My final 2 weeks in Europe were spent riding, riding and more riding and racing. It was so nice to be in the mountains at this time of year as the autumn colours were just amazing and the trails and towns were really quite. It was definitely out of season for the alps and we made the most of it riding in some beautiful places without seeing a soul. We spent a few days with friends Lucy and Phil that run the mtb holiday company in Verbier, Bike Verbier. They have so much amazing trail knowledge not just of Verbier but also the area around. More big days, hike a bikes and 1.5hr climbs meant we got to some of the most remote, unused perfect alpine singletrack descents that went on for hours ! Back to back big day riding was not the best preparation for more Enduro racing but this trip was all about enjoying the riding and trying out some different events. Whilst already in Switzerland we took a short but very mountainous journey over the Furkapass to Flims to take part in the final Maxiavalanche race.
Maxiavalanche is a smaller version of the Megavalanche, still a mass start and predominantly downhill race but a little shorter, times for Flims were around 13mins. The early snowfall across the alps left the start of the race in the snow and with some warm sun over the weekend it was quickly melting snow, but for the first race on Sunday morning it was still frozen solid which made for a pretty scary start ! The terrain in Flims looked amazing as the mountains were not super steep, chairlifts linked up miles of valleys and I can imagine it could be a great spot for some big day trail riding.
The racing took place over 2 days with practice and qualifying on Saturday and then two race runs on Sunday. There was a good field of around 25 ladies, enough to give us nearly 3 rows on the start line. I had no idea how I would fair amongst the enduro crowd so I just made sure I got the best start I could and kept accelerating down the first wide open section trying to get away and avoid any carnage ! My plan worked as in every race I got a good start and led from start to finish. The wet slippery conditions definitely helped me as it was pretty technical in places so I felt my downhill experience really helped me take some time out of the rest of the field. It was another great experience doing a mass start race, it
Having finished the Transprovence race in Monaco I decided to stay out in France and visit the big French Bike Festival the Roc D
The Transprovence race is now in its 3rd year but I only found out about it during the Urge event I did in Cabo Verde back in February when I spoke to Mark Weir and Jerome Clementz as they were signed up to do it. I emailed the organiser when I got home and managed to get the last two of the 50 spots available. It was going to be our end of season holiday for myself and my boyfriend James ! As James has spent most of the year watching me race it was going to be a chance for us both to race and take part in adventure together. The concept of the event was amazing, 7 days of riding from Gap to Monaco with 10,000m of climbing and 15,000m of descending and during the course of the week there are 24 timed stages which were meant to be predominantly downhill…..but we soon found out that Ash the organiser loves the climbs and even more the hike a bike carry sections !! It was going to be the most unrelaxing holiday we could have chosen !!
The journey started with a transfer from Nice up to the start just outside Gap. Having to pack just one bag with all the kit and spares you might need for the week ahead, your sleeping bag and pillow was already the first challenge for me ! Once packed we then had a 4hr drive up to the start through some of the most beautiful scenery but also one of the most windy roads ever. I had the back seat which was a bad choice for any feelings of car sickness ! Once we made it we entered the campsite and found our tents which would be our home for the next 8 nights ! Having done a similar type of event earlier in the year at the Cape Epic this was so different in the fact that there were 58 riders and around 30 staff compared to over 1500 people at the epic. Camps at the TP really had a family feel and super social nature. Pretty much as soon as we arrived it was dinner time and the food that came out of an outside camp stove kitchen was just amazing. We ate so well all week it really was 5* camping. The following day we had a free day in which we sorted out all our stuff, the boys all talked rubbish and tried to mess each other
The World Championships in Champery were always going to be an interesting one as the downhill and cross country courses are some of the most technical of the whole race circuit and in previous years the weather has always played a big part in the event ! This year was to be no exception !
This year at the world championships I was going to be taking part not only in the downhill but also in the XC team relay ! I have really enjoyed my exploits into xc racing this year and the added fitness that it has brought to my downhill has been noticeable too. The Champery xc course is one of the most technical tracks I had seen and I was chosen to ride just one lap of the track alongside 3 other GB team mates in the Team Relay event. It sounds easy just to do 1 lap of around 15 mins but I soon found out that it was far from easy ! A maximal effort in a stage such as the world champs where the adrenaline is flowing created an effort that I never recovered from right from the start ! I went so hard that I never managed to regain my composure and suffered for the 17mins it took me to complete my one lap ! I gave it my best shot, but just never expected it to hurt so much for the entire duration. However my efforts helped the GB team to a 9th place finish which was a good points scoring result for them. For me it was an unpleasant experience but one that I really felt helped unite the XC and DH communities as so many downhill riders came out to watch me suffer !!
With the relay done it was back to the downhill track and although I had missed a few practice sessions it didn
World Cup finals once again came around quickly and it was time for me to wrap up what had been so far the best season of my career. Coming into the final round I had a lead of 150 points over Floriane Pugin and I didn
After only 2 weeks at home which seemed to fly by I was once again on the road, this time in the camper and heading out to Europe, which is always easier as you don
National Championships is always a big race of the year, the only race similar to worlds, a one off race and the prize of a jersey to wear for the next 12 months. Over the years I have raced I have always wanted to win this title and for a few years I didn
After a day of testing my new Carbon Session 9.9 in Mont Ste Anne after the race it was time to race my new weapon in Windham. In just the 3 years I have been with Trek it
Returning to Mont Ste Anne was a race I was really looking forward to not only because it is one of my favourite tracks of all time, but it now has a special place in my life as the track where I won the world champs title last September. Returning there was a great feeling and being in the lead of the World Cup series was an added bonus as this was one of my races in the year where I had set my goal to win. I knew the track suited me, my riding style and my fitness so I was keen to get back to the top step of the podium.
Weather conditions were certainly not in our favour, yet another wet world cup was on the menu. The ground was so saturated after weeks of rain that water was just seeping out of the ground everywhere. We also had some dense low fog during practice that made it impossible to even see the next corner ahead of you ! I felt good on the track, especially in the technical wood sections as these were not altered too much by the weather. The berm section at the top of the course was getting so rutted up it really was a battle just to keep your speed and get through the mud. Qualifying was one of the hardest races I could remember as the physical exertion just to keep moving in the mud in places was huge. I made a few big mistakes and had some really sketchy moments but managed to stay on and ended up winning qualifying by a big margin. I guess everyone else had also had some issues on the way down the hill !
The weather was slowly getting better and the track did slowly dry up, but there were still some really boggy sections were the water was just seeping out of the ground. I knew that I would have to find some extra speed as the conditions changed. I walked the track after qualifying with my team mates and we definitely found some good lines and had chance to really learn the track in a bit more detail.
Race day came and the track was really drying out. I was last off but felt confident that I could find some more time if I rode like I had been in practice. I had a good top section and really managed to relax and ride smooth. After the first split I made a mistake in the one wooded section which then made me lose concentration and start thinking too much. I started to stiffen up and worry about crashing and felt myself making mistakes and losing time at the bottom of the track. Another mistake as I entered the final section and I thought I had not done enough, but fortunately my top section was good enough to allow me to have lost a bit of time at the bottom and still take the win by 1.8secs. It was my 15th World Cup win, another historic moment in my career at Mont Ste Anne. It really has become an important venue in my career as it was also the venue of my first ever world cup race, back in 1997 !
Another win in the world cup series gave me some more valuable points and continued a great season so far. Next stop after some well earned Go kart action with the team was the next round in Windham, NY.
Recovery from Fort William took a few days as I think both mentally and physically that weekend is a big drain on your energy levels !! After a short day and a half at home of pretty much just washing, doing emails and cleaning out the campervan it was time to pack up again, set the alarm and be off to the airport at 5am ! I did have chance to quickly check the weather and the forecast was not great, rain all week. So when I landed in Salzburg on Wednesday afternoon I was not surprised for it to be pouring with the rain. However on the short drive to Leogang the sun came out and things looked good.
Thursday we also had a pretty good day and we walked the track to find some new changes from last year. They had done a lot of work to build berms in all the places where there was an awkward flat turn or ledge so it looked as though the racing would be much faster and a little easier than last year. However the weather would be changeable all weekend raining mostly during the evening and then drying up gradually throughout the day. I struggled to get into the course on Friday and took a while to build up the confidence on some of the jumps. I had done them all by the end of the day and felt better but just didn