What do you love in a slalom course?

Hey all,

I’m designing a bike park for the city of Lyons, CO. We have a huge area and total freedom. I’m planning a pump track, natural terrain loop, dirt jumps and slalom track. Super cool!

Anyway, I’m sitting here working on the slalom track, and I’m wondering, what do people love? Big sweeping berms or rapid direction changes? Perfect berms or tricky flat turns? A mix of everything? Thinking back to my favorite slalom courses, I love the speed and the high-G berms. There’s no feeling like laying into that first berm on the Sea Otter DS course …

What do you think?

— Lee

20 replies
  1. paul says:

    super fast open flat turns, high speed berms 90 angles, Steep berms that are very tall like a mini wall ride, no tight and slow berms they demolish speed and flow

  2. Lou says:

    Hey Lee,
    For a series of high speed flowy berms, what would be the ideal arc on a slalom course (ie. 90 degrees, 120 degrees?), and what is a good radius for berms on a gradual downhill slope?


  3. marckt says:

    Back in the day, right before DS was murdered by MTX, slalom features were getting bigger and bigger. We need those back. A course with big big jumps mixed with tighter features.

  4. Jeff Kendall-Weed says:

    Larger features. Sea Otter is always such a let down with knee high berms and jumps. Why not make 4′ high, super steep berms?

    High speed is pretty key to make it fun.

    Large jumps are fun and challenging. Not many slalom courses feature real jumps anymore. The Jeep KOM stuff can be pretty legit though.

  5. eason says:

    Fast “S” berms like the right “ninja” line at the fix followed by a beautiful berm that is just tight enough to allow you to keep your speed. Next, a series of steps with about 1 foot drops to flat to throw your pedaling off a bit. Don’t forget a feature that you can roll, double, or triple and a nice finish line booter for photo ops.
    Bring it to life, man.

  6. Chris Q says:

    Slalom is everything that is good about mountain biking compressed into 30 seconds.

    You definitely need some smaller technical direction changes to get that feeling of violence, but some bigger (not necessarily super hard) more flowing fast obstacles will make it memorable.

    Marckt is on it. The Norba stuff before MTX was unreal. Dig up a copy of the Intense Cycles movie “bragging Rights”, or maybe “Sprung 5” and you’ll remember how awesome it was. Hay bails definitely required. I really enjoyed the slalom at Darner’s, but a longer course with a chance to really haul would be cool.

    Think of a slalom course as a mix tape to a lover. To quote high fidelity: “you need to start off with a corker, to hold the attention, then you need to cool it a notch…”

  7. Chris says:

    There are few things more fun than a turn/berm that, when railed, gently airs you into the beginning of another turn.

    Flat sweeping corners to sort out the wheat from the chaff?

    Also, a bunch of at least four (five is better)similar rollers in a row. Four gets double-doubled but five forces a mix of methods. IMO, a triple is okay but it needs to be in a slow section so that it doesn’t get tripled. Perhaps this para is sounding a little too BMX rhythm section-like, which is not surprising since I am thinking of the Kambah BMX track – the world’s greatest rhythm section. Fun for little kids on 12″ wheels, fun for AA Pros.

  8. Brandon Turman says:

    I agree with Jeff. Larger features please.

    Other things I really enjoy:
    – Tricky rhythms
    – Elevation changes
    – 270 berms
    – Jumps into corners
    – Jumps immediately out of corners
    – Berm-jump-berm

    P.S. Is there an RSS feed for your site?

  9. Chris says:

    Oh yeah, jumps that are too short for your speed so you have to really work to keep the bike low and slam it down on the landing. Needs a mellow kicker. Follow it up with a long gap so you HAVE to pump the short gap landing. Messes you up (like eason’s 1 foot drops).

  10. Tea Party says:

    We were just talking about this while trying to decide if I should race the Ranch Style or not! I like a combo of Sea Otter berms with some flat. But I also like substance within the course. Rhythm sections, jumps, speed, tricky-slower flat turns. Keystone MSC 2005! Need I say more?

  11. Scott says:

    As a spectator, I always love a big boys move that makes a difference. Double to triple on the 5 set gives you an edge. Anything where I can tell those who took the chance with the fast big move vs. those that played it safe. And the big move SHOULD BE FASTER. I know that pumping may be faster than hitting a triple, but where’s the fun in that?

  12. Jonas says:

    Amazing topic. I love dual slalom and in my perfect dual slalom track there would be:
    – a long rythm section
    – some fast, flat corners
    – at least one big (but not scary) jump
    – one fast, rough section, like a series of logs or MX-style bumps
    – one fast s-bend berm section
    – pumptrack-style sections
    – fast, steep berms

    I think most important is to keep the track fast. Obstacles and berms don’t need to be to high, I think 1 m is more than enough for most of it. Dual slalom is that cool because you can make a good track with a lot less effort than it is necessary for a 4X-track. Obstacles should be built in way that everybody can pass them without killing the flow.

  13. Ian says:

    How about the one that Eric Carter built up in Idaho. I have seen a few videos on either Pinkbike.com or youtube. Big but tight technical turns up top with the turns getting bigger on the way down the course and the jumps do the same -medium size, then get bigger farther down. Some rythem sections and a BMX gate at the top. End it with a huge jump at the end.

  14. Dan Corley says:

    ???? I really loved the DS course last year at Sol Vista! I don’t know how much gradient you have to work with, but the nice steep, good flow, and all those guys above me, what they said, but really the straight down the hill factor was sweet!????

  15. Alex Vidal says:

    Tight and technical turns with jumps (big and small) in and out of corners. Rhythm options (double-double, roller triple, ect). BIG high consequence jumps with low consequence options (two low consequence doubles that can be quadrupled into a massive jump?). It’s important to keep all levels of riders entertained.

  16. Tom says:

    I agree with most of what has already been said, especially Brandon T. I would definately like to the return of “pro only” type jumps to dual slalom, kinda like that plattekill course from 2003. That section was amazing and a definate crowd pleaser.

  17. MW says:

    More pump and flow. The kind of track that rewards fluidity and being on point, like a pump track with a finish line. The kind of course that you have to sneek in a pedal stroke here and there. I like flat a few flat turns to seperate the MTBers form the BMXers 🙂

  18. Scott says:

    More berms, less (or no) flat corners. Flats show who’s got the skillz, but berms are more fun and I don’t need to drive up to Lyons to ride a flat corner. A mix of berm sizes is fine with me. Rollers that can be jumped by those with more skill sounds fun, but nothing that can’t be rolled — anything not designed to be rolled will be killed by people who can’t necessarily jump them. A couple of drop-aways with wooden water bars could be a little fun (I’m thinking where banners were placed on race courses in 1996), but I guess those would also need to be easily roll-able.

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