Dirt Orange World Team - Harry Heath Diary #3
Harry Heath fills us in on what he's been up to during the past few months, and it includes some of his best World Cup results ever...
After the Leogang World Cup I had six weeks at home, exactly like a kid on school summer holidays, and that's how it was spent. It's even better though when you are a big kid with wheels to get around. To keep me on the right road though I got on Skype with my coach and made a plan for the next few weeks, which included the national race at Llangollen. That was such a good track, gnarly as hell at the top in the steep rooty, woods which claimed numerous people all weekend.
Early on race morning my pedal gave me a good shin dig so I had a visit to A&E for some stitches. Four hours later and still with no stitches I had to make the call and get back to the track for seeding. I got back to find I had already missed the elite uplift so one of the drivers pinned it to the top in his pickup and got me there with just three riders to go before my run! I was riding mint and was 3rd at the split, but then I had a mechanical. That's racing I guess, but I still had an ace weekend of riding and was on form but blew it mid race run. I ended up finishing 12th.
There's a hill behind my house that has never seen some shovel action, and so that was the summer project. On and off over the next few weeks I'd get up early, get a gym session in, then spend the rest of the day hacking away. My sister had just moved into a house at the bottom of the hill which was a bonus for the tea breaks. What with building jumps, tracks, riding xc, dirt jumps, skateparks and generally being a youth in the evenings there was hardly any time to sleep.
Next stop was Innerleithen for National Champs. I'm sure the trees get tighter at that track every year! Some people were actually changing their bars for narrow XC bars! That doesn't say much for the track, but still most of us had a good weekend on it. Apart from Bryceland blitzing us all the times were super tight. I was in 7th and 0.8 of a second from 4th, and I don't think I was much further from a medal.
Orange sent out my new frame in time to get a couple of days on it before heading out to the Mont Sainte Anne World Cup. Straight away when I got on it I was right at home ripping turns and scrubbing jumps. On a good foot forward for the next two World Cup rounds. After a full on few weeks, a quick sushi date, a good night and I was ready to get on that plane. It was hectic journey on the way out there with delayed, canceled and re-routed flights, but I got a unplanned birds eye view over New York which was a nice detour.
Mont Sainte Anne is my favourite World Cup most years as it's such a good track and there's just loads of fun stuff to do. There's always a good feeling to Mont Sainte Anne. The track was changing all week with the rain coming and going, it would rut up then get rough. By the time my race run came around the turns were perfect and the sun had baked everything in place for such a good track. I had a good run but then with the finish line not far from sight my rear tyre started to go down! All I could do was nurse it through the last compressions and hope the tyre stayed on the rim over the last jump. Luck was on my side that day with it just getting me over the line and getting me 12th place, my best World Cup result to date. Buzzing!
It's been brilliant to work with my coach Todd at PerformX this year, he's sorted me out with a plan throughout the different parts of the season and it has really helped me focus and stay on target. I was lucky enough to stay with him and the rest of the PerformX team at these two races as Ben and Jacob couldn't make the trip overseas. Great meals everyday from Cathy (Todds girlfriend), gym sessions, and yoga through the weeks all helped the prep at the races and I got another top twenty at the Windham World Cup the following week.
The Windham track didn't have much line choice and was flat out fast with times being sub 2.30 mins, and it made for the tightest racing of the year. In my final run a sketchy moment out of the bottom rock garden cost me a bit of time, which was a bit gutting because there were seven other people on the same second as me, and it just happened that I was the last one, damn. Still, I was happy to back up my result from the previous week with another top twenty and I gained a good few places in the overall series.
Now I'm on the road to the final round, where I can hopefully get up that ranking even further...