Maryhill Loops Road: Easy To Ride, Hard to Master
Maryhill Loops Road is one of the most iconic tracks in gravity sports. Two miles long, with nearly twenty turns on a five percent grade, the road has hosted World Cup races for many years and was the site of the IGSA World Championship race in 2007.
When it was first raced in 2001, Maryhill was an extremely challenging track that pushed riders and their gear to the limits of performance as they tried to make it around the corners without sliding out and crashing.
Subsequent advancements in equipment and technique have made it much easier to ride faster, more technical tracks that require aggressive braking for corners. Nowadays Maryhill, with its relatively low speeds and wide, grippable corners, is regarded as a beginner-friendly hill where good riders go to fool around. As other race hills have come and gone, Maryhill remains a consistently challenging race track.
The fact that Maryhill is relatively easy to ride makes it incredibly difficult to race. Downhill races consist of two parts: timed individual runs to establish starting position followed by head-to-head racing. Timed qualifying is very competitive, with the entire 96-person stand up bracket running within a few seconds of each other. Head-to-head racing is even more challenging, demanding perfect form as you negotiate hairpin turns in a tight pack of competitors. There is no room for error: one wrong move can send you to the back of the pack or over a small cliff.
In addition to perfect form, doing well at Maryhill requires an intimate understanding of racing strategy, aerodynamics, and the physics of speed. Gravity sports depend heavily on aerodynamics and drafting to maintain speed and make passes. Maryhill often has downhill winds everywhere except the straightaway into the final corner, where the road switches back on itself and the tailwind becomes a headwind. Experienced racers will attempt to stay in second place all the way down the hill and attack in the final moments before the finish line for a dramatic last-second victory.
While the demand for strategic and technical perfection frustrates riders who are stronger on faster tracks that require braking, Maryhill continues to draw the best downhill athletes from around the globe to the easiest track to ride, but the hardest race to win.