Nove Mesto & La Bresse World CupsMay 29, 2012
On May 7th I departed from the Toronto airport, Google Maps proclaimed “center of the universe”, to meet up with the Canadian national mountain bike team in Prague CZE for what would be a two week trip through Czech Republic, Germany and France. First impressions of Czech were not bright as we quickly got nailed with a 200 cronor fine for driving through a bus route.
Bike didn’t make the final leg of the journey, Frankfurt -> Prague, with me so I was left to test the staff bikes for the first day. Luckily Star Alliance Gold is worth something these days we were reunited by day 2. The track in Nove Mesto was very fun to ride, which seems to be the theme of every world cup so far this year. Maybe that’s just because mountain biking is fun? Lots of climbing but it was all worth it for the fast, flowy descents. Not baby-could-ride-it smooth flowy, but a more skill level flowy were you had negotiate lots of roots, drops and “whoop de doos”. Something where if you know what you’re doing you can link it together but if you don’t you’ll just get rattled silly.
This would be my first world cup this year and I went in with a goal of top 25, a position that would grant both UCI and World Cup points. I had a decent start coming through the start loop in 44th, around the same as my call up, but not as good as I’d hoped for. It’s usually very hard to move up after the start loop + first lap as the gaps get bigger and the leaders are already spread out down to road, so I knew I had some work to do. Gained 10 spots on the first lap and was able to keep my lap times consistent and comfortable enough to pick of another 10 by the finish straight. I lead the sprint for 26th but I was too eager and started too far out. Everybody got me by the line and I ended up 29th, 5 min back from the leader. That would be my best European world cup result in the U23 category.
Post-race cross gut strikes again as I could barely stomach half of that nights crepe dessert. But the accomplished feeling of being finished the race with a decent result made it a nice time to relax. The Elites were set to take stage the next day with a heated Olympic selection at hand. Canadas, and Specializeds, own Max Plaxton came out with a breakthrough European result.
We took the next two days to drive across Europe and in to La Bresse FRA. The drive took us through Prague for some historic garden walks, bridge crossing and ate salmon lunch on the river for $10 and a nice ride through German forests and old castle towns in Heidelburg. All with stretch breaks and one-of-a-kind hotel breakfasts… which turned out not to be all inclusive.
The final accent into La Bresse saw sub-zero temperatures, wind, snow, sleet, rain, you name it it was coming down. Sat down to a nice fire and settled in to our quaint mountain side cottage. The course in La Bresse can be described as Old School for sure. With one big, long, grueling switch back climb with a decent equally as long with several chutes and rock drops. A fun course who would’ve guessed?
Equally decent start as in Nove Mesto, coming through the start loop in 40-something again. But this time I wasn’t able to start picking people off like last time. The first lap I fought just to hold my position and it only went down from there. I felt like I couldn’t breathe at the top of the steepest part of the climb, which is a little unsettling. Unfortunately my body just didn’t show up to the party that day so I rode around, fighting but unable to hold anybody’s wheel, to finish a disappointing 58th. You just have to brush those ones off and focus on what’s ahead.
The most exciting final 10 minutes of an Elite race, both men and women, I think I have ever seen occurred on Sunday. I won’t give anything away so just go watch it on RedBull TV. Every Frenchman in the city gasped and was near tears on the final run in to the finish line!
Unfortunately I’m going to have to sit out the Baie-Saint-Paul Canada Cup this weekend due to a small leg injury. I tweaked the semitendinosus in La Bresse and the long travel day made it angry. A very, very tough decision to make but the physio guy laid it straight: “You could be 100% in a week [skip race] or 70% for a month [shred some BSP soil]”. Well seeing as how Nationals and the North American world cups are next month I had to make the smart call. Even though I think I could be good to go for BSP, a full race effort might be too much to ask for off the bat and would be risky.