Hello to Everyone,
We arrived in Scotland the Monday before the World MTB XC Champs in Fort William and I spent an overcast, wet end to the week practicing the course, preparing myself mentally for the challenge ahead and making much needed repairs and replacements to my poor Mongoose which had taken some serious strain in the last few weeks of training and racing in Europe.
SA was definitely one of the most spirited teams at Worlds and I was proud to be a part of the team! Brian Strauss and all those involved in the teams plans and arrangements going forward to Worlds did an excellent job, everything ran very smoothly which especially considering the size of our team was a great achievement. Thanks to all involved and to Rob Cunnington, our team mechanic who did an excellent job taking care of the teams bikes and giving me the all important peace of mind that come race day my racing machine would be 100% ready.
The 7.9km course was really well prepared for wet weather with the majority of it covered with building sand and only a few really muddy sections thrown in for good measure. With 277m of climbing, a long slalom like downhill and an uphill drag with a short steep climb to the finish it was a tough course but not nearly as technical as the World Cup courses I have ridden this year.
It was another cool, overcast morning that welcomed us to the start of Worlds. With an hour to go to the start I went and started my warm up and arrived at the start line ready to give everything. Having earned precious UCI points during the year from both National and International events definitely helped us with our start positions. I was seeded 31st, Amy 34th (which put us in the 4th row), Tania 49th and Sara 58th, a big improvement from last year where we started right at the back of the bunch.
The start was fast but not as hectic as I had expected, we started on a fairly long broken climb and got caught in a 'traffic jam' on the first single track uphill. We soon got going again and I pushed hard on the next open dirt road section before the last technical climb and long downhill as I knew it would be very difficult to pass during these. I sat patiently behind the slower technical riders ahead of me on the downhill (I have learnt to do this after crashing in my 1st World Cup race trying too hard to pass a slower rider) taking advantage of any opportunity to pass, unfortunately there were not many and it was pretty frustrating!
I tried to push my pace as hard as I could on the climbs in my second lap passing a few riders and having a relatively clean run on the downhill. On my 3rd lap I lost a few places on the uphill and again got stuck behind a slow technical rider in the downhill loosing precious time. Going over a tricky rocky section she took a wide right line and I quickly cut in to the left passing her and soon had a decent gap. I caught and passed a group of 4 riders on the last uphill drag and pushed hard to keep my advantage on them.
Going into my last lap I was able to keep a consistent pace and caught 2 riders that were obviously starting to feel the effects of the tough course.
Reaching the last steep climb there was a lady just ahead of me, giving it everything I had left to try catch her I unfortunately pushed it a little too hard on the last corner and my front wheel washed out. After quickly paying my respects to the ground I jumped back on my bike and crossed the finish line in 31st place 10:46 behind the leader. Amy, Tania and Sara all had a good race finishing 44th, 53rd and 60th respectively, Tania unfortunately having cut her knee quite badly in her 1st lap.
I was very happy with my result, one I could not have achieved without the International experience I gained during the year, my sponsors and the amazing support and guidance from my coach.
It was great to spend the next day relaxing after 5 tough but amazing weeks of European racing. Sara and I hit the trails on Ben Nevis (the mountain we raced on) trying to avoid the uphills as much as possible and then joined the rest of the SA team to watch and support our downhill riders.
After a night of celebrating it was time to return to a sunnier SA to rest and prepare for my next race the Karoo to Coast Drifter.
Cheers till then...