Archive for the 'Team' Category

IXS European Cup 7, Leogang – Sam’s Stories

I always seem to go into the last race of the season with mixed feelings – on one hand I can’t wait to be done, as it has been a long season, but on the other hand I don’t want it to end. Leogang had the honour of being the season finale of the IXS European Cup.
We got to Leogang a few days early to try and get a bit of prep work done, but the track was closed, and so the enduro bikes got some attention. A slight lapse in judgment saw us descend a rad trail into Saalbach, which is in the next valley, only to discover that the lifts had closed for the day, and it would be a mammoth task to get back around the mountain we just descended and get back home. Our only option was to race the sunset back up the mountain, and it definitely wasn’t the easiest option – 1hr20mins of climbing later – we got to the top and could finally head into the valley of Leogang, just as it was getting dark.
Leogang is a unique track to race – the high speeds and relatively one lined nature of the track makes times super close. The track was pretty dry and fast on Friday, but rain was a certain for the weekend. It was still great weather come Saturday morning and the course was running even faster. I felt great, and everything was going well until midway through my last practice run – I got slightly off my line in one of the most high speed sections, hit a mud patch on the side and before I knew it, I was hitting the deck…hard. For the second time in a few weeks, I somehow managed to walk away from another big crash with only minor injuries. I was missing some skin and my hands had started to get really swollen, but other than that I was ok. I contemplated just rolling the start and then getting a DNF in my seeding, so that I didn’t have to actually do my run but I could still race the next day. In the end I decided against just rolling the start, and rather did my seeding run. Slippery rocks and some heavy wind caused me to change my approach mid run and I cruised to the bottom.
An anti inflammatory or two on Sunday morning helped me get through practice, which was pretty muddy and slippery from some heavy rain the night before. The sun was slowly drying the track out and I made the call to go back to dry tyres. However, I did decide to put 2 tear-offs on my goggles before I went up, which turned out to be invaluable. It started raining as I got tot the top and so I changed my approach for my run slightly. I just took each section as it came, and other than some small mistakes, I had a pretty good run considering the conditions. I struggled to hold onto the bars near the end of my run, after the beating my hands took in my crash the previous day. I ended up 19th with a time of 3min:48 – just 2.4secs off a top 10. It was definitely nice to end this season on a positive note.
2014 has been a great year, and the race season has thrown all sorts of challenges at me. I can’t thank Sports Nut DH Team, and all of the team sponsors enough, for the great support! Then of course, a huge thanks to Rade, Gerhard, Sven and Thorben for all the work behind the scenes! This season has left me hungrier than ever to achieve what I know I am capable of, and I cannot wait to get the prep work for 2015 underway! There’s a lot of work to be done, but I am looking forward it.
Until then…
Pics: Raffi Die Waldfee

UCI DH World Champs 2014, Hafjell – Sam’s Stories

A last minute call up to the South African team gave me about 2 weeks to get prepared for World Champs in Norway. I have always wanted to go to Hafjell, and now the opportunity to race there came up, and I couldn’t wait!

We met up with team SA in Oslo airport on Friday afternoon, the week before the race, and headed to Hafjell. Cycling South Africa really looked after us, and our support was amazing. The track in Hafjell is awesome. It has a little bit of everything in it – big jumps, fast sections, steep tech bits and even a big open grass corner.

First day of practice went really well and I felt pretty comfortable on track already – I also managed to get the famous road gap “huck” done on my third practice run which I was stoked to get out of the way. Going into Fridays practice I felt good and was ready to get out and refine all of my lines a bit more. I ended up having probably my biggest crash to date, during that first run, when my foot pulled out of my pedal right before the huck, and I rag dolled into the next corner. Too be quite honest, I am lucky to have walked away from that without needing to go to hospital. I didn’t ride for the rest of the day because my shoulder was giving me a bit of trouble. The team physio worked overtime on my shoulder that evening to help get me ready for timed training on Saturday.

Timed training didn’t seem to go any better, and I had another little crash in my timed run. I walked the track again that afternoon to have another look at my problem areas.

More physio on Saturday evening meant that I woke up on Sunday feeling a lot better, and having way more confidence in my shoulder. I couldn’t wait to get on track. My practice runs went well and I prepared myself for my race run.

I felt good out the gate, and I actually thought I was having a decent run. I felt smooth with only a few minor mistakes. However, when I crossed the line and saw my time, I was slightly confused, because my time didn’t reflect the way I had felt in my run. I ended up 61st at my first elite World Champs. I had hoped for better, but I am definitely looking at taking the positives away from last weekend.

I had an amazing time, and learnt so much. I can’t thank Cycling South Africa enough for the opportunity and the great support they provided for us along with the superb management team. Last up for the 2014 season is the IXS Euro Cup in Leogang in a few weeks time. Looking forward to that one for sure!

DH-WM in Hafjell vom 2.-7.9.14 – Bericht Boris Tetzlaff

Das Sports Nut Team bei den Weltmeisterschaften

 

Es war schon ein besonderer Auftrag, nominiert  vom Österr. Radsportverband bei der diesjährigen Weltmeisterschaft in Hafjell/Lilliehammer in Norwegen, dabei sein zu dürfen.

Wir, das gesamte Nationalteam (5 Elitefahrer und 2 Junioren, sowie unsere 2 Physiotherapeutinen) flogen am Dienstag nach Norwegen und wurden von unserem Betreuer Bernd Kindermann und Hermann, unserem Mechaniker am Flughafen abgeholt und ins Quartier gebracht. Mittwoch fand die Begehung der Strecke statt und alle waren sehr fasziniert von der wunderbaren Landschaft in der die Downhillstrecke eingebettet ist.

Donnerstag absolvierten wir die ersten Trainingsläufe, wobei ich versuchte noch nicht alles zu geben. Die Strecke war weltmeisterlich und hatte alles was man sich als Downhiller wünscht, doch Kräfte raubend war sie allemal! Freitag, die ersten Zeitläufe und Samstag fand dann das Time Training statt, Platz 51, nicht ganz optimal, da ich zwar  bis zum letzten Waldstück ganz gut fuhr, aber dann doch einige Fehler machte, der Speed war aber ganz okay.

Sonntag beim Training, alles schien super, wäre da nicht ein fataler Fehler passiert!

Sturz, Helm kaputt, Hand und Daumen verdreht! Ein Arzt kam sofort zu mir, aber ich konnte trotz Schwindel und Übelkeit aufstehen und rollte langsam irgendwie ins Ziel. An ein Starten war aber nicht mehr zu denken. Bernd, unser Nationalteambetreuer brachte mich ins Quartier.

Eine leichte Gehirnerschütterung, Kopfschmerzen und Prellungen, aus der Traum – einen guten Platz für Österreich einzufahren.

 

Danke an den Österr. Radsportverband, an unseren Koordinator Bernd Kindermann, an Herrmann unseren Mechaniker und an Maria und Margot, unsere Physiotherapeutinnen!

 

Neue Chance, letzter iXs-Cup in Leogang am 22.9.2014

Ich hoffe, es passt bis dorthin wieder alles!!

IXS Swiss Cup, Lenzerheide – Sam’s Stories

A last minute decision to race the IXS Swiss Cup in Lenzerheide saw us searching for non-existent, cheap accommodation. In the end, we settled for something that didn’t quite empty our bank accounts, and racing Lenzerheide was on. Seen as it’s going to be a destination that’s on the World Cup circuit for the next few years, we thought it would be good to get the chance to see the track a while before hand.
A lot of work has been been put into the track, and it is a mix of bike park turns and some natural tech sections. Friday had good weather but it soon turned out to be a pretty slow and muddy weekend because of all of the rain, which then stopped for race day, so the mud became super thick and sticky. The track was actually really good for seeding runs on Saturday, because it was still raining, and so there was grip – the only issue was vision, but I got the roll-offs out and it was good to go! I seeded 9th, behind a few fast guys!
The rain stopped on Saturday evening, but the damage had been done. The track was a lot trickier on Sunday, with all the mud being dragged onto the roots and the rocks. It was also a lot slower and slipperier. I got 2 practice runs in, then tried to get clean and warm, and waited for race runs. I didn’t have a very clean run by any means, but in those conditions it was impossible to have a clean run. Other the one big mistake after the first rock garden, I didn’t have any other big moments. I just had an alright run to the bottom, trying not to end up face first in the mud. I ended up 14th, just under 12secs off Brendan Fairclough, who won the event.
It was a good weekend though, and its awesome to know what to expect, going into races at Lenzerheide in the future.

IXS European Cup 5, Spicak – Sam’s Stories

Racing bikes takes me to some interesting places, and Spicak in the Czech Republic is one of those places. It’s a very small ski area literally a few kilometres over the German border, and the stark contrasts between two countries are easy too see. Czech is a lot cheaper which is also a bonus. The weather was great when we arrived on Thursday afternoon, and I was really hoping for a dry race! Last year there was some rain and the tight, tech nature of the track made it really challenging in the slippery conditions and it wasn’t too much fun. This year however, we had hot summer days the whole weekend.
On Friday afternoon myself, and fellow South African, Tim Bentley did the official IXS EDC Course check for the race. I had a lot of fun doing it. You can check it out here - iXS EDC 2014 #5 Spicak Course Check
I did a few practice runs a Friday, so I didn’t do too many runs on Saturday. Then it was time to wait for my seeding run. After a few hours off I was finally able to ride my bike again. Spicak is a very tight, technical track, and keeping good speed and finding a flow is pretty difficult – so sometimes riding more relaxed and precise is actually more effective. I had a pretty solid seeding run and seeded 16th, with a time of 3min:08. I was just 5.5sec back.
Race day saw the same great weather as the previous day, and by the time race runs came about, the track was super dusty and loose. Each practice run had new challenges as big, loose rocks littered the track. I felt pretty good in my run, but made a mistake here and there, in the very loose conditions. It was tough to find grip, and dodging soccer ball size rocks the whole way down also posed a challenge. I crossed the line with a time of 3min:06, which eventually put me in 27th position. A small mistake or two less, and I would have jumped 10 or more places, so times were very tight. It was good racing, and I had tons of fun on the track. Things seem to getting better and better each week, and I am looking forward to the races to come!

IXS European Cup 4, Les deux Alps – Sam’s Stories

Les deux Alpes has got to be one of the most picturesque places I have been to. The town is high up in the French Alps, and is surrounded by massive mountains. It played host to Crankworx Europe this past weekend, and there was lots to do! First event on the cards was the Spank European Whip Off Championship. It was a fantastic event, and definitely a crowd favourite. It was awesome to be part of an event that brings the worlds best freeriders and racers together.
We woke up on Friday morning to some fierce winds. All lifts were closed due to winds at the top nearing 110km/h. This meant practice for the day was called off, and lots of riders were left with nothing to do. I decided I would take part in the Rockshox pump track Challenge that evening, and the guys at BS Trading managed to organise a Morewood jump bike for me to use. Mother Nature really didn’t want anything to happen, and heavy rain that evening meant the pump track challenge was postponed. Unfortunately I was unable to compete because the new seeding times for the pump track coincided with Saturdays DH practice.
The track was a bit greasy on Saturday morning, but it soon started to dry up – except for one part of the track that had a stream across it, which dirtied your kit and bike every run. I loved the track. It is fast, rough and wide at the top, then goes into some pretty tight goat trail.The bottom then opens up again and is super fast and rough. There were a few big jumps in the mix as well which always make things fun.
Seeding that afternoon went pretty well. I seeded 28th with a pretty good run. After seeding, I got my bike prepped and ready for another fun day on the hill. The weather on Sunday morning didn’t disappoint, and I got some good practice runs in – I worked on my lines and got everything prepared for my final run. As I was going up in the lift I started to feel the wind had picked up quite a lot! Right before my start some of the other riders told me that the wind on the last jump was getting pretty sketchy and a few riders had already crashed on it. I hadn’t seen the finish line jump since the wind picked up, so I had to go on what others were telling me. My plan was to make my decision about whether to hit the finish line jump or not, right before the jump, where I could hopefully get a feel for the wind myself. I had a pretty decent run, and when I jumped the second to last jump I made the call to jump the finish line jump as well. This was a mistake. A big gust of wind caught me as I was about to land – I got sideways and slid out on the landing. Luckily I slid across the line, not attached to my bike, and stopped the clock. I got away lightly with nothing more than a little scratch on my leg. The finish line jump was a bit of a lottery for race runs – some people had no wind and no problems on the jump, and others went down hard. You definitely needed a bit of luck on your side.
I ended up 27th with a time of 3min:51, even with my peculiar finishing technique. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend, and I can’t wait for Crankworx Europe 2015! Definitely one of my favourite events.

IXS European Cup 3, Val di Sole – Sam’s Stories

I’ve been to Val di Sole once before, for the World Cup last year, and it’s safe to say it kicked my butt. It was such an eye opener. It was the roughest, most rooty, difficult track I had ever ridden down…and it was bone dry.

This year we were in Val di Sole for the third round of the IXS European Cup. They track builders did a great job, and really changed up the track. There were plenty of new sections that linked into some of the more challenging older sections really well. Fridays practice was dry, with some moisture coming through all the fresh loam, that made one or two of the roots a bit slippery. But overall it was rad! Rain was forecast for Saturday, but luckily it didn’t rain, so seeding was dry. Val di Sole is a very physical track so I decided to take it pretty chilled in my seeding run. I made some mistakes in my run and just took it easy to the bottom. I seeded 44th about 15sec off the pace. I knew I could go faster, and there were still a few lines I wanted to have a look at before racing on Sunday.

It rained quite a bit on Saturday night and so the track was a bit more slippery for my first practice run on Sunday but it wasn’t too bad. I managed to ding my rear mech somehow in that run, and we ran into a few complications while fixing it. In the mean time the rain began to come down. I got everything sorted and managed to head up for one last practice run before my race run. I wanted to see how the rain had affected the track. Unfortunately another rider had a big crash on course and so the track was closed for about an hour. This meant I wasn’t able to get another run in. I made a decision about what tires to ride based on what others could tell me, and headed up for my run, not knowing what to expect – only thing I knew was that it was going to be a challenge getting to the bottom.

The track was as challenging as expected and about a 1/3 of the way down, a big tree root that was way more exposed than before, got the better of me, and I went over the bars. From then on I just cruised to the bottom, as fast and as safely as possible.

All in all it was a pretty disastrous race day for me, but riding Val di Sole in the wet isn’t something I will forget any time soon. I am stoked to be heading into Les deux Alpes healthy, and I am hoping my luck will change for the better this weekend.

IXS European Cup 2, Schladming – Sam’s Stories

Schladming is arguably the most popular track that’s been raced on in recent years, and it’s not hard to see why.  I love everything about the place. The people are rad, the area and the setting is amazing, and most importantly, the tracks here are unreal.

I had been looking forward to this race ever since I found out it was on the calendar. After some midweek bike park laps, and some epic 20 man trains down secret trails, it was time to get down to racing. We walked the track on Thursday and had a look at some of the changes they had made. I had heard rumours that they were going to re-open the old World Cup forest section, and they did. It was an addition that made the track even better than it already was. There was a huge field of about 300 elite men and there was a really competitive front end of the field with World Cup Winners, and the odd World Champ or two in the mix as well.

Rain on Friday, made the big open grass turns at the bottom pretty sketchy at times, but Schladming is one track that is amazing in the wet and the dry. The weather was looking like it was only going to get better so I just had a ton of fun on Friday doing runs in the mud with the other SA boys.

The sun was out in full force on Saturday, and the track dried out very quickly. I felt great on track and after a few hours off, I headed up for my seeding run. I decided to take it pretty relaxed and try get a good flow going and see how I ended up. I had an alright top split but I knew I could ride it a lot better. I made a few mistakes in the bottom piece, and I seeded 34th with a time of 4min:04. I was 16th at the top split though so I knew I had the speed on track to get the result I was looking for.

I looked at a few lines on race day, worked on my setup a bit and tried to get things dialed in for my race run. After a few more hours of waiting , it was finally race time. Once again I had an alright top section and was 28th, but I still didn’t ride the way I know I can. I didn’t make any big mistakes at the bottom but I was riding pretty tight and I was a bit messy. I pushed as hard as I could to the bottom and ended in 43d with a time of 4min:03. I definitely was looking to do a lot better. It’s a bit frustrating that I didn’t put together the run I know I am capable of, but there are still a lot of positives to take away from the weekend.  Val di Sole is next and I can’t wait!

Pics by: Raffi DieWaldfee

 

 

UCI World Cup 4, Leogang – Sam’s Stories

I always have a lot of fun at Leogang! The race venue is awesome and the track is lots of fun. There were quite a few changes made this year, which I was sceptical about at first, but once I got the chance to ride them, I feel they definitely improved the track.
If racing Leogang wasn’t exciting enough, I met up with Tim Bentley earlier that week, who I will be travelling with this season. He met me in Schladming and picked me up in our van for the season – which we later named the “Iron Maiden”. It feels really good to no longer be a gypsy, having to get lifts with other people.
The track was really dry and loose during track walk, and for the first time in a long time, I was hoping for some rain. The weather Gods played their part and gave us some overnight rain. The track was slightly slippery at the beginning of practice but near the end, conditions were perfect. I had so much fun on track. Leogang is super fast with lots of jumps, and coming from South Africa, I feel right at home on those sort of tracks.
Conditions got even better on Saturday morning, and I couldn’t wait for qualifying that afternoon. My bike felt great and I was having such a good time on the course. The rain luckily stayed away, and so everyone had the same conditions for qualifying.
I made a really big mistake in the second corner of my qualy run when I clipped my pedal on a pole and ended up flying over a big berm. I really struggled to get back onto track because the backside of the berm was so steep and I kept slipping back down. It took me so long to get back onto the track, that I let the guy behind me pass as I would have held him up – my rear mech had been damaged in the crash so I couldn’t change gears. I rolled through to the bottom and later found out that I had been disqualified because the marshal thought I didn’t enter the tape where I exited. Funny thing is, I entered the track further up than where I exited because I couldn’t get up the berm to where I exited.
I am extremely disappointed with how the weekend turned out because I really feel like I was riding well, and I was having such a good time on the bike. It wasn’t the way I wanted my weekend to end, but I am looking ahead to the IXS Cup in Schladming this weekend! Onto the next one…
Pics: Raffi DieWaldfee

IXS Euro Cup 1, Maribor – Sam’s Stories

The excitement had been building up ever since I found out that my first European race was going to be in Maribor, Slovenia. Maribor was the last race I did in Europe last season, and it was also the first race after our bikes were stolen. I borrowed someone else’s bike last year, just so I could ride, and still had a great time, despite the torrential rain. So I knew that this year was going to be good! I went into the weekend confident, that I was on a rad bike this time, and that I would have a good time no matter what the weather gods threw at us.

After a few “issues” we ended up leaving for Maribor a bit later than expected on Thursday. After our late start we thought we would arrive at our accommodation around midnight, but that soon changed when the GPS decided it didn’t want to navigate us through Slovenia. After some map work, and a whole lot of guessing, we eventually found our place, and managed to get into bed at around  3 on Friday morning.

Even though I was slightly sleep deprived, waking up on Friday wasn’t too difficult because I knew that I was going to get the chance to thrash down one of my favourite tracks. Fridays practice was a bit slippery in places, but on the whole, the track was really good! Come Saturday morning, things were slightly different. The full spikes went on, the rain suits came out, and the roll offs worked overtime. Although the conditions were wet and cold, and the track was lacking in grip in areas, Maribor never disappoints, and I had a huge grin under my helmet the whole time. Its just rad! The ruts got deep and the holes got big. I had a shocker of a seeding run, after some issues with one of my cleats. I seeded 54th.

A lot of wind and very little rain saw the track dry out quite a bit on Sunday. By the time race runs came about, most sections were pretty dry. This made the track a lot rougher and harsher on the hands, but the conditions soon became more similar to what I was used to, and I felt good on track! I chose to run a full spike on the front, which looking back was unnecessary. Dry tires would have been the best option. I had a solid race run, with some loose moments here and there, but on the whole I loved the conditions, and I had a fairly good run. I finished 33rd, just over 2 sec off a top 20. The field was stacked with fast guys, and it had one of the largest fields of riders I’ve ever been part of.

The track was ridden out, hard, fast, and definitely challenging. All in all I had a ton of fun, and came away with a good result to build onto going ahead into the season. Next event for me is the Dirtmasters Festival in Winterberg, but before then, a day in Bad Wildbad on the DH bike, and possibly a ride or two at Winterberg is in order.