Saturday – World’s
Had some trouble sleeping last night, but when the call came at 7am, I was dead to the world. No rolling over, 3 hours to race start. Mixed a fruit muesli bowl and was actually hungry. Packed and headed out. Stopped at the cafeteria for a java and the gal offered me a roll. Jumped into the car and headed to the mountain…. Figured to stop below the hill and warm up on the flats for 20-30minutes and finish up on the mountain. Found a good parking place, not my usual,… looks like those Italians got the last spot, but found an even better one.
A neighbor had a pump that his wife was happy to lone, but he was a bit upset, and quickly grabbed it away—yes, took a few pound out. Ran into Cedric and he said he would hand up a bottle… so my worries were gone… the warm up went well and I felt ready. Had a front row start (guess I won’t get that back next year). Then managed to easily roll off the front at the start, the Italian stallion began to gallop away, and no one was very close behind as we hit the descending road to the single track. Figured hordes would be roaring by, but that did not happen. I felt pretty good. Went into the single track 2nd with Silvano just ahead and felt pretty good about my skills on this patch.
In the middle of the woods section, is a short road section and this is when two fellows came up to me, but they seemed to be pushing the climbs a bit to hard so early, so they went around wheel to wheel, and kept them in site. Did not want to overcook it on all these tough climbs right away. Having them in site Rob Anderson, last years champ, came up and he was working very hard and he pushed by me and I followed. We hit some more single track and as much as I respect Rob, he struggles on the descents and being behind him at this stage was slowing, even when we hit the run up, he was slow to get on his bike and I even gave him a push as was trying to get going again on a much to steep section. I waited a few more steps, for a flatter spot and mounted, …here was a very steep switch back section to a short steep climb. We crested on a narrow trail with a drain ditch on one side and a 2 foot berm on the other, this lead to a nasty whoop-de-doo, across the road, with a tricky entry onto a steep gravel road. This where Rob slowed, so I went around him, but he jumped me just before another series of switchbacks, so gave him some room as these were steep and sharp (which ones weren’t on this course). After came the feed/tech zone, which next lap because my stop. This wide flat, 20 meters leads to the last switchback climb. we could still see the other 2, but Silvano was gone. Turns out he cramped, was caught and must of dropped out. The descent off this last climb, gave me an opportunity to pass Rob, as he had the drag shoot out for these high speed sweepers, the first two on gravel and last on grass, but they were easy to make fast., the last, 180ed back up the grassy hill and rose then dropped towards the finish. Was able to put a good gap into Rob,.. but this is when my problems began. I could not get into the very very valuable and necessary little ring. After the finish, the wide track in front of the lodges snaked up and around till it doubled back through some trees and down a flight of stairs…look out for the steel fencing, s turns into a sharp drop and a hanging single track, only for a moment and then 180 onto the descending fire road of mixed large gravel, roots boulder and trenches. This is where my front derailleur took over.. not being able to get in my big ring, I could not keep my speed up to stay clear of Rob, who I did not want to follow into the long single track section, where I knew I could pick up some time. Spinning as hard as I could, I thought I had it, but he jumped by me at last minute, I scolded him, that he would be faster to follow me. Not completely sure, I gave him some extra room and he took advantage and he opened it up. Now I began to sink, realizing my front drailleur was not working at all. Pick a ring, that is what you get. Things were alright till we hit the up and down and the run up, where I got off early and reached down to put it in the small ring. Thinking this was it, race over, I carried on because of all the fans yelling!!! Can’t stop now….rode on to the feed zone, asking for mechanical help, they said that was just up the way…Cedric ran with me and tried to help figure out what had happened.. a young Belgium helped too. I knew it by his colors he was champion. I began to give up hope and said so… he said, NO!, you must finish…I knew he was right. They figured out that the derailleur had slipped down and was blocked by the chain stay and was now jammed. (this is an issued to be worked out)… They said you must go and off I went… many people had passed me and I quickly went by 5 or 6 guys. I was still stuck spinning the tiny ring the whole rest of the race, but figured this was better than jumping off and on the bike, ... managed to pass several more riders.
On the final lap, a bunch of different people yelled I was in 5th, turns out the guy in front of me was. I closed to him but didn’t quite catch before the line.
I was exhausted after the race and I had made many friends. Happy with what turned out, as this is what can happen. Rob finished 3rd, an Italian 2nd and a Swiss won. I managed 6th, but content in knowing I had a real chance to win. You bet “I’ll be back”.