Two races down, two to go. I find one of the best ways to improve performance is racing overseas. I am so grateful for the opportunity. This years preparations before going overseas was a lot easier with Sonet and her team from Novus Holdings organizing our Visas and flights. Once we were overseas we joined our Novus OMX Pro Team and the time spent together has been awesome.
With most of the admin being sorted I could focus on my racing. After competing at the 3rd round of the British Cup I felt a lot more confident for the First World Cup in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic
Training leading up to the race started off a bit slow with my confidence dropping after checking out the course in slippery conditions. I knew I could do all the A lines but felt uneasy and out of my depth. With a bit of motivation from a few people and riding the course with Mariske the next day I felt amped again. Overcoming my fears and just committing to my lines I was ready for race day.
Listen to some worship…Breakfast…some quite time…get last bit of things ready…waiting…Getting restless…time ticking by slowly…can’t wait any long so spin down to the track getting there too early. The venue is abuzz with spectators walking around. I sit in the corner of our tent trying to keep calm with all the hype around.To keep me focused I did a warm up session on the rollers which helped me not worry about all the hype around. Starting to feel more at ease knowing what to expect since this is my second World Cup in Nove Mesto.
15 minutes to go I weaved my way to the start pens. Feeling calmer in my own little world. Anna takes my extra layers just before call up. Great having the OMX Crew there to help…Name gets called, ‘Number 37 “Sherry” Vale from South African’(Spelling is how the commentator pronounces it) … I make my way to the start line…The top 10 get called out… 2 minutes to go…dramatic music comes on…riders move forward…I feel like a packed sardine…Just breathe and keep calm…30 seconds to go…15 seconds…Gun goes off…managed to clip in, in time but felt like I was standing still while riders pushed past. Finally got going managing to avoid a crash. Pressed forward making a few spots up on the start loop climb.
First single track was a bit sketchy with me slipping out a few times and having to get off due to a domino affect of other riders slipping out. First lap done. Not too far off the pace. Thinking to myself can I keep it up? Spectators going crazy, feeling motivated by their support. Getting into a rhythm up the climbs but loosing it on the slippery rooty single track. Feeling confident tackling all the A lines.
Lap 2 done, more time lost but still feeling good. Can’t push harder to keep with some girls I was riding with. Lap 3…Last year I got pulled off after this lap. Determined not to be pulled off I pushed hard up the climbs. Made some errors on the descent…Came into the last technical bit on the course too slow…over the first bit of rocks, just make it…2 hard pedal strokes in between…just crest over the next set of rocks, slowly bump back down…I made it without falling…ok focus again…push through…go past the 80% mark…they didn’t call me off. Stoked, ok 2 more laps to go can still get pulled off, I need to keep going.
Lap 4 a bit of leap frog with some other riders. Spectators going crazy. HOP HOP HOP. Feeling the pressure but need to keep pushing. See the lead motorbike. Extra motivation to give it that last push to the end of lap 4. Feeling exhausted from my efforts. Come up to the 80% mark, time seems frozen. The lady is standing there, what are they going to do? I cycle past, I am still within the time and get to complete the last lap. Feeling stoked but exhausted. Last lap felt extremely long but I managed to finish. Coming down the line, clapping hands with the spectators, the commentator saying some nice words, felt like I just won the race.
To most finishing 59th, 16 minutes back from the leaders isn’t a great result but for me it’s a great progress. From where I have come, to where I am, to where I can be, makes me so excited for more. Thank you to everyone for your amazing support.
Next, Albstadt. Let the climbing continue.