2014 World Champs – Hafjell

The 2014 Downhill World Championships was held in Hafjell, Norway for 2014 and I was selected to represent Ireland in this event. I had missed the 2012 and 2013 World Champs due to injury so it was great to be able to compete in 2014. I flew on Tuesday with fellow Irish rider Jacob Dickson and his team manager Ben Reid, we arrived in Hafjell around midday and got our bikes built up and ready for the week of racing.

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The dream machine !

The next day was track walk day and sign on, this was not on until later on in the day so I decided to use the free time in the morning to make use of some of the amazing trails Hafjell bike park had to offer. Jacob and I did around 4 runs before we called it a day before track walk. I was blown away by how good the trails were here and how it’s crazy to think they may have to shut down from lack of business. While we were away riding, Ben signed us on for the event and we got our number boards for the weekend. I was excited about wearing the Irish colours come race day!

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My Irish jersey and number for the weekend!

Now it was time for track walk, I had raced this course a few years ago so I was familiar with it, it was in amazing shape this year because they just had the World Masters race the previous week. The track had a great mix of super fast sections mixed with technical forest sections, certainly a track to test all riders. Once track walk was over I got a good dinner and headed to bed.

Thursday rolled around and it was time for the 1st day of practice, I was excited to get on the track and try and hit all the lines I was looking at during track walk. Practice went well and I was feeling good on the course, on my 3rd run I manned up and hit the big road gap. One more run and I was happy to call it at that.

On Friday we had another practice session and this was also going to plan, I was doing a full run on my 2nd practice run to give me a feel for what it would be like for the timed session on Saturday and I ended up having a big crash in the woods. After I settled myself on the side of the track my wrist and hand were in a lot of pain and I was very frustrated, I wasn’t sure what I had done or how serious it was so I rolled down to the bottom and got ice on it straight away. I made the decision to just try and bare the pain for the weekend and race anyway as I didn’t want to come  away from worlds without trying to put down a good run.

Saturday rolled around and I started the day with breakfast and some pain killers, luckily the support at the Downhill races are great and Martin the masseur taped up my hand and wrist and Wyn Masters lent me a wrist brace so I could try and ride without risking too much further damage.

Thanks to Martin and Wyn for keeping me going!

Thanks to Martin and Wyn for keeping me going!

We had a timed session on Saturday which was like an unofficial seeding run, I thought it would be a good time to test out my wrist for finals on Sunday. I had a good run and didn’t make many mistakes however I was struggling quite a bit to hold on and was riding at a pace I was not happy with because I knew I could go faster. I ended up 79th in this session knowing I could improve on this time.

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Thanks to Laurence for the photo!

Race day; I was both excited an nervous for this, I did two practice runs in the morning and my hand was feeling a little better than Saturday so I was ready to give it my best shot. After practice I got my bike ready for finals and then got some more food and pain killers into me and I was ready to go! My race run was good, I had what I thought was a solid run but when I got to the bottom my time didn’t reflect on this. I crossed the line in 2nd place and eventually finished 66th overall in the Elite category. I was disappointed in my result but at the same time I was happy that I managed to put a run together after the crash on Friday.

This was the last race of the season for me and again I would just like to thank all my sponsors for all their support throughout my 2014 race season;  Chain Reaction Cycles, Nukeproof, Schwalbe Tyres, Mucky Nutz and 100% Eyewear.

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