The largest downhill mountain bike event on record will be held in Coffs Harbour this weekend as an expected 300 riders head into the region to compete in the fourth and final round of the RedAss State Series.
Despite the access road suffering some major damage in the 2009 April floods the track itself remained relatively unscathed. Work has been ongoing with State Forest and a keen group of enthusiasts and this event will be the first major event held back at the Mt Coramba Road venue.
According to local race director, Garth Roberts, better known as 'Dozer', the track has been built to fit in with the lay of the land.
"It's pretty much been hand built in a natural shape using the shape of the land," he said.
This is a major task with at least 2.2 km of track with a vertical drop of 300 metres from start to finish. The majority of the course is single track and to add a little more excitement and challenge there are jumps of up to 8 metres long, drop offs and beams. The iconic pallet drop is included, the fast fire road is opened up and the stump jump are some of the treats in store for riders.
Dozer said that while the track is challenging to race at top speed it also caters for new riders.
"The trail care crew work closely with State Forest to have sustainable trails that are fun for all users," he explained.
Over 50 Queensland riders who struggle with track access in their home state have been enticed to this venue including the likes of former world junior champion, Tracey Hannah.
The event has now developed into a State of Origin challenge between New South Wales and Queensland.
Local riders are expected perform well as their local track knowledge should give them an advantage. One such rider is Sam Collins from north of Coffs Harbour.
The elite rider has been heavily involved in the track build and is hoping it will give him a few seconds advantage on race day.
Koerber, who is four months pregnant, will not be racing, but will instead be visiting her teammates. She has been absent from the World Cup cross country racing scene this year after she found out just one day before the opening round in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, that she is pregnant.
"I'm excited to be catching up with the team this Friday. They have been getting massive results and it's time to cheer from the trackside!" said Koerber.
Windham will be the first World Cup Koerber has attended since South Africa. In addition to visiting the team and sponsors, she will sign autographs and commentate for Freecaster. She'll also be working on some of her other promotional plans for the remainder of the year.
"I'll also be working with the team to map out the various promotional ideas we have for the remainder of this year, including the completion of my book, as well as participating in camps and workshops. I'll be attending the event with my fiance Myles Rockwell and I know he's keen to catch up with the downhillers too."
The USA Cycling Professional Mountain Bike Ultra-Endurance Tour (US Pro UET) returned to action with the Firecracker 50 in Breckenridge, Colorado, on July 4.
After winning the Firecracker 50, Colin Cares (Kenda-Felt) joined Manny Prado (Team Sho-air) atop the US Pro UET men's standings. Jonathan Schottler (Michelob Ultra-Big Shark) and Jay Henry are in a dead heat for third while Lee Unwin and Kelly Magelky (Honey Stinger-Trek) are knotted for fifth.
The 23-year-old Cares was one of only two riders to complete the highly-technical, 54-mile Firecracker course in less than four hours. Henry, who placed second in the final results, was one minute behind Cares for second place. The course, which was modified to account for large amounts of snow and wet conditions, was contested on two laps of a 27-mile, singletrack loop.
Pua Mata (Team Sho-air) bolstered her lead in the women's US Pro UET standings with a win at the Firecracker 50. She leads the women's standings by 80 points over Andrea Wilson (Mid South Velo) and Jennifer Smith (Alpine Orthopaedics), who are tied for second place.
Mata rode away with the win in the women's race, completing the 54-mile course nearly 20 minutes faster than Smith. Mata recently placed eighth in the 2011 Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships in Montebelluna, Italy, before competing in Breckenridge.
The US Pro UET will continue with the Galenda Grinder in Ketchum, Idaho, on July 23.
Former pros are blogging their experience on Cyclingnews
One reason mountain bike stage racing is so popular is that it is accessible to racers of many levels and not just the pros. Former pros Pete Webber and Brandon Dwight are racing the TransAlp mountain bike stage race in Europe from July 16-23, 2011. The two accomplished current masters level racers will document their TransAlp experiences on Cyclingnews throughout the eight-day race. They are teaming up for the first time, and both will also be undertaking the TransAlp for the first time.
Webber, 41, is a longtime bike racer from Boulder, Colorado, USA, who rides for the well-known local team Boulder Cycle Sport. He was a pro mountain bike and cyclo-cross racer during the 90s and rode World Cups and world championships for Team Gary Fisher. As a masters athlete, he is two-time US Cyclo-cross National Champion. On the mountain bike, he won the 2010 US Master Marathon National Championships.
Webber is also a longtime bike advocate and trail builder, and worked for the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) for the past 10 years. His many supporters include his wife Sally and 8-year-old daughter Ella.
Dwight, 39, also from the US, is the co-owner of Boulder Cycle Sport, a popular Colorado bicycle shop with two locations and three times voted a "Top 100 Shop" in the USA. He was a pro/elite mountain biker and cyclo-cross rider on the American circuit during the 90s and 00s and is a two-time US Cyclo-cross Masters National Champion.
He is also the founder of Doperssuck.com. Dwight lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife Heather and one-year-old daughter Maggie.
Series and national titles up for grabs in Cartago
The final round of Costa Rica's AMPM XCO Cup will double as the 2011 Costa Rican cross country national championships as decided by the Costa Rican Cycling Federation (FECOCI) and the National Mountain Bike Association (ANCM).
Official sources cited budget reasons for combining the two events as has been the convention for the past 10 years.
"We think this will add more excitement to the race too," said FECOCI's Chairman Hernán Solano. "We've also proved this to be the best for the financial health of the MTB organization as it was the formula for so many years."
This fifth and final Cup event, to be held on Sunday, July 17 is going to take place in the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica campus, a college that is well known in Latin and North America for its quality standards and research resources.
The venue is located in the province of Cartago, some 30 kilometers east from the capital San José. The race profile shows a 4.3km course with some technical segments and a final one-kilometer climb on double and singletracks designed by local mountain bike legend Andrés Brenes.
The elite men's category will complete a total of six laps for 25.8 kilometers while the women's race is planned for five laps totalling 21.5 kilometers.
One of Costa Rica's youngest talents, Andrey Fonseca, will be racing. He won the junior Pan American Championship and recently scored two podiums out of two World Cup appearances, in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, and Windham, New York, United States.
As for the elite men's race, all attention will be on the leader of the National Cup standings Federico Ramírez (Grupo Orosi-Specialized), while his main contenders are Enrique Artavia, Jonathan Carballo and former Protour roadie José Adrián Bonilla. All three race for the Citi-Economy-Blue squad. Another race to watch is 2005's Pan-Am champion Deiber Esquivel of Team...
The Lapierre International Team continued its tradition of linking R&D and elite level competition by signing Pierre-Geoffroy Plantet mid-season to its cross country team.
Plantet not only works as an engineer on Lapierre's R&D team, but he also races at a high level in elite cross country races. Earlier this month, he participated in the North American World Cups in Monte-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, and Windham, New York in Lapierre's colours.
He finished 44th in Mont-Sainte-Anne and 42nd in Windham.
His presence in the team is confirmed through the end of the year.
Plantet joins Nico Vouilloz, another top rider who has worked closely with Lapierre's R&D and raced at the highest level on the World Cup circuit.
Endurance pro wins fat tire crit and readies for cross country and super D
Endurance specialist Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) is not normally the kind of mountain bike racer you'd expect to see at US Cross Country Mountain Bike Nationals, but she couldn't resist coming this year.
"It's in my hometown; I had to take part," said Leadville 100 winner Rusch, who lives in Ketchum, Sun Valley, Idaho.
"I'll be racing cross country on a singlespeed and super D," said Rusch to Cyclingnews just after winning the downtown Fat Tire Crit on Thursday evening. This weekend marks her first-ever participation in cross country nationals although she's been a regular at many 24-hour and marathon nationals.
"I've been very involved (in this nationals) - my boyfriend Greg is the cross country course director. One thing I can say about this course is that there is a lot of climbing. It's either up or down. If you look around at the mountains, you can see that's what our riding is like around here."
"They built a technical rock garden and a technical rock drop. It's cool to see the new features." Rusch predicted that the course overall will make for a tough race. Not one to shy away from difficult racing, she has decided to make it even tougher and race singlespeed.
"Yes, it's choosing a difficult tool for the job. Cross country is not my forte and I didn't want to throw down with Georgia Gould and Lea Davison. By racing singlespeed, I get to watch the pro race, and I can watch it with some local high school girls I coach."Participating by racing singlespeed and cheering on the pros in the cross country is just another way for Rusch to support the national championships coming to her backyard.
The former 24-hour solo mountain bike world champion is especially excited about the super D on Sunday morning.
Quick links to national championships around the globe
Mountain Bike National Championships happen year-round depending on country and discipline, but a majority of the cross country championships, among countries in the northern hemisphere, happened on the weekend of July 15-17.
Late September is when many nations will hold their marathon national championships, as suggested by the UCI, while a few nationals wrap up their marathon championships in October.
Below is an updated index of 2011 National Championship coverage on Cyclingnews. Click on the appropriate link to access coverage for cross country, downhill, four cross and marathon disciplines.
If you attend a national championship race over the coming weeks Cyclingnews would love to share your images with fans around the world; simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with photos and captions, or if you spot any results we've missed.