Italian Sunshine and lots of hills to ride up and down!

Just recovered from the most amazing event of the season The Super Enduro Final in Finale Ligura (Besides the Cobble Wobble) In fact the two had similarities, racing a short thirty-second Time Trial on cobbled streets! I travelled down on Friday after a limited amount of hours spent in the saddle over the previous three weeks. Fearful of what I was letting myself in for. When we arrived the Finale Luguran coastline was sparkly blue, white sands and blue skies. A nippy wind did not curb our enthusiasm for riding our bikes in some amazing scenery.

My hotel was interesting to find, windy streets in a large minibus were expertly negotiated by Lloyd Grace (Bike guide and Professsional Transfers boss) Upon checkin, the receptionist gleefully informed me of the easiest route up and down to the town….200 Steps!!!! They went straight up! Fun going down on the bikes, hell carrying it back up! I would post pics but I managed to lose my camera during the weekend!!

Met up with Tracy Moseley and Northern Monkey Boy James that afternoon. They filled me with fear, explaining the nature of the event and the enormity of the climbs. Many taking well over an hour with time penalties for late arrival at the top. Sounds ok, but there were 1500m to take in in one days racing. The easiest one took me an hour!!!

I opted to not practice the stages too much as not having an uplift planned, it meant I would be doing some mega climbs and descents the day before the event…Retrospectively, I think I should have hitched a lift somewhere, the descents were eqaully tech and needed learning! Its all a learning process for my Enduro series assault next season.

Anyway, I opted the day before to put Maxxis Ardents on the Rocky Mountain Slayer… Big mistake as they were 1 and a half ply! The time trail was fun around the town, short street circuit on cobbles and spectators…Felt at home!!!

Next day I was paired up on the podium to start the race with Tanja Zakeji.. Junior and Under 23 World XC Champion!!! Eeek first climb for an hour at a hot pace with her not breaking sweat and me dying as we chatted!! The first dh was the most tech and I made a few mistakes, dropping my chain and getting over taken by Tanja… I then had to chase her all down the mountain. Very very impressed with a xc rider who can really shift on the DH sections too. At the bottom we only had 50 mins to make stage two and the mother of all road climbs for about 5 km. I had no lead out as Tanja had bust a quick helmet swap and gone on at warp speed!

I was really struggling on the second climb, no pacing meant I was not sure of my speed and time in relation to my start time (Must remember a watch next time!) I was a few minutes late for my start at the top, quick helmet swap and off on very tight rocky track. The Slayer was in its element, I passed two chaps and on one passing move hit a very square rock….Bang no pressure in my back tyre and nowhere to fix it. I ran for 4 minutes until I could find a place to repair the tube. The valve had completely sheered off! Quick change and burst of my CO2 cartridge and I was off and rolling…Dreading the time I needed to make up on the next climb! Just before the end I had the worst feeling again, my back-end was snaking around and another flat…Bloody single ply tyres!!!! I rolled through the finish and set about another repair. I had a another CO2 canister ready, I managed to inflate it about half full before the canister emptied…Bugger! No more co2 , tubes or pump! Amateur mistake I will learn from. My roll back to Finale was slow and laboured with only two stages completed and retirement! The beer on the beach did little to cheer me up, stories were filtering back of epic crashes, energy sapping stages and mechanicals all round. One guy I rolled in with had no mech and two flats as well!

Hey ho, I would like to say I would have finished but think my fitness was a bit suspect. Lloyd suffered terrible cramps in the final stages and even had marathon wall legs for a while! Tracy won convincingly from my climbing partner Tanja. Remy Absalon won the mens and the end of a fanatstic season for all involved. I cannot wait for next year. Not sure what I will be riding on, but I have loved my year with Rocky Mountain Bikes. They have worked faultessly and still look like they have just come out the box…testament to the quality of paint finish. Thanks again SRAM, Rock Shox, Avid, Rukkus, and Chris Sports. You have all made it a great year. Maybe I go for another Rainbow Jersey next year. Four is a nice round number, the winter nights will be spent plotting my assault on 2012 and a fitness regime to help me in the Super Enduro series too.

Keep smiling wherever you are

Pee x


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