I was nervous about this race and how my body would react to racing at altitude. Every race I do at altitude I seem to react differently so hopefully the more races I do at high altitude the more a consistent trend will develop with how I perform. The first day on course was a real shock to the system but nothing unusual for me at altitude. My max HR was 15bpm lower than usual and I had a hard time getting enough oxygen to my legs. On Friday afternoon after course practice I was feeling better and more used to the thin air and had high hopes of a top 16 short track finish, ideally even a top 8.
I had a good first few laps in the short track and was riding around in the top 8 for the first 5 laps or so before I really started to notice the effects of the altitude setting in. I dug deep with the hope of a top 16 However with about 3 or 4 laps to go my front wheel washed out on a flat shaly corner and I landed on my right knee, losing contact with the group fighting for the front positions. I was very disappointed to miss out on a top 16 and to crash out with such a stupid mistake but set about making things right for Sunday’s XCO.
Luckily my knee had settled down enough for the XCO and I could race without any ill effect. I got shafted at the start when I was caught up behind a crash and immediately found myself a long way back. I was conscious not to push too hard at the beginning and felt I did a good job of riding my own pace, but I had a really tough middle sector of the race where I just felt horrendous. I was giving it my everything but just going backwards until a lap and a half to go it was like someone hit a switch and I was off. I managed to set the fastest final lap of all riders and the fastest lap outside of the start lap of everyone so at least something positive to take from a bad day! In the end I think I finished in 22nd, a long way off where I want to be, but I know I have a lot of room to progress with training over the next weeks. Already looking forward to my next chance in MSA!
Photos Matt DeLorme