2017 Part 2, the troubles continue.

Hello and welcome to 2017 part 2! This blog covers the next 4 weeks of travel around Europe and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Picking up where we left off in Schladming…

Schladming is a wicked track, the dirt there is amazing and the gradient means that you barely have to pedal from the minute you leave the start gate. This years track was pretty similar to previous years so we knew what to expect, I’ve always ridden aggressively here and with this being the first European cup of the season for me I wanted to finish well inside the top 10.

You can’t help but have a good time in Schladming! Pic: IXS/Rick Schubert
Good dirt and an awesome forest, what more could you want? Pic: IXS/Rick Schubert
Dual Slalom! I wish more races had these events, so much fun! Pic: IXS/Rick Schubert

After our practice session on the Friday there was a dual slalom race on the lower part of the hill. I’ve never done a Dual Slalom before It was such a fun event and despite a crash in the semi-finals I was stoked to come away with 3rd place and 50 Euros! Things were looking up! Downhill was next. I was riding fast through sections and I knew it, but was still struggling to get my suspension feeling how I wanted it to and knew that a full run at race pace would be very difficult to hold on. Nevertheless I went out hard and rode into 20th place. Not ideal but a dam sight better than other events thus far.

On the podium! Pic: IXS/Rick Schubert
Two seconds before I almost cleaned out a photographer. Pic: IXS/Rick Schubert

The main downside from the weekend however was Harry breaking his hand in Qualifying. In his words it was a silly crash but unfortunately sometimes those ones are the worst! While this was followed by a few trips to various hospitals to make sure everything was still in the right place, worse was a lengthy downtime period which meant he was likely to miss the next 4 weekends of racing.

 

We made a video of the days before the race in Schladming but I’m struggling to get it to embed properly. The above is a teaser of the full video which can be found here:

https://www.pinkbike.com/video/474383/

There is plenty more funny moments worth watching so make sure you check it out!

Following on from Schladming we had a choice. Either head to Innsbruck for the European Crankworx or get on a plane and head to Manchester to ride as guests for a Street Velodrome series there.  The Street Velodrome is basically a downsized version of a proper Velodrome where you compete head to head with another rider for 3 laps. It was a fantastic opportunity as the series is shown in 80 countries all around the world! Given things hadn’t been going so well on the Downhill front we decided to head to Innsbruck for the Whip off and Pumptrack events and then jump on a plane to Manchester!

Yea the whip off jump was pretty epic! Pic: Moonhead Media

This turned out to be an awesome idea! I got to ride in Innsbruck on the sickest whip off jump ever, check out some of the cool trails there, and say hi to a bunch of buddies before flying out on the Saturday to Manchester to race in a completely different capacity. The actual race itself was rad, everything about it was completely different from what I am used to yet at the same time totally wicked! Even better than this was racing (and beating) an Olympian, getting the announcer in a bunch of trouble with another Olympian and finishing up on the Podium in 3rd place, good times!!

Podium again, 3rd again! Pic: Henlit Photography

Following another visit to the hospital to get Harry’s hand looked at, we jumped back on the plane to Europe and then missioned Tony down to Andorra for World Cup number 4! Andorra is yet another race track that I love racing on and after being sick for the event last year I really wanted to start taking steps in the right direction to get something out of this year. Trackwalk looked amazing and I was really excited to go riding. I felt good during practice and when qualifying came around I was happy to make it through in 65th position. Given my first splits were in the low 40’s I knew there was still time to be made up and if I could just hold on I would be in for a good result.

Best track of the year? quite possibly! Pic: Moonhead Media
By this stage your arms feel like they are falling off! Pic: Moonhead Media

 

When race day came around I was ready to kick it in the teeth and get up in the mix. I had a decent start to my run with splits once again in the 40’s but just couldn’t hold onto my bike towards the bottom of the track, still struggling with suspension set-up and faded to 63rd place. Nevertheless it was heartening to see the split times and with changes in the future I left Andorra ready to go for the next weekend! 1-3

Scrubbing into the finish line! Pic: Moonhead Media

Another big drive back across France to Lenzerheide, Switzerland for World Cup number 5. I have had a mixed bag here, finishing 6th at a European cup here in 2014 and good split times through 2015, 2016 but never finished higher than 70th at a World Cup. The track this year was super dry and dusty. I started a bit slow but worked into things and felt ready to go for qualifying.

Dry and duuuussstttyyy this high speed turn required full commitment. Pic: Moonhead Media

Qualifying was a bit of a disaster; I had a bunch of bike cleaner on my brakes out of the gate and promptly blew out the first few turns still trying to ride at race speed with no brakes. After this I had been continuously unclipping/clipping in and just couldn’t get myself settled.  It was honestly one of the worst racing runs of my life…  1-4

The jump immediately after the corner above, definitely need to carry maximum speed for this one. Pic: Moonhead Media

By this stage I was pretty frustrated and ready for a few days of just riding, luckily we had a photoshoot organised with Lenzerheide Bike Park and along with photographer Dan Hearn we had a fantastic couple of days exploring everything there was on offer and getting some pretty epic photos which no doubt you’ll get to see soon!

Dan is a magician….making me look good! Pic: Dan Hearn

Following on from the photoshoot we drove to Tremeno, Italy at Veronika’s house for 10 days before heading to the Czech Republic for the next European cup this last weekend. I’ve written a separate blog for this race which will be posted in a couple of days so watch this space!

 

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