The view in the office here in Champery does not suck.
Just in case you hit your head and forget where you are, the kind Swiss folks have put in some rather permanent reminders.
The DH Track
Guess who's back!
The Swiss team walking down from the lift to do their course walk.
Champery is simply insanely steep. It's not particularly technical in the dry--once you wrap your brain 'round just how ludicrously steep it is--but just add water, and this track becomes a giant slip 'n slide.
The first straight is 3 pedal strokes then 2 step downs, into a massive right handed hip. .
The top of the hip. Last year Danny hart went so long off of this he landed behind the camera...
As soon as riders get past the hip, they dive into some tight single track and stay there, pretty much, for the next 3.5 minutes.
Oh look! A tight, steep switchback. If you're riding this course, you need to get used to these. There's a few dozen of them waiting for you.
Once again Brendan contemplates turning this steep left fadeaway into a massive sender.
The only problem is that it's even steeper and more cut up than last year. And the landing is a LONG way down there.
This feature deserves a 3rd shot, showing just how big and steep it really is. How big are you really willing to go?
Fabien Barel looking down the line where Sam Hill fell during the finals the first time a World Cup was held here.
Again, it's steep as the slide in a water park, but once you do wrap your head around the steepness of it, it's simply not that technical; just bloody steep.
That's not to say that the track is baby butt smooth; it's got a few rough bits, for sure.
This is one of the only gnarly root sections on the track. It's steep, rocky and technical. Last year this section became a mission in the wet. It's supposed to start to rain on Thursday here in Champery.
Outside line is a tight right around that tree. Inside line is a gnarly root infested drop in that has a 90 degree right at the bottom onto the trail. The potential exit speed and cut off distance from this line could be huge. So could the consequences of getting it wrong. Choices...
This is mid track. Those are the pits WAY down below. Steep doesn't even begin to describe this track.
It's hard to really show how steep this track is. Maybe this left hander will help convey it.
...or maybe this will?
This is the only potential resting spot on the entire track. It's flat. Expect it to be littered with tear offs come race day. Mr Hill and his Fiancee take a leisurely stroll into the distance. Is this all the competition will see of Sam this week or will his shoulder prove he is mortal after all?
A mechanic's job knows no bounds?
Wherever there's been a wooden bridge of some kind, course marshals have kindly laid down these matts of not exactly confidence inspiring rubber for traction.
There is one flattish spot before the final plunge to the bottom--a quick jaunt down a gravel road.
Miranda Miller and a number of other Canadian DH racers are wearing a hand woven yellow bracelet in honor of the leukemia stricken racer Nick Geddes.
The final plunge before the finishing straight.
This is the view that everyone wil be waiting for as they make their way down this course. You fly out of the last woods section and 3 booters await you. If it's wet, these WILL get interesting again.
There is a load of loose over hard gravel in the last few jumps on the way down to the finish line. It looks a bit sketchy but racers who've trained on the track didn't seem to mind.
Last year's left hander to strange finish area is gone. now it's 3 relatively large stepdowns into the finish line.
The 4X Track
The four cross track construction began during a wet July here in Champery, making construction fairly easy for Ben Walker, the track's designer.
The idea behind the course is to make this more than a hole shot win. There are multiple opportunities for a wily racer to pass. Here, Jared Graves contemplates the possibilities.
The fast line appears to be rider's right in the woods (below where Grubby Graves is scouting), but there is a bit of a sneaky line that may see play way over on rider's left
The line below the fast line on rider's right in the woods is chock full of a few small rocks. It looks a bit grim, but there's definitely a safe line amid the rocks. One thing's for certain, though; this track is not weighted as much towards BMX riders, as have been other tracks on the circuit.
Ahh, and lest we forget, there will be a Trials World Champ here in Champery, too.
A few "Worlds" bikes are starting to show up, but one off paint jobs are a bit more low key than they have been in years past. Sam Blenkinsop has a Kiwi National team kit look to it courtesy of Jack, his mechanic. But the bit Blenki appreciates most is the "256" on the downtube--his plate number from his World Cup win at Schladming a few years back.
Bulldog Brook MacDonald helping build up the MS-Evil Pits in Champery.