With the buzz of Fort William behind us we set off on the Monday morning for the next world cup in Leogang, Austria.
The drive involved the whole length of England. Then a overnight ferry to the hook of Holland. Following this we embarked on what was without a doubt the longest drive of my life arriving in Schladming 13 hours later. The bike park here certainly exceeded my expectations! After watching countless sections from movies of the track it was so rad to finally get to slay the famous corners.
It was a short 2 hour drive across to Leogang the next day, in time for rego and track walk. The track was soaked from a few days rain and was a stark contrast to the bone dry track from the previous weekend. The flat pedals and spikes were going on for practise the next morning!
By the time top 80 practise had rolled around the first run was completely different to what i was expecting! It was already so rough but so much drier than the day before! It was good to get a couple of cruisy timed training runs out of the way and I was looking forward to qualifying the next day!
I awoke to steady rain drops and I was stoked I bought a quick shade to go between our vans because it was pissing with rain. It was a wet and muddy practise session with the new wooded sections becoming a true battlefield of mud and super slick roots that were impossible to avoid. It was making the seasoned pros look as if they had just removed their training wheels!
It was cold and raining still at the top but I got out of the rain as much as I could and had a good warm up. I was having a good run until the first root section blowing down low and having to push my bike back up onto the harder main line. After another stall in the next woods the rest of my run was just trying to make it down and with a bit of luck i might just sneak into the top 80.
I came down into 53rd, but with 250 riders at the event i was eventually pushed back to 90th place just 1.3 seconds from qualifying. It was a bit of a hard pill to swallow but without the mistakes I knew I had the pace to qualify and I had some mud riding practise to get in!
The next weekends race would prove the prefect chance to race in the mud again at the Crankworx downhill race in Les Gets, France.
The track looked like good old fashioned downhill. Big open grassy corners split up with technical steep woods. The track was already in a bit of a state, with a solid weeks rain already under it’s belt Friday practise was set to be a wild one!
I knew it would be muddy but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to ride! The top section before the first woods was already rutted up and close to pedal deep in some points already. But compared to the rest of the course it was quite rideable! After just one run I had been through 4 tear offs and my glory had taken on a full monocoque fairing look and can only imagine would have topped over 45 kg! It was a great day sliding around with mates but the thought of having to put a full run together down it was fairly daunting!
The track was more of the same on Saturday for seeding. I had started to get into the groove of things and was having a great run up until catching fellow van lifer Max Warshawsky having a shocker after a big night on the town. I was just about to yell out when I hit the bottom of my bike sending me OTB into a muddy bog. My hands went so deep into the mud they disappeared up to my wrists! I got up and back on the bike, with grips feeling twice as big as they should be. I caught max again and passed him up the inside in one of the open corners and made it down the rest of the run in one piece! I ended up 27th and with a packed top 50 of world cup regulars I was feeling confident for a top 20 and maybe even top 10.
Sunday rolled around and myself and girlfriend Laura were completely over having to clean muddy gear! Only one more day to go at least!
It was a weird vibe at the top with heavy fog blowing in as fast as it was blowing away. It was freezing cold so everyone was crammed into the tiny cafe at the top of Mont Chery. I was having a flying run making it through the hardest sections with relative ease. It all came undone on the lower grassy turns 30 seconds from the finish line. I dropped it trying to get inside of a knee deep rut but pushed the front end into it and layed it over. I scrambled back onto my bike but after trying to pedal away realised my chain had come out of the guide from all the mud and the impact. I knew that if I was going to make it over the bottom road gaps I was going to have to come in brakeless. That was all going to plan until I hit the rut just before the wooden up ramp. My bike stopped and i got ejected onto the wooden up ramp and rolled off the side and onto the road below. Thankfully just winded but with bars bent down about 50mm I rolled down to the finish left to wonder what might have been.
I have a few weeks off to train and ride basing myself out of Morzine before the next world cup in Lenzerheide in Switzerland.
Thats all from me for now I will be back with another update in a couple of weeks!