2013 IXS Swiss cup round 2, Anzere

3 weeks of racing in a row is a big effort, especially after 2 months of being on the road. Luckily for me, the last race of this marathon was in the Swiss town of Anzere, just 2 hours from Morzine it was at least a nice, close destination from our gypsy base of the supermarket car park  Leaving early on Friday morning, the 2 hour trip flew by and before we knew it we were parked right outside the gondola station getting ready to head up for our track walk.

Having never raced here before I wasn’t sure what lay in store for us except I had heard that there was a big pedal somewhere in the middle section. That said, the top 2 minutes or so had no real flat sections with the trail weaving around the hills with plenty of flow and nice little jumps to keep things interesting. The fun was limited though with the pedaling section coming at you hard with an uphill start before flattening out and into two doubles that got very chewed out come race time resulting in a few crashes for unlucky riders. Further down we got to the technical section which was a decent chute into a catch berm and then off down a rough and rooty off-camber straight, this would prove to be interesting in the rain!!

thumb741-64b4b2525d0f99abf31295560bb30637
Picturesque start hut

 
Bikes out and off we went, first run down and I was instantly having fun, the top section was great, the smooth ground kept the wheels rolling fast and the natural doubles only helped increase your speed…too much fun! The pedal was proving to be a mission but not something worth worrying too much about as you would come into it fresh after the fast top section. After the pedal it was all pretty straight forward with only one real line developing down the chute and not much else of note. It was just a fun, fast track and I was loving it!

High speed finish area
High speed finish area

Saturday was a big day! after being 35 degrees for the entire practice session, the clouds let rip and absolutely hammered the mountain in rain and thunderclouds forcing the closure of the lift and the cancelling of the seeding run. Now this happened in Pila and it wasn’t too much of an issue however here it was a different story because this race was also the Swiss national championships with the race for that title to be held after the seeding run (now cancelled). So, the national champs run got pushed out to Sunday morning with no seeding run and this pushed the IXS race (what I was there for) out as well to later in the afternoon (also with no seeding run). Not having a seeding run is a bit of a pain, because you don’t really know just how hard you can push on a track that you haven’t raced on before.

Cloudy morning
Cloudy morning

Sunday morning was a cloudy affair, with the rain the night before and the low cloud in the valley it also kept the temperatures down not properly allowing the track to dry out and forcing the organizers to replace a section of the track that had become too dangerous and a massive bottleneck as rider after rider tried their luck and failed.

The changed track meant that I only got 2 runs on the new section (about 30 seconds or so of riding time) before it was time to get ready for my race. With the cloud burned off, the temperature was starting to warm up again and everybody was at last beginning to thaw out! I went up the hill with plenty of time for my run and jumped on the trainer to get warmed up before heading over for the familiar 5 beeps.
My race run started out conservative, I got a good pedal out of the start gate and into the track, I hit all my lines as I had in practice but I just didn’t seem to have the same urgency as normal. That said sometimes the clean runs are the ones that turn out to be the fast ones, so I pedaled hard and went into the unknown bottom section feeling pretty good. This was where things started to go a little bit pear-shaped. With no seeding run, I really had no idea what lay around these corners and so rode them far too conservatively, this lack of knowledge showed in my time when I crossed the line in 3rd place, 1.5 seconds on two fellas that had raced the Swiss champs on the changed track earlier in the day.

Braap, a lack of riding photos from the event means helmet cam stills are the go!
Braap, a lack of riding photos from the event means helmet cam stills are the go!

I eventually slipped back to 4th, certainly not what I had wanted coming into the weekend but still left with another few all important UCI points and a cool 200 swiss franc’s (about 300 kiwi or so) so all in all not a bad weekend, I just wish I had rolled the dice and pushed a bit harder on the new corners! see you all in 3 weeks for the penultimate round of the world cup in Hafjell, Norway!

Advertisements

2013 IXS Cup round 4 – Wiriehorn, Switzerland

Apologies for the delay in this particular entry, I got a bit slack last week but hey better late than never right!

This entry is slightly different to my normal ones, at the race in Wiriehorn, I was approached by IXS to write a race report/riders impressions of the weekend, so I hope you like this particular entry, my report on the IXS website can viewed here:

http://www.ixsdownhillcup.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=859:blog-bryn-dickerson-about-wiriehorn&catid=8&Itemid=741&lang=en

or just read on below =).

 

The fourth round of the IXS European Downhill Cup was held in Wiriehorn, Switzerland over the weekend on the newly refurbished 2.6km long track. Having raced here last year, I was keen to check out the changes that had been made and during the track-walk I wasn’t dissapointed with the narrow single track in the top section having been replaced with a fast and flowing top section that promised to be a lot of fun to ride. Further down things were also different with more jumps and berms making the track a more entertaining ride and I think all the riders were having a good time riding in the fresh new lines on offer. 

As well as a fun course the Wiriehorn event village always has a good atmosphere and this year was no exception. With the course dropping out of the trees into the final few turns and over a finish double it is a great place for the spectators to watch the riders complete the last 20 seconds of their runs and with the biergarten tents, Redbull lounge and sound-system all right there it is no wonder that even for qualifying there were a lot of people gathered around to watch the riders come down. After a big crash in my final practice run I took things a bit easy in my qualifying run and had a safe run to finish in 4th position in elite men with a time of 4.07.98, 4.2 seconds off the fastest time of the qualifiers. However I knew that I had a lot of time to make up the following day and so it was back to the campsite to recuperate and regather for Sundays race.

One of the great things about the IXS races and something that we don’t really have in New Zealand is the event village campsites, they are a great place to go and hang out in, to chat to your mates after you have finished riding for the day and really add to the atmosphere of the race and it something that I really hope takes off in New Zealand. As well as a great social scene however they also act as a great emergency bike shop should the need arise and if you ever need something desperately for your bike there is bound to be somebody with a spare part as I found out myself when the cleats for my pedals broke and I was lucky enough to buy a spare set off Markus Klausmann.

The finish arena in Wiriehorn is pretty cool.
The finish arena in Wiriehorn is pretty cool.

On Sunday we awoke to more clear skies and more stifling temperatures,as somebody who lives in a pretty cold country, the weather in Wiriehorn was nothing short of boiling and with not too much shade available it was vital to drink a lot of fluids to stop dehydration from settling in (good thing the red-bull girls were there!).

 

After the seeding run...she's pretty big job mate!
After the seeding run…she’s pretty big job mate!

Not long after practice finished at midday it was all go, with the DJ playing, live-stream online, the weather coming to the party and the racers were on track! with the finish arena filling up with spectators, everything was lining up for a great afternoon of racing. Away from all the hype and the noise however, I was getting ready for my run. I had taken my wind-trainer up the hill and was warming up with some peace and quiet to get my thoughts together and focus on what i had to do. Lining up in the start gate and I knew I was ready to put down a good time, I had my sights set on sub 4 minutes and i knew it was achievable.

Race time!
Race time!

Unfortunately however, no matter how well you plan for things they can still go awry, as such was the case in my race run where a case of being over-excited led to me to blowing out turns and making far too many silly mistakes. Determined to give it my all though, I put as much power down on the long pedalling sections as I could to try and make up time and had a fast bottom section crossing the line in 4.03.102 and moving into 1st place. However my stay in the hotseat was less than a minute as Manuel Gruber from Austria came down in a time of 4.02.2 and bumped me back into second place where I stayed for the remainder of the race leaving me with my first ever IXS cup podium and a healthy portion of UCI points to go with it!

Podium shot.
Podium shot.

Despite having a lot of small errors in my run and feeling as though I could have gone a good amount faster I have to congratulate Manuel on putting together a great ride that throughly deserved the victory that he earned. Also, a big thank you to all the IXS staff who put on yet another great event and I would also like to thank my Sponsors John Foord Valuation and Devinci Cycles for their continued support, without which i wouldn’t be able to race these races, so thank you and I will see all of you in Anzere next weekend

2013 IXS Cup Round 3 – Pila, Italy

Two and a half days of driving across France and Spain left us at the next stop of our European tour in the Italian mountain town of Pila for the 3rd round of the 2013 IXS European Cup. Situated in the Aosta Valley of Northern Italy, the massive mountains all around remind you that you aren’t in the grasslands of Southern France anymore and that things can change in the blink of an eye weather wise!

Practice run's with Ralph.
Practice run’s with Ralph.

Having raced here last year, I felt a little more “at home” as such than I have at some of the other races this year. The track at Pila isn’t too shabby either, with a technical and rough top section, followed by a couple of decent length pedals and then on to some flat out sections at the bottom of the track it is a good race track, combining technical skill with flat out fitness. After the promising qualifying/ 2nd split time at Andorra the week before I was keen to try and crack the top ten at this race to not only gain valuable points for the IXS series overall but seeing as this race was a category one UCI event there were also valuable UCI points up for grabs and I was more than keen to state my claim to some of those!

The last drop had a flat landing, so trying to soak up as much of the impact as possible was the key.
The last drop had a flat landing, so trying to soak up as much of the impact as possible was the key.

Practice started out hot, 32 degress and bright sunshine to be exact, way to hot to be trying to ride, let alone with all the extra protection that the organizers make you wear. Anyway, dressed up like the Michelin man, I began practice and within a few runs felt right at home on the track. with next to no changes from the year before, there wasn’t much to learn about the track and so I spent my time trying to get up to speed and familiarizing myself with the super fine dust that coated the track, just waiting to take your wheels out from under you should you lean just a degree too far, or leave the brakes on for just a touch too long. At the end of practice I felt confident that I had good lines that would hold up during the weekend and that I was feeling confident on a track that I enjoyed riding.

Out of the berms and on the pedals to make the next jump.
Out of the berms and on the pedals to make the next jump.

On qualifying day we were treated to more sun and high temperatures, meaning a pasty fella such as myself was at high risk of turning into a tomato, nevertheless I suited up in my Michelin outfit and did a couple of runs in the morning of qualifying before returning to Chalet Van to relax before my run. This however was when things went south. we could see it coming from a mile off but when the thunderclouds actually hit the event village we were in for a right treat of a storm. Within 5 minutes the skies turned from a perfect blue to deathly black and then it started to rain. I don’t exactly know what the term “flash-flood” means, but given the amount of water that was all of a sudden flowing through our campsite I figured we must be experiencing a small scale version of it, and the hailstones were not exactly small either. Needless to say this made us question whether we would actually be riding that day and as it turned out the weather had destroyed the tape on the track and the hailstones made it too dangerous to ride so Qualifying was cancelled, much to the relief of the riders as none of us really wanted to get wet.

I believe I can fly!
I believe I can fly!

This act of mother nature had changed things around a bit. As every grade except for the Elite men had completed qualifying before the storm hit, on Sunday the Elite men’s qualifying run would be run after a shortened practice session followed by the race runs of all grades immediately after this. Not really wanting to expend too much energy in the qualifying run given that the race run was just after it I decided that I was going to cruise in my seeding run and then step it up come finals time. It’s quite funny how much less nervous I was sitting in the start gate for my qualifying run given that I knew I was going to take it easy, I guess the pressure of having to put down “that run” does weird things to you. Anyway, into the run I was, I wanted to go reasonably fast on the top technical stuff to see what it would be like at race speed but cruised through on the pedaling sections to save energy. Crossing the line in 3rd with 57 riders still to come I didn’t have high expectations as I knew I had taken it super easy. Finishing in 19th place, but only 6 seconds of 5th, I suddenly felt a bit of disappointment given that I knew how much faster I could have gone but not to worry I went and fueled up ready for my race run!

Braap!
Braap!

Sitting up the top ready to go, I was relieved that the predicted thunderstorms (80% chance according to Google) hadn’t shown up as having consistent conditions relieves an amazing amount of stress when you are sitting at the start and wondering if the clouds overhead are going to unleash and turn the track into a mudslide. In the gate I was nervous, but only because I wanted to do well here really badly! Getting some good pedal strokes in out of the gate, I almost overshot the first corner but held it together and pushed on. getting through the top section’s with only a couple of minor moments with my feet unclipping from my pedals (read: scared) I got into the open section and got on the pedals. Back into the trees and a clean section this time left me feeling good for the bottom turns in which I just tried not to touch the brakes and float over as many holes as I possibly could. Over the last drop, one last pedal and into 2nd place by .78 of a second with a time of 4.08.455, 15 seconds faster than my qualifying and looking good for a decent result.

Hitting berms at Mach 10.
Hitting berms at Mach 10.

As more and more riders started coming down by the wayside, my time was starting to look really good for a top 10, and then after that I was thinking, “well top 8 get prize money, It’d be nice to have some of that!” , a couple more minutes and two more riders though and out and then before I knew it I was looking at a top 5. Then number 5 had a stormer of a run and I was pushed back to 3rd, and I thought “oh well, 7th is good!” but out of the last 4 riders only one of them managed to better my time and I finished up in 4th place! my best result at an IXS cup ever and a decent amount of Euros heading my way, along with a lot of UCI and IXS cup points! stoked!

Lots of braking bumps in these berms.
Lots of braking bumps in these berms.

Needless to say I was a pretty happy chappy with this result, and am going to be competing in the next few IXS cup races as well to try and boost my UCI/IXS points tallies and see where I can end up! See you in two weeks at Wirehorn, Switzerland!

2013 Andorra World Cup

Following on from the Nordkette Pro Dh invitational, myself and fellow Kiwi George Brannigan needed a way to cover the 2000 odd kilometers from Innsbruck to Andorra for the 3rd round of the UCI world cup held at the Vallnord bike park. Luckily for us, the organizers of the Nordkette Pro had talked to the manager of the Mondraker factory team who had agreed to take us with them on their team bus for the trip. So bright and early at 7am we met in a McDonald’s car park and loaded our stuff onto the big black behemoth for the long trip ahead. Just after we started the bus’s driver, Christian, informed us that unfortunately the air con had long since stopped working and therefore things would be getting pretty warm towards the middle of the day as the ventilation wasn’t really sufficient. Little did we realize just how hot things were going to actually get with temperatures topping out at 38 degrees Celsius INSIDE the bus!
Arriving two days later feeling fairly roasted, I was thinking I was going to have to camp on the side of the road after failing to find my van but luckily I managed to meet up with Reon Boe and kate Fluker, two other kiwis travelling around the races who were able to give me a lift to the hotel from the bottom of the gondola. So checking in a day early I went to bed nice and early after along day on the road.
Heading up the hill for track walk presented an exciting proposition, this was the first time the world cup had been raced on this track so it was anybody’s guess as to what lay in store for us on the Andorran hillside. Out of the gate and a long flat section greeted the racers which wasn’t the greatest start, but this was soon put right as the track followed the curve of the hill as it rolled over and steepened heading down into the valley. Recent rain had made the track greasy and even to walk down was proving to be a mission, this meant only good things for the riding though and with 3 days of sun in the forecast everything was shaping up for an awesome event! As I was in group A for practice, I was able to have a bit of a sleep in and cruised up the hill for a nice 10.30am start, first run down and the greasiness was playing havoc with the traction on the track which was almost non-existent for the first two runs. As the sun worked it’s magic however the track did start to dry out, forming much needed ruts and lines in sections which had previously been “lean back and hold on” material.

Qualifying day was sunny, really sunny! the track was still a bit greasy however and caution was going to be required for the qualifying run. I did two practice runs in the morning before heading back to the van to get ready for my run. After the disaster of Val di Sole I was definitely looking to step things up a bit and to me this felt like a track I could go fast on. However the main aim was making the finals. In the start gate, 5 beeps, go! giving it beans out of the start hut, I went into the flat section on a mission as I knew I was a pretty strong pedaller and it would be a good section to make up valuable seconds. Into the technical stuff and things were going well, I was hitting all my lines and generally having a pretty good run.

Through the clearing and into the lower section, I almost threw it away here after getting a little bit too confident with the track and spent the last 250 meters stuck behind the rider in front of me but held it together to cross the line in a time of 3.41.4 , good enough for 51st place and solidly into the finals. The relief was high after this as I was so glad to have made it into the main show after the disappointment of Val di Sole.
Saturday practice was a casual affair, I did two runs in the “generous” hour and half we were allocated before chilling out for the afternoon and getting my gear in order ready for the next day.
Waking up to rain on your race-day after 3 days of sunshine is not really that great. Up the top of the hill it was panic stations as everybody changed tires and put on tear-offs and rain-coats. Luckily the rain wasn’t too hard and hadn’t really seemed to penetrate the tree-cover leaving some sections slippery and some dusty, quite the contrast to ride but after about 30 minutes or so the dark clouds were replaced with sunshine and the whole racing field breathed a collective sigh of relief.
After changing back to dry tires I jumped on the trainer for my warm up , this coupled with the ride up to the start hut left me ready to go for my run and I couldn’t wait to get into it!
Pedaling out of the start gate things were almost over before they begun with the rut in the second corner having been blown out and almost sending me into a nearby tree, smashing the pedals to get back to speed I knew that I had to make up some serious time. Going through the first split in 65th the only way from here was up and as I made my way down the course things were getting better and better, I crossed the second split time in 47th and was riding more confident and relaxed before things went pear shaped. Coming out of a right hander about a minute before the end of the track I felt my tires roll over something fairly sharp, this followed by the inevitable “whoosh” as my front wheel deflated not only meant that my run was over but it was going to be difficult just to get down the track.
Rolling over the line in a time 12 seconds slower than your qualifying time is never a good sign and by the time everybody was down I was back in 74th position. Not where I had wanted to end up given my 2nd split and me having a tendency to get better as the track goes on. At the end of the day though I was still supper happy to qualify well and between that and my 2nd split time I at least can be confident in the knowledge that I have the speed to compete and now it’s just a matter of putting it all together and getting a little bit of luck!
Now we have to drive back across France and Italy to Aosta, Italy for the next round of the IXS cup held high up in the mountain town of Pila. check back next week for a report of how it all went down!