As some would say, "Mont Sainte Anne is the cathedral of XCO Mountain Bike Racing," and I would have to say that the Czech World Cup course is the new benchmark for XCO racing. "A true race track" really describes round #3
of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Series in the Czech Republic. The track was relentless with its multiple, measurable, short ups and downs over the technical terrain which I found myself looking for seconds everywhere.
In downhill they consider the risk vs the reward
, and in XCO we are always considering the cost (energy output) vs the benefit
. This is why I consider Czech a real race track, because it forces you to make these decisions that can really be the difference between 1st and 2nd.
One of these decisions was which bike do I race? I was on the fence all week whether to ride the Trek Superfly full-suspension or the Superfly hardtail. The full suspension offered energy conservation and a more bullish descending style on the downhills, whereas the hardtail offered pure stiffness and climbing capability on the uphills. Both climbing and descending are very important considerations to take into account while on the Czech course and both bikes do each very well. I needed to be exceptional at everything so I went with the Superfly FS in hopes of being strong on the ups and collecting a few seconds on the descents.
Although I chose the right bike for the race track in Czech, I was stuck on cruise control finishing a #bigshit
18th place! I was climbing alright and I descended okay, with no mistakes, although nothing really clicked like it should have, like it did three weeks prior in Australia.
You know when you are "on" and nothing really matters except crossing that finish line with the best time possible? Well, I just couldn't find that even though I prepared properly, made all the right decisions in the weeks leading into the event. My training was spot on and I raced well from start to finish, but still, the outcome was poor.
It doesn't happen too often, although these are the races I have to remember to measure performance by my own personal output rather then the result outcome. Sometimes we just have an off day and you have to make the best of it. Having a bad race totally sucks but it just makes the good ones twice as rewarding and hopefully I can turn "on" in time for Germany next week.
Action shots by Matt Delorme