After a day of walking around looking at showroom bikes in static displays I was ready to see a bit of good ol’ two-wheel motion; don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a fan of new gear as the next guy, but for me it doesn’t beat the thrill of actually seeing it in action.
The Dual Slalom was a perfect place to begin – it’s fast, flowy and when it’s done right exudes a graceful tranquility that sharply contrasts the clattering cacophony that accompanies bad riding. The Expert class is one of my favourites, as it combines great riding with a still-sincere air of community and enjoyment that seems to infuse competitors and spectators alike. In short, it’s a lot of fun.
I hung around for a couple hours watching and snapping shots before I glanced at my watch, realised what time it was, and hoofed it over to the SRAM truck for their annual product launch; wouldn’t want to miss this. Six-pound burrito crumbling in my hand I listened to retro legend Greg Herbold running through the various oh-nine products that would be available, from forks to brakes, bars, stems and chainsets. It’s all in the photos below – they’ve got some great stuff yet again, but you could’ve already guessed that; the guys at SRAM seem to improve on products everyone had previously deemed pretty close to perfect – can they really make the Juicy a better brake? Apparently Sam Hill and Steve Peat think they have.
Brainwashing over and burrito supply exhausted I ambled off towards the hill in search of my next racing fix, which came in the form of Expert Short Track. The same rules apply here as did in the Dual Slalom, albeit with more of a serious-business-of-competition edge to it, but that’s to be expected; compared to the laid back Slalom riders even stoners look uptight. I guess ten-plus laps of gut-wrenching sprinting will do that to you.
It’s at this point I have a guilty secret that needs airing – I was praying for rain; lots of it. The last couple of years the Short Track has been ‘mired’ by terrible downpours and mudbaths of biblical proportions, and it’s made for great photos. Sure, the riders look miserable, but for spectating few things beat the anticipation of watching a mud-induced arse-slide down a hill. I was out of luck this time, seems my conflicting weather wishes were going unheeded as the unreasonable requests they were; blue skies and a dusty track were all that was in store this time round, and the riders used it to their advantage with a Tour de Force of power-riding, out of the saddle sustained sprinting that made my knees ache just watching.
People cheered, people shouted. At least one of them missed the arse-slides.
This is what it’s all about, head-to-head
New handlerbars from Truvativ – the
All-Mountain / XC alu Stylo bars…
Now bumped up to 140mm travel, the new
Revelation comes as either standard axle or 20mm “Maxle Light
Avid’s new brake line is called the
‘Elixir’, and sits in between the Juicy and Code in terms of power, thanks to larger
pistons and completely redesignd body
Truvativ Stylo cranks get ‘OCT’ hollow
forging, 80g off with 12% increase in stiffness, polished black or silver colours
Magura’s new Marta SL Magnesium – Post
mount only, carbon blade and magnesium body, easy bleed ports on the reservoir to make
everything nice and easy. Weight for a 160mm rotor and brake is only 299g
Magura jumps on the 140mm bandwagon with
the All-Mountain Thor – adjustable down to 100mm, adjustable threshold platform damping
and 20mm Maxle 360. Weight: 3.9lbs