Euphoria; a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness. A feeling of euphoria swept through the event village when the Swiss rider led the race.
The dictionary people didn’t use that example, but they probably should have. Although ‘the Swiss rider’ could be easily replaced by the name Nino, and still be fitting! The race in question was the Lenzerheide World Cup. The anticipation was high leading into the event, as it was a new inclusion to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup powered by Shimano.
Situated smack bang in the Swiss Alps, Lenzerheide sits at 1500m and is surrounded by towering peaks. Even though its location hinted to large amounts of climbing, the course actually offered very little with only one major climb, which was asphalted and so offered high speeds which had the climbing over and done with very quickly. The rest of the course was full of features from short punchy climbs to drops and lots of roots. Recovery was difficult to find over the short lap with so much going on, which resulted in very hard lap.
The drops did pose a bit of a challenge though. On the entry they were blind which meant you couldn’t see the landing until you were in the air. Technically they weren’t too difficult, it was just a matter of letting the bike fall off the drop, but they did have me needing to take a second look during practice. It hasn’t really been since the Cairns World Cup that I’ve been nervous to hit something on an XC course. Hopefully, there are more courses and features like them in the future.
Race weekend took a slightly different shape to the previous rounds with all the XCO races pushed back to the Sunday as the downhill races took up the Saturday. Any thoughts that the drops on the XCO course were big were quickly dispelled during the live coverage of the downhill with their drops making ours look ridiculously small!
Sunday started with the U23s with Australia represented by the Nankervis brothers, Russell and Tasman, and me. After a chaotic first climb, the first descent started and the real chaos began. The first section of singletrack is usually pretty hectic in an XCO race but when that first section is downhill, it’s a whole lot worst. It was more a case of falling down the hill with everyone than actually riding, but as we spilled out onto the second climb we were relatively spread out, and then the race progressed in its usual, extremely fast, World Cup manner. In the end, I managed 74th which wasn’t what I had hoped for but was still an improvement, especially in the race pacing department with my last three laps within 2 seconds of each other.
Tasman and Russell finished 84th and 87th, respectively, and in the elite men’s race Dan McConnell finished in 25th after an unfortunate costly flat tyre. In the elite women’s race, Rebecca Henderson and Peta Mullens finished in 26th and 44th, respectively, with Sarah Riley and Eliza Kwan finishing in 55th and 56th, respectively.
The atmosphere at the race really was electric. Very reminiscent of the Nove Mesto World Cup with the Czech fans cheering for Jaroslav Kulhavy. It’s so cool coming to these races and both racing and spectating and getting caught up in the euphoria of the event. Hopefully we can get a similar atmosphere in Cairns next year!