World Cup round 3 took place in Offenburg Germany over the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd of May. On journey to the race took 2 days, on Wednesday we stopped off at a B&B near Reims in France, before finishing the drive Thursday morning to arrive at our hillside apartment on the edge of the Black Forest. We were greeted by wet conditions but the surrounding mountainous terrain excited Ant and myself who were excited to get exploring the area. A few hours later we returned to the apartment caked in mud but with massive smiles having found some awesome trails.
On Friday we had the first taste of the world cup course which is renowned for its technically demanding nature in the dry, in the wet however it was insane! Drops with 90 degree corners at the bottom, rooty singletrack section, steep switchback descents, massive root gardens, and long dragging climbs all coated in greasy mud made for entertaining practise lap as every rider at least once found themselves on there bums sliding down the track. Luckily by Saturday the poor weather had disappeared and temperatures in the 20’s meant the track was drying out quickly, even higher temperatures on race day meant the track was completely dry.
From the start line I felt good and moved up some good place, however no sooner had I made this progress I began to tire in the heat. Maybe I went too fast at the start, maybe I didn’t drink enough, maybe I just hadn’t done enough training, either way I blew on the first lap and from that point on my time in the race would be limited. It annoyed me that I’d gone all that way to have such a rubbish race, and even more that we’d sat in that apartment for 4 days doing very little riding resting up for the Sundays race when we could have been doing some amazing rides in the Black Forest mountains. On the positive side we did get to eat lots of amazing cakes!
The following Saturday was British XC round 3 at Margam Park in Wales. The rainfall on Friday night ruined the track turning it into a slippery muddy mess. By lack of training in the mud was highlighted as I rode like a pansy and fell off the bike at every possible opportunity. On lap 2 I called it a day.
After my disastrous performance on Saturday the Big Welsh 75km Enduro offered me the perfect opportunity to rescue the weekend and to have some fun. I’d been looking forward to the enduro for some time, firstly because it offers an opportunity to race something slightly different to the top end body crushing effort of the normal cross country race, and secondly I’ve never really tested my diesel engine in a longer distance race. On the start line there were numerous names that I recognised and also teammates Tim Dunford and James Lister. I was a little nervous as didn’t know how the race would unfold, the plan was just to follow the pace of the leader if I could. James set the pace right from the start and on the first 15 minute climb he ripped the field apart leaving only a small group together. I then had a few digs on the flatter parts of the course and on the downhill’s in an attempt to reduce the size of the group. Team TORQ broke away during lap 1 from the rest of the field; however the pace on the climbs was just too fast for Tim at the start of the second lap and then me one lap later on the same climb leaving James to ride off into the distance to take a well deserved win. On the start line I thought the enduro would be a good practise run and learning opportunity for James and me who are participating in this years Transalps stage race, what I’ve learnt is that James is going to absolutely kill me on the climbs, time to invest in a tow rope! 2nd place for me was a good result and an enjoyable way to complete my late finishing spring campaign. It now time for some rest and recovery before my next big training block targeting British XC 4 and Transalps.