The Worlds is always a special race and I was really looking forward to it this year as I won the World Cup in Canberra last year and felt pretty confident at having a good chance at finally winning the Worlds ! It
It is always hard to be fully motivated for the final World Cup of the year when it happens after the World Championships. This year in particular was hard as the travel back from Australia was long, I had a real feeling of emptiness as my focus of the last 12 months (the worlds) was over and I still hadn
We left Mont Ste Anne in the pouring rain and arrived in Bromont only a 3 hr drive away, with blue skies and the hottest most humid hotel to settle in to !! Not to complain but it was a bit too warm for sleeping at night so I had to use my ear plugs and keep the air conditioning unit on all night !! The good thing about the heat was that it had dried the track and my memories of a very wet slick Bromont course were distant in my mind as I walked down a very worn in, dry race track. It looked wicked.
Sadly as you quickly learn racing world cups around the world, the weather is always against us and yes it absolutely poured with rain that night ! The track the next day was muddy and very slick at first, drying up a little throughout the day during practice. It was a tough track and there were a few sections that were pretty sketchy just to get down !! I was really enjoying practice despite being caked in mud. The rain came in again on Friday and made our qualifying pretty wet. The hardest thing for me in the wet, is the visibility and having to use tear offs and see through the mud and water on my goggle lens. I had a pretty solid top section and then made a right mess trying to take a tear off off at the bottom of the track and lost some valuable time, however it was still good enough to take 1st place in qualifying and some much needed points for the overall ! It was great for my confidence and I knew I could ride well again in the final on this track.
The weather finally played in our favour and the sun came out on race day. It was drying more and more throughout the day, and was pretty hard to judge as the sections out in the open were bone dry and the sections in the trees were still really slippery. I again had a good top section, pretty much on time with Sabrina, however I made a few mistakes on the bottom section and took one section way too cautiously in the increasingly drying conditions and lost time, losing nearly 4 seconds of race winner Sabrina, leaving me back in 4th place. I was really disappointed to once again not have a great race run. It just doesn
Mont Ste Anne has been on the World Cup circuit nearly every year for as long as I can remember. I first raced there in 1997 as a junior and failed to qualify, but since then it has been one of my favourite tracks on the World Cup circuit. My trip started off perfectly as I arrived into Heathrow and the check in lady told me that I had been given a complimentary upgrade to first class !! All the hours I have sat in economy and earned my air miles finally paid off and I enjoyed every hour of my flight, in fact it almost didn
After the disappointment in Maribor I decided to use my free weekends at home and race a few local races. The lovely July weather turned up every weekend and rained as soon as I set off for a race, so I had some pretty good mud riding practice which would come into good use for the National Champs as we had some pretty heavy downpours during the weekend at Innerleithen.
The track for the National Champs was a really good mix of the all the trails they have on the hillside. Some old school flat out sections and some more steep tight technical stuff, I really liked the mix and was having fun in practice. With Cross Country on during the same weekend there was a lot of people around and a pretty good atmosphere over the weekend. I had a solid qualifying run, and would start off as the last rider down the hill. By the time the final runs came around I was back on the dry tyres which rolled a lot better on the top half of the track. I made a few little mistakes on the way down but still went 6 secs faster than in qualifying which was enough to take the win and my 7th National Downhill Title, ahead of Helen Gaskell in 2nd and Jess Stone in 3rd.
Now back to world cup racing where I hope to be back on the podium and riding well.
After the problems I had at Fort William I was keen to make amends in Maribor. I was really enjoying practice on Saturday. The weather was so hot it was almost unbearable to sit on the chairlift as you could feel your head burning in the sun ! The track was wicked, bone dry and really hard pack, it felt so fast and rough it was crazy. I did 2 timed runs at the end of practice and posted the fastest time so that made me feel confident for the next day.
They had forecast rain for Saturday ever since we arrived in Maribor and they were spot on, it poured down with rain all day till about 4pm, enough for our qualifying runs to be cancelled as there was too much lightning in the area for the chairlift to run. The track was also pretty damn hard to ride, suddenly all those dry roots turned absolutely lethal ! Fortunately we were lucky with the weather and it stayed dry over night, the track however was still really slippery for practice on Sunday morning. I was really enjoying the challenge and it was great for the race as these conditions make the racing so much more wide open as it
Having been riding at Afan Forest for a number of years now and also being quite partial to some good food after a long bike ride, I got to know Ian Luff the man behind the Drop Off Cafe quite quickly!! Drop off Cafe is based at the new centre at Afan at Glyncorrwg, right at the start of the Skyline and Whytes Level trails. Not only do they do great food for hungry mountain bikers there are also showers, a campsite and Skyline Cycles bike shop onsite so it
Having a couple of weeks at home was great preparation for Fort William as I worked hard digging tracks, riding downhill and riding my little TTR motorbike all with the aim for getting the strength you need to do well at Fort Bill. I was really looking forward to riding here this year on my new bike with the Fox suspension. Having had what may turn out to be our 10 days of summer in the run up to the race, the weather was looking good for Fort William!!
Driving up in beautiful sunshine just makes the drive even more spectacular. The track was definitely dry and dusty and the guys had worked hard to groom it and it was looking good. There was a new wood section as well just to keep things fresh. My first couple of practice runs were good, the bike felt great and the track felt fast. The new wood section was taking some time to cut in, and it required quite a lot of work to get it flowing well. I tried to do a couple of full runs over Friday and Saturday morning but I was struggling. My arms just felt fatigued and I decided not to push it.
Right before qualifying on Saturday we had some rain, which made the track more slippery than I expected. I just touched my brakes as I exited the new wood section and the next minute I was on my back going down the next section of track ! Not ideal as I lost some very valuable time, but was very pleased to still end up in 3rd spot after that. I walked the track on Saturday evening and found a few new lines I wanted to try for Sunday.
Sunday morning the weather looked settled and the track was really dry again. I did a couple of practice runs, but again felt quite fatigued so didn
We took 2 days to drive down to Andorra which was a pretty civilised way of doing it. It also allowed us to be able to take in the impressive views on our drive into Andorra from Perpingnan. The last 160km must have taken us 3 hrs as we winded up and down the valleys, but it was a blue sky day so it really didn
As it was only a short drive from Calais I decided to drive down to the second world cup and I think we were there almost as quick as I could have flown, arriving into the beautiful green hills of La Bresse on Wednesday afternoon in glorious sunshine. Having seen the track on the dirt website it looked very old school with lots of off camber grass and not the most exciting track. It