The days leading up to our departure to begin the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup season seemed as turbulent as the volcanic eruptions in Iceland. For three nights in a row, we were packed and ready to go as the customer service team of Emirates Airlines continually tried to re-schedule our flights to various European destinations that would still allow us to make the trip to Dalby Forest. Yet we were continually thwarted at Melbourne airport as they could not guarantee passage beyond Dubai into Europe.
So when we were finally picked up at midnight Thursday and driven to the airport it was still hard to believe we were going to make the first World Cup of the season at Dalby Forest, Yorkshire in the United Kingdom to take place that weekend. I had all but given up hope. Ray, on the other hand, had not. With his temporary upgrade to Tier 5 within the team, plus being nominated as the team manager for this leg, he had spent countless hours on the phone and internet determined to get the team to the UK anyway possible.
We are missing Luke Fetch, who had broken his wrist at the famed Hammerhead descent on the Stromlo course just one week after booking his flights and making arrangements for his first season of Under 23 World Cup racing. Luke is likely to read this while recovering on his stationary trainer back home. Jenny King was set to join us, too, but succumbed to injury after making her arrangements also.
My good feelings towards the course and the area continued to provide me with a special buzz as I had won the test event here last year and was somewhat comfortable with the layout of the course. On top of all this, we were debuting our stunning new Cube SCR elite hardtails that we were presented with just prior to leaving Melbourne.
So the race was a reminder at the intensity of World Cup racing and how any mistake is costly. My body and mind were responding surprisingly well, and I was maintaining strong feelings throughout the race, but then a couple of random mechanical mishaps on the final two laps left me feeling deflated as it took away from my overall good sensations about the race.