucial, as was adapting to what was dished up in those runs. This meant your mental and physical management strategies needed to be robust. Meaning adaptable in the face of stress & duress Reflecting on how the fastest racers executed their runs the "key" sections were under tree cover; the main wooded section not on RB TV had enough features on the floor to separate the best from the rest, the new Tarzan section was super short but viciously tricky; one key lines millimetre demands catching out some of the worlds best; the classic Les Dalles section as tricky and crucial as ever, with the exit speed from here defining much of your speed carried to the finish line. Pump through the final forest where we find Minnaar's Gap and plough to the line, the final sector of track only being 40 sec long but exposing both poor execution & fitness #mtb #msa #msaworldcup

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Anatomy of a Race Track // Vallnord, Andorra 5 years young and beaten to death. The local climate means massive rain storms and harsh winters take advantage of the smallest of rut and eroded it 1 metre deep. Soft dirt is scarce and for 2018s race track it was huge holes, big impacts and big commitment needed from top to bottom If you've never been in person, Redbull TV show only the bottom half of the track. The top half is straight and fast…Fast Right at the start because of a 20+ second max effort pedal at 1900m altitude. This peaks the system.and has the valves bouncing as you hit the forst wooden bridge. From there it's massive commitment to high speed straights that are littered with features from tiny roots and rocks that easily catch you out to big hits and high lines. A brief respite with some jumps in the open before plunging back into the forest where we had a much needed new direction in the taping…Fast and straight. It causes lots of crashes early in practice as many riders attempts at a high line or poor memory from track walk caught them off guard….From here the tv picks up the riders and things get rockier and then progressively steeper in the woods. The race can be turned knits head in the bottom 2 sectors but only won if you have solid, consistent top sectors @lorisvergier put on a masterclass…one of the best runs we have seen in years. @tahneeseagrave executed a flawless strategy and capitalised on the agression of others The impacts and g forces in Vallnord are massive a a well conditioned riders split times will show it. Wild times #mtb #mtbtraining #gainzzz #coaching #mbworldcup #shimanorider #shimanomtb #shimano #ucimtbwc #high5fuelled #foxmtb #foxheadeurope #foxracingeurope #potatocam #vallnord #andorra #downhill #racing #worldcup #groupBForlife PC – Red Bull Content Pool

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Anatomy of a Race Track // Val di Sole 2018 A modern classic. Tapped near identical to the desert dusty 2017 race track. 2018 saw a filthy wet start to what was already a blown out trail with much less dirt than previous years meaning riders could see all the tasty nasty features that littered every section of track. Instead of hidden sniper roots and rocks, riders could see every last trail detail that make line choice a delicate balance between direct and consistent. Repeatable or rowdy Flat-out "park" from the start gate to the first woods it's here the terrain breaks and riders hit the first parcel of forest. Funneled into a supreme set of nibbly kinks into a brief and tight uphill left hander from there it is flat out, big hits, fast and crucial chnages if direction, rocks, roots and all slick as snot for Day 1 practice After Passing under the gondola for a multi line steep section the track cuts steadily down and then across the hill. Bringing us to the point where the tv cameras pick up the action. From here things get steep and the impacts get much bigger. Big holes, big hits and come race day a tricky, dusty surface that meant braking points and direction where crucial to a succesful race run. Ploughing clean out of the forest at Mach 10 saw the end if the final sector of the course where the ladies race was won and many positions shuffled in the men's field. Straight forward high speed turns to the finish but execution totally altered by the accumulated fatigue of 4 mins of max intensity sprinkled over 3 days of practice @nukeproofbikes @foxracingeurope @rideshimano @shimanomtb @high5sportsnutrition #mtb #SHIMANORIDER #ridefox #foxracingeurope #mbworldcup #ucimtbwc

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Anatomy of a Race Track – Leogang, Austria. 2018 was a vintage year for all things bikepark. Strips of fresh meadow and some better direction on the taping meant we had a savage piece of race track Moist conditions leading up to practice day 1 had groups A and B cutting in totally differnet lines, the forecast rain never really happened so a steadily drying track meant speeds creeped up and times down over each of the 3 days timed sessions That soft start to practice meant we had some big holes forming at key braking points and once that happens we also get some smart and creative lines that avoid the big impacts and allow the bike to stay settled and rider to deal with less impact and vibrations Speeds are always high in Leogang and the motorway this year was no differnet. With the tail wind for race day scrubbing and brake checking was needed if you wanted to find backside but none the less some scary moments were had Unlike years previous no one sector defined the race. With the fresh sections up top and some tasty taping lower down doing the job. After this year's showing and rumours of brand new woods for the 2020 world Champs most riders are stoked on a return to Leogang #mtb #ShimanoRider #nukeproof #foxracing #foxmtb #high5fuelled #foxmtb #foxracingeurope #worldcup #ucimtbwc #mbworldcup #whipitwednesday

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Anatomy of a Race Track – Losînj, Croatia – @_losinjworldcup_ The keyboard warriors had a field day, school was out and finger tips were fired up when the first helmet cam footage appeared on the Internet. Too easy, flat, a motorway, damn street section….those were the words used by those who'd never set foot on the wee Croatian island. Those of us who'd seen it pre world cup knew better As a race track it was used before but never by so many world class riders. The chnages made by the course builders meant the average speeds creeped up just enough that the precious momentum needed to travel over the massive square edge rocks could also be turned into big preloaded hops that allowed whole sections be jumped. As one world Champ said though the speed to skip or float over the terrain as you can in places like MSA was never gonna be there Limestone rock is always slick. But with so many loose rocks and pebbles getting ground under the force and friction of tyre ment that by quali day the limestone was becoming polished like a fine sculpture on the main lines High speed and high force pedaling at the top and bottom. Attention ans Focus on the street section payed big with huge margins being found by those prepared to work to the bitter end. Head games caused by daunting and relentless rock on rock were mainly internal for each racer. Owning your own mental game, realising that straight is fast but only if straight is consistent and managing physically all week long were core parts of executing race runs come Sunday Awkward, slick, off camber rocks with high frequency chatter quickly punctuated by square edge lumps….pretty much sums up what was an awesome race track. 10 centimètres between lines multipled the effect of good and bad choices. Risk and reward clearly presented but made more challenging by all the blind crests and takeoffs. Owning position on track before any tske off was crucial. Providing use with a world class playground yet again….contrary to the finger bashing of out keyboard bashing buddies #mtb #mtbtraining #worldcup #ucimtbwc #mbworldcup #high5fuelled #foxmtb #rideshimano #shimanorider #ridefox #losinjworldcup

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