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UCI World Cup Round 3 Leogang, Austria
15th June 2011

Only two days after the excitement of the Fort William world cup had ceased it was time to start the long drive out the Leogang, Austria, for round 3. We left on Wednesday morning and my Dad, being the machine that he is, drove all day and all night to land us in Leogang at 8.30 in the morning on Thursday.

UCI LeogangI didn't have a great time at this event last year. I wasn't fit, didn't feel confident going into qualifying and as a result had a really poor run and didn't make the final. This year was a different story as I was physically fit and mentally strong, ready for a bloody good go at it!!

We walked the track on Thursday and the organisers had made some changes to the track, taking out anything that was at all awkward or slow and replacing it with fast balls out stuff! This was especially apparent at the top, where the previously narrow rutted line had been replaced by huge burms and smooth straights. The one problem was that it was a virgin line which was still quite wet, and with more moisture in the forecast boy was it going to rut up when we started riding her and some big holes would appear!

Friday practice started with a cloud over my first couple of runs. The track is really fast and it makes you go fast. While I was warming up I felt like I was going to come last in the race. I struggled to find flow and really didn't feel quick. Then a switch went, and I felt amazing! It's just one of those tracks which is awesome when you relax into it and embrace the speed which comes naturally to your wheels. The rain held off and we had a full day with a dry track!

After my good result at Fort William last weekend I was now top 80, ranked 68th, so I had the opportunity to take part in timed practice at the end of the day. I did one quick one but kept off the pedals as most people do, and was 30th. I was pleased with this, but then noticed looking at the split times that following the 2nd split, which was just technical steep stuff all the way to the bottom, my time was right on that of the top guys – all my time had been lost during the pedaling sections... maybe they do pedal in timed practice. After an awesome day Friday, any worries following last year's poor performance here had gone. I knew I was good enough to do well here and was ready to do so.

It rained all of Friday evening and most of the night. When we walked the track in the evening it was such a mess, but pretty awesome. Huge ruts and holes everywhere up top in the new stuff! The bottom had actually held up OK because it is much older stuff which is bedded in, but it still needed some maintenance work overnight.

I changed to wet tyres for Saturday morning and did two practice runs on these. But then the predicament started. It hadn't rained all morning and the track had dried out pretty well. Everyone seemed to be staying on wet tyres, but I was convinced if it didn't rain anymore drys would be the ones come 3pm and my qually run! However, the sky constantly looked like it wanted to empty again. I did my final practice run as close to the end of the session as possible and with my dry tyres on. They felt great. We decided to get the bike ready with dry tyres on, but take a set of wheels to the top ready to go with the wets on as back up in case things changed.

It stayed dry and I set off on my qualifying run feeling confident and fast. My run was pretty flawless up until it all went wrong. I kept it as smooth as possible through the wild top section, pedaled hard along the first motorway, got the upper technical trees perfect and again pedaled hard along the second motorway. I went through the second split with just over a minute of track to go into the bottom steep technical section which I knew I was quick through and hammered it. Everything came together nicely – I did have one sketchy moment but hey, we're riding DH bikes fast, it's going to happen. I turned into the last corner and from there I'd be lying if I told you what happened. Then next thing I remember is being at the first aid tent frantically asking if I'd crashed in qualifying or the final.

My girlfriend was watching at the bottom so I can relay the story via her interpretation. The commentator announced I'd come into view and was on a good time. I flashed out of sight again for a few seconds then popped out of the trees into the final steep chute, which fires you into the open section only about 10 seconds from the finish. She could tell I was going to do well because I wasn't far behind the rider who had just gone through the finish. However I popped into view as I left my bike and 'supermaned' down the chute. I then proceeded to 'rag doll' as she puts it, all the way to the bottom. I got up, made it one or two steps, before collapsing in a heap again well and truly knocked out. All I can think is that I got high sided in the left hander which enters you into the chute, which caused me to fall from such a height explaining the severity of the crash.

So a trip to hospital later and one concussion I'd failed to qualify for the Leogang world cup AGAIN. But this time I was just happy I was ok. My split times were good and I would have qualified comfortably IF I'd not tried to kill myself – but that's racing! It may sound crazy but I'm glad I can't remember the crash and wasn't aware of it at the time. I avoided that sickening feeling which washes over you when you realise you've failed and you're going to miss out on the final!

Next is the 4th round of the British Downhill Series at Llangollen in North Wales on the 26th of June. Be sure to expect a good show from Britain's best downhillers at this steep, fast and technical venue! I'll try to stay on my bike and smash out a good result!

Watch out for more video action in the coming days from myself and Gee Milner as we plan to get out there to film our next edit!

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