Track Walk & Tech Randoms: Vallnord DH World Cup 2022

Jul 13, 2022 at 14:01
by Mike Kazimer  
Track Walk
We re back in Andorra after a few seasons away.
We're back in Andorra after a few seasons away.

The top of the track has more fast berm and jumps whilst the bottom becomes a litte steeper and technical in places.
The top of the track has more fast berm and jumps while the bottom becomes a litte steeper and technical in places.

The top turns looked immaculate today... I d hazzard a guess they won t look so fresh this time tomorrow.
The top turns looked immaculate today... I'd hazzard a guess they won't look so fresh this time tomorrow.

There s not a whole lot of tech up there.
There's not a whole lot of tech up there.

A fast chicane towards the middle of the track.
A fast chicane towards the middle of the track.

One of the more technical parts of the course.
One of the more technical parts of the course.

The lower half ot the track heads into the trees and is genrally a bit steeper.
The lower half of the track heads into the trees and is generally a bit steeper.

Dodge those trees.
Dodge those trees.

Stumps and a few ant hills are littered everywhere.
Stumps and a few ant hills are littered everywhere.

The track is so fresh that a few loose boulders are still wandering around.
The track is so fresh that a few loose boulders are still wandering around.

Wide open speed will have this track looking a whole lot different tomorrow.
Wide open speed will have this track looking a whole lot different tomorrow.

There s a few steep chutes thrown in there for good measure.
There's a few steep chutes thrown in there for good measure.

The final section of track is some fresh cut turns out in the open.
The final section of track is some fresh cut turns out in the open.

Amaury Pierron heads up for a look at the new track here in Andorra.
Amaury Pierron heads up for a look at the new track here in Andorra.

Can Matt Walker add to that win tall this season
Can Matt Walker add to that win tally this season?

The top section of the course is all about big berms.
The top section of the course is all about big berms.

After a gondola shuttle and another chair lift we reach the top of the track.
After a gondola, shuttle and another chair lift we reach the top of the track.

It s one hell of a view from the top of the track at 2400 meters.
It's one hell of a view from the top of the track at 2400 meters.

Loris Vergier will be looking for that top spot this weekend.
Loris Vergier will be looking for that top spot this weekend.

It s a pretty amazing setting for a bike race.
It's a pretty amazing setting for a bike race.

There s some sizeable features up there.
There's some sizeable features up there.

Connor Fearon looking down one of the many high speed straights on track.
Connor Fearon looking down one of the many high speed straights on track.

Who remembers Troy s glorious win here back in 2018
Who remembers Troy's glorious win here back in 2018?

Clean. Real Clean. So far.
Clean. Real Clean. So far.

Kudos to the course builders. This is probably one of the most immaculately shaped tracks the World Cup has ever seen.
Kudos to the course builders. This is probably one of the most immaculately shaped tracks the World Cup has ever seen.

Will the turns get hammered and turn into dusty motocross ruts by the end of the week In this heat they probably will.
Will the turns get hammered and turn into dusty motocross ruts by the end of the week? In this heat, they probably will.

There is a landing and it already extremely loose and dusty.
There is a landing and it already extremely loose and dusty.

A karate chop from Luca Shaw would hurt so much right now. For you and him.
A karate chop from Luca Shaw would hurt so much right now. For you and him.

Dakotah Norton foot model. Get a grip get Terrex. Or something.
Dakotah Norton, foot model. Get a grip, get Terrex. Or something.

It s not all bike park sorry haters.
It's not all bike park, sorry haters.

The last slopes down to the finish area are mighty steep.
The last slopes down to the finish area are mighty steep.

What better than an almost fully enclosed bridge to lead riders to the finish area infront of the roaring crowd Said the course builders apparently.
What better than an almost fully enclosed bridge to lead riders to the finish area infront of the roaring crowd? Said the course builders apparently.

A rare shot of Daprella in media mode.
A rare shot of Daprella in media mode.

Principality vibes.
Principality vibes.

Top of the track minimalism.
Top of the track minimalism.

Brook and Ele talking top of the course options with coach Olly Morrison.
Brook Macdonald and Eleonora Farina talking top of the course options with coach Olly Morrison.

A surprise spectator visit from Commencal s grand master of mountain bikes Brett Rheeder.
A surprise spectator visit from Commencal's grand master of mountain bikes, Brett Rheeder.

Surely this is a track that will suit Vali H ll and her airborn skills very well.
Surely this is a track that will suit Vali Holl and her airborne skills very well.

Massive senders to nowhere infront of the mountains are a theme.
Massive senders to nowhere infront of the mountains are a theme.

Trummer Ariki-Pene and Dickson looking to do some damage here for team Mondraker.
Trummer, Ariki-Pene and Dickson looking to do some damage here for team Mondraker.

Casey Brown. She s here too and FYI is a legend. No riding just watching the show.
Casey Brown. She's here too and FYI is a legend. No riding, just watching the show.

Laurie Greenland is out for redemption after a wasted campaign out in Switzerland last week.
Laurie Greenland is out for redemption after a wasted campaign out in Switzerland last week.

Greg Minnaar will probably podium here or possibly win.
Greg Minnaar will probably podium here or possibly win.

Two wins out of four for Camille Balanche this season. Will the fresh Andorran offering suit her
Two wins out of four for Camille Balanche this season. Will the fresh Andorran offering suit her?

Pinker squad representing.
Pinker squad representing.

Gracey Hemstreet is running away with the junior womens overall but she can t sleep on Phoebe Gale.
Gracey Hemstreet is running away with the junior women's overall, but she can't sleep on Phoebe Gale.

There are more than a few extremely difficult steps out there.
There are more than a few extremely difficult steps out there.

Don t like big jumps or high speeds Look to the heavens for help.
Don't like big jumps or high speeds? Look to the heavens for help.

The finish area. Who will be number 1 here on Saturday
The finish area. Who will be number 1 here on Saturday?


Tech Randoms

Shiny Saracens.
Shiny Saracens.

Dean Lucas has some great details on his Gambler.
Dean Lucas has some great details on his Gambler.

First of all he prefers the feel of the alloy frame.
First of all he prefers the feel of the alloy frame.

He runs a Saint brake hose which his mechanic Marshy says is better at dealing with heat.
He runs a Saint brake hose which his mechanic Marshy says is better at dealing with heat.

Marshy has modifiied the shifter to restrict it to a single shift.
Marshy has modifiied the shifter to restrict it to a single shift.

A small little mud flap to keep debris out of the linkage.
A small little mud flap to keep debris out of the linkage.

An STFU Bike to keep things extra quiet.
An STFU Bike to keep things extra quiet.

They ve been experimenting with lead in the bottom bracket too.
They've been experimenting with lead in the bottom bracket too.

The lead pellets that go in the BB shell.
The lead "pellets" that go in the BB shell.

A bearing tool in the Pivot pits.
A bearing tool in the Pivot pits.

Some prototype Vee tires in the Intense pits.
Some prototype Vee tires in the Intense pits.

A detail shot of the linkage on Aaron Gwin s Intense
A detail shot of the linkage on Aaron Gwin's Intense

The idler on Gwin s Intense.
The idler on Gwin's Intense.

The Gamux downhill bike really stands out in the World Cup pits.
The Gamux downhill bike really stands out in the World Cup pits.


A bench full of bits in the Atherton pits.
A bench full of bits in the Atherton pits.

Gwin going the Linear route this weekend.
Gwin going the linear route this weekend.

High settings engaged in the Intense pits.
High settings engaged in the Intense pits.

More brake prep. They ll come in handy tomorrow.
More brake prep. They'll come in handy tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be a big day for brake pads as tires hit the dirt for the first time on this highway of a track.
Tomorrow will be a big day for brake pads as tires hit the dirt for the first time on this highway of a track.

Wheel builds and fine tuning in the Scott pits.
Wheel builds and fine tuning in the Scott pits.

Will Bruni be back to fighting form on this fresh track
Will Bruni be back to fighting form on this fresh track?

Vero Widmann s Saracen back to original shine after Lenzerheide.
Vero Widmann's Saracen back to original shine after Lenzerheide.

Skateboard wheels are proven to be a superior upgrade on any tool case.
Skateboard wheels are proven to be a superior upgrade on any tool case.

Myriam Nicole s rig nearly ready to fire again.
Myriam Nicole's rig nearly ready to fire again.

The boys at SR have quite the view out the pits.
The boys at SR Suntour have quite the view out the pits.

The Pinkbike Team is running Continental tires and Santa Cruz reserve wheels as a combo.
The Pinkbike Team is running Continental tires and Santa Cruz Reserve wheels as a combo.

Pinkbike s Aimi Kenyon s bike ready to go.
Pinkbike's Aimi Kenyon's bike ready to go.

A closer look at the Ohlins gold on the PB sled.
A closer look at the Ohlins gold on the PB sled.

A look down at the main pits in the distance. Yes there s now a secondary pit space due to where the track is.
A look down at the main pits in the distance. Yes, there's now a secondary pit space due to where the track is.

Neat detail on Sam s bike.
Neat detail on Sam's bike.

The legend Darren Burns has returned to the paddock.
The legend, Darren Burns, has returned to the paddock.

A Norco team s worth of Boxxers being drop off at Sram for some love.
A Norco team's worth of Boxxers being dropped off at SRAM for some love.

a pair of 40s being freshly serviced ready for another week of abuse.
A Fox 40 being freshly serviced ready for another week of abuse.

Bits and bobs ready to be reinstalled at the Fox pits.
Bits and bobs ready to be reinstalled at the Fox pits.

The machining on the IFR prototype swingarm is a thing of beauty.
The machining on the IFR prototype swingarm is a thing of beauty.

Angel Suarez could be a solid non-wildcard bet for this race. Already well onto a top time last week he knows this Andorran dirt better than most.
Angel Suarez could be a solid 'non-wildcard' bet for this race. Already well onto a top time last week, he knows this Andorran dirt better than most.

A fresh rig for the Goat but we can t show it yet.
A fresh rig for the Goat, but we can't show it yet.

Laurie Greenland usually rides a medium V10 but to cope with the high speed and roughness he will run a large here in Andorra.
Laurie Greenland usually rides a medium V10, but to cope with the high speed and roughness he will run a large here in Andorra.

Greenland will use the Buzzworks to bring the reach to just an 8mm difference from his usual size medium frame.
Greenland will use the Buzzworks to bring the reach to just an 8mm difference from his usual size medium frame.

The improvised idler system for the Summum seems to have served the team well.
The improvised idler system for the Summum seems to have served the team well.

David Trummer is running a 450g weight gaffer taped to the bottom of his downtube which he says helps keep the bike more stable on the roughest sections.
David Trummer is running a 450g weight gaffer taped to the bottom of his downtube which he says helps keep the bike more stable on the roughest sections.

Shimano goods awaiting application to Ele Farina s bike.
Shimano goods awaiting application to Ele Farina's bike.

The man the monster AP.
The man, the monster, AP.

Commencal Muc-off really knocked it out of the park set-up wise with these helmet drying stands.
Commencal Muc-off really knocked it out of the park set-up wise with these helmet drying stands.

The fan drying system underneath.
The fan drying system underneath.

Daprella s mechanic Loic preps the rig for a big day in the dirt tomorrow.
Thibaut Daprella's mechanic, Loic, preps the rig for a big day in the dirt tomorrow.

The Commencal minus rear wheel and mudguard has an interesting looking split linkage.
The Commencal minus rear wheel and mudguard has an interesting looking split linkage.

A close look at the exposed Supreme linkage.
A close look at the exposed Supreme linkage.



85 Comments

  • 89 0
 How much are these athletes living the dream right now!! From Lenzerhide to Andorra... nice drive over the Swiss Alps into the Pyrenees and then race against all your mates. What a life.. the scenery is stunning .
  • 64 2
 Pictures of the track, people and bikes. Everybody needs to thank Kazimer for this one.
  • 19 0
 THIS^^^ that post was te holy grail of behind the scenes race porn...
AMAZING...
  • 13 0
 And the photographers who took all the amazing pictures.
  • 2 0
 @sino428: They really did a fantastic job!
  • 26 5
 More weight in the BB area can make the bike feel really stable at speed. If you’ve ridden an ebike it’s very evident.
  • 45 2
 According to pinkbike engineer Seb Stott wearing thicker socks is more effective.
  • 7 0
 @Thisisscott: just do carbon frame and ad 500g of lead gaffer taped to the BB- seems like a good way to do it.
  • 10 0
 Maybe do a bashguard skidplate out of lead, would dampen an impact too
  • 5 0
 I was wondering if they were all trying to make their race bikes feel like their ebikes...?? Smile
  • 1 1
 @optimumnotmaximum: it wouldn't skid at all.
  • 2 1
 @jahrastafari: ...Whoosh
  • 13 2
 Would be cool to see Rheeder race. Would not be surprised if he qualified
  • 6 0
 Vee tires on Gwins bike are not protos - they are rebadged e*thirteen all-terrain! Sleeper tire that is killer in the Mopo compound.
  • 5 8
 vee tires suck ass so im not surprised
  • 1 1
 Insane tire in MoPo, on my rear LG1 with race compound all knobs get slashed though, maybe i got a bad one.
  • 1 0
 @optimumnotmaximum: the rears get chewed up pretty fast especially here in dry NorCal. I have not tried their new Grappler, but I think its worth the try.
  • 1 0
 Ah and here I thought it was a V copy of the e13 pattern, which is awesome for cornering
  • 1 0
 Gee. I wonder who manufactures the e13 tyres?
  • 8 4
 Anyone else think that something is going on over at the Syndicate? Peaty seems conspicuous in his absence. Greg seems to have dropped a few random comments that could suggest team disgruntlement and recent track walk edits appeared to show a team divide!
  • 4 0
 Nope
  • 4 6
 They're all the most paid cry baby pros of any of the teams...so I defiantly need to know the deets -PinkBike race kids
  • 1 0
 FYI, Peaty was waiting for a new Passport to arrive before he travelled to Vallnord.
  • 6 0
 So this finish.... pretty lame considering how epic the rest of the track is.
  • 2 0
 right? I don't have any qualms with the track except for the random ending. scaffolding into a hard 90 degree turn wtf.
  • 3 0
 Nothing gets the crowd hyped up like watching riders pedal across a flat pedestrian bridge then hard 90° onto some plywood...

"So then we have this sick north shore / urban DH section at the end" - The course builder, probably
  • 2 0
 I don't remember all of this track, but Barista matts on that sender is kinda wtf? Is it a crash zone, bc those matts cant be for traction? Sweet pics to gaze over foto dudes, wishing we could be there. Enjoy some tilt this wknd everyone! Finn Canuck is going to send'er over that rubber sender FTW buds!
  • 5 0
 tape on the cranks in that last pic for grip or to cover up branding?
  • 2 0
 not sure but theyre raceface it looks like, from the pic above
  • 3 0
 Crank power meter, i think.
  • 4 1
 Gwin's "prototype" Vee Tires are actually e*thirteen's All-Terrain 2.4" tires. One and the same. Maybe e*thirteen is licensing the design?
  • 3 0
 Vee manufactures E13 tires, probably something in the contract that allows Vee to now use the tread design. See the Made With Love series from Freehub Mag youtu.be/v2Up6nEqWw8
  • 5 0
 *gaffer tapes 450g frozen peas to downtube*
  • 1 0
 @hais: might need it to stop the tyres melting in the heat they're currently getting
  • 4 0
 Any ideas why Thibaut's nds crank-arm is taped up? Extra grip?
  • 2 0
 No idea, but it looks like there's some padding under there.
  • 1 0
 Only one crank arm is taped, very interesting!
  • 2 0
 Left foot forward
  • 3 0
 Probably because those cranks bust open your ankle while riding, I really don’t get why you would intentionally put ridges and sharp edges on arguably a “contact” point.
  • 3 0
 Not 100% sure, but those machining artifacts on the IFR linkage might really be a sign of suboptimal speeds and feeds.
  • 2 1
 Riders: Uhhhhhh, we don't like the bridges and rubber mats. Some of this is pretty sketchy. Hopefully they'll listen to us and make some changes.

UCI/vallnord race organizers: STFU and ride it, ho.
  • 1 0
 The craftsmanship on intense prototype is really nice impressive. A lot of work to make those. So I thought Greg’s old mechanic retired? Just needed a different rider I guess?
  • 4 1
 What's up with people adding lead to their bikes?
  • 12 0
 Nothing new. Adds stability by lowering the center of gravity and changing the sprung to unsprung mass ratio
  • 13 0
 Leady, set, go!
  • 4 1
 @bashhard: I used a FS EMTB for the first time and I thought descending was going to be tougher than my bike with the same travel due to hand pump but all that extra weight low made the bike inspire so much confidence and push through the rough stuff without getting knocked off line. I can see how extra weight on a DH rig would be the same.
  • 6 3
 funny that fox and RS stopped making coil forks because it was too heavy...d'oh !
  • 9 0
 I used to add lead to the underside of my Cub Scout Pinewood Derby car to help it go fast. Must be the same thing here. Smile
  • 6 0
 @Charlotroy: weight in the wrong place and unsprung.
  • 2 0
 @Charlotroy: pretty sure it was the easy to adjust air spring that made them move away from coil, not weight.
  • 2 0
 Turns out that heavier frames ride better after all. The physics checks out. It's not like we haven't been saying that for like a decade now, but hey.
  • 2 0
 @Charlotroy: Conventional (right-side-up) coil forks actually do add unsprung weight in a very unfavourable place. What we need is the advent of a new batch of upside-down coil forks. Or upside-down air forks, I don't really care. But they need to be upside-down.
  • 1 0
 @GrandMasterOrge: Is it really unsprung if it is inside the fork? I'd say a coil in the stanchion is sprung weight personally...
  • 1 0
 @Muscovir: Their lateral stiffness is their downfall unfortunately.
  • 1 3
 @givemefive: on the EMBN channel, Steve Jones rode the same downhill trail with a 180mm haibike (OFF) and a full on downhill race bike.

He's no slouch, and the e-bike went faster than the downhill bike by some good margin!

The weight in the bikes makes it less jarring for the rider, and the weight down low maintain the maneuverability.
  • 1 0
 @Muscovir: Intend
  • 2 0
 @SonofBovril: I’m honestly not convinced it is. And others think so too. Rockshox for example purposefully didn’t make the ZEB as laterally stiff as they could have as they didn’t think super high torsional rigidity would be an advantage necessarily. Also the advantages of the upside-down design are just too tempting. Perfectly lubricated bushings, drastic reduction of unsprung weight, better fore-aft stiffness (which is arguably more important than lateral stiffness), and so on. I’m just thinking that if the guy behind Intend BC can make pretty decent USD forks in his one-man operation, then RS and Fox with their near infinite RND budget could surely build a great USD fork if they just committed to the idea.
  • 1 0
 @bashhard: sprung bike weight, maybe that explains the obsession with water bottles on carbon frames. Has me thinking I should try out the steel cranks and 48t splined bottom bracket sitting in my garage
  • 1 1
 Why am I being downvoted for?

I'm just spitting facts, not something out of my mind!
  • 3 0
 Yes! Big format photos even for tech randoms!
  • 1 0
 When something works most excellent why change .? I run the same Saint cranks . Not the lightest. Definitely dependable.
  • 2 0
 Can anybody clue me in on how to watch this geo blocked race in the US?
  • 2 0
 It’s Geo blocked?
  • 9 0
 @stormracing: disregard that. Just double checked rebull tv. It isn’t geo blocked. Not sure what I was smoking
  • 2 0
 ExpressVPN
  • 1 0
 WAIT, why Saracen team runs alloy frames with alloy rear ends with IS brake mounts?? They already have full carbon Mysts..
  • 2 0
 Don't care, I love that shiny bling frame!
  • 1 0
 I'm hoping the shot of Pompon's bike means she's racing, Sven said he'd heard she was in hospital on Wyn's track walk video.
  • 1 0
 More interest to know what’s under the tape on the commencals left crank than the linkage
  • 1 0
 so who's complaining about bikes getting heavy when putting weight on the bike looks to be a thing :-)
  • 1 0
 Amazing Photos - Kickflip the ToolBox and win a prize
  • 1 0
 That Darren Burns photo definitely has Henry Quinney vibes.
  • 1 0
 that kenyon santa is bananas!
  • 3 0
 A flaming unicorn. Now I've seen it all.
  • 1 0
 Very nice content, keep it coming, thank you! Smile
  • 1 0
 So should the next generation Saint crank have a 10mm thick steel spindle?
  • 1 0
 The logisitics of this round seem complicated
  • 1 0
 looks like there are more protected trees than riders in this race....
  • 1 0
 anyone try registering that wheel s/n yet?
  • 3 3
 Ethirteen tires on gwins bike!!!! Anyone know why?
  • 3 3
 The sickest bike goes to A.G.
  • 1 0
 Who/whats Pinker Squad?
  • 1 0
 pinkbike DH racing team i guess.
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