Britain’s most succesful mountain biker, Caroline Alexander, has sent us more news on her Swiss preparation for the next World Cup round, as well as problems closer to home.
“Despite government propaganda to the contrary the foot and mouth epedemic in the Lake District is by no means under control . Infact upon returning home not one hour ago , I was greeted by soldiers drafted in to kill the neighboring farmers sheep !
Any way enough of politics !
As riding off road is out of the question and round 2 of the World Cup is fast approaching , I decided it would be prudent to seek out some fat tyred competition . I headed for Switzerland and the opening round of their national series . En route I managed to fit in an evening handicap race – on the road ofcourse , which was a bit of a wake up call for my legs and my lungs to say the least , as I have been cocentrating on endurance training since my return from the U.S.
If I thought racing was a shock to my system there was worse to come as our departure time for the airport was 5am ! However the early bird catches the worm and by midday we were ready to check out the course at Granichen , less than an hours drive from Zurich . I had been keeping an eye on the weather forecast and so was fully prepared for a muddy course – narrow tyres were the way to go and I exchanged my trusty Specialized1.9 Rockstars for a pair of 1.7 Extreme Control’s .
After a spectator friendly loop of a quarry the 6km circuit climbed on mainly firetrack before plummeting back to the start via a series of treacherous adverse camber downhills – a Swiss speciality ! Rain was predicted for race day , but if anything that would ensure the track was 100% rideable as the drying mud was very sticky .
Sure enough Sunday dawned grey and overcast . As I rode to the race site a light drizzle fell , but the air was warm – a balmy 15 degrees !
I knew the race was going to be tough as my training is geared to me hitting top form in two weeks in Sarrentino , so I definitely didn’t need to give the opposition a head start which is exactly what happened . The first time through the quarry my chain jammed and I was forced to dismount to rectify the problem . That was the last I saw of my team mate Barbara and Sabine Spitz . I spent the entire race locked in a battle with the Swiss rider Petra Heinzi . As my legs were so bad , I concentrated on negotiating the slippy downhills as skillfully as possible and am proud to say I did not crash once ! The final time through the quarry I caught a glimpse of Sabine , but I did not have the legs to catch her and crossed the line in third place .
All in all it was a satisfactory couple of days racing . I achieved my aims , which were twofold – to reaquaint myself with my m.t.b. and remind my body what it felt like to push on the pedals . I have another road race planned next weekend before I return to Europe and the ressumption of the World Cup .
The mens race was taken easily by Swiss home boy Thomas Frischnekt riding his brand new Scott race rig. The first picture and details of his new ultralight Scandium alloy hardtail are now showing on pan European adventure sports site Kjerag.com. There’s a comprehensive Ritchey rich spec list but not that many other details apart from a frame weight of 1173 (2.58lbs) and a complete bike weight under 9.5kg (20.9 lbs). Looking at the pictures it’s totally conventional in layout, with a horizontal rather than sloping top tube, but if Scott’s other bikes are anything to go by they’ll be some cunning tube twisting and shaping going on in there.
More news from Caroline when she rides her next World Cup in two weeks time, and we’ll be looking to see whether Frischy wheels out his other – suspension – Scott for this one.