The race began on Saturday evening with a flat out 40 second sprint as fast as your nerves would let you down a short trail, around a steep berm, through a few concrete corners and finishing with a mad sprint up the main street of the village. Pure adrenaline, a party atmosphere and great spectating with lots of crashes.
4 x timed stages, 2 x chairlifts, 2 x 550m climbs
After a chairlift and a 20 minute climb we began the race proper surrounded by Alpine mountains still covered in snow not far above us. A nice singletrack lead to a short climb and some very fast sections through meadows and bogs where you had to be flat out stomping on the pedals before hitting a fun bermed pump track style bike park down to the town. I entirely messed up one section and lost a good 40 seconds, not warmed up properly or not in the zone, either way I need to find out how to start these things better!
From there we had a good hour of hot climbing up to stage 2. Not pleasant on a bouncy bike lugging loads of body armour and a full-face helmet along but the views and the banter made it bearable. The sociable relaxed atmosphere at these races and the chance to meet like minded people from all over the world makes it great fun. The second stage was a monster, beginning with off-camber trails cut through grassy pastures it dropped into the forest into endless root covered rutted singletrack that was all perfectly rideable and great fun be to go fast was utter body destruction. Standing on the pedals the whole time, legs burning trying to pump the bike over bumps and around corners, arms screaming reluctant to pull the brakes and brain struggling to stay focused to pick a line and remember what was coming up. It was a relief to get into another bike park section towards the bottom with some fun drops, jumps and swooping berms.
Stage 3 and 4 were a repeat of the first 2 stages – something we thought a bit boring at first but actually a great idea and chance to do justice to the mistakes of the first time. Stage 3 I rode much better and moved up the rankings. The climb to stage 4 seemed longer and steeper. Stage 4 itself was torture by the end, my body had given up. I was shouting to myself ‘get of the brakes, get off the brakes’ but if I did that I could barely hold the bars and my legs were quivering standing up! savage stuff.
I finished 11th against a some strong international riders so happy enough. An amazing weekend, brilliant trails and really tough racing. Lots to improve on, each race I learn more about what not to do than anything else. Now time to hit the gym!
Full report of the women’s race over on Devil in a Dress