The end of August is a funny time in the Mountain biking world, it is when all the race series start wrapping up for the season which, after such a hectic 3 months always seems to come up ridiculously quickly. One moment you are in Fort William battling the midges and then before you know it, you’re in La Bresse wondering where all the time went.
I was really keen to put in a good race at La Bresse, I stood a good chance of being able to bump myself up a few places in the overall standings and having ridden the track a month before the race, I felt confident and ready. Unfortunately in the lead up to the race I had done myself a big mischief playing around in the woods by Harry’s house. The damage was a torn ligament in my right ankle. this was incredibly inconvenient, I got straight on the pain killers, anti inflammatories, ice, elevation, rest….you name it I was on it! With only a week between the day of injury and first practice, I had to get going if I wanted to be racing the last round of the season.
By the time things kicked off I had made massive improvements on the flexibility and strength of my foot but I needed it to be 100%…Otherwise I didn’t stand a chance.
Practice was an eye opener. I basically realised early on that there was no way I was going to be riding at 100%. For a lot of the track I was able to ride at a decent speed. But downhill puts such a dynamic load on your body, with constant weight shifts and counter balancing, these subtle movements are so good at highlighting pain. I felt every little twist or off balance compression like a knife. I remember after getting one section just slightly off my line followed by this feeling this incredible jolt of pain through my leg and just stopping on the side of the track before my foot collapsed. It was the most demoralising feeling, because in yourself you feel fine but you just can’t do the things you would normally do and at the last World Cup of the year this was unbearably annoying.
Looking back on the injury, I don’t regret what we did that day at all. I always try to look forward, if you spend too much time looking at failures or mistakes you will never move on. With that in mind, qualifying was a new story. I still wanted to be in the big show and had to push through the pain to do my best! The other thing that we had to content with was late summer European weather….to be honest I could have just woken up back in Wellington. It was bloody miserable. Cold, dark and wet no one really wanted to go and ride bikes yet we were all up there trying to figure out this track.
At 2 mins 20 seconds for the top lads, you’d be pretty safe in assuming that it wasn’t a big hill. That meant that the times would be super tight and to qualify for the final you would have to be on one! I wasn’t feeling much better this morning but pushed on searching for speed. What was super annoying was that I could ride sections fast. But to really push on you needed to fully concentrate on the riding rather than protecting the ankle. Needless to say these two didn’t go hand in hand.
For qualifying, I wanted to put down a good run so badly, I felt alright out of the start gate and even up to the first split (turns out it was actually the opposite with my first sector being my slowest). I could tell I was just riding super tight and tried to relax for the bottom but I felt like I just couldn’t give it what was needed. It’s tough to sugar-coat this in any way but I was just a bit disappointed with everything and I finished in 96th place. Looking at the results I was actually making up time and places the whole way down but just not fast enough.
With that run and done, it was time to reflect back on m best World Cup season to date. With plenty of ups, La Bresse was the only down in an otherwise consistent season. Even though it was Injury affected, it is still a tough pill to swallow and watching from the sidelines sucked. I cant wait to get back racing next year!
From here it was off to Brandnertal for the last round of the IXS European Cup, keep you eyes peeled for the release of that one in the next couple of days!