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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Val di Sole World Cup.

I managed to borrow a car to get to this one and so was able to avoid the trains which I am not quite so keen on after Geneva. The Fiat Punto had seen better days but it was so good to be able to use it. As I would be travelling with Anton it was looking like being a tight squeeze to fit all our gear but everything packed in nicely and we set off for a solid days drive to Italy. It was slow going with a lot of traffic and small roads and we noticed that the fuel gauge wasn’t super accurate. It tended to move around a bit and couldn’t make up its mind on how much was left in the tank. We had a fairly big climb of the Paso d Aprica coming up and with supposedly a quarter of a tank left we began heading upwards. Things went well to begin with, but with about 3kms remaining to the top we ran out of gas. Thankfully after standing around for a few minutes a couple of friendly locals stopped and we were able to explain the situation and they were kind enough to run Anton to the nearest petrol station to fill up a container to get us to the top. It was all part of the fun and we were soon back on the road for another couple of hours of tight and twisty mountain roads and congested towns making it to our accommodation in Dimaro just after 7:00pm.

I got in some good course reconnaissance over the next few days and enjoyed soaking up the excitement of a World Cup race again. The track was very similar to the previous year but it flowed a lot better with a new climb and descent mid way through the lap and a grass section removed to shorten it down. Not really all that technical it was however a very tough course with such a large amount of climbing and all very steep with not really any chance to recover and get your breath back.

It was super hot all week and I was very glad the U23 mens race was at 9:00am meaning we avoided the high 30 degree temperatures later in the day. It was a big field of 93 starters and we had a start loop plus 5 laps. The beginning of the race was chaotic as usual at a World Cup and I was unable to avoid the carnage ending up with pedal jammed in my front wheel. Getting going again I was keen to get on with it but was slowed every time the track narrowed and lost more places riding through way back in 69th after the first lap which was definitely not where I wanted to be. I went pretty well from there and coming into the final few laps was sitting around 40th. There were a lot of riders not too far in front and I made a big effort to gain some extra places getting up to maybe 34th with half a lap remaining. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to hold this and crumbled on the last steep climb falling back down to 39th. Not the result I was after but on a positive note finishing only 5min behind the winner is not a lot especially on such a brutal track.

Getting a good tough race in my legs has been very good especially with just two weeks remaining till the World Championships and although my result in Italy wasn’t spectacular it was a good to see that I am not too far off the pace. I am a big fan of the Champery course and am confident I have the ability to get up into more satisfactory position come World Champs time. I have another week here in Brot Plamboz and then on Saturday I head to Champery to meet up with the New Zealand team and get to know the track before race day on Friday the 2nd of September.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Good times.

Well here's a bit of an update to let everyone know whats been happening over the last little while. I have been living in the tiny farm village of Brot Plamboz. It is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and is a good place to be if you like the quiet life. Jerome rents the bottom storey of a farm house and it is great staying here as I have a training partner and good company.

The riding is not bad with lots of small country roads and several decent climbs. There is also some really nice single track up in the forest nearby that is perfect for technical training especially when it is damp. The rocks around here are super slippery and it can get pretty loose at times.

Some of the locals.

The Creux du Van a massive circular cliff not to far from here. The Valley up in the distance is where I am living at the moment.

Riding around the Creux du Van.

The 1000th Anniversary of Nuechatel coincided with the 1st of August which is the Swiss National Day. This called for a pretty big Celebration and a huge fireworks display.

Last week we went to Morgins a small ski town in the Portes du Soleil region and got in some awesome riding up in the mountains. It is a really nice area especially when the weather is as good as it was when we were there. Morgins is just over the hill from Champery where the World Champs are going to be held and we did quite a bit of riding over in that direction. It is easy to do some epic rides and we made the most of it putting in a couple of big days. Lots of climbing combined with to many trails coming back down to choose from made for some pretty good fun out on the bike and the views weren't to bad either.
One of the tracks up above Champery

A small lake near the top.

The view from up high looking back down to Val-d llliez.

On Friday we drove over the border to Chatel in France and went downhilling for the day. In summer the ski lifts stay open for bikes and you can travel pretty much anywhere you want catching a ride up the hill on the lift and then coming back down with the bike. I borrowed Jeromes DH bike so I could cut loose and have some real fun. From Chatel we went up and over the top to Morzine and then over to Les Gets and then came back, riding for almost the whole day and doing to many runs to count. You would think it would be easy with no climbing, cruising down the mountain all day. But it was harder than it seemed and I was buggered by the end, struggling to keep hold of the bars with aching arms and fingers.

Looking back down to Chatel and a couple of mega berms.

Trainings going well and next week I am off to Italy for the World Cup in Val di Sole. I can't wait it has been a while since my last big race and it will be nice to get back in action at a World Cup again.