So on tuesday we packed up the camper with all the bikes and gear myself Tomy and Brook and headed off from Florence. We drove the whole way through and didn't arrive in Schladming till 1am, lucky for me I got to sleep the whole way catching up a bit after a big monday night out in Florence.
Tuesday we got to check in at the hotel, and then headed up to walk the DH track, I had heard many good things about this course but had never been till now and upon inspection it looked awesome, It was rough already and practice was still yet too start, so I knew it was going to get wild. We had a quick look at the 4x track too which also was really good with some good dh style sections in it and a couple of big jumps. The next day was the start of a busy busy week for us, as we had dh practice for most of the day the late afternoon had 4x practice as well, I wanted to learn the Dh track pretty well so I punched out 7 runs and it was going real well except it was probably the most physical track I have ridden in a long time and you hardly even had to pedal, it was littered with holes and braking bumps the whole way down it. After Dh practice finished I felt like I was done for the day..but had to go off to 4x practice.
The 4x track probably had one of the most different uplifts I've seen at a race before, First you had to go in an Elevator to the top of a carpark then walk across to the next lift which was like a really small gondola on rails..then finally you got to the top. I did a run with Brook and looked at the course a bit, Brook decided to go straight for the big doubles without checking them out, he got the first one good but then nose cased the 2nd getting thrown over the bars and some how came away with nothing more than a bent front wheel..put me off hitting the 2nd one till later in the practice session though, I reckon I must of seen around 15-20 people wreck themselves on that jump! The rest of practice went well and the track was super fun to ride I was stoked with it as it was a step away from the usual BMX style track.
The next day was the biggest one of the week for me, first up was Dh practice and I had a shit time struggling to find the right settings with my forks, and was just getting bounced all over the place spending a fair bit of the time on the ground..So when qualifying run came around all that was on my mind the whole down was just to stay on the bike nothing more really and my run felt really pretty average over braking in turns and blowing out a few corners I was surprised to have come in 27th and knew I now had a bit more up my sleeve for finals. Brook had a rough day blowing his hand off in the steep wood and going over the bars..just missing out on qualifying he now had some anger to use for 4x though!! 4x qualifying went pretty well for me, apart from one mistake up the top sliding out before the rollers and riding them like I was on a moto. I was happy to qualify in 17th place and Brook went really well too coming in 30th not bad for us considering there was 110 starters in 4x, we were both happy to have easily made the top 64 cut.
The next day was another round of Dh practice and I put some different forks on to try find the right set up, as on this course suspension set up was crucial, I did 3 runs and by the end of the session my bike was feeling dialed thanks to a bit of Tomy Tuning, I was stoked after struggling with it the previous day, now I was just looking forward to finals time! I spent the rest of the day resting up in the hotel trying to find some fresh energy for 4x, and It was really good to have a little bit of a break as my body was really starting to feel the effects of how rough and long the Dh track was. I got a couple of practice runs in for 4x and even tried to do a couple of gates to try minimize the damage for racing, mine and Brooks gate would be some of the worst out there I reckon most of the girls would beat us out, we got something to work on for next year though.
My first heat I was up against Filip Polc and some other guy that was probably a bmx rider as he had a good gate but couldn't corner to save himself, he held me up a bit and each time i had a chance to pass I couldn't find the space until he pulled to side of the big jumps and I passed him by jumping them. So that was me through the first round, the 2nd one was never going to be easy and my gate was tough with Prokop, Polc and Longden. I got a shit start due to Will Longden beating me out then slipping a pedal and swapping out in front of me, stuffing up the move I had planned for the 2nd turn, 3rd turn I tried to make a move on Polc but swapped out and lost my speed and had to follow him through the jumps, and then nearly got him on the last corner but just missed out..was some of the most fun racing in a while though. Brook pulled some sick moves too and made it all the way to quarter finals nearly to semi's with a last turn move that just didn't stick..So I finished in 18th and Brook in 12th next year we might even learn to do gates..
The day was the big one, DH Finals day. I put in 2 pretty solid runs in the morning, although there were now some holes in the middle of turns that were nearly axle deep it was going to be hard to put down a solid race run without any mistakes. So in finals I tried to tone my riding back a bit and in some sections I felt I did a bit much, but its better than crashing, I was also not feeling as fresh as I would usually be for a race run as I had done so much riding in the one week. But all in all I felt I had a pretty reasonable run but not like I had been riding in practice. I did have one big moment and it was on the easiest part of the track the jump in to the finish, somehow I managed to clip my pedal on the take off and got sent in a nose dive no footer, I have no idea how I pulled it back and it certainly would not be the place to crash as you were going around 50k on hard gravel..I was lucky I guess, even the commentator couldn't believe I pulled it off. So I finished up 22nd my best result this year, just missing the top 20 due to my last jump swap out. Good to finish off the season with a good result though.
There was the usual after race party and everyone was getting in to it, all pretty happy to have just finished what was a really long season. Im now back in Italy for the Doganaccia Double DH race this weekend and then will be heading home to NZ next tuesday can't wait as I have been away since the start of march. Anyways will have some other stuff up in the next couple of weeks and get a few pics up in the next few days, Finally thanks to Tomaso and all my sponsors, Ancillotti Cycles, UFO Plast, Doganaccia 2000, San Marco seats, CampaBros, NZRIDE, Maxxis Tires, Landini Auto, Formula Brakes.
Keep doing it...Whatever it is..