So a mixed start to the 2013 season is the best way to describe my season so far. A couple of good results to kick things off from the Steel City round & BDS rd 1 was followed by a heavy crash at Fort William then achieving a life long goal of gaining enough points to compete at World Cups, all before a huge eye opener at Innerleithen last weekend.
I came into the weekend looking to build on my early form. Iv felt strong, fit & fast so far this season but something just didn’t click for me here. Maybe a few factors out of my power were playing on my mind a bit too much. Firstly the disappointment of not being picked by the British Cycling team to represent at The first World Cup of the year in Fort William, something I have been lusting for these past couple of seasons, then achieving my points, getting overly excited only to be told by the UCI I was not allowed to compete due to not achieving points in time. Steve tried so hard to get me involved in the event, but it was not to be. I cant thank you enough for your efforts dude!
Then, regretably, I had to make a tough desicion to miss out on the SPS training week in the build up to Inners, as valuable holiday allowance from work meant I needed to save days in order to compete at other events through the year.
These training days are part of what makes the SPS so unique, the chance to really see into what it takes to compete at the top level, seeing how Steve approaches his Job & takes on the terrain is a huge boost in both confidence & information, so valuable in this sport.
So without an extra couple of days on the hill, I joined my fellow SPS boys & got to work.
A few laps following James Ramsey down the tight & fast Inners track soon made me realise just what I had missed earlier on in the week. He was riding so solid & smooth, I was struggling to keep up!
The smallest of mistakes on this track pretty much ended your run, the tight trees & off camber gradient, mixed with flat out to tight slow turns made for a really challenging race track. I was struggling to get up to pace.
After 4 runs though I was starting to feel at home, that was before I took the opportunity to do a couple of laps with Steve. Now this was where my eyes were fully jammed open.. The speed, the flow, the smoothness, the control. Yes I kept up, but what a pace. I soon realised I was from from a competitive race pace here. Another lap with Steve & I felt a lot better. Smoother & more in control whilst finding it easier to keep up.
Saturday ended good, the Sun was shining & I felt fast, I was keen for racing now.
Sunday soon rolled around & I was up early to get on the hill in time to get 2 practice runs in. The uplifts were just shocking, a 2 mile ride before waiting in what seemed to be a line involving every rider at the event. Just not enough wagons to cope with the demands.
So, back on the hill & first run leading out Josh Lewis. Things were going pretty good for a first run, until I hit the deck hard. Taking a beating on my right side of my body, arm & hip taking the brunt of the force. A steep chute that dropped onto a fire road was catching a few people out over the weekend. I should have know better though, the cold air at night mixed with warm morning meant for some dew around, this part of the track was so firm being a fire road, a little bit of moisture on the polished rocks & it was like an ice rink if caught wrong.. Which is exactly what I did, hitting the floor hard before I even knew what was happening.
So it was back to the pits & an attempt at a quick patch up so I could get another run in. I was keen to try to block out the pain, think no pain, feel no pain, but things were definitely stiffening up & my confidence had took a knock.
Quali began & I wasn’t riding smooth at all. The light piercing through the trees made for really challenging conditions with vision being interrupted by the intermittent light & shadow effect. I crossed the line after a bit of stop stalling in the lower woods & waited to see where I had placed. 26th.
Their was so much talk surrounding how ‘stacked’ the field was with World Cup contenders, all keen to get a bit of race practice in before the following weekends opening World Cup round, but this doesn’t matter. If I want to compete at World Cup level I need to be able to compete with the top guys time. It doesn’t matter to me who goes fastest or who is attending, its about getting as close as possible to that winning time, & 9 seconds is far to far back for me to be competitive at the highest level.
I was however confident of a big improvement in time, It was not a good run, full of tiny errors & mini stalls, I was sure of taking a good chunk of time off.
But it wasn’t really the case, Race run began & I felt reasonable up top, A solid middle section before again a little struggle in the lower woods before over the line. An improvement on my quali time but by no where near as much as needed, 2.5secs quicker & I ended up 30th, again 9 seconds back on the win.
Needles to say I was pretty pissed off by the result, a safe run the weekend before in Norway lead me to a top ten, but a safe run here put me no where. You cant just be a little quick anymore, you have to flat out from the word go, precise, delicate, accurate, aggressive, confident & consistent, all of which I was just lacking a little come race time. Something I definitely need to work on & quickly!
Next up is World Cup rd.2, Val di Sole, Exciting!