This photo pretty much sums up my World Champs race in Hafjell, Norway. Painful! I had high hopes heading into it. My buildup was good with some big volume before Leadville and La Grand Raid. I had a lot of high altitude training as well. I was a little heavy but not too bad and I had almost 3 weeks in Europe so jet lag wasn’t a problem either. I liked the course other then the one really steep climb and everything seemed to be perfect leading up to it. I even had a descent lap in the Team Relay on Wednesday.
Race day rolled around on Saturday and the course was in perfect shape. We didn’t have any rain all week so the lines were all ridden in and as grippy as they were going to get. I had start number 54 which isn’t great but not too bad considering I didn’t do a World Cup race all year. By the end of lap 1 I had moved up probably 10-15 places from where I started.
The first 2 laps of any World Champs or World Cup race is absolute pain for me. My body is just screaming the entire time for me to stop but I usually settle in by lap 3 and the pain goes away enough to remember to drink and eat. This weekend the pain stayed the entire time although I did manage to eat and drink as the race wore on. For the first 3 laps I was engaged and moved up to around 30th I think but then the lights went out. I didn’t think I was even going to be able to ride up the steep climb on lap 5 but somehow I made it. At the top of lap 6 I thought well at least I’ll make it to the finish now since I only had to do the steep climb 1 more time but it wasn’t to be. I was stopped by the 80% rule and was the first guy to be clocked in 1 lap down. The only other time I’ve been a lap down in a race was at World Champs in New Zealand when I broke my chain on the start and had to run to the tech zone. It was definitely not what I was hoping for but that’s racing, sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn’t.
Team USA had some great XC results with Howie starting things off by taking bronze in the U-23 race on Friday. It was the first medal by an American XC male since Walker F back in 2001. Then Lea followed it up with another bronze in the elite women’s XC race on Saturday. It was the first World Champs medal for both of them but I’m sure it won’t be the last.
We had awesome support from both Specialized and USA Cycling the entire time. The bikes all worked flawlessly. I had a few flat tires early in the week training but by race day I had that all figured out and the equipment worked perfect. USA Cycling got a new clothing sponsor for this year, Coure. The stuff was incredible, looked good, fit well, was light and very comfortable.
It is nice to be back home after a few weeks in Europe. Even though World are over I still have quite a few races left this season. I’m heading to Boulder this weekend for the UCI CX races up there. They are some of my favorite CX races all year. I have a little break planned after that and then a few more CX races before my last MTB race of the season, La Ruta down in Costa Rica in early November.
I wonder how many of my CX wheels are going to need to be re-glued before this weekend……