Arriving Sunday night, we had three days to relax and sort out any bike issues before the stages were open for official practice on Thursday. The town was teeming with Italian teenagers for an AC Milan Soccer tournament so you can only imagine how busy (and noisy!) the town was. A sense of tranquility descended on the town on Wednesday when they left, however this was shortlived as by Wednesday evening, mountain bikers had replaced the loud vibrant teenagers but added a touch of 'coolness' to the place. By Friday, the professional team pit was full of the usuals....Trek, Specialized, BMC, Giant etc and bikers were gearing up for a tough weekend of racing.
Two full days of practice Thursday and Friday meant that I was pretty wrecked by Friday evening but a good nights sleep in the van and a feed of Italian pizza left me waking up feeling refreshed Saturday morning, race day! Unfortunately I had no memory storage left on my laptop so I was unable to watch my HEDcamz footage which was a real disadvantage as this is one of the really helpful ways to remember the stages and help me to memorise them.
The women were off first at 8.50am with Tracy Moseley leading the pack from the stage. Enrico on the mic was there to send us off with a cheer and words of encouragement along with a nice crowd that had turned up to give us a wave of support, which was cool.
Stage 1 - Two chair lifts and an hours climbing up to the snowcapped peak we had ten minutes before start time. I was in 20th position, just behind Hannah Barnes. We had a 30 second gap with the fastest riders first. This was the longest stage of the race and in fact the longest of the whole World Series to date. I started well, staying in control but maybe holding back a little too much as I knew it was a really long stage, I was saving myself. After a crash and being slow on the hills and not giving it my all, I finished this stage with a disappointing time and in 28th position.
Stage 2 - The transition to 2 was really tough and took a lot out of me. However, as soon as I started to race, I was on fire! Pushing hard but staying relaxed and in control, I was having fun on my bike and getting really nice flow and speed. I loved this stage! Finishing well with 25th position.
Stage 3 - Another really cool stage. It had started to rain so the track was a wet and muddy, just how I like it. I was in my element. Finishing in 25th position, this was progression!
Stage 4 - Waking up to a nice looking sky and fairly mild conditions, I knew today was going to be a good day for racing with such conditions and knowing that I had just one long transition to climb today to stage 4, which was actually stage 1 from day one, I was going to give it everything on the stages, no holding back or saving the legs. I pushed hard on Stage 4 from the start, staying relaxed and in control. After a night of rain, the track was very different to the previous day and had become wetter and a lot slippier. It was knarly! I had pretty much a clean run and rode really well finishing in 22nd position, my best performance so far.
Stage 5 - I felt good on stage 4, now I was feeling great on stage 5. The KONA Process 153 was really fast on this stage, taking whatever the mountain threw at it and helping me to ride with ease and flow. Finishing in 22nd position just 2mins 13 secs off Tracy Moseley! Its fun to just compare :)
Stage 6 - Final stage and boy was I glad to be on stage 6. After a nice break, time to clean the bike and have some food we were ready to tackle the mountain again. I had a good stage but not as clean as the previous two stages which lost me a few places. Finishing in 24th, I couldn't complain.
Final Result - 25th Overall with 22nd on two stages, this was my best performance in the series to date...Stoked!
After the podium presentations, which were good craic, it was off to watch the World Cup Final in a nearby hotel where the after-party was being held. Lets just say it was a great night!
The whole weekend was just so good and I felt so lucky to be part of it all. Such a great atmostphere and yet again another flawless and superb race organised by Enrico Guala, Chris Ball and the SuperEnduro team. They really are so good at what they do.
Look out for my interview in Dirt Magazine where I discuss 'Vanlife' with Victor Lucas for an upcoming feature he's doing!
Next stop, Finale Ligure for some beachtime and biking in the fabulous Finale mountains.
A huge thanks to Joe and Tim at SRAM who got my bike ready for racing, I had absolutely no mechanicals or problems all weekend. These guys are such legends and are always willing to help out racers.
Thanks as always to MBW-Bike Shop in Moycullen, Galway. To KONA Bikes, HEDCamz, GRrana Energy Europe and Allmountainstyle.
Nestled in the stunning Aosta Valley, in the shadow of Mont Blanc, lies the lovely little town of La Thuile. A historic mining town with classic Italian charm, La Thuile is every outdoor enthusiasts paradise. With mountain bike trails originally built as pathways between the mines many years ago, this place is definitely a mountain bikers dream as the miles of singletrack give you a real mix of technical natural features to tackle, with fast, steep trails filled with fun swooping berms. A very popular ski resort in the Winter, and said to be one of the best places in Europe for white water rafting, it is only a matter of time before La Thuile will be up there as one of the best places in Europe for mountain biking also.
Irish Female Enduro Racer Flow MTB Team Rider