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Hey Lee,

What do you think about Norba having the national championships at Infineon raceway in Sonoma? As far as I understand if you didn’t qualify you can’t race.

Later, Brian

Hey Brian,

Yes, you do have to qualify. All you Bay Area riders: Get on it!

Every race course is fun to ride, but Sonoma seems like a weak place to crown a national DH champion. Can you imagine France or the UK or even the UCI deciding its best rider on a rolling hill with no rocks?

USA Cycling has claimed it strives to prepare U.S. riders for world-level competition. This venue absolutely does not prepare downhillers for “real” courses like Livigno, Bromont and the rest.

The good news: Mark Weir and Ryan “Beavis” Finney are building the course. That means it’ll have great flow. Mark says they plan to make it a huge pump track—all rollers and jumps and berms.

But a couple things still stick in my craw:

1. The date. Good local and regional promoters go to great pains to avoid overlap with the national championships. Moving the race forward a week conflicts with the Mountain States Cup race in Snowmass, CO (which is also the state championships). Apparently the National Hot Rod Association needs Infineon Raceway on the originally scheduled weekend, but changing the date hurts bike racers and promoters.

2. The venue. Other excellent venues were being considered. Places like Angel Fire, New Mexico—which has awesome courses but whose management didn’t want the event. It makes me wonder why, exactly, Infineon was chosen. Sure, it’s close to civilization. But mountain biking is all about the ride, not the commute. It looks like this decision came down to convenience, compromises and maybe politics.

Few riders (especially Coloradans) will make the trip to ride Infineon, but those who go will have fun. This is, after all, mountain biking.

Here’s the USA Cycling press release.

May 18, 2006 : Posted In: Ask Lee,Events : Comments (4)


  1. Butch Says May 18, 2006 @ 9:20 am

    Mark Weir standing trackside at the Championships: “What’s that sound?”
    Ryan Finney doing same: “Crickets.”

  2. random Says May 18, 2006 @ 4:36 pm

    hey lee,
    did you race at sonoma last year? It actually turned out to be ok. I liked the course much more than nationals, although you are right it lacks the sheer gnar factor of mammoth. However, there are some off camber turns, ledged waterfalls, super steep singletrack turns, and loose chutes that test the skills of even the best riders. I won DH last year, and it took every effort from the month i had just spent in whistler to edge out a good run. Look forward too it! The course is by NO means a high speed pedal fest like the otter. The super loose and fluffy dirt adds an edge you can’t see in pictures. Also, mountaincross course was great, better than mammoth’s by far, no dissapointment in that category. Nationals will be legit.

  3. willy Says May 18, 2006 @ 6:17 pm

    not to mention all the nor cal people who had planned to use the original infineon norba race to qualify for the national championships. no big bear, no northstar and now no mammoth. i hope the guys in downieville are ready, they should have a season to remember!

  4. DH Curb monkey Says May 22, 2006 @ 5:28 pm

    I’ll be there to watch! Everybody better watch out for Keene this year! He’s got the itch to win & He’s gonna do it! He would of had the win last year but one little slip messed him all up but he still took home 2nd! Good Luck to all!

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