The Last 3 weeks in Europe have been full of adventures.
I never imagined Scotland to be all that sunny a place but the whole time I was there the weather was incredible.
I flew to Glasgow Thursday evening, rented a car for the first time ever and headed to Innerleithen (a small hidden town in southern Scotland) for a British national series race. Unfortunately I didn’t think to rent GPS with my car, so I spent 3 hours driving around Glasgow area on crazy triple lane traffic light roundabouts, and narrow back roads. After a night of dodging foxes, sheep and rabbits I finally made it to Innerleithen
When I Saw the pits for this National series race, I thought I was at a full blown world cup, most of the teams were there in their full sized WC set-ups, I made my way over to Dirt Norco to meet my new team for the first time, Ben, Dan, and George: all super nice folk. We walked the course and I got my bike set up for practice the next day. The track was a mix of tight trees and off-camber roots, despite catching 2 people in my seeding run and crashing in my race run I was quite happy with my 4th place finish.
Next up was World Cup #1 in Fort William.
After a couple days of XC riding in the Scottish Highlands and visiting friends in Dundee, I head up to Fort William, met up with Ben, Dan and George for a course walk. with a top section that was mostly rock gardens and drifty corners it was really difficult to memorize, the lower parts had some wicked step downs root sections and then finaly the “motorway” which is the High speed jump section with table tops long enough to serve dinner to the entire royal family.
My qualifying run was good until I smashed my face into a tree and then crashed 2 times, I luckily qualifed 15th…with blood in my mouth.
Race day: the crowds were swarming into the pits, I had never seen so many people at bicycle race.
I finally had the track memorized and had a couple really good practice runs under my belt, I was feeling good to race. my top section went well, I was 8 seconds up and would have been 4th at the first split…unfortunately I got a flat mid way through and spent the rest of my run getting the intoxicated crowd amped up and cheering…what else do ya do with a flat eh?
I then traveled with some friends from NZ in their camper van, we drove all the way to Val Di Sole Italy, which included a 15 hour ferry ride across the english channel from New Castle to Amsterdam. it wasn’t like any BC ferry either, this one had a Casino, a disco, a tiki bar, a movie theatre, a grocery store and some over priced restaurants. all the World Cup semi trucks and pit rigs were also on this ferry. We stayed in a 4 person bunk room in the lower decks kinda Titanic style. After a night of buffet food and sober euro disco dancing we arrive in Amsterdam, ready for our 18 hour drive to Italy.
We arrive just on time for course walk and registration, I get plate #13 lucky me. The sun is out and the track looks amazing, lots of rock gardens and loamy corners (which soon change into deep holes full of anaconda roots) practice was good and challenging, it seemed like every run the track changed: one run you’d have your lines figured out next run the same lines wouldn’t exist, you would have to be ready to ride something new every run. after qualifying 9th with a “safe” run, me and a few friends cool our fatigued bodies down in the Glacial river at the bottom of the course. after practice day Ben and I did a 3 & a half hour course walk, long enough to take soil samples and measure the moisture content it was a really good learning experience for me because I got to see how experienced racers look at the track and are able to change lines so close to race day….I pretty much changed all my lines for the entire top section which means that I would have to nail them on my only 2 practice runs left before the race.
My race run was pretty ragged almost crashing about 4 times, I was definitely happy to come 6th (half a second from podium).
I’m now back in whistler for some recovery and training
getting ready fro Andorra (: