Freeride biking clearly not a sport for the spineless
VAIL – Dylan Korba of Port Moody, British Columbia, was tooling along during Friday’s freeride mountain-bike demonstrations at the Teva Mountain Games, and then he went splat.”It’s pretty funny,” Korba said. “All day I’ve been practicing it. It’s been going great. All of a sudden, just huge crash.”Freeride mountain biking is pedaling through the equivalent of a skateboard park. Korba was working his way through the Step-up, Step-up, Step-down obstacle, and well, he stepped down a little too much.”I was trying to bunny-hop that before I crashed,” Korba said.
“So if you don’t have enough speed for that, you probably don’t want to do that.”Friday’s demonstration was an opportunity for riders to test out the course, and to find the very important do’s and don’ts. Today, it’s for real with the qualifying heats at 1:30 p.m., followed by the finals at 3 p.m.Racers will be going two at a time racing each other, and more importantly, the clock. In an informal survey, riders said a brisk 20-second jaunt through six jarring obstacles will be what it takes to take top honors.Trick or treatKorba likes mountain biking down Whistler and has translated that into riding for Norco Bikes in street riding and time trials. “I’ve always wanted to come to this event, so it’s kind of a good excuse to come down here,” he said.
What he and others have found near Crossroads in Vail Village is a course that will test a bike’s shocks. Freeriders come down a 45-degree ramp to start the course, followed by Cereal Bowl, a concave bowl, that takes them to The Spine.The Spine is a sharp-pointed, steep block, which requires not only speed to overcome, but also the skill to descend. The Spine is one of several obstacles which test physical – and mental aspect of the sport. “I just want to get over it safe,” said Jim Severt of Reno, Nev. “It’s really quick from (Cereal Bowl) to there. You have to be really on to get to that. That’s the technical side of it. That’s what makes it fun. You have to use your head.”Step-up, Step-up, Step-down, a series of blocks, follows. The Roller Coaster, a seemingly rickety ladder-like walkway and Up-Down, a huge hump, finishes the course.”Everything about it makes it good,” Korba said. “It’s diverse – kickers, push-ins, roll-ups, trial-sy stuff, freeride stuff. It’s a really good mixture. I wouldn’t say there was one thing I liked more than another.”
Racing 1-on-1When a racer pedals down the start today, he’ll have company. Racers will be going side-by-side in the qualifiers and the finals.”It’s different. It’s weird. You know there’s something else moving,” Korba said. “You’re keeping an eye on it, even though you shouldn’t be worrying about it at all because it’s probably not going to make a difference in your time. If anything, it’s probably going to slow you down. It’s definitely a little different having two people going at the same time.””I approach a race like I do when I ride,” Severt said. “I’m out there riding to see if I can do it. So, I’m not really worried about the guy next to me. If he does as well as he can and wins, he wins. If I win, I win. We’re all friends. We’re all buddies. It’s good that we all get together from all over the country.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934, or email@example.com.
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