World Cup downhill is 300 times better than some really skinny people nearly falling off their bikes on roads.
The fitness, skill and mental abilities it takes to race for 5 minutes down big mountains is hard to comprehend.
Across the roughest, fastest terrain imaginable races are often won by tenths and sometimes thousands of a second.
You don’t just worry about aerodynamics and pacing and line choice. You worry about tire pressure, compound, tread, tread siping,suspension damping. Every year for the last 20 years technology has changed rapidly from year to year.
This season we have a new crop of sub 20 year old racers popping into the top ten- in a season where the top 10 are separated by a second. These are riders who grew up with good tires, suspension, brakes and geometry-racing on hard tracks.
These riders are starting to eclipse the 30+ year old stars who have occupied the top of the leader board since the early part of the last decade- some of them have been in the top 15 in the rankings for the last 15 years.
To cap the excitement off we are witnessing the emergence of the best downhill racer America has ever produced. Raised on motorcross, coached by John Tomac and supported by the Great Trek Bicycle Marketing company, Aaron Gwinn, in the space of 3 months will win more World Cup races than any American rider ever.
That’s a big deal to a lot of us here. It shows the value of hard work, skill, physical and mental preparation to a generation of kids who thought they could get away with skills alone. He is Tomac Incarnate- I see more drive in him than I’ve seen in a decade- and I can tell that it is backed up by supreme confidence gained through hard training and superb mental preparation.
This third generation of talent is being coached and prepared by the first generation of talent across the board. To me this represents the emergence of a truly cohesive historical narrative for a sport that has struggled since it’s very early days to find it’s identity in the cycling world and the media. We are still the same sport we were at the first World Championships in Durango ’90 and the same sport we were at the end of the first World Cup series in ’91.
Every race is a nail biter and it’s only going to get better from here.
Any of you who live within a 4 hour drive of the Catskills really should show up in Windham, NY this weekend for the 5th stop of the downhill world cup.
You will be blown away.
There is a WC XC race too. I have no idea what is happening in the XC series this year, I bet it’s pretty interesting. Either way the racing will be awesome and I will burst into tears at random moments overwhelmed by the beautality*tm of it all.)