Another WC is in the books and it was pretty good. Not great, but not bad. The trip over to the UK last week went good enough. No upgrade like last time but with only a 6 hour international flight it wasn't very long anyway. Met the Dart in Manchester airport, took the train from the airport to about 10 minutes from the hotel and got picked up by Pieter and Benno. EZ.
The weather in Dalby was cool all week, temperatures were only in the upper 50s and it was pretty cloudy all day. The wind was also pumping but it doesn't get dark there till after 10pm and it comes up before 5am. Most Euro hotels have metal shutters on the outside of the windows but not our place in the UK. I had to sacrifice a bike box to make a custom window blind that worked perfect. I managed to get on the time pretty easily and only had to take a sleeping pill one time.
The race started well for me since I had the number 10 from SA I was able to maintain my position and go into the single track around 10-15. I rode in and out of the chase group for 3-12 for the first 3 or 4 laps. On the 5th lap I started to loose some ground and could never come back. I would always come off on the steep straight climb and catch back on through the rolling single track. The climb was brutal b/c the times were so close and you could see a long line of people right in front of you but it was impossible for me to close on them at all.
I had a sprint with Gujan for 15th but couldn't come out of his slipstream and had to settle for 16th. That isn't a bad result for a WC but it certainly isn't a good one. With the times being so close I was hoping for more but I have another crack at it this weekend in Offenburg. I rode the Stumpjumper S-Works HT 29er and it was awesome out there. Dalby is our highest avg. speed course of the series so those big wheels held the momentum well.
There were a few top cyclists from other disciplines of our sport that were racing this weekend. It seemed like a bunch of the top CX racers were there with Sven Nys, AERNOUTS Bart, DE KNEGT Gerben, Lopes was there from the 4X crowd and Jean Christophe Peraud was back in action taking a break from his duties at AG2R on the road for the weekend. I don't know which is more impressive, Nys starting in 77th place and getting into the top 15 2 minutes into the race after the first start lap or Peraud starting in 113 and finishing in 37th. Nys seems more impressive but he did crash out on the drop landing on his head and not being able to finish the race so it's a toss up.
Yesterday Burry and I did a huge travel day so we could check out the London Olympic course. Susi, Lene and Jaroslav all opted out of the training day since they are going to the test event later in the year. Burry and I didn't want to fly back to Europe though so we took advantage of the 4 hour training block offered to the WC riders yesterday. I thought there were only going to be north Americans there but lots of Euros came as well.
It was a 4:30 drive down to the course in Essex from Dalby so we left the hotel around 7:15am. The trip was easy with Sandy driving and we were out on the course by 12:30. We got two laps in and decided we were tired and had seen enough.
The course is set on a big hillside that is full of grass. You can see a lot of the course from the S/F area and it should be awesome for spectators. Since there isn't much natural challenging terrain in the area the organisers build some cool rock drop sections, dirt berms, a bridge jump and a little technical climbing. There are probably 5 sections with different line options with the A-line being faster but more difficult then the B and C. The ground is super hard as it's in an open field and just bakes in the sun, it looked like it hadn't rained there in a long time. There are no long climbs or descents so the course is quite unrelenting. You go up a 1 minute climb but then only get to do a 10-20 second downhill before you're back on the gas again. I think it's going to be a very fast course with minimal rest and lots of accelerations.
We finished up our training, Sandy dropped us at the train station that is right there and will be used for the Games and we were on our way to London Heathrow. We had to change trains 3 times, walk around London a bit to get from one station to another but finally arrived at the airport just 1 hour before our flight was scheduled to take off. Check in complete we got a bite a eat and were on the plane. Since the winds were gusting from 60-70 mph we were delayed for an hour taking off but managed to make it into Frankfurt by 9:30pm, 20 minutes before the last train to Offenburg took off. We made the train, 2 hours later Pieter was picking us up and by 12pm German time we were at the hotel. I felt like we were in one of those TV shows where they race from place to place with any transportation they can find. Luckily Sandy was driving down with our bikes or we wouldn't have been able to make our connections.
The weather is much nicer in Offenburg, temperatures are in the upper 70s, it's sunny and the flowers are in full bloom. I have a view of the vineyards from my room and I have had a relaxing morning. The staff are still traveling down from Dalby with our bikes so the Dart and I are thinking about playing 9 holes before they get here and it's time to get back to work.
It was awesome to go up on the World Cup podium again this weekend for the team competition largely due to Jaroslav winning the race, which is the first time a 29er has won a WC, times are changing I guess. Jaroslav is training twice a day, everyday so I might have to get on that program and see if it works as well for me as it does for him.
I wonder what Megs' doing right now.....