Journal by By DRHS graduate and racer - What can I say, it was finally cold enough to wear the longsleeve skinsuit and tall Smith socks at World Cup #4 in Willingen, Germany. What a relief, as I carried that little piece of style around for seven weeks and got to use it on the last day of the trip. Something about the long white sleeves raises morale to record levels and ensures that I’ll have a good day on the bike. (this is tough information to have, as I’m always pushing the temperature ceiling to uncomfortable highs…)
Today was no different, after a good morning of riding a bit and lying around I cruised up to the race under threatening skies and cold damp air, glad to finally have some less than perfect weather. I even went so far as to mount up some mud tires on spare wheels incase the dirt hit the fan… Fortunately it didn’t, as the predominately soft soil (unused trails and grass for the most part) would have become quite a horror show with any more than seventeen solid drops of rain.
Rain would also have been bad for the amazingly huge crowd at the event, held in conjunction with the Willingen/Hochsauerland BIKE festival and Marathon, as well as World Cup downhill and fourcross races. 15,000 people is an easy estimate for the sleepy little town in the hill country of central Germany, solid.
We started promptly at 2pm for our nine loops around the very short 5k lap. As usual, the start was hard and fast, and I took full advantage of my fourth row callup to settle solidly into a mediocre position somewhere in the forty’s….
The legs were definitely feel good though, and once things started to sort out on the second lap I was moving rapidly through traffic and monitoring the location of the leaders via the PA system. At the end of lap three or four I has caught all of the random grupettos and settled into eleventh place, still feeling strong and steady, probably because my arms were kept so warm and comfortable by the long sleeves… Over the blur of the next few laps I gradually caught three more guys and entered the final lap with a slim gap to seventh place and an even slimmer cushion from ninth.
I had been eating and drinking all day and was still feeling strong, extending my lead over Ralph Naef in ninth, but unable to close the seemingly small (due to the horrific steepness of the climbs reducing even the best legs to a crawl, thirty meters was fifteen seconds) to hard charging Liam Kileen and fading Silvio Bundi just ahead. I ended up holding on and crossing the line in eighth place, 3:57 down on the winner, Christoph Sauser. Not too shabby after a week of not feeling particularly strong and having a bunch of stuff to do.
I’m stoked to have ended the trip on a strong note, this result, my second best World Cup to date, definitely boosted already high morale going into a weekend off and the following summer World Cup and NORBA campaign.
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