My opinion: National championships at Infineon

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.

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