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Monday, 25 August 2014

Alanna Columb on Tour

Howdy everybody!
Guest blogger: Alanna Columb

I'm going to be guest blogging on the Atlas news page over the next few weeks, keeping you update with my MTB races in North America and Europe.

Well, I have been abroad now for three weeks, I have raced my first two World Cup events and have just arrived in Whistler for the week of Crankworx.

So I’ll start with my first race in Monte Sainte Anne, Canada - a track well renowned for being one of the hardest on the World Cup circuit. On the Wednesday leading into it we did a track walk, it was everything I thought it would be and then some. Rough, fast and long! On the first day of practise I set out to find flow and learn the track as much as I could to bring me up to pace. As this track has been around since the early 90's many of the other competitors have had a lot of experience here. I got two flats in practise which made things a little more difficult. Qualifying day, I headed out for a practise needing to dial in a few lines and determined to hit the final jump that only one girl was hitting, the current World Cup leader.

First time I hit final jump was nice and smooth, the second time into it I squashed the first jump and had a better landing allow me to pedal into the final 45ft double. This however caused me to lose my flow; I didn't pop off the lip enough and cased the landing giving me a hell of a fright – I thought I had injured my ankle. I headed back to my room to check out the damage, put the ankle up and iced it. Luckily there wasn’t any instant bruising or severe swelling so I was just dealing with a tweaked ankle. 

Track at Monte Sainte Anne
I went out in the qualifying just wanting to put together a clean run and protect my ankle. My run was smooth, I caught with the girl in front of me which held me up a little but hit the final jump cleanly and qualified 8th. I was feeling good as I knew I had easy seconds up my sleeve. Back home I iced up my foot and got ready for race day. Because I had qualified in the top ten it meant I was on live stream coverage. This was awesome as it meant everyone at home could watch my run. Unfortunately though in my run I picked up a front flat in the fast open section. It was just 30 seconds before the TV picked up my run. I was devastated, to say the least, I was on form nailing my lines and riding fast. That was the end of my first world cup this season . . . DNF. I was gutted.

We left Canada and drove the seven hours into the New York state, and arrived in Windham for my second World Cup. Windham track was fast and one lined with big jumps, also running about half the distance of Monte Sainte Anne track. I had heaps of fun in practise going fast and jumping big. About half way down on one of the fastest parts of the track was a fifty foot road gap into a step down. Oh, it had you smiling all the way down! I went out into qualifying with the same game plan as Monte Sainte Anne - just to ride smooth and consistent to see where I was at. This didn’t pay off however on such a short fast track times were super close I had a far too cruisey run, qualifying me in 16th. I knew in my race run I had to let her get loose, ride fast and smooth. Feeling super good going into the final I knew I had the speed to be on the podium. But this didn’t prove in my race run. I was fast in sections but coming in too hot and losing speed and that proved to be too costly on this track. I had a disappointing run landing me 12th for the Windham world cup.
Ready for the Red Bull Berm Burner

After the race I was feeling frustrated and needing to blow off a bit of steam so I borrowed a bike, helmet and stole my friend Jarna's shoes off his feet and entered the Redbull Berm Burner (a pump track race). I thought I had entered the pro women’s class turned out to be the pro men! Still, I qualified for the finals but was bumped out by the former and current champ. After competing in the pro men class I went on to win women’s field.

I’m here now at Crankworx and I will be competing in three races, the dual slalom, pump track challenge and the Canadian Open DH. I will use this week to work on bike set-up, focus and prepare for the final World Cup in Meribel, France.

Thank you to everyone for your support so far and I’ll be updating you all with my next instalment soon.

Checking out the track at Monte Sainte Anne

Track walk at Monte Sainte Anne