[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=01YULr02Kn8] It's been a few days now since I finished racing the Mega and I'm finally starting to loosen up and feel less sore & tired from that crazy race I got sucked into racing again last weekend. It's one of those addictive races that you just cannot say no to. After finishing in 3rd place last year behind Anne & Tracy, I swore I was done. It was the biggest battle & the hardest hour of racing ever, and I had had my mega quota and achieved what I wanted to achieve with this gamble of a race. Anyhow, another year later, another fun day of practice and boom - Mega number 6 in the books. I couldn't help myself.
The qualie track was pretty fun, it started up at the same start, even though there was so much snow, it just meant some more rut, snow scooting. The track also had a river flowing down the whole top part of the track, so mud galore and visibility issues right out of the start gate made for some interesting line choices & passes. My plan was to try and slot in behind Anne Caro and try to stick as close to her as possible to the finish. Well turns out Anne never practiced the top rocky, snow sections and managed to get us both lost. We had to get off and run back up to the right lines to carry on, and by that stage a handful of girls had passed us. It turned into a chase the leader game then, trying to make sketchy inside line passes, turning doubles into triples & hucking off weird, unpracticed obstacles to try and get by and just generally some sketchy riding to try and gain a few places. The bottom part of this track is a one line, bike park type track and pretty impossible to pass, so you keep trying, but in the end, you just roll down to the finish in the order that you entered that bottom section into and be happy with that. I ended up 6th. Lesson learned: Don't follow the leader. Be confident with your own lines.
The girls don't get much time to recover or think about the main race, as we finish qualies pretty late, wash bikes, eat, sleep & get in line for the gondola to the top of the world at 6am that next morning. I prefer this, as we have no time to think about what we're getting ourselves into and what the glacier may be like this morning. The lift ride to the top is spectacular, watching the sunlight hit the massive snowy mountain peaks all around us. There is so much tension in those gondolas on race morning, but somehow seeing the sun rise, makes it all better, brings a smile to my face and reminds me of how lucky we are to be doing what we do.
We get up to the top about 2 and a half hours before we race, so there is a lot of waiting around, nervous banter, ice kicking and speculating how much softer it could get within 20 minutes or so. It is terrifying from up there. The ice was frozen solid, and it just dropped away right out of the start gate into the steepest, slipperiest glacier ever with a massive right hander at the bottom...The race was delayed by 20min's to hopefully get a bit softer, so that was great news. I started towards the left side, and the plan was to get out fast, cut to the right and avoid the pile up off everyone starting on the right side and slipping to the left off the off camber startline. Well, I started fast, pedalled a lot and picked up so much speed, so quickly, I didn't know what to do with it. I couldn't brake, I couldn't dare put my foot down, and I kept picking up speed as the right hander was approaching faster than I could deal with. I was out front again with Anne and two other girls, with most of the other girls creeping down the glacier - smart choice. Anyhow, I ended up having a massive crash and cartwheeled my way into the safety nets. As thankful as I was for those nets from stopping me from sliding down the mountain, my frustration & disbelief kicked in when I realized that my bike was so tangled up in the netting, that I couldn't get it loose. Sven was up at the top and he timed this whole ordeal - almost 3 minutes later I got my bike free and managed to get going on the glacier again.
Check out some pretty spectacular glacier crashing footage that John & Rob Parkin got with their freaking cool helicopter camera - thanks for that guys!
I was gutted. I almost gave up. I was angry. Why did I pedal so hard out of the start gate? I thought everyone would. I didn't need to. Why did I get tangled up? I guess it saved my life, but the other girls didn't get tangled. Urgh! Racing = Frustrating. It's happened now, what are you going to do? I decided to carry on sliding down the glacier, head first on my back clasping my bike on my chest at one stage (not by choice), and decided to just finish and enjoy the whole experience as I thought I was pretty much last after my start ordeal. I started picking my way back past loads of girls (I managed to ride over Hannah Barnes' foot - sorry Hannah!), slowly getting back into a good rhythm and enjoying myself. I pushed hard, rode the downhills fast, solid on the uphills and just felt great on my bike. Once I crossed the finish line, I realized I managed to finish in 7th place - not too shabby. I couldn't believe it, I was happy to at least make the top 10, but at the same time, it was bittersweet as I started thinking about all the what if scenarios. That's racing though & everyone's got to get their turn. Well done to all the girls who race this scary race. Better luck next time.
Sven sadly decided to skip the main race after qualifying really well, due to his arm being really swollen and sore after a few crashes the day before. The men raced an amazing race. Jerome is an animal. We cheered hard & ran alongside our mates to cheer them on up the hills. It was awesome. Well done to all the brave boys!
Will I be back? I swore never, but never is a long time...
Now it's time to rest up and recover from the past 3 weeks of adrenaline overdose and racing and get ready for the next month of racing and adventuring in Colorado & Canada.
Peace out, Anka xxx