sad spiders

World Cup Downhill 2022 starts next weekend!

Code Orange; All hands on deck.

World Cup Downhill racing starts again for the 2022 season this weekend! And yes, you should absolutely watch it. Look, the good nerds over at Red Bull have thrown together a cheat sheet so that you can ignore everything I am about to say and just go there! No wait, do not go to a different website. This is your home now.

Not only race day is a good time, the entire week before the race has daily updates from various athletes and teams released via [popular streaming service]. If you want to get involved properly, here’s a breakdown of some of the best stuff to watch before [streaming service] learns your preferences and feeds you nothing but this and also weird conspiracy videos because you watched one as a joke once. The only real “conspiracy” is that Birds aren’t Real. Look into it.

This sport attracts a fun array of people. You might think that they are all screw-loose low-IQ weirdos but you would only be one-third right; most of them seem to be of average IQ or higher and generally pretty normal. Getting to know the riders goes a long way in the enjoyment because there will always be people you want to win and people you want to lose. But you have to pretend to be sportsmanlike and just say things like “I just want him to win less” but it’s okay we all do that and know what you mean (“fuck that guy”).

Track Walk

Before being allowed to ride down the track, all athletes participate in a track walk. This allows them to hang out with one another, tell stories, and if it’s been raining they will slip and fall a few times each. I know this because New Zealand native Wyn Masters posts his usually-pretty-good WynTV track walks (Note: link is from the last time the race was in Lourdes back in 2017).

This is a great way to learn the players in the game. Wyn is a master interviewer in that he just says whatever he thinks without thinking about it so you learn some fun stuff from everyone. He also seems to be pretty universally liked so everyone is open with him.

Track walks are also where you can learn which parts of the course riders are excited for and which are dreaded which helps to understand what they’re going through come race day.

Practice videos

The entire time after track walk until race day, the good folks down at Vital MTB release daily footage of what has been happening. These offer good insight into how riders progress from a first attempt at a difficult section to really having it nailed down. There are also usually a fair number of entertaining crashes and occasionally some gnarly/scary-looking crashes. Along with these videos, riders will post their point-of-view footage from practice so you get a vague sense of what things will be like from their perspective. I have a feeling this might actually be better with in virtual reality, since current footage is notoriously bad at conveying how steep things actually are.

Of course I would be remiss not to mention Pinkbike’s coverage in this discussion. They were recently acquired by Outside Media or something and the whole comments section hates them for it, but the comments section is also just notoriously bitchy about everything (e.g. “pick a tire size and be a dick about it”). Oh yeah, but I was going to say that Pinkbike is also where a lot of these videos are aggregated, so a daily visit to their site for the week before a race will keep you up-to-date on the haps. Also be sure to read the comments because there are a lot of gems scattered in there. Actually, as much as possible, just read the comments.

Qualies (Qualifying)

The day before the race (sometimes two days before) there is a qualifying heat to determine the order everyone will come down the mountain. Red Bull always tries to do this thing where they talk to everyone as soon as their run is done and they are exhausted and can’t formulate a decent thought/sentence and it generally sucks shit. It is considered wise to assume that the outcome of qualifying will be almost exactly the same as the outcome of the race because some people do that and others are sarcastic jerks.

Yes me.


A lot of these races are held in Europe. This weekend, for example, takes places in Lourdes in the French Pyrenees. Neat!

The women race first and are definitely entertaining enough to watch. Over the last few years the competition has really upped their game and to win the race they need to hit all the jumps the men do. The free Red Bull World Cup Downhill brought to you by Mercedez-Benz (seriously) livestream starts at 6:25am in my part of North America, which means I get to wake up, put on some coffee and spend half my day just relaxing and enjoying some biking.

The men’s broadbast starts some time around 9:30 or 10 am, about half an hour after the ladies finish and goes for a good while. It usually gets really exciting once the last twenty or so dudes start making their way down. A lot of them are buddies so you’ll see some good sportsmanship.

Rob Warner

One of the announcers is named Rob Warner and even if you don’t know what’s going on, make sure you have the volume turned up because you’ll get really excited just because he gets so damn excited. Seriously, he’s about 25-30% of the reason I watch at all.

People to gun for

Look, you’re new and that’s okay. Here’s a cheatsheet on some people I like off the top of my head and why.



There are a ton of others I could thrown in but they’re all just “they seem like a good dude/dudette and it would be nice if they won.”


You should now have a good starting point for getting into watching professional downhill mountain bike racing. I’m also excited because we’re planning on going to the race at Mont Ste Anne in Québec this year, so if you have any interest in going, starting to watch now is a good starting point to full enjoyment.

#dh racing #bikes