Last weekend I headed to France for a round of the Coupe de France race series. I arrived after a long train journey from Switzerland on Thursday and was able to get out on the track for a look around on the Friday before race day on Saturday. The venue was high at 1800m above sea level and this added an extra element to what was already a hard course. Also it was longer than what we have been racing recently and lap times were 19 to 20mins in duration. It was a great location, right up high in the Mountains and we were treated to beautiful weather each day although because of the altitude it was still a bit chilly at times. The track was a good test with a nice mix of climbing and descending and in practice I was riding well and feeling confident for the race.
Unfortunately I had a horror start. As the gun went and I put the power down to move off the line my chain came right off the big chain ring. Initially I thought I had broken it but thankfully it had just fallen off. By the time I got going again I was dead last and with 106 starters I had a fair bit of catching up to do.
I was able to make good progress back up through the field taking advantage of any chance to overtake. I may not have made many friends with some slightly dodgy passing manoeuvres but within two laps I was up into the top 30. I could monitor my position each lap with the aid of the timing board at the start finish line and although it got harder to gain places as I moved up inside the top 20 I could see that I was racing well. The last couple of laps were especially hard as the constant passing accelerations I had been making all race began to catch up with me. Still I picked off a few more riders and after a bit of a battle up the last single trail climb I finished up in 11th place. In the end it was actually a decent result but a bit frustrating as I knew I would have been capable of much better.
Anyway way on Sunday as I made my way back into Switzerland I got robbed as I was leaving Geneva train station and ended up with up with one of my bags getting stolen. I was a sitting duck really with all my gear, spare wheels and bike etc. And it happened so fast. One second I had it and the next it was gone leaving me in pretty bad situation as the bag contained my passport, wallet and phone.
After a visit to the police station to report the robbery I ended up at a local hostel. As I had no money I couldn’t get a bed but I was able to sit down in the foyer and spend the night there. I endured a pretty rough night trying to sleep on a wooden bench and awoke early only to find more bad news as during the night my bike had also been stolen as well. So now I was really stuffed. At least the New Zealand embassy is located in Geneva and I was there as soon as it opened that morning. Unfortunately they couldn’t really do much for me until we sorted out an emergency travel document which would take a couple of days. With no money I was looking at facing another night out on the street. Thankfully I still had my laptop and so had been able to let people know what had happened.
After spending the majority of the day sitting around in town I headed back to the hostel where I was able to access some free internet. Things started to pick up from there and I got some good news. Someone had found and handed in my bag to the police station and I was lucky in that it still contained my passport and drivers licence. Later on I also managed to meet up with Richard Anderson who had travelled back from France to help me out. Now that I had my passport back there wasnt really any point in hanging around and I was quite keen to get out of Geneva as soon as possible.
So things are not too bad for me now. We are staying with friends in Nuechatel and I have even been able to borrow a bike so I can keep riding until I sort my own one out which hopefully will not take too long.
I would like to thank everyone for the help and support I have received over the last few days. After this little set back I am very determined to get on with things and carry on with my races and hopefully achieve some good results at the upcomming World Cups and World Championships.