We checked in with some of the privateers at the Les Gets round of the World Cup to hear how they think the season is going from a privateer's point of view. The privateers I spoke to were still super happy to be at the World Cup and had some good ideas to make things better. Their voices just need to be heard.Bodie Heflin, USA
How many races have you done as a privateer?
For World Cups, this is just my second. But I mean, races overall, it's been just the National rounds in the US for my whole life.
You didn't have too great of a situation in Loudenville last round, what happened?
No, unfortunately, not. It was a bummer. We showed up on Thursday, just as the schedule was lined up that was going to be track walk day. We showed up in the morning, like flew in. Then we're just going to track walk later in the day and got the email that there are some schedule changes and that there's a practice that same day. Unfortunately, we couldn't make it for that but that was no big deal until the following day when we tried to register at the normal registration time and found out that they had actually closed registration. So yeah, there's no way for me to register. We tried to talk to some of the UCI officials and tried to do everything possible to race and it just ended up not working, unfortunately. Yeah, I was pretty bummed. Just had to sit out on that one. It was pretty good. But yeah, we're here now and get to race here in Les Gets.
Was there any kind of communication that the schedule change meant that sign-on wasn't going to be at its usual time?
No. I mean, I thought the registration was just going to be at the same time really, I tried the day prior, but it was just going off the previous scheduled registration times and yeah it ended up not working out. The unfortunate thing was that they added a few riders on the elite teams to the start list. The main problem they said was that the start list had already been made and they said they couldn't add me to it which later they ended up adding more people to, which is just unfortunate.
It's not a great situation to be in, How did that make you feel?
I mean for them to make the schedule changes but allow it for a factory team but not a privateer. It was definitely degrading, it felt like they didn't really care too much when I talked to them about it. It just seems like everything's fitted for the factory riders right now because you know, if you went to the previous round you're obviously going to make it. But that scheduling coming in a day earlier for that race was impossible for us so there's nothing we could have really done about it.
Let's talk about Les Gets. How's it been actually getting to race?
It's been so good. It's been a week that I've been just wanting to get my downhill bike. Since we missed the last round I've just been stoked to get on the bike and ride the downhill course. Unfortunately, qualification didn't go great with the crash at the top but you know, overall, it was a sick weekend and we're just trying to get to these races and race as many as we can just to get this experience you know,
Whereabouts did you end up getting to pit this weekend?
We ended up having a spot that was pretty close to the lift so that ended up being fine for us. But I definitely saw where they're trying to put some other people I think, I think the Pinkbike tent was supposed to be by the lake.
That's another chairlift away pretty much?
Which is ridiculous
How important is it to you to be close to the lift?
It's actually so much more helpful than what you think. Just to have some tools close by and have a setup to go back and forth because it's pretty common that you go back to make some suspension changes or fix a flat tire. If you gotta pedal a mile to go do that, it's definitely cutting down on practice times, which are already short due to due to scheduling.
I heard some people getting three practice runs on the first day, and two the second day. I ended up getting I think, six total, which still isn't enough for me personally, and I think I had everything together so was early the start times.
You're here as a Privateer. Does that mean you're just here on your own or you got people with you?
I'm here with a filmer, my buddy Casein who works with Rooted MTB, which is just the team I'm riding for. So we get a little bit of budget and support from Specialized more to bring him over just to kind of support the series so that we can continue getting support at the races. And then yeah, some parts and tires and some bikes are there for us too. So I'm semi-supported. I still spent a lot of my own money to get here, but we do have some support, which does actually help out a bunch.
Do you have a mechanic here?
No, but I work at a bike shop. So I've got some of it figured out. But we're trying our best we got a nice toolbox here.
How important do you think it is to the World Cup to have privateers here?
I think it's necessary. The majority of these factory riders, Dakotah Norton came from the bottom really, that's someone that a lot of the US guys look up to, and he had years where he didn't qualify and now he's getting on the podium fighting for wins. So I mean, so many of these guys have started from a lower position and just had to fight their way up to the top and I think, if it's just cutting more to the top 30 I'm not sure how that would look with privateers trying to come up and everything.
Yeah, especially in the Junior class?
Yeah, absolutely. I think there's no other way to really do it for people. You have to kind of just do the privateer way for a little bit.
What about the experience? Is this your first time ever in your race riding your bike?
This is my second time. I was at Val di Sole for my first World Cup last year. Yeah, it was a rough one for the first track but yeah, second time in Europe and it's been sweet.
How vital is that experience of riding on different tracks?
Oh man, I mean especially on something like this track here. It's just you don't get to ride anything like it anywhere else. We have a pretty small national round in the United States now so we still get to ride some somewhat decent tracks but nothing compares to the riding here and I think you've really got to ride these a lot to get good at them and it's all about reps here. You can't get good at World Cups without racing them really.
How big is that gap from going from racing National Series to racing here?
It's huge really I think there are a lot of people right now working to come over from the US National rounds to the World Cups and it is that big gap where you do have to race a lot of them to get good at the World Cups. I mean, it can be pretty competitive. But yeah, like I said the tracks are just so different.
Will you be back for more?
Yeah, I'm hoping to be at Mont Sainte-Anne and looking forward to next year. Hoping to get to as many as I can really. I'm really trying to get to these European rounds because I think these are the most different than what I can get at home really. So yeah, focused on these and will for sure be at the North American rounds if there are any next year.Matthew Empey, Australia
How many times have you raced World Cups as a privateer?
This will be my sixth or seventh I think as a privateer. Yeah, maybe eight.
Do you feel the difference between the old regime and the new one as a privateer?
It's sick we're getting to race these World Cups, of course, it would have been sick to be racing downhill back in the day, when it looked like it was for fun, and all that, but things are changing and I don't think they're changing for the best for our situation. Like we're kind of getting shunned out of the picture. But, you know, sometimes you just gotta roll with it. And it is what it is, but it does suck a little bit, but there's always gonna be something else. So we'll figure it out.
Are you racing under a national jersey?
I'm not. Luckily, we do have a team we set up in Australia. A bunch of families all got together to help Juniors and bottom-level Elites come over. We're trying to support Junior riders and Elite riders, so yeah, I'm on a team.
How big is the gap between racing back home and racing at a World Cup?
Gnarly big. Like, of course, we've got really quick riders from home. But the level and intensity that you race at a World Cup, is you can't compete with it. At home, of course, we all go quick, but you sit around in the pits until your race run, over here it's like, Oo I've got to do a warm-up. It's just all that little stuff and makes a big difference.
Speaking of pits, where are you pitting this weekend?
I'm pitting out of my friend's backpack. But my actual pit was 2k away, something like that. But it's pretty close compared to Andorra. Andorra we were very far away.
How much of a difference does that make not being able to get to and from the pits during practice?
I mean, it sucks really. You can't go out and chill out. You've got to sit in the sun or sit in an awkward position. There are people everywhere. Like it does affect your racing a little bit. Like you roll with it. It does suck. But what can you do really?
How important do you think privateer racing is for the juniors and development?
It's so important. That's where the sport is. That's what we love to see. We come over here, we've got our underdogs, we've got our privateers and as an industry, we love seeing those riders coming through and like, "Oh my God, my mate got 45th today like he finally qualified" that kind of stuff. And I feel like that's getting killed.
How did you do today?
I'm happy. I'm not the quickest rider on the circuit but it's those small margins and I'm just stoked to be out here riding. It's been my dream to ride World Cups, so I'm here doing that. So I'm always happy.
Are you going to be back for more privateer racing?
By the looks of it, I probably won't be back next year for racing but we're going to finish off the circuit because why not? Might as well spend the money and have some fun doing it.Evan Medcalf, USA
Is this your first or second year as a junior? How's it been going?
This is my second year. Pretty good. The start of the season was a bit rough. Just getting into things, getting back into things. Started picking it up. In Andorra I got fourth, Loudenville was a bit of a hectic race and then just now third and feels great.
You're racing in one of the most competitive fields. Do you feel disadvantaged being a privateer?
A bit. It's hard getting up in like the top 10, top 5, just because everyone I'm racing just has that next level. So it is difficult.
You've got a relatively good pit here this weekend at Les Gets, but it's not always been like that has it? How does it affect your race weekend?
Andorra was pretty bad. I didn't even really use that pit. We used it as a parking spot and just that white tent we used. It was like three miles, uphill too. It affects your race weekend quite a bit. It's hard because you can't go back and forth because there's the time constraints. You don't have that much time. In practice already you're getting four runs. If you have to go to the pit you get one or two.
How did you feel after the cancellation at Loudenville?
I was pretty upset. I was very upset. I crashed qualifying morning. Decided that I just wanted to get down the mountain and qualifying. Got 19th, I think, and woke up finals morning, felt great. Wanted to get out there. It rained. So I was like, "Oh, this is a fresh start". Fresh day. Did a practice lap. I thought it was sick. Went up for a second. Cancelled it and I was bummed.
So what did you think of the track in your opinion was it ridable?
No, it was definitely rideable. Definitely rideable.
So from your point of view, kind is it is it feeling more difficult this year to be a privateer?
Maybe a bit. Yeah, I don't know. What do you guys think?
Yeah what do the parents think? Do you think from your side it's more difficult?
Slightly, yeah. I don't know. I can't really put my finger on it. But it seems like everything is just a little bit more difficult
And it still costs the same, right? It's not a cheap thing for you to do?
No, it's not it got more expensive. It seems as though they don't care as much about Juniors and also privateers.
Next year, you're going into Elite. What do you think your plan is for next year?
Yeah, I definitely want to race next year. I want to keep this going. I want to get on some type of team. Not sure what that's gonna look like yet.
How big do you feel the gap is between your national racing back home in the US and racing here, the World Cup?
I pretty much have no races back home. I live kind of in the southwest region and for last year nationals were in Winter Park which is a good track. A lot of people hate on it. But it was close. It was I think, seven, eight hours. That's close in the US! The Nationals this year are in North Carolina and Tennessee, which is a 20-24 hour drive. So there's not really anywhere you can race and the tracks just don't compare.
I think it's quite interesting to talk about it because then the blame is not just here at the World Cup. Like, Junior racing worldwide, probably isn't where it needs to be. Is that probably a fair thing to say?
How are you feeling about your podium?
I'm so stoked. I've been working for it, I've been wanting it and finally, it happened.Niall Clerkin, Ierland
How many seasons have you been racing as a privateer?
Privateer, well all of them so that would be like World Cups three.
So obviously there's been a lot of change here at the World Cups, how would you feel that's affecting privateers?
It definitely doesn't suit privateers at all like because there are some races where there are breakout riders coming towards the final and I think it sort of eliminates them now. because a lot of people will do it under the pressure of the final, and so now you've got the semi-final to even get in and then go again. I don't think it assists privateers at all. Even with the Juniors, I think it should be extended a lot more just to give everyone the fighting chance of actually on race day doing a good result.
What about like pit spaces and stuff? Where are you pitting right now? How much difference does it make being that further distance away?
From where we are right now it's about two kilometres away, and it's definitely not ideal. I'm lucky enough that I can use my dad's e-bike to get over so anytime I need to come up from the shop I can take the ebike out for some runs. 100%, it makes such a difference. I have to cycle up here with a big backpack on, we're sweating to get to the practice on time, like actually sprinting up, because I didn't realise everyone is queued up by 09:45 when it starts at 10:00. It's sprinting up the road. spending half the day worried someone is going to steal my van keys as there left in my bag at the bottom of the lift. Even though it does make a big difference, but you have to sort of play your own cards at the same time.
So if you've got mechanical you kind of you know that's your practice, right?
Yeah, definitely. This is my first actual race away without my dad. So even these boys helped me a lot like with the brakes and stuff like he's emailing back and forth. But no, it doesn't make a big difference.
So you're literally this weekend your mechanic, team Manager, cook, everything?
I'll tell you actually a funny story there. So this was on a whim to come out here. I start university in two weeks' time. I was like, Oh, I really want to come to these final races and I have a motorbike at home. So I sold my motorbike on the Wednesday and then booked the boat on Wednesday to get the boat on Thursday. So I literally just packed all overnight and then here I am. It's all good.
In all seriousness, that's the madness of what's going on. Right? You're racing under an Irish national jersey, right? How supportive is Cycling Ireland with you guys?
Not particularly at all to be honest. Like World Champs, they're cutting off a lot of Juniors. Even though they might not get the results, it's all about the experience that takes on the results in the future. Some of the people there today, I had fun and that's all that matters in my eyes to be fair. So I'm trying to get back into just actually enjoying it so much. But even for Cycling Ireland to get me here was tough, to get entered but I'm here now.
How big is that gap from racing back in Ireland to racing here at a World Cup?
It's actually insane, like back home we have local tracks which are amazing. I'm lucky enough to live right beside our local downhill track but they're like a minute and a half long. You come over here, like I was over in Verbier for this weekend just training. It's four and a half minutes and you're coming down and you're stretching your hands every second you get. It does make a big difference but at the same time, I love Ireland all the same. You can't complain but it takes a while to get over here to adjust to the difference. There are still plenty of riders from Ireland, it's not stopping any of us like you've got Jacob, Archie, Chris and Ronan. There are so many people coming through, even juniors like Callum it's crazy.
And that's where it's more important than ever right that you guys can get access to World Cup events because you don't necessarily have the home racing right? Does it feel like privateers aren't really welcome anymore? Or is that a bit extreme?
Maybe a bit extreme I say because like I think that nearly half the sport is the whole privateer scene, but bridging the gap of actually just being able to have the same experience at the race I think is the whole point. I think a lot of the teams are better off but you'd never get a good story if it was just all the teams. The whole story comes from people coming through.
Do you think things need to change to embrace privateers more?
Um, I would say so. Because even for myself, to be fair I didn't make it in there today in qualifying which is it's tough like it's insane. But for people coming across I think it just needs to be spread a lot more and I think it'd be way more interesting for people to watch to be fair and even on like the TV like the semi-final, I think if it was just opened up more especially the Juniors. The way the Elite is isn't far off, but like 25 juniors who ride the race when there are 90 competing. Even if there were 50 it would make it a lot better because those are the future riders.
Do you think you'd be back for more privateer races?
100% yeah. So I'd better get to uni and get working.Wyn Masters
I guess the main question for you is, were you a privateer when you were younger?
I was, yeah. 2008 I came to Europe. I didn't even have a van. I just winged it and tried to meet people and get a lift to the races.
I think it's probably the foundation of almost everybody unless you're really, really lucky right to be a privateer. How important do you think it is the whole series that they're here?
Well, it's just like, there's a lot of the top riders now that have come the privateer route to make it to the top. So it's to me, that is racing. It's one of the coolest things in our sport is that you can come here and race as a privateer. But it's getting harder.
I was gonna say, do you think do you think it's just getting harder and harder?
It's definitely getting harder and harder from a competition standpoint, but they're making it harder for those riders to even be here. They're almost getting the feeling they're not welcome sometimes. So it's not very good from that side. But yeah, it's sad.
You're doing quite a bit with privateers as well. How's that going? Is it going? I see your pit is always busy in the morning when people come and see.
Yeah, we help one privateer every race, and they get the full support from the team. And then we give away Continental tyres every race so been pretty busy on trackwalk mornings giving away tires and pit viper goggles as well. So it's been cool to try and help some people and it seems to be going well, we've had the majority of our riders into the semi-final, so it's quite good.
Yeah, it's good. For me, the biggest complaint I've heard for a lot of the privateers is all about pit space, and the fact they're so far away. Do you think an answer to that would be giving a dedicated area for privateers?
Yeah, I think a privateer-only pit space with quite a bit of space would be perfect. And that can take less space than one big team. So it would be good if they could do something like that. But at the moment, it doesn't seem like they really want privateers here.Dylan Conte, USA
Privateer this weekend in a national jersey? How many times you've been a privateer?
Oh, man, I started in 2012. I did my first one at Wyndham. And then I did two in 2014. I actually made it into MSA in 2014. It's my only one. And then since then I did last year at Snowshoe and MSA, and then this year at Lenzerheide, Leogang and this one.
A lot changed in the World Cup since you started becoming a privateer, does it feel different now?
For sure. I mean, I'm older so I'm not as nervous for sure. It's nice to like, kind of be calm and just enjoy it more than freak out about it. But yeah, it seems a lot more challenging for sure. Like, if you're a privateer, you are on your toes to you even get close to it.
I guess off the track it's not easy either, right? So where are you pitting this weekend?
I had to find a construction company, talk to the owner and convince him to let us park there. We actually have one of the more dialled pits, I can almost hit my car with a rock from the lift. But it was like begging and borrowing and it worked out well. But I gotta ride maybe 15 minutes uphill to get to the pit in the morning because I can't get a car.
How important is that kind of thing? It seems like a silly little detail being near the lift. But how important is that?
It's massive. I mean, I hadn't been to Europe for one of these up until this year. And I took one of our Juniors, Riley Miller in Lenzerheide and we showed up and I was like "Oh crap, I screwed up." We were scrambling to find somewhere to park.
That's like if you break a part in practice, your practice is done.
Yeah, game over.
You being a coach is kind of one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you. A lot of the privateers, or we see a fair few privateers in the senior Elite category, but a lot of these privateers are kids in Junior classes. How important is it that we keep privateers at the World Cup?
I mean, who was looking up to these guys? Like you're not gonna last forever. I feel old and I'm not that old. So yeah, you need the next round. You need a stoke group and you need people pushing the good guys. Why only are you going to have a couple dudes when you need that feeder system to push those that are already established.
Yeah, exactly. You're racing in a national jersey? Do you feel like USA Cycling is being helpful with it and helping make that happen?
I mean, I'm here. So yeah, they're the only reason I'm here. I haven't had points ever. I've always had just a few. So yeah, I'm super thankful. I'm sure I don't follow the other Federation's that much to know how much they're doing but there's always like I could complain but the same token, I'm pretty stoked just to have the opportunity.
I've asked everybody this just how big is that gap from national racing in the US to coming and racing here at the World Cup?
Oh, it is big. I would say I had a pretty awesome run for me at home, regionally, I would call that a top-three run. And I was 102nd maybe. So I'm pretty proud of that run. So we got some work to do.
And that makes it even more important, right that these kids can get that experience?
That's why I brought kids here this weekend. Like they're all first-timers. They're young and I don't think our goal was to qualify, I think our goal was to dip your toes in and just enjoy and see what it's like because it is so different.
How have all the Juniors found it?
I think a lot more smiles and a lot less stress than I expected to be honest, like everyone, I think had really good expectations of what they're gonna get out of it. I think everyone enjoyed it. So it's cool. I'm really thankful for that.
Do you think you'll be back for more privateer racing?
I hope so that's the goal. I want to keep on bringing kids and hopefully keep on doing it myself. I don't want to give up yet.Lucio Vellutino, Peru
How many races have you done as a privateer?
So this one is the fourth? We started in Fort William the first one.
How is it being a privateer here at the World Cup? Is it tough?
It's crazy. Yeah, for sure. You don't have that support so you need to do it on your own. You're your mechanic, your manager, your everything.
How's it been outside of the racing? So whereabouts are you pitting?
We're staying in our campervan, like 20 minutes from here. So we need to pedal up every day. If you have mechanicals you need to go down and then you need to pedal up again.
How hard does that make your day racing?
A bit hard, because you get tired pedalling up and down from the campervan. But if you have mechanicals, you just need to do it.
I suppose in those shorter practice sessions, you lose quite a lot of practice with that kind of issue?
Yeah, we do have not much time to do it. So if you're not close to the track, you lose a lot of time.
Coming from home in Peru, how supportive is your national governing body? Are they helpful?
So they just do the subscription, they don't pay for it. You need to pay for it, but they help us do it. That's the only way to race if you're a privateer with the country.
Being here at the World Cup, how different is it from racing at home? Is it a huge gap?
So yes, for sure. Being the Peruvian national champion and coming here for racing is actually impressive. It's really good to race with everybody. The level is another thing here. So at least coming back home, that level will be different.
How important do you feel it is to still be able to have privateer access at the World Cup?
It is really good because, for the people who don't have factory teams, it's really important to race here with these people and with these tracks. It improves your level a lot.
Do you think it also improves the level back home when you guys go back?
Yeah, for sure. Now we're the first Peruvians. My mate came last year to race Juniors. But yeah, for sure. We're like grabbing people to take them here. So we want people from Peru and South America to start coming here to race and improve the level.
How important would it be to you guys, if we ended racing downhill in South America?
It would be easier for us. But I like coming to Europe for racing. I just actually want to move here to start racing with these people, start getting to that level. It's really cool to be from Peru, being able to come and race here, and then take all the experience back home not just from the racing side but the culture too.
How many more rounds you're racing this year?
So this is my first year, my first World Cups. And we had the money to do just four. But my plan for next year is just to race a whole season.
How'd you do today?
I did okay. This was my favourite track but I crashed in quali. So not the best. But I know the pieces are there so we need to just keep training.
Do you think I'd be back next year?
I'll be back next year, for sure. Monika Mixova, Czech Republic
You race quite a lot under your national jersey?
That's right, because I don't have enough points to race World Cups under my jersey until I raced the World Champs this year. And even though I was like 29th, I think, I got enough points for that because in the World Champs, you get a lot of points. So now I could race in my sponsor jersey, which is quite important for me as a privateer.
So a huge difference for Privateer, right? And how is that process? First off getting a national jersey, is it as awkward as everybody makes out?
So for me, it is quite tricky because I could either get the points to, like fly to the Czech Republic and race Czech Champs and I could get points there. If I race British Champs, I can get put in the foreigners category, where I can't get any points. When I was racing in the UK, British nationals, I got good times in 2021, comparable to some of the girls who were racing World Cups, which made me think, oh, maybe I could do World Cups. And the Czech Federation guy was actually following my results based on the times. And he said, we will give you a Czech jersey to race the World Cup in Fort William last year. So he actually offered me he said, I think I'm good enough to race all the time. So he gave me the jersey for that. So it was actually his sort of idea. So that worked alright.
So it sounds like they're quite supportive.
Yeah, I think they are because I think it's not as difficult as in the UK. Obviously, there is apparently no one else who would race downhill in the Czech Republic. As like a woman. There are guys but there's no female rider who will be good enough to race World Cups. So even with two broken collarbones I managed to get the jersey for the World Champs
I mean, that's a bit crazy but it's important, for you to be here right to show the females from the Czech Republic that they can do it too?
Yes, I think it's quite cool that they let me race even though they knew that I'd been injured for a long time. And they gave me the opportunity. Like last year, I was just straight from work. So I haven't ridden because of work. This year, I was planning to ride more but I was injured. But in both cases, they gave me the jersey, and just let me race even for the experience of everything. So yeah, it is quite cool.
So how tough is it out at the World Cup as a privateer?
So I don't have any experience. So I found it really tough and I think I get surprised everywhere I go. So I didn't know anything. I don't have anything to compare it with if that makes sense. I found it really hard to even just get to the World Cup, to get from home with a full-time job, to get the money, I finally got the package together, I got a little bit of money from some sponsors and you finally have enough to race to go to Europe. Then you come here and then you realise, oh, they're not gonna give me any pass for my mechanic. It was just Mike my boyfriend, they're not going to give me any bib for the B zone, I would have to pay so much money for the parking that I can't physically afford that. I can either choose to pay for the pits or well, I probably wouldn't have money to race in the next race. So if you have a tight budget, it's quite hard. I don't think they want privateers here. But right now how the rules exist, you're allowed to enter if you have enough points I can enter. So I'm fully eligible to race. I feel like there's quite a bit of a gap.
Yeah, there's definitely a big gap. We're sitting in your glamorous pit right now. It's at the side of the road opposite a petrol station, and you're quite lucky as far as privateers are concerned. I mean, how have your pits been through the other races?
So because of the injuries, I've only managed to race Loudenville and this race. In Loudenville, I just turned up and didn't know where I was gonna park. We just parked the van in the normal parking and walked around town and found a field and we were there early, I think it was Monday when we arrived. So we just saw a few other campervans, so I went and asked a guy. So we parked on that field, it was quite close to the gondola, it was easy. I was like, okay, we're gonna park on this field, it was free and it was really close. It was a flat field, the privateer pit space would have cost me 460EURO for my Sprinter van and half of the awning not even fully out. Not ideal. In Les Gets it was quite stressful because I came here, obviously the whole town was shut. Every car park is closed, they were like this is the event you can't park here. And we came on Monday again and we found this place and I thought we'll just try to park here and see what happens. See, when are they gonna kick us out? And they never did. I'm literally three minutes from the gondola, from the toilets, wash everything. So I have like the best place off on the side of the road. But there's only 10 places here. A few other privateers, but that's it. I was lucky again, but I don't think it's worth the stress. So I learned that the pit space is not the same price in every event. So I didn't know that. So I tried to calculate it online on the website in Loudenville. But I didn't try for Les Gets and I should have because I've just learned that some people are parked for 120EURO. So I would pay that obviously, I would have money for that. But I didn't because I thought it would cost the same as Loudenville, but it wasn't.
Do you think it's just a lack of communication?
I don't know if it's me, I tried to find as much information as possible before the season, because I try to do some planning. Because if you have a low budget, you don't know how many races you can afford to do. If you've never done it, you genuinely have no idea. So you try to go on the website, you try to find out how much it's gonna cost, and you just don't know, I could not find any information until quite late. And by that point, I was already injured. I couldn't even go anywhere. The communication was just terrible, even on the race, like with the practice yesterday? That they cut the practice so short, and then they send an email like half an hour after the practice that that's the time when they're going to cut off the gondola. then the next day we were queuing at the gondola and there was this mix-up as well. It was B practice and A practice. And what happened to me, right, just for example, just a mess. Some organisers just didn't have the right information. This was the second practice yesterday. So they clearly said that gondola is gonna shut at this time. I came 15 minutes before the cutoff time. And the guy just said, you can't come up. I'm like, no. So I took the paper, which was on the wall, and showed him, it's quarter past, we have until half past, and we just pushed through and went up. Then he realised someone who spoke French told me, he just made a mistake.
Having said all that, though, how important is it to have privateers here at the World Cup?
So I think it's the base of the whole sport. So I've done only a few and I'm quite old and I'm just going here for the experience. But there are loads of young kids, like usually the dads with the juniors, and if this would be the first season or first World Cup, I think it would put them off massively. They would just never come back because it just cost so much money to do it. I think this approach, the lack of communication, the late information or no information, well there's this Whatsapp group but that's all you get, and I think it can literally create like a big gap. I understand they want the top in the sport, they will be there. There'll be the big teams but then you need the other people too. So where do you send them next? Everyone was a privateer before they were pro. You may be lucky if you're really good as a junior you might get an opportunity early, but a lot of people are not coming from the juniors.
A question you're probably quite unique to answer as well, because obviously from two different countries, how big is that gap from racing national series races to racing here?
So I've never raced in the Czech Republic. I started racing when I was already living in the UK. So the National Downhill series is huge. So there are some tracks like Fort William, I would say it's a privilege to actually race a British round on there. Big competition, but then there would be other tracks in the last few years, like Hamsterly, and that was a minute and a half track. So for me, you know, it doesn't matter but for the juniors or for everyone else who then wants to go and race World Cup it's not good enough. Some of the tracks I think. Because then if that's the last race you can do before you race in the World Cup, then there's a huge, huge gap. So I found it quite difficult. But also you have to go and race World Cup to learn. Like what I've seen today on the track is unbelievable. The holes and how the track develops is nowhere near like what happens with the track on the British nationals. Yes, it gets knackered Yes, we have some pros. We have quite a lot of pros. It's probably the closest series, I guess, maybe French cup and British cup could be the closest to the World Cup. It's still nowhere near how the track gets knackered.
Even with all the negatives are you coming back for more?
I would love to if I have enough money. But after this season, when I broke both of my collarbones and then missed half of it and only did 2 World Cups. I would love to do more, I just don't know if I'm gonna have enough finance and put together the time off work and all that it's just like a puzzle isn't it. So I would love to do more because I just love to learn all this. You can't buy this experience. You just have to do it.