The last of the French races in the Bluegrass series was in Guebwiller, a small village in Alsace just across the border from Switzerland. I did this one last year but the course was changed to include a monster 20 minute first stage. It was all racing blind, starting at 1300m on top of the Grand Ballon mountain and racing down to the village in the valley below.
It was freezing up top so getting warm for the first stage wasn’t easy and I struggled to get going. Early on I frustratingly got stuck behind 3 or 4 guys who stubbornly refused to let me past and lost a chunk of time. The trail was awesome though, lots of tight switchbacks, sharp rocks, roots and pine needles.
After that the 5-7 minute stages seemed short but no less fun. The trails were in incredible condition despite torrential rain the night before and even included patches of dust. Loamy corners, plenty of changes to pedal and lots of flow compared to the more technical previous rounds. The atmosphere was the usual Bluegrass style, laid back and friendly with plenty of chance to chat as you made your way around the course.
The last stage, a sub 2 minute sprint around the village square over obstacles like palettes of wood, a mini pond and see-saws was great fun before we could enjoy lunch, a cold beer and a live band. I finished 3rd on the day which put me in 2nd for the series overall. Happy out. Race report here and video here. Thanks to the organisers, a great series I can highly recommend, looking forward to next year already!
Thanks to Velo Elsener for some last minute bike tlc the day before, the Enduro 29er rode like a dream! Next stop EWS in Finale…