With lousy weather turning several rounds of the National and World Downhill series into slow moving mire, Red Bull have abandoned the dirt altogether for their latest spin on Mountain Biking.
A damn site easier than going up
The Red Bull Down Town was an invitation only event raced through the narrow cobbled streets, and huge flights of steps through the centre of Lisbon. 40 of the world’d best riders were left wondering which bikes and tyres to run on totally urban terrain. Crowds were massive through the narrow streets, cheering as the riders put in 5 practice runs on the first day (which is a different reaction to the one we get when riding crowded pavements) and the top placed riders quickly adjusted to the lack of mud, styling it up to the wild applause of teh bewildered Portugese.
Dual slalom specialist Scott Beaumont of Team Kona Ford Focus got the course dialled after settling on a Kona DuDu running medium low profile tyres, and had qualified well by the end of play on Saturday. Unfortunately rain hit on the race day, and we all know what a bit of wet does to polished stone. The course dried slightly before the first runs but the narrow twisting corners were still treacherously greasy, but Scott logged an 8th place first run. Unfortunately his second run was off the pace of the fastest finishers which placed him 14th overall.
Final podium order was 1st – Cedric Gracia, 2nd – Bas De Bever and 3rd – Philip Polc, but the real winner appears to have been the concept itself, which was loved by riders and spectators alike.
With most of the “DH / Dual” riders we see round here never leaving the comfort of concrete steps or the local shopping centre It’s certainly more akin to their riding experience. Plus, we have to say, sitting outside a greasy spoon in Sheffield, Bristol, Edinburgh or any other hilly city watching lunatics hurl themselves past sounds far more appealing than schlepping up some soggy forest track to stand in mist and midges to see someone churning past through the at little more than walking pace. It’d also be a hell of a lot more entertaining for most people than the tuneless hippy buskers, and spot on for TV coverage.
Of course the stakes are a bit higher when you’re wiping out onto tarmac, stone buildings or through the nearest shop window but no one ever watches where riders don’t crash do they? So are you in favour of the bike version of Bullitt, or is it the evil marketing prostitution of a once epic struggle between man and nature? Let us know and we’ll have a straw poll result up when we get an answer.
In the meantime, we’ll see you down the local multi storey car park to get some practice in.