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!!
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!
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.
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.
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!