Photo Epic: Riding Giants - Track Walk Lousa DH World Cup 2020

Oct 27, 2020
by Nathan Hughes  




Photo Epic presented by Five Ten




While a massive swell is expected this week at the world-famous, big-wave surf spot of Nazaré, a short drive up the Portuguese coast, the action promises to be almost as epic over here in Lousã. The top riders won't just be riding Giants; they'll be on Commencals, YT, Mondrakers and more... Dad jokes aside, what we have here is a pretty special race course, confirmed by a glint of mischief in the eyes of more than a few fast men and women following the track walk this afternoon.

Somehow, this quaint little town of Lousã, down the road from all the jet-ski assisted insanity, looks set to deliver something of an end-of-season 'super banger' despite it all. It's an atmospheric venue evoking a Pietermaritzburg feel, with white pick-up trucks awaiting shuttle duties among tall eucalyptus trees and a litany of well-sculpted tabletops in red dirt. Wide taping, plenty of airtime and some very loose surfaces will hopefully have us reminiscing over courses of old. Wild and free memories of Meribel 2014 will perhaps be jogged. The 2 tracks for rounds 3 and 4 go their separate ways on 3 occasions and look like they can offer enough variation to keep things fresh for the ultimate races of this especially short and sweet 2020 season

Note that Brook MacDonald, Jack Moir and Ed Masters, among others, can be added to the long list of top-flight absentees. Already sidelined due to injury or travel restriction were greats, Amaury Pierron, Vali Höll, Rachel Atherton, Veronika Widmann, Laurie Greenland, Dean Lucas, Connor Fearon, Sam Blenkinsop... the list goes on. Nevertheless what we do have is an array of big names far greater than we ever could have hoped for considering the way 2020 has panned out. It seems unlikely anyone will be disappointed by what's to come here in Portugal. The dirt starts flying in the morning.




Thriller
The big wave surf mecca of Nazaré lies halfway between Lisbon airport and Lousã's World Cup track.

Round 3 of the extremely compact and efficient 2020 World Cup series is upon us.
Round 3 of the extremely compact and efficient 2020 World Cup DH series is upon us.

Translation good times this way.
Translation; good times this way.

The town of Lousa under a blanket of rain clouds.
The town of Lousa under a blanket of rain clouds.

Humble beginnings with the start hut at the top of the bike park.
Humble beginnings with the start hut at the top of the bike park.

Lousa is one fast and fun looking DH course no bones about it.
Lousa is one fast and fun looking DH course, no bones about it.

The Lousa hillside is mostly forested but with many open breaks in the trees that will make it a treat for photos and video.
The Lousa hillside is mostly forested, but with many open breaks in the trees that will make it a treat for photos and video.

The Atherton Racing gang checking out the open steep part.
The Atherton Racing gang checking out the open steep part.

Silhouettes and trees poking into the sky.
Silhouettes and trees poking into the sky.

Danny Hart no doubt looking to make a bit of point as he swings his leg over a Saracen one last time.
Danny Hart no doubt looking to make a bit of point as he swings his leg over a Saracen one last time.

The wooded areas are vividly green.
The wooded areas are vividly green.

Soft and full of rocks things will get interesting quick.
Soft and full of rocks; things will get interesting quick.

The series leader out for a casual walk in the forest.
The series leader out for a casual walk in the forest.

Off a big bridge to cross the uplift road and full bore towards some relatively short jumps in the open.
Off a big bridge to cross the uplift road and full bore towards some relatively short jumps in the open.

Out in the open and things get more interesting still as the course steepens around the half way point.
Out in the open and things get more interesting still as the course steepens around the half way point.

Camille Balanche took gold at Worlds and last weekend added another Swiss Champs title to her list of accolades.
Camille Balanche took gold at Worlds and last weekend added another Swiss Champs title to her list of accolades.

The trail crew was out buttoning up details as track walk got under way.
The trail crew was out buttoning up details as track walk got under way.

This style track should suit Dakotah Norton and Jure Zabjek nicely.
This style track should suit Dakotah Norton and Jure Zabjek nicely.

Last minute connections for the broadcast crew. It s amazing we re here at all.
Last minute connections for the broadcast crew. It's amazing we're here at all.

Race one is on the left two is on the right. The open section is going to be very fast on either course.
Race one is on the left, two is on the right. The open section is going to be very fast on either course.

Finn Iles will be riding high on confidence after his Maribor podium last time out.
Finn Iles will be riding high on confidence after his Maribor podium last time out.

Wooden bars to interrupt the incoming deep ruts.
Wooden bars to interrupt the incoming deep ruts.

This will be quite a course to hopefully witness a full-tilt Aaron Gwin.
This will be quite a course to hopefully witness a full-tilt Aaron Gwin.

A massive ski jump super sender to rival Val Di Sole finish area jump.
A massive ski jump super sender to rival Val Di Sole finish area jump.

The natural track goes through many variations of forest and dirt.
The natural track goes through many variations of forest and dirt.

Super wide super natural always what the doctor ordered at a DH World Cup.
Super wide & super natural; always what the doctor ordered at a DH World Cup.

George Brannigan s brawling capabilities may be slightly compromised here in Portugal after damaging ligaments in Maribor. Still we expect him to show this track a thing or two.
George Brannigan's brawling capabilities may be slightly compromised here in Portugal after damaging ligaments in Maribor. Still we expect him to show this track a thing or two.

The wide tape sections on this track offer proper line choices that benefit each style of rider differently. Tomorrow s practice will open up lines and put to rest uncertainties.
The wide tape sections on this track offer proper line choices that benefit each style of rider differently. Tomorrow's practice will open up lines and put to rest uncertainties.

Plenty of jumping off points but to which landing
Plenty of jumping off points, but to which landing?

Loic Bruni says his head is back in the game after seeing what Lousa has in store to close out the season.
Loic Bruni says his head is back in the game after seeing what Lousa has in store to close out the season.

Off camber loose goodness before entering the lower woods.
Off camber, loose goodness before entering the lower woods.

A last hurrah here for World Cup veteran and podium every-timer Tracey Hannah. Will she go quietly Let s hope not.
A last hurrah here for World Cup veteran and podium every-timer, Tracey Hannah. Will she go quietly? Let's hope not.

There are three variations between course one and two. The first seems to be the longer route around but more exciting option.
There are three variations between courses one and two. The first seems to be the longer route around, but perhaps the more exciting option at first glance.

The next best thing to Rampage for Brendan Fairclough who will hopefully do damage on this gnarly track.
The next best thing to Rampage for Brendan Fairclough, who will hopefully do damage on this gnarly track.

After a short break the track goes steep again for the last bit of woods.
After a short break, the track goes steep again for the last bit of woods.

Continuing that excellent theme of wide gnar into the final quarter of the track.
Continuing that excellent theme of wide gnar into the final quarter of the track.

David Trummer is another YT Mob rider to keep an eye on. In fact the whole team is on fire coming into Lousa.
David Trummer is another YT Mob rider to keep an eye on. In fact, the whole team is on fire coming into Lousa.

A little autumn section to wrap up the lower woods.
A damp and loamy autumn section to wrap up the lower woods.

Not Quebec but let s hope just as epic as the MSA woods.
It's a long way from Quebec, but let's hope this track is an instant classic just as epic as the mighty MSA.

The lower section of track is a total contrast to what s in store up above. It s fast hard packed and full of tables.
The lower section of track is a total contrast to what's in store up above. It's fast, hard-packed, and full of tables.

A burly hip onto a roughly cobbled-together dirt landing entering the finish area.
A burly hip onto a roughly cobbled-together dirt landing, entering the finish area.

Eleonora Farina hoping to take her 4th and 3rd of Slovenia to a 2nd and 1st here in Portugal.
Eleonora Farina hoping to take her 4th and 3rd of Slovenia to a 2nd and 1st here in Portugal.

A steep and deep fade-away drop should see a few decent scrubs come race day.
A steep and deep fade-away drop should see a few decent scrubs come race day.

Angel Suarez finally gets the plate number he deserves this round. 108 to 9 will boost your confidence no matter who you are.
Angel Suarez finally gets the plate number he deserves this round, not far from home. 108 to 9 should bring a sharp boost to confidence on a track he knows so well.

The Hollywood of a MTB is a bit more rustic than the Californian original with a light dusting of greenery.
The Hollywood of MTB is a bit more rustic than the Californian original with a light dusting of green.

The rains settled in at the end of the day. Here s hoping for a dry week ahead.
The autumn rains settled in at the end of the day. Here's hoping for a dry week ahead.

The dreamy Nazare shoreline after sundown.
The dreamy Nazare shoreline just after sundown.

Goodnight from a peaceful Portugal.
Goodnight from a peaceful Portugal.



60 Comments

  • 175 2
 I started riding MTB in 1989 and have followed the World Cups since 91,first by magazines then by the internet. After dreaming of having a world cup in my country for the last 30 years, it's finally here. And now I can't watch it live.
  • 4 4
 Hell yeah! Should be a good weekend of racing Smile
  • 10 19
flag RyanVars (Oct 27, 2020 at 18:42) (Below Threshold)
 Use a VPN and stream it from RedBull.tv
  • 41 0
 @RyanVars: I think he meant he can't be there in person.
  • 4 0
 sucks you can't be there, but at least the track looks amazing
  • 8 0
 @RyanVars: He means he can't go physically there to watch the races not on redbull.tv there's no spectators allowed.
  • 29 2
 its a hill! sneak in from behind and hide in the bushes!
  • 9 0
 Same feeling here, and I am on the other side of the mountain just 20km away...
  • 27 0
 @FCX250: sneak in at night, climb up a tree and watch. Maybe bring beer and snacks.
  • 3 0
 @alex-morales: ándale primo!!
  • 8 14
flag notphaedrus (Oct 27, 2020 at 22:03) (Below Threshold)
 Have you heard? There is this bug going around......

But it does suck, along with people dying, losing their jobs and a world recession. Get some beers and hack in to RBTv!
  • 3 0
 @nozes Dude! I feel you! Sucks to not be able to see the races in person when it's close by. Hopefully the race and track is a success and will return to the WC next year with spectators allowed.
  • 29 0
 @FCX250: put on some high-vis clothing and carry a ladder. It will get you into anything.
  • 1 0
 That's so true! #fu%kcovid
  • 9 0
 @IMeasureStuff: name checks out.
  • 3 0
 @IMeasureStuff: clipboards are easier to carry on that terrain and just as effective!
  • 2 0
 And you in Portugal had so much MTB on TV... So make it more weird... Sure with football wouldn't be the case...
  • 4 0
 Thanks for the sympathy,guys.
@alex-morales: I would definitly do that,as I know my way around the mountain pretty well.
The thing is,we got a special law that doesn't allow travel between countys next weekend (friday to thursday,in fact) exceptions only to work,school and medical care.
I'm not counting on the race returning the next years,as it's a huge investment for a small organization,but fingers crossed!
  • 1 0
 *friday to tuesday, sorry.
  • 1 0
 it looks a sick track - so hopefully it will appear again shortly
  • 1 0
 Nice track but Nazare is right there. They will have 9 times the crowd of a DH WC.
  • 2 2
 @nozes I feel you, must so disappointing... But please don't follow the advices from people here telling you to go anyways. My country is about to go into lockdown for a second time and while missing a WC on home turf is hard, getting into lockdown and burying relatives is even harder.
At least now Lousa is on the map for downhillers, it will attract more riders (myself included) and if it grows healthily there might be more WC to come! Fingers crossed you'll be able to attend the next one!
  • 2 0
 Sorry. Fat fingers strike again with an accidental down vote. It's awesome that they are there. Forgive me, @nozes.
  • 2 0
 @onemind123: No need, I can get there riding and only using single tracks Wink
  • 19 0
 So so excited to have this race in our home town. We have seen this track evolve over many years and from the first day we arrived 7 years ago we always called this the World Cup track for our customers. Now it is one. Everyone seems stoked and it’s going to be a long one
  • 2 0
 Any locals racing?
  • 4 0
 @dubod22: @dubod22: Yes. Junior rider Gonçalo Bandeira.
I think Nuno Reis who got 2º at Maribor, also a junior rider, practices a lot on those tracks as well.
Francisco Pardal, an Elite rider is also a local but he´s out from racing due to a shoulder injury.
And i think Brett Wheeler (Wheelersmtbholidays), who is also a local will be racing also.
  • 17 0
 Those autumn colours make for beautiful shots. Massive props to all the people making this race happen!
  • 21 4
 Full tilt gwin. That's something everyone can enjoy
  • 2 0
 The bike pictured in the sign 3rd pic down should be used by frame designers everywhere. Look how slack that head angle is, and it appears as though it is using some form of gearbox as there's no mech. Seat tube might need steepening a degree or 20 though.
  • 5 0
 Looks amazing, would love to go for a ride down there
  • 2 0
 dream track spec
  • 6 1
 time for Dak or Shaw to grab the big win!
  • 4 0
 One very nice natural track... Much more interesting than bike park tracks.
  • 3 0
 Question: has gwin slowed down or has he stayed the same and everyone else got faster?
  • 11 1
 I think his bike is a bit of a turd.
  • 7 0
 Everyone has certainly gotten faster, Gwin included, but he can’t seem to put together a solid run as of late. Hoping some good time on the bike from Leogang and good weather conditions this week help bring him back to form.
  • 8 0
 He's finally turning in solid runs but the level of competition has increased incredibly these last three years.
  • 8 0
 I think if you watch Ben Cathro's course analysis and ghost videos you can see that tiny differences in riding translate to big time differences, half a second can be won or lost in 30m of track.

What's really amazing considering this is how close the times are after a 3 or 4 min run.

Gwin is still slaying it, but he's just been lacking that extra 1% of speed needed to win, could be the injuries or the bike, that's what's so so difficult to determine.

If it was as simple as changing a couple of details up in order to knock 3 seconds off a race run, everyone would be doing it.
  • 3 2
 Not a Gwin fan... He was saying though that the Leogang was his first race in like 8 months and usually before world cups he has had 10-15 races under his belt to get him to race speed. He said he needs that to get him up to full pace.
  • 5 0
 damn, give the guy a break. Injuries, new bike and new team all at once, not sure who could be on top of his game with all that. Also if you're Gwin people says you're done as soon as you don't podium, apparently.
  • 3 0
 @iiman: True. Minnaar had a few off years - yet he keeps slotting right in there now, so will Gwinn. And to add to your list - he also just got married - that'll take time away.
  • 3 3
 Damn the track is way too groomed, you should have done last year national cup with a lot of loose shale rock and full of rain ruts. But probably it will turn like that quite fast I hope
  • 11 0
 Oh it’s going to get rough Wink
  • 1 0
 @Wheelersmtbholidays: I believe so. A shame it won't rain over the weekend though only monday
  • 2 0
 The end hip looks rowdy if they're landing in the grass!
  • 2 0
 This track looks like a lot of fun!
  • 3 0
 Please rain........
  • 2 0
 Where’s Danny going? Anyone?
  • 5 0
 Still no official word, but rumour is Cube.
  • 6 0
 @Rickos: He's keeping up his tradition of riding unsexy bikes
  • 2 0
 I'd like to see Danny go to Atherton Racing. Long shot, and I doubt they have the capital, but it'd be fun.
  • 2 0
 @Rickos: He hinted at Orange on Wyn TV.
  • 3 0
 come on Danny Hart.
  • 1 0
 That Dad joke made my morning . . ..
  • 2 0
 Excellent dad joke. But is Jack Moir absent as he's big wave surfing down the road? We need answers and video footage
  • 2 3
 Do women not do track walks? Bit of a sausagefest all up in here.
  • 1 0
 There are far fewer women at the race... We include everyone we can within the few hours we spend taking the walk ourselves.

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2021. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv23 0.014235
Mobile Version of Website