Aim for improvement not perfection - La Bresse 2018
Lets rewind back to the previous World Cup in La Bresse in 2016. I was nervous, lacked technical ability, fitness and experience. My first day on course was a rough one, which ended up with me landing straight on a rock, head first.. luckily my head is the toughest part of my body, I think that might be due to the amount of times that I have used it as my first point of impact in high speed crashes..
My second day I had a few small wins but ended up launching myself over a muddy drop and into an ambulance with a broken wrist.
After my first experience at La Bresse I was a little nervous to come back this year, especially since I said I was never coming back to La Bresse ever.. :') .
Before heading to La Bresse I spent an extra week in MSA riding rocks and roots trying to improve my skills in the steeper terrain that we don't experience a lot of in Australia. We then made the big ol trip to La Bresse, the old Jet Lag trick got the entire family. So after a couple of slow days , odd sleep patterns and Dave's "recovery rides" (or as Dad likes to call them wreckovery..which may have included 500 vertical meters of walking, dragging my poor little Merida behind me) I was finally ready to tackle the brand new La Bresse track.
I was pleasantly surprised! The new course had some nice forest sections, roots, rocks, jumps, drops and hard climbs. Something for every rider! After a few days on course I was feeling pretty confident with my lines and ready for a rest day on the Friday to freshen up the mind and body for the weekend.
After an easy morning consisting of coffee shops and sight seeing I got a last minute message from Megan saying - Do you know you qualified for the short course? Oahh fek! I thought with no.51 there would be no way I would qualify! Turns out I was wrong, I was the last women who qualified and reticently found myself on the start line that afternoon!
I wasn't bursting at the seems with excitement for the short course ..the body was still in recovery mode but as soon as the race started my legs seemed to click into gear and I managed to jump a good number of spots and get on some really awesome wheels like Cath Pendrel and Maja Włoszczowska, two riders I have frothed over for years. I was pinching myself for the entire race making sure it was real, although my Heart Rate was telling me it was very real! After a tough 20mins I managed to cross the line in 20th, which I was happy with considering I started dead last! It actually left me with a little bit of confidence for Sunday's race but also a little bit of anticipation.. Did they feel too good ?
Sunday came around and nothing gets you excited to race a World Cup then watching one! I headed out on course to watch the under 23's race in some brutal conditions. It's always cool to see the young Aussie's battling it out with the best in the world!
Surely enough my race start came around, faster then I expected and I was sitting on the trainer (kindly lent to me by the legendary Father Pete) in the start pen, concerned that I was going to have an MSA repeat. The start loop had a long open climb which suited me well, I went really hard to push myself up within the top 20. As I entered the forest section I honestly couldn't believe how far up in the pack I was and lost a bit of concentration took a funny line and had to quickly shift gears which combined with my very muddy drive train put my chain right into my spokes... What the hell Holly, pull yo self together! I quickly fixed up my chain a hopped back on but had lost a significant amount of spots so scrambled as quickly as my average mud riding/running/ass sliding skills would allow through the forest section. As I got out into the dryer parts of the track I worked hard to slowly pick off places. My legs were feeling surprisingly good and I was loving the flowing pieces of trail. During the middle laps pain started to creep in and I began to suffer on the climbs, feeling like my tyre was flat... even though it wasn't. I managed to push through the worst of it as I started to see some other girls fade. I decided it was time to make sure the tank was 100% empty and gave it everything up and down the hills, I got a little loose (and that's to put it mildly) through the muddy forest section but luckily there where some helpful hands from some of the many spectators that got me pointing in the right direction again!!
Slowly I started to close in on the girls in front of me, my lungs and legs where screaming but I was so excited! I was actually going to finish!! No 80% rule for me. I gave it absolutely everything passing about 5 riders on my last lap and finishing 31st! I was stoked!! I finally felt as if I deserved to be on course racing there with those women I have looked up to for years. I finally had a race I was proud of! Now I just have to maintain my focus for World Championships in just over a weeks time in Lenzerheide.
Images - David Harris and EGO-Promotion