Wide and well-kept meandering roads are directly contrary to the chaos of decaying houses and machinery that litters their borders. Space is something that is not lacking in the US and that is wildly clear to see in the never-ending expanse of forest in the state of New York. We took a diversion for a day to explore the lakeside villages lost in time and to search out the bears and elk that roam the forests (to no avail – have they all been shot?), but eventually our road rolled to a halt in Windham – the venue for Round 6 of the 2015 UCI World Cup series and a place that is borderline bonkers. Our accommodation, with its 200+ taxidermy exhibits, perhaps a sign of things to come.
But while town is a rare mix of smily helpful inhabitants and the occasional snaring oddball, Windham’s course is nothing out of the ordinary. Short, straighter than ever for 2015, fast and pretty easy to ride. The main features of the course – road jump, steep flat out open section bearing left, Peaty’s Plunge – are all there, its bones still in place. But there are small changes all the way down the track’s length – rearranged rocks, fast-to-slow changes in speed, a section of whoops – that had most riders during track walk questioning how things are going to ride. Then there’s the jumps in the grassy lower slopes that have been mostly shortened – are people going to be overjumping to flat? Practice day will reveal all.
What we do know is that Aaron Gwin comes into this event leading the series, Josh Bryceland is fired up from Mont Sainte Anne antics (say no more), Troy Brosnan was gutted beyond belief last week but has his head up and means business and then there’s Loic Bruni… surely this is the unfortunate Frenchman’s time to shine?
In the women’s, Rachel Atherton really has little competition if the rest of this season is anything to go by – her main rival Emmeline Ragot is out of action from injuries suffered in Canada. But Myriam Nicole is back on the scene and was looking full of confidence last week, and Manon Carpenter seems to have found her groove again. Maybe this will be the race when things really get rolling for the women’s category.
The junior category is tough at the top and there are really four main contenders so far in 2015 – Greenland, Crimmins, Marin Trillo and Dickson. Those guys are a cool bunch and we’d be happy to see any of them win here, but then again we’re on American soil and there’s nothing like a home victory… will we have a new rider enter the mix this week?
It’s all to play for in Windham.