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28st June/1st July 2012 - World Cup #5 Windham, USA

Windham World Cup started only three days after Mont Sainte Anne. The venue was awesome in a beautiful valley and the weather was to match. We had glorious sun and high temperatures for the whole five days, and while everyone at home was getting rained on... The track looked to be very fast and loose when I walked it. Loose wasn't something I was in the mood for, really not wanting to crash on my left elbow again while it was still healing.

First practice day went well for me. I built the speed slowly so that I was minimising the risk of crashing on my poor arm, and by the end of the day I was feeling good. I did a timed practice run and wasn't too far off the pace with a 2.45. However I knew I'd need to push towards a 2.40 in qualifying if I was going to be safe for finals. I actually did that run with a helmet camera and microphone attached, but I'd not realised it was really low on battery so this died pretty much as I set off out of the start gate.

I was using Schwalbe Muddy Marys in the loose dusty conditions and they were providing great traction, and allowing me to control the drifts well. Something I was keen on due to the state of my arm. Normally I would have attached a track like that balls out and used wash outs and small crashes to find the right speed to hit sections and let my body armour take the abuse for me. However I couldn't afford to be doing that this weekend. I had to keep it controlled and smooth, something I don't claim to be very good at. I'm much better at being an aggressive rider.

I found more speed for qualifying and did a 2.40 and placed 58th. I was happy with that for qualifying, but wanted to improve on it for finals and work my way into the top 40. I knew I would need to find 5 or 6 seconds for that to happen, but was confident I had a few spots on track where I could do that. I spent the three hours practice on Saturday morning sectioning the track and trying to find specific points where I could attack the track more and go faster. By the end of the morning I felt like I'd stepped things up enough to improve towards the time and position that I wanted. I was still riding more tentatively than I would have liked, because of my arm, but hopefully I'd found enough speed to get what I wanted in the race tomorrow.

Throughout practice in the morning of race day I got faster and faster and more and more confident. I'd finally started to feel like I did when I finished the Fort William World Cup and was attacking the track. I had a small crash at the end of my final practice run. It did involve my left arm but I knew it was ok so it didn't bother me. I was feeling ready to race and fast for it.

I was worked up for race run. I felt confident and took care to warm up well and get in the right mind set for the race. I attacked from the off and really went for it. Unfortunately about 15 seconds into the run my left foot unclipped off a drop and I spent the next 20 seconds of track trying to get my foot back into the pedal while over braking the whole time. Unfortunately, trying to ride steep, dusty, loose chutes and get your foot into a pedal at the same time doesn't make for fast riding. The rest of my run was ok but I knew I lost too much time at the top to get what I wanted. A couple of seconds lost on the Windham track is about 20 places because times are so tight. I finished in 58th place. Ironically I started the race seeded 58th in the series, I qualified 58th, then finished 58th in the race and am now still ranked 58th in the series, how's that for consistency?

Windham was ok, but I didn't quite get the result I feel like I was capable of. However, considering I'd never been there before and I was riding with a nasty injury, which I only sustained a week before, I'm thinking there are a lot of positives to take from the weekend. After 5 of 7 World Cup rounds I'm one of only about 30 riders to have qualified for all 5 races.

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