So after spending a week in Canberra riding Bmx and relaxing a bit, after a pretty full on 2 weeks in Whistler that consisted of 100 runs and 5 races, the World champs week finally kicked off on the monday beginning with the track walk.
We greeted by a very similar course to last years World Cup event, although there were a few changes in the bottom section to help hold more speed in to the rather flat final straight. As we walked the course we were entertained by a very drunk Donny, who made the trip over to Oz to support the boys and have a good time a decided it would be a good idea to crack a bottle of vodka at 10 in the morning, at least he made DirtTv's web video with his antics walking the course, although some of the national teams were really wondering what he was up to...
So tuesday was our first day riding the course, and it was pretty fun but at the same time a little too easy for a World Champs course virtually the opposite of last years Worlds in Val Di Sole, Italy. So after 3 runs of the course I pretty much knew where I was going, and also knew it was going to be one huge week of practice with 5 days of practice. The next few days I took it pretty easy making sure not to over do it, or get bored of the course, only doing around 2 or 3 runs each day.
After my first day's practice I had the first of and hopefully what will become and annual event, the pumptrack world champs. It was held in the backyard of local bike shop owner Gazza, where he had made the most of the little space he has and built a really tight pumptrack. This was an underground event as the yard could only hold a maximum of 200 odd people so it was invite only and with Northland boy James on the gate uninvited had no chance of getting in. By the time qualifying was about to kick the yard was packed out with people the BBQ was sizzling and the majority of the crowd was enjoying a few cold ones. Many of the top World Cup riders showed up to give it a go, there was the likes of Minnaar, Peaty, Bryceland, Lopes, Kovarik, Fairclough just to mention a few all there battling it out with the locals.
My qualifying run went alright but with the crowd going so crazy and loud it was hard to keep it smooth, even though there was a no pedaling rule you still got up a huge amount of speed up and it became really hard not to make a bobble on a turn or in the rollers. Many riders took advantage of the rerun rule after crashing out, I went pretty well out there reppin it in my Jandals or thongs as the aussies call them, I think I qualified in 5th spot. No surprises with the fastest qualifying time going to Brendan Fairclough as he is certainly no stranger to a pump track with one in his own backyard in Guildford, 2nd fastest went to top aussie junior Rhys Willemse with Sick Mick Hannah taking 3rd.
By the time finals rolled round the crowd was amped and they cut the finals to only the 15 best riders which made so some tough competition and for finals there was no reruns so there was only one chance. Many of the first few riders felt the pressure and made mistakes or simply crashed out. I was a little over excited in my run with all the crowd being so loud and made a few little mistakes which slowed me down a bit, but I was happy to have put a time in. I think I was 4th which isn't the best place to be, but I wasnt worried as it was such a fun event. Brendan Fairclough was robbed of the win after his pedal disconnected the timing in his super quick first run and he was forced to do another one when he was already tired. Sick Mick Hannah took the fastest time and the 2 n half grand that went with it, in front of local hero Timmy Eaton taking home 1000-bucks and 3rd went to another local Dave McMillan who put down an amazingly fast time for a 15 year old kid certainly deserving of the 500 dollars cash prize money.
So what a way to kick off the Worlds week, thanks to all who made this event happen, and all the awesome sponsors who put together an awesome amount of prize money, and cheers to Gazza for putting it on in his own backyard. Hopefully someone continues it on next year at Mt Saint Anne Worlds!
So then after that it was just a cruisy schedule of DH practice till friday when there was the timed training runs. My timed training run went ok although I overshot the last jump in the triple treat section landing on a rock losing most of my speed, then at the bottom on the new triple triple section, some reason maybe our aerodynamic NZ race kit was going way faster than on other runs and landed on the take off of the 2nd triple, I swapped out big time but somehow managed to ride it out, but lost all my speed for the final flat section. So I was expecting to finish around 40th and to finish 23rd I was pretty happy with that as I now knew I had sometime up my sleeve. Cam Cole qualified in a very impressive 5th place, and in juniors my team mate Brook was in 3rd, I was gutted to hear that Aari Barrett had gone down in the rocks breaking his finger and was quite possibly not going to be racing on Sunday.
Saturday was a good rest day with only 1 hour of practice, I walked the course before our session started and sorted out all my lines, then my practice session went as planned and i was feeling real good on the track, and my bike was so dialed thanks to Tomaso who had travelled all the way out from Italy to look after myself and Brooks bikes. I was looking foward to the race the next day, and couldn't wait to just get it done..
Sunday rolled around quicker than ever, it was Worlds race day the race that only comes around once a year, that one chance for glory. And Glory it was for my Team mate Brook Macdonald taking the gold medal in style with 1.18 seconds to spare over the home town favorite Shaun O'conner, I couldn't believe it myself that Brook had done it, gone a smoked all those clip pedal riders on a really pedally course. It was probably the sickest race to sit and watch that I've been to this year. I have to mention Aari's effort as he rode with a broken and dislocated finger, and was apparently on a flyer when he front flatted coming in to a turn and went over the bars in one of the fastest section's, he still finished the race, a tough kid with some real tough luck in the space of one week. George Brannagin and Daniel Heads finished in very creditable 7th and 8th spots especially since they both are 1st year juniors, watch out for them come Mont Saint Anne next year.
So after watching all the juniors race, I had to go get ready and head up for my own run for some reason we headed up way too early and i was at the top for around an hour and half before I left the gate, which wasn't the best really but I was really pumped for my run and knew what I had to do. I started off really well and rode the top section as I would have wanted maybe bit loose but it is World Champs. I was on a real good run till I hit a loose slightly off camber turn and somehow my front wheel slid out from under me forcing me to put it down, although I kind of half saved it and continued on now trying make time back up, I didn't get much further till I had a decent crash and ended up on the floor..race run over..I didn't even want to get up. My week had gone perfect I had no crashes all practice then to have two in my race run I was pretty gutted about it...but somedays thats the nature of racing.
So I sat at the finish for a while wondering why my day had ended like this, there's no one else to blame but yourself in this sport and some days its pretty hard, but you just got to keep looking to the next race. I was stoked to sit at the bottom and watch the one guy I've always wanted to see win worlds, actually do exactly that...Peaty is a legend, not many 35 year olds win an elite men's world championship. Seeing that alone made me not worry about having a bad day, and turn it in to a good night, which it sure was.. many whisky's were downed toasted to Brook and Peaty the two names of the night. I even had a good run at the casino so the night came with no cost other than the hangover the next morning, things don't get much better than that.
Cheers to everyone who has made this event possible for me, especially Tomaso, Chris Mildon, Adrian Armstrong and John Kircaldie and anyone else that helped me out. Cheers to Azza and Dossy for letting me crash at their place for a few nights as well. Finally thanks to all my sponsors, Ancillotti Cycles, UFO Plast, Doganaccia 2000, San Marco seats, CampaBros, NZRIDE, Maxxis Tires, Landini Auto, Formula Brakes.
Im now back in Europe for the final Italian Cup this weekend and the World Cup Final in Schladming the weekend after, should be a good end to a long season. I have some pictures and video from worlds that I will put up soon when i have a good internet connection.
Keep doin it!