3rd Round of the 2010 UCI World Cup. Leogang, Austria.
Straight into the Euro alps for the first time this year. The surrounding mountains still blow my mind whenever I see them.
I travelled down from Wales with Gaz Brewin and his dad, farmer Graham. After 1500 km’s of driving, a 2 hour ferry ride full of dirty euro gromets running around, an argument with a massive 6 foot, 150kg german restroom cleaner for not paying the useless 50 cents to use the bathroom (who wasn’t too happy after I threw 30 cents at him and then legged it), we finally arrived in the town of Leogang.
The next day we woke up to the amazing mountains and some awesome weather. We made our way to the event to set up pits and walk the track. We setup the Kona pits, played some cricket in the sun, and hit the mountain. The hill looked small from the bottom but as you got higher up it grew back further and further.
Some of the sections on the track looked mean! others looked pretty average. There were two massive pedally sections in between all the steep technical sections. It definitely looked tough.
Friday morning proved another day of hot weather. We got up the track a little earlier because I was so keen to ride. The track was super fun. All the flat sections flowed way better than I thought. I felt really comfortable on the track from the start of practice. Towards the end of the day the rain began. I quickly threw on some cut Maxxis Spikes before top 80 practice. The rain didn’t make the track too bad, a little slower on the flat bits but all the steep sections were unreal.
Saturday quail time. The rain continued over the night but was only sprinkling during the day. The track slowed up a little more and the ruts and holes started to form. I still felt pretty confident and new I could put a good run together for qualifying.
I had a decent run, riding all the technical stuff good, but tried to conserve too much energy on the pedalling, I still can’t get my head around going all out in qualifying, Im always thinking about saving myself for race day. I came down with a time of 4:16.21. That was good enough to qualify me in 20th position and get a few points for the overall. Knowing I had a lot of time in the tank and was only 2 seconds off 10th place gave me a lot of confidence.
I did a good warm down and headed straight home to get out of the rain.
The rain got really heavy throughout the night, Sunday it was still teaming down. We got out to the track and let a few riders ride it in. I went up for my first practice run. I got about 50 seconds into the course, pinning down this narrow chute, slid on a little rock, and got thrown down the left side of the track rag dolling about 20ft to the fireroad. A bit shaken up I checked what I did wrong, ditched the muddy gloves and rode to the bottom, I couldn’t feel my fingers it was so cold. So that practice run was pretty useless. I got freshened up and went for another run with team mate Joe Smith.
Same thing happened, I was following Joe down about a minute into the track, I got cross rutted about 4 metres before where I crashed in my first practice run. The bike swapped underneath me and threw me back down the same hill grinding down on my face. Got up, mouth piece caked with mud, goggles full of mud, and once again gloves had to be ditched. I was so pissed off, I walked back up and hit the section again but just rolled through it. I continued down having to stop after every section to clean my goggles, the track was an absolute mess, slow and bogged out the whole way down. I went back, got changed and waited for finals. Having my confidence so high all weekend to feeling like shite after two practice right before World Cup finals is not a good thing.
3 hours later the rain was still continuing, I got ready and made my way up. I did a really good warm up spending a bit more time on the trainer which felt good. I pinned it to the gate because the UCI was panicking. Snapped them in out of the gate and straight into it. I hit the top turns mint! As I got a bit further down I couldn’t believe how much bigger the ruts and holes were, water and mud filled the holes so every couple of seconds your whole body and bike would just compress and then you would get kicked around. I rode the section I crashed on so slow, just wanted to get through it for the first time of the day. Along the first pedally section I pulled a tearoff. I rode the next forest section really good, gapping the hole after the little bridge better than I ever did it in practice. I came into the awkward tight right hander before a 1 minute flat pedal. Coming into the turn, unexpectedly both wheels loop out and I hit the deck on the roots. I got up, grabbed my bike, tried cleaning my gloves and began the flat pedal in the worlds hardest gear, I cased the next few table tops until I got my flow back. The whole next section was horrible in the mud, riding down the steep grassy off camber almost felt like you were going to stop thats how boggy it was. Goggles were covered so I went to pull my last tearoff before the final forest. Nothing came off, I realised I must have accidentally pulled both before the first split. I tried to keep pinning it, but the vision was getting so bad, and I just wasn’t having fun. I got to the bottom over the line with a 4:30.06. Probably the worst race run I have ever had. At first I was a bit gutted, but I got over it as quick as I could because probably 80% of riders were throwing it away. The gnarliest race I had ever done. If anyone was at Thredbo nationals early 2010, I’d say it was harder and more muddy than that.
So in the end I finished up 61st. Greg Minnarly taking the win on the day and extending his lead in the overall.
A horrible race there put me back into 35th for the overall. Hopefully I can pull finger at the next 3 races and get up to where I want to be.
A big thanks to all my sponsors for supporting me.
Kona bikes, Shimano, Maxxis, Muc-off, Rockshox, Easton, FSA gravity, Adidas, E-13 and big shout out to ma boi Daniel Lavis the muzzy for washing my bike on raceday.
We have a big 4 week break now before Champery World Cup. See you cats there.