Final World Cup, Fort William, Scotland, September 10, 2005
Fort William - well, what can I say but wicked, wicked course! Loved it.
It's always mentally hard to race a World Cup after the World Champs as it just doesn't have that same hype. For this reason and due to logistics and cost to get to Scotland, the women's field wasn't as deep as with the earlier season European World Cups. Nevertheless, those contesting the series were all there.
It was a pretty fast 9km circuit with no super steep climbs like in Livigno the previous week and plenty of technical fun sections, again not like in Livigno the previous week! Even if one wasn't feeling super charged for the race one just had to race it to have fun. And that I did. Throw in a couple of hard impact crashes and I can't be too disappointed with 20th place.
In the first lap of four, this particular technical rock section was more slippery than it was in practice and some girls were even opting to run it. My rear slid out and I landed full impact on my left side. I picked myself up and got back on my bike when I looked at my left hand and saw my pinky finger at 90 degrees. "Oooooooh, that shouldn't be like that!" As I was riding I gave it a good yank to straighten it out. Phew I was glad it went back into place and since my finger was pretty numb from the crash I didn't feel it. I used to regularly damage my fingers playing netball but now, a week later the finger is not completely straight and very tender so there could be a little more damage than I originally thought. I will get it checked out back in NZ.
Anyway my 20th place gave me a final ranking in the World Cup series of 21st which ain't too bad considering I only did the 5 European races out of the 8 round series. Positive is that it will give me a good starting position at the first world cup next year. So my 2005 season is now over and though not as successful as I would've liked I had an amazing time and it'll be back to the drawing board with things to work on for 2006.
After Scotland I rented a car and drove to Cwmcarn in Wales (close to Newport) to spend a couple of days with my coach Reidy, his partner Eva and baby Kea. There's something cool about renting a car in a foreign country and feeling really free. Though I couldn't believe how odd I found it to be back on the left hand side of the road!!! From Wales I drove to London then flew to France and spent less than 48 hours back in Limoux before the long haul back to NZ. In that time we had a visit from the drug testers (authorised by NZ Sports Drug Agency), I visited the castle in Carcassone, did some last minute shopping, ate crepes, and repacked. I'll touch down in NZ on Monday so I'll be seeing some of you real soon.
World Mountain Bike Championships, Livigno, Italy, September 4, 2005
My apologies for a tardy World Champs race report. Some 10 days later as I am almost winging my way back to New Zealand I can reflect on the race, the supposed apex of my season. In a nutshell I was really aspiring for a fantastic result in Livigno, and thus I’m really, really disappointed at my 38th place. Here’s what happened in the two and a half lap race... The Start - Spot me... I'm behind the Frenchie and in front of the Polish, about 18-20 back. Photo from Frank @ www.mtbsector.com
I had a pretty awesome start and was feeling good vying for position up the 4WD climb just a couple of hundred metres after the short start loop. I was sitting in the top 25 when it bottle necked into the single track and though it was a slower pace, at least we were not off the bike. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about the only real technical steep descent on the course as on the previous practice day it was very slick, new brake bumps had formed from the U23 race, and many good riders were crashing. I visualised a smooth run through this section and that is exactly what happened. It was in the next off camber traversing that the rider in front of me crashed on some tree roots so I quickly dismounted and skirted off the track and around her. The track then descended around a tree and over some roots before widening out so I continued to run this section – only 10 metres or so. There was a steady stream of riders ahead. Next I know I was hit from behind and a girl had slammed into me forcing me to the ground and her bike on top of mine. Anxiously we were both pulling our bikes before realising that her bar end was tangled in between my spoke and cassette. It took her a chunk of time to realise that she had to manoeuvre her bike to free the bar end. In this time about 20 riders had run around us. There went my good start position.
It was after that incident that I couldn’t use my granny gear – a necessity on this steep climbing course! Again I panicked – it was only 20 minutes into the race and thought I wouldn’t be able to continue without my granny granny. I thought about stopping in the tech zone – but I wasn’t sure of what was wrong – apart from my easiest gear the rest of the gears were shifting fine. Rules of the tech zone – support staff can communicate with the rider but can not touch the bike. With the adrenaline pumping through me I just continued and hoped all would magically come right. I struggled to find the positives, getting stuck behind slower riders in the traversing singletrack, but eventually I started pulling back some places. I managed to find some rhythm and my own pace. I just wish I had found that earlier!
So that’s the World Champs for another year. I’m still waiting for one good race at the Worlds. Maybe next year in Rotorua!Here are my new German fans Berndt and Claudia - thanks for your support out there!