Operation Megavalanche Preparation is still on!
After racing the concrete at Falmouth Urban Downhill, it was nice to find myself back in natural surroundings in the Quantocks, Somerset.
It had rained the day before but I arrived to cool crisp air and glorious sunshine. I jumped out of the van and went for a quick track walk to find out what the conditions were like. The fire roads, that I was going to have to cycle on for the transitions between stages were dry, but the woods were sloppy and still wet. So tyre choice was difficult… I had two options, WTB Vigilante Trail tyres, aggressive for a trail tyre and really light; or some Magic Mary Downhill tyres. The downhill tyres would give me more grip in the slippery conditions, but would be heavy on the transitions. The trail tyres on the other hand would have less grip, but would be much faster on the transitions. After a long debate with my dad, I decided to go with the trail tyres and my thinking was, if I can do the transitions with fresher legs, I would be more dynamic on the Stages.
I had 3 hours of practice before 4 timed runs. I got 3 practice Stages in before lunch. For lunch, I had vegetable wraps, for some reason I go veggie for the races, mainly, because I find it a little more hydrating.
The afternoon started with Stage 2, and it was slippery, but a lot of fun. Considering it was only the second time I had been on the track, I was very happy with my run. I nailed the last corners, as they were the hardest corners. Next was Stage 1, which required a lot of pedal power and was a definite test of my fitness.
On the transition, I met Katy Winton (rides for TREK) and Greg Callaghan (rides for CUBE), who are both Pro Enduro riders. They were pretty friendly and chatty with me and I had a great chat. The next Stage, I followed Katy (well, I tried to follow), but she destroyed me and probably had time for a cup of tea before I got down. This was shortly followed by the long climb to Stage 4, the last of the day. I was unable to do Stage 4 in practice, so I had to ride it “blind”, well not literally blind, but I did not know what was around the corner or if there were any nasty drops. I got down safely, but it was not a great run. The race was only 1 hour 50 mins from home, so we drove home instead of camping. This was nice, very nice.
I was up at 06:00, in order to get ready to drive to the race. We arrived at around 0830 and I checked my bike off before starting riding at 0900. Day 2 consisted of 6 timed Stages and there were 3 Stages that I would have to ride “blind”. I have discovered that I love the challenge of riding a track without walking it first. I like the danger of not knowing what is around the next corner.
I started with Stage 2, followed by 1 and 4 (Stage 3 was cancelled). The sun was out and the track was drying, this meant faster riding, more grip and more fun. I was riding a lot faster, but unfortunately so were the other riders. After a quick snack, I hit Stages 5 and 6. These were good Stages, actually they were great and the best. They were fast, flowing and fun, fun, fun!!
I progressed a lot quicker than I thought I was going to. This resulted in a long wait for Stage 7 to open. I had a decent run and got down in a quick time, however a few riders were caught cheating and the Stage was made invalid. The final result, which saw me finish in 3rd, I was not happy with the result and I realise, that I need to put a lot more training in, if I want to be competitive and not die in Megavalanche later this year!!
Overall, I had a lot of fun and learnt more:
- Enduro riders are some of the friendliest I have ever met and they make a hard race an enjoyable experience.
- I learnt about tyre choices and race strategy for Enduro. If I was fitter, I could have ridden some more heavy duty tyres.
I made some new friends and it is always inspiring to meet some Pro Riders. One day, hopefully, I will be able to mentor some young aspiring rider.
By Maya Atkinson
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