Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Lousã Avalanche Race
So the past weekend over in Portugal, the whole trail building crew packed up the van with all bikes and we headed to Lousã for the Extreme riders Avalanche race's I had heard good things about this place, so it was a perfect excuse to check it out and get some racing in.
We headed off with little idea where we were going other than a GPS that was generally used for marking out new tracks rather than driving, so a few wrong turns were in order. But I never thought it could have been that bad, after driving for about 4 hour's I started to realize we must have gone wrong somewhere, we finally arrived in Lousa which didn't seem like a place where a race would be held, as it was completely in the middle of no where and looked to be a town of around 50 people!! And after driving through it I realized it wasn't where the race was we were in Lousa and were supposed to be in Lousã! Turns out after another 2 hour's driving we had gone about 250 km the wrong way we had a van full of boy's eager to ride their bikes, I was going a bit mental myself as it was the longest 2 hour drive I had ever done finally taking 6 hours!
So after finally arriving we headed up the hill, well hill was and understatement this was a proper mountain after an hour drive in a bus up a pretty crazy road where you imagine what it would be like if the bus went off the side. The top of the track there were awesome 360 degree views of the towns and countryside around the area, there was hundreds of huge windmills as well! Myself, Kurt Lancaster and Abe Winwood hit up a run together the top section was all gravel road and had some flat sections that were tough on my little 4x bike and would be killer on a DH bike, but after a couple of mins on the gravel it was in to the single track which was sick proper DH track, real loamy soil which cut up real quick and lots of sweet off camber sections it was around 10 mins of this then a short sprint to the finish line. We only got to do one practice run on saturday due to arriving so late and the mega drive to the top, but we were all stoked with the track.
So sunday rolled around and we were up early to hit another practice run, me and Kurt did a reasonable pace run down the top gravel section and it was clear his XC bike was the ticket for this section and that would be his race plan, the rest of the track was sweet but getting real cut up with a few corners getting blown out.
So after some lunch we headed up for the race run and the bus driver thought he would show us a few of his Schumacher lines on the way up rarely letting off the throttle and on one turn he was within 10 mm from hitting the rock wall, we agreed that it was lucky this was our last run up the hill in the bus. We go to the top cranked out a bit of a warmup before getting put in to the start row's, we were 3rd row back which was going to be tough with 30 riders in front of us to get past.
I got set to go and off went the starters horn, I set off to a pretty good start despite having to stay behind a few riders as there wasn't much room for passing but I got in to a bunch of about 10 riders at the front by the time we hit the flat gravel, I was starting to wonder when Kurt was going to pass me, and then I saw him come past me in top gear and pull out and pass the whole bunch and precede to drop them with ease to take the lead before hitting the single track. I went in to the single track in around 8th and was getting sick of following the train down so I started getting "moto" on it and making some pretty rough but legit passes at the same time yelling at the guys in front till they started feeling the pressure and made mistakes or took themselves out, I was loving it! I made a mega block pass to get in to 3rd and then started pushing pretty hard to try to get up to Kurt and the leader and then my back brake started losing power big time and to the point where I had to hold it on the whole time! I came in to a turn a bit hot and went straight off it in to a little gully and my bike got stuck on a branch so once I got up going again heaps of guys had past me included Abe Winwood, I got going again but was pretty tired and got block passed myself but then sprinted and past the guy back giving him a bit of a scare at the same time. So after that it wasn't far to the finish and my race was over for the day I took 8th place with another "checkers or wreckers" day and a big lack of rear brake.
Kurt ended up 2nd after having a bit of a digger on the single track pretty sick result on the XC bike though! The guy that won expressed his thought's in Portuguese and we could make out that he thought Kurt was a bit crazy! Abe Winwood took a solid 6th place too so it was a good showing for the kiwi boys, could of been better but we all had a sick time so thats all that matters.
Anyways now I got some more trails to build, I am back in the land of the long white cloud next week in time for xmas, and should be getting my new bike together for NZ Cup Series more news on that soon.
Merry Xmas everyone!