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All about downhill

What is downhill? ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Downhill biking (DH) is a gravity-assisted time trial mountain biking event. Riders race against the clock, usually starting at intervals of 30 seconds (seeded from slowest to fastest), on courses which typically take two to five minutes to complete. Riders are timed with equipment similar to that used in Downhill skiing. The placing is determined by the fastest times to complete the course; races are often won by margins of under a second. As the name of this discipline implies, downhill races are held on steep, downhill terrain with no extended climbing sections, resulting in high speed descents with extended air time off jumps and other obstacles. The 2009 Downhill World Champion is Steve Peat from UK. The 2009 Women's Downhill World Champion is Emeline Ragot of France. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________ History ______________________________________________________________________________________________ The 1st downhill time-trial race took place in Fairfax, California on October 22, 1976 on a fireroad now referred to as Repack Road, due to the need to repack the single rear hub brake after a descent. The bikes used were based on beach cruisers that had a single rear brake that worked by pedalling backwards. A mechanism came into operation causing a conical metal (bronze?) brake shoe to be wound on a thread into a conical metal hub. To prevent a metal to metal brake from snatching it was always filled with grease. Heavy use of the brake during the descent would cause the brake to over heat, melting the grease till it drained from the hub and required repacking. Ten riders descended 1300 feet of Repack in about 5 minutes; the winner, Alan Bonds, was also the only one to make it to the finish line. The first bikes used for descending were known as "clunkers" or "paperboy bikes": coaster brake cruisers using balloon tires first imported to America by Ignatz Schwinn. By 1979, two organizers and competitors of the Repack downhill, Charlie Kelley and Gary Fisher founded the company which named the sport, MountainBikes. As mountain biking grew enormously during the 80's, downhill riders continued to use either rigid or limited suspension travel (under 2 inches) bicycles, and purpose made downhill bikes were not made until the 90's. Some of these innovations included dual crown suspension forks and disc brakes, as well as very elaborate frame suspension designs. Later, riders from all disciplines of cycling began focusing on downhill. Particularly, many BMX racers made the crossover, including champions such as John Tomac(Team Tomac Bikes), James Palmer (WAFW Bikes),and Brian Lopes.Their influence is seen in the increased difficulty of many courses, especially in the "big air/ Hucking (biker term for big jumps and drops)" aspect of downhill. The coming of age for downhill biking was its inclusion at the first UCI Mountain Bike Championship, held in 1990 in Durango, Colorado. This inaugural event was won by Greg Herbold. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Downhill bikes and equipment ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Modern downhill bikes weigh between 16 to 21 kg (35 to 46 pounds), and usually feature full-suspensions and frame geometries that lean back farther than other mountain bikes. As of 2006, 203 mm (8-inch) is the 'norm' for suspension travel however some commercially available big mountain freeride bikes can have as much as 300 mm (12-inch). Large-diameter 203–5 mm (8-inch) hydraulic disc brakes moderate speed. Downhill bikes and freeride bikes are very similar but there are some slight differences. Downhill race bikes typically are much lower and have slacker head angles than freeride bikes, so that the bike is more stable at speed and in corners. Freeride bikes have a steeper geometry and a higher bottom bracket height, so that they are better for jumping and stunts, however freeride bikes sometimes use single crown forks, which are smaller and lighter than the dual crown forks often used by downhill riders, dual crown forks usually have around 200 mm (8-inch) of travel, and single crown forks are usually around 180 mm (7 in) maximum. All-mountain bikes are generally for those who like to be able pedal up hills as well as down them, and are slightly heavier and tougher than trail bikes. Downhill gear features body armor and full-face motocross-type helmets. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Downhill racing venues ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Many ski areas are converted into biking venues in the summer, (Such as Whistler Mountain Bike Park) however there are also many other hills with Downhill Mountain Bike trails built on them. Bikers ride gondolas, trams or chair lifts to the starting point at the top of the mountains. Another method commonly referred to as "Shuttling", uses motorized vehicles to transport multiple riders to the top of the hill. Normally utility vehicles or 4WD's are driven up off-road tracks to the top of the courses. However, some tracks provide access to ordinary cars - such as Kuranda Downhill in Cairns, which runs down the Smithfield side of the Macalister Range and uses the road as access. Courses used in competition typically feature several "lines" through or around the most difficult obstacles. For example, the "A line" might be a very direct line with a large jump landing on rocks, the "B line" might be a smaller jump with a clear landing, and the "C line" might completely avoid the obstacles, but be much longer.
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