Today saw first practice on the 4X track here in Champery. I can’t admit I’d been looking forward to this one. During the building stages we’d had a lot of problems – rain, more rain, snow, materials, timing etc and we couldn’t build what we wanted. In the end it hasn’t turned out as bad as I’d expected. The main problem is the first straight. It’s really short, steep and goes into a flat corner. The length and the gradient we’re stuck with, due to the shape of the site. Normally the flat turn would work ok, as in Vigo, but here the dirt is very, very greasy. Riders were having a lot of trouble turning on it. Once racing starts, it will get even more hairy. Tomorrow we’ll have a lot of work to put some kind of grit on the first turn to add some more grip, and maybe a small outside catch berm. Doesn’t help that the DH goes straight through the 4X at this point!
The next problem seems to be the material we’ve built the bottom half of the track with. We were forced to use asphalt road scrapings, since the organisers decided it would be a good idea to run half the 4X on a tarmac road. (Yes, what the hell, indeed!). The asphalt is totally crap for building jumps. It doesn’t stick and the loose bits fall on the tarmac producing a “riding on marbles feeling”. Only solution to this will be lots of brooms and some willing “benevoles”.
Overall I guess it isn’t that bad, but Vigo is a tough act to follow. I’ll let you know tomorrow how the improvements go and some qualifying news.
Todays photo shows a helicopter dropping some stone on the first straight of the 4X. After all the rain, it was unbelieveably soft and boggy. Without the helicopter, we’d have had to move the start down the track. Yes, those are the chairlift cables next to the helicopter. At one point, the pilot bounced the bucket cable against the chairlift cable to get into position. Pretty nuts!