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British downhill damsels head of to France

More race news from Tracy Moseley of Team Kona Ford Focus.

Having not been on my downhill bike for almost two months I decided it was about time I tried my new bike out ! I realized that the season would soon be upon me and that the rest of the world will still have been training and racing, so I phoned up Helen Gaskell and we both made the trip down to Monaco, to Nicolas Vouilloz’s home track for his annual race.

Well Monaco is not a bad place for a holiday so going there for a bike race was less than a chore ! Helen and myself were met at Nice airport by Marcus, from Tioga, who was going to be out taxi for the next 4 days, poor lad !

We went straight to out apartments built the bikes up and then straight up to the track to have a look. Marcus had to go up to the track to take some new tyres for Nico to test. I had a quick look at the track and then suddenly my early morning start caught up with me and I was soon asleep in the back of the car.

An early night and I was ready for Friday, all day practice. Only a few people were at the track on Friday as unfortunately for most people a Friday is work day, well obviously that’s the same for me and soon it was work as usual !! There were no official lifts, so Helen was soon off putting her charm to the test ! One of the big advantages of being part of a male dominated sport, we got many lifts !!

Struggling to get to grips with the rocks of D’Azur.

It was so good to be back on my downhill bike especially on a course like this, just full on rocky the whole way, no time for a rest anywhere. It was great to be on my new Kona Stab Primo, this year kitted out with Rock Shox which immediately really impressed me . I have never ridden on Rock shox and this was certainly a test for them !

Punctures were a huge problem on this track due to the extreme rocky nature of it, but I managed to only get two all weekend which was really good. Some peoples ratio of runs was about 50% punctures ! I soon fell straight back into riding again, and it was then just a matter of hanging on, remembering the track and trying to stay off the brakes as much as possible to give your arms a rest !

Saturday, and the pit area was heaving, I had no idea it was such a big race, obviously a highlight in the local calendar and there were over 150 competitors. Another full day of practice, trying to get to grips with the track a bit more, but every run my hands were starting to hurt and doing a full run was looking impossible.

Sunday – race day, we had two runs with your best time counting. It was going to be hard to do a full run without stopping to give my hands a rest, but there was no chance now it was race time. My first run I just wanted to use as a gauge as to how quick I was going as I had no idea whether I was going fast or not. Sabrina Jonnier and Marielle Saner were also there, both regular top 10 world cup finishers, so it would be good to see how I was fairing at this stage in the year. I made one big mistake just saving a crash, but ended up off the track, so I know I lost a fair bit of time, but I was 20 secs off the pace, so I knew my second run was going to have to be a lot quicker.

It was much better, no major mistakes, but by half way down my hands were starting to hurt and I was dragging my brakes far too much. I improved by 14 secs, but it was not enough as both Marielle and Sabrina went quicker and I ended up 12 secs off the pace.

A slightly disappointing time difference but a race that I think was really valuable not only for my motivation but also for time on my downhill bike which at the moment is so hard. It certainly left me hungry for world cup racing and hungry for the success I had at the end of last year.

Watch this space !


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