Thursday, August 5, 2010

Val di Sole Photos

Post race smiles (only slightly forced)

Hectic start (Barbara, a friend of Blairy's took these race photos, and this was the 10th in the series, showing how many people were in front of me!)
One of the few slightly technical sections of the course

Some DH action

Road up Passo di Gavia (that's a pretty small car in front of us and it's taking up the whole road!)

Val di Sole World Cup

After a relaxing week in the Val di Sole spent drinking coffee, eating Gelati and doing a bit of riding it was time to saddle up for world cup #2. I had an even worse start call up than the previous week, it was going to be a battle for the first few laps.

Sure enough on the start loop was spent more grabbing the brakes as riders fell and tangled everywhere than pedalling hard, and some of the first lap was spent queued up in the narrower sections. The second lap opened up a bit, and I started moving up a couple of positions. By the 3rd lap I was beginning to feel better on the climbs and on the 4th I was in my usual mid-race feel-good-high. I was losing a few minutes each lap to the leaders, and I was thinking I was on track to get out for the 5th lap, but as I swung around the corner towards the feed-zone the 80% commaissaire was blocking my path. So 2 laps down and 134th position was the final result. My position was pretty disappointing with hindsight, but given my start position and lack of first and second kick it wasn't too surprising.

Sunday after the race was spent doing an easy ride up to the Passo Tonale, eating pizza and checking out the downhill race before packing everything up again for the road trip to Germany. Blairy, James and I left early Monday with what we thought was plenty of time for the trip to Zurich. Unfortunately we did not look too closely at the Google Maps route, which ended up taking us across some of the biggest passes in Europe. The highlight was the 2630m Passo di Gavia, a tiny ribbon of bitumen in northern Italy which was so narrow in places Blairy started beeping the horn at most corners cause the single lane road was impossible to pass on. After a unplanned diversion through Livigno and a couple more passes in Switzerland we made it to Zurich airport with just enough time for Jimmy to catch his flight home.

I was meeting Mike Blewitt (fellow Aussie racing marathon worlds at St Wendel) at the airport, and we headed off to Freiburg for the night. Cal has been living in Freiburg for a month or two, and I had sent him a message letting him know we were going to be in town and getting him to show us some trails the next day. I headed out for an easy ride once we arrived late in the arvo, and straight away it started pissing down. I was about to turn around and head home, when Cal appeared coming the other way, so I stuck with it and we spent a hour getting saturated. The ride the next day was much more enjoyable; the trails around Freiburg are fantastic!

So now we are in a small town just south of St Wendel for the MTB Marathon World Champs on Sunday. We rode the first section of course today, and I was less than impressed. The first 30km is going to be pretty much a road race, with mostly gravel and paved bike tracks with only short climbs to break things up. We have heard that the 2nd half of the course is much better, so hopefully there is some proper mountain biking somewhere!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Champery World Cup

My first World Cup XC race was never going to be stunning, but I guess I had been hoping for a bit better than a DNF. With the combination of short laps and lots of boggy sections after non-stop rain on thursday and friday, it was always going to be challenge to keep lapping and not get pulled by the dreaded commissaire and his red flag.

I had number 113 in a field of 200 odd. My start was OK, but I probably didn't really gain any places before the track narrowed down in the the first singletrack. Most of the first lap was spent running with chainrings, studs and tires biting at my ankles through the deep mud. Once we hit the first steep climb I knew it wasn't going to be a great day. On that first climb I must have lost 10 places, a pattern to be repeated on the next laps too. Second lap was spent a little more on the bike, but not much more! I had caught up with Blairy at this stage, and we were both doing OK through the flatter stuff and then losing places on the climb.

I knew it couldn't be long before I was pulled, so starting my 4th lap I thought I better give it everything. I had a clear run at the most technical section for the first time, but as I launched and landed the big drop I instantly heard the sickening sound of spokes greeting the deraileur. Landing the big drop has flexed the wheel just enough for the deraileur to grab the spokes, which was my fault as I had not shifted down from the biggest cog on the back after the steep pinch climb up into the techincal section. So all that was left for me to do was untangle the mess of chain, cables and deraileur, and walk back home. I'll give another update in the next couple of days once we get to Italy. Hopefully luck improves over the border and we have more sunshine and no mechanicals!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A bit slow off the mark

Well I have been OS for about 3 weeks now, and this is my first post on my own blog. Some of you may have read the Aussie MTBO team blog, but for those of you who haven't then I'll fill you in briefly.
The MTBO Worlds were in northern Portugal, and after a week and a half of training an acclimatising it all kicked off on Sunday 11th July. The first race was the Sprint distance, and as defending champ I was off in the last 10 starters. After a small mistake on the first control it was a great race for me, and I snuck away with the Gold medal by more than 20 seconds over 2nd place. After a rest day it was the Middle distance, and although I made no real mistakes, a couple of route choices and not feeling 100% physically lost me a bit of time, and I finished 2nd, around 40 seconds behind Samuli from Finland. The long qualification was the next day which I got through fine without spending too much energy.
The Long distance final was a very tough race physically and it was made harder by many areas where the map drew little resemblance to what was on the ground. I had about half a dozen legs where I lost around 30 – 60 seconds in either mistakes or bad route choice. I was able to push pretty well up the hills, but both a crash in an obscured ditch and my saddle slipping a bit cost me time also. So I was quite surprised when I finished with the fastest time at that stage, and even more surprised to walk away with another Silver medal! The Relay was the final day, and our team of Steve, Alex and myself were looking for a good result. Steve had a solid ride first up with some of the longer split controls, and Alex was on track for a good ride but suffered 2 punctures. After using his frist tube he took a tube which the Austrians 'dropped', but unfortunately outside assistance isn't allowed and we ended up being DQ'ed. The banquet and after party were as hectic as usual, and I saw in my birthday on the 18th in style! The rest of the day was spent packing and driving, and I flew to Geneva the following day. I met straight up with Andy Blair and James Peacock, and we made straight for Champery, the site of the UCI XC World Cup #4.
We have checked out the course, and as Josh Carlson would say it is pretty EPIC. There is lots of technical sections, but there is one new section that has a steep chute around a corner followed by a massive gap-drop into a steep down ramp. For a DH bike it would be nothing, but on our XC rigs with only a thin bit of lycra between us and death it is pretty intimidating. Whilst Blairy and I were looking at the top bit the second day here, Jimmy was down the bottom and quietly went off and hucked it for the first time. At first we didn't believe him. but after he showed us again both Blairy and I managed to clear it no worries. It is actually quite easy and fun once you get around how steep and big it looks. The rest of the course is pretty rocky and root ridden, and it is going to be a demanding race (especially with plate 113 in a field of 198). Below are some pics of the drop and around Champery. I'll try and keep the blog updated whilst I am away, so stay tuned!