|Posted by VoncooperLLC on September 25, 2012 at 1:30 PM|
Our trip to the World Cup finals in Norway started with an interesting day of travel highlighted by someone forgetting their passport, some gnarly turbulence and playing musical cars at the rental lot. We then had a couple down days to build bikes, adjust to the time change and the culture. Including stocking the condo's fridge with some expensive food (and later beer) and using the built in sauna.
Track walk on Wednesday was more exciting than most, being a brand new World Cup track only seen in videos and pictures. The pictures and videos didn't do it justice, the jumps out of the start are nicely built and big. The woods sections were technical and full of rock and roots. There was plenty of steep bits to keep your momentum up. The whole team was pumped to ride the next day.
Thursday and it was finally time to ride. Being a frosty cold morning we took a warmup run down some of Hafjell bike park's other sweet trails, then we headed to the start. Hit the jumps first run then cruised down to the steep woods section mid track. It was quickly filling up with riders crashing and watching. Tim White after scouting a bit, rolled in and then rolled his ankle jumping over the bars. Ending his practice after the next run due to too much pain. Phil and myself kept practicing logging a couple more laps and stopping a bunch to look at lines. Then in the lower woods Phil punched a tree with his hand and he had to call it a day. I continued too practice and managed to get up too a good pace with most my lines sorted out.
Qualifying day started out with rain early and overnight, making some sections slick and muddy. Tim was still in too much pain too continue to ride but Phil and Myself prepped for the mud and logged some laps. We then had a long wait for are qualifying runs and that gave the track time to dry out.
When I dropped in I realized that it dried out a ton and opened it up and had a solid run. I bent my chain ring on something in the second woods that caused my chain to come off. It was skipping and popping and the chain finally let go pedaling out of the last woods. I didn't effect me too much and I managed a career best qualifying result in 46th place.
Phil finished outside the top 80 missing the cut. He had a bad run crashing a few times and was not riding like himself. Most likely due to the hand injury the day before, that left him in a lot of pain. (X-rays a few days later confirmed he broke a bone)
Finals day started out with fog and low clouds but they quickly burned off and sun and wind started drying things out even more. Having reached my goal of qualifying for finals I was pumped and first run of practice was fast and loose. I dialed up the pace in a few sections and dialed in my line in a few turns and by the end of run two felt ready to race. There was some practice time left so I decided to take one more lap and put it all together before finals. I came out of the jumps up top with a lot of speed and something caused my front tire to swap a bit sending me over the bars. I hit the ground hard but managed to not break anything. With a front flat and rattled a bit I took the lift down and got ready for the big one.
As my start time got closer I put the practice crash out of my head and with the bike dialed in by Leif (thanks buddy!) I made my way to the start and warmed up. I sprinted out of the start and rode the first minute of the track fast and loose. I had saved a few mistakes but coming out of a berm mid track my front tire rolled and swapped sending me over the bars. I got up and worked my way back up to speed but 30 seconds later my front tube popped and my tire finished climbing off the rim. With the tube wrapped up in my rotor I had to stop and I then found my rear tire flat. I stood there and tried to figure out what just happened and how I could finish my run, but realized it was over and just made my way down to the finish to return my transponder. I was not too bummed about it, gave it everything I had, went a little too hard and all you can do is laugh when you crash and double flat in a run.
We went about packing up that afternoon, then hit up the after party for a bit before calling it a night. The day after the Kmetz's made there way back to the airport to catch a flight home. The rest of us turned into tourist and tried to put the race behind us and see as much as we could before flying out the next day.
Although the race didn't go as well as we wanted, the trip was a still success. It was our first time in Norway, Phil and Tim's first World Cup, and my first European World Cup . Seems like we learned something every step of the way and gained valuable experience. All of us left with much lighter wallets and beat up a bit, but will come back stronger, wiser and hungrier next year.