I finally placed in the top-5 at a national level elite mountain bike race. I never would of guessed it would be in Engelberg in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Too bad in Europe the podium only includes room for 3, as it does back home, but at least 4th and 5th are given ‘honorable mention’ status and are allowed to stand beside the podium. But yesterday, I managed to pull off 5th place at the Racer Bikes Cup in Engelberg, Switzerland (results).
Fifth place feels like a milestone. The most amazing thing is that my last lap was faster than Nathalie Schneitter’s (2004 Junior World Champ, Top-10 World Cup Racer…). She probably wasn’t having the best of days but anyone who’s chasing me on the last lap of a race typically has a good chance of catching me. I’m usually slow at the end of a race because I’m good at burning my matches too soon… So I accomplished some good pacing.
The course was like a mini Colorado ski resort course. Up and down. That’s the extent of the similarities as there was also mud, tons of spectators, bridges, 8 laps of the course, and the Swiss Alps. I started the race more conservative than usual, with the idea that I’d have a little more in the tank for laps 2-8. After the first lap, I rolled through the start/finish area in 11th. By the end of the third lap, I moved into 7th. I rode the downhills smart as there were a few sketchy sections that involved some mud, roots, and slippery bridges. I like mud and roots but I had a serious problem with the bridge. It was really hard to get up it, hard to dismount on the up side if you weren’t going to make it, and really hard not to slide back down to the bottom. There were probably 30 people hanging around the bridge because it was a great spot to watch people like me fall down the stupid thing. A little chicken wire on the structure would have helped.
One of the guys watching told me after the race I had the biggest smile on my face when I finally flew up the thing without coming to a halt half way up. Here are some pictures: