Qualifiers for the race rook place on Saturday and to day there was a sense of nervous excitement in the shuttle van was a massive understatement.
Six of us and our guide set off to ride the race track for the fourth time this week and the trail was in really good condition. There was still no bridge on the river crossing but by this point we were just running through it, ankle deep in water. The steep section wasn’t so bad and I managed to ride it in one go for the first time, so I was really really pleased with myself for that. I still took the chicken lines on all the jumps – no sense in breaking myself for race day.
We had the option of riding it twice, but I’d already decided that once would be enough, and with a mixture of altitude pedalling, arm pump and plenty of adrenaline, it was enough!
I got a time of 47 minutes which I was happy with. To be honest I was happy doing under an hour! Stephan got a really good time and Kristin was on top form too. Those guys are so good on the technical sections, it’s like there aren’t and rocks or drops there -very impressive riders to watch (from behind, which I always was!)
Kristin and I did one run, but Stephan got a flat so had to ride again on the second qually. A lot of the elite riders had flats too, so the competition was fierce, but he still managed to get 29 minutes. Fast.
Come race day, we had our bikes prepped, brakes and tyre pressure checked and we were ready to go. The atmosphere in the van up was more quiet, with everyone anxiously checking lines as we went past the trails. There must have been more than 200 riders on the line, and the start grid was pretty chock full.
The start was put back to 1230, which did our nerves no good, but it did give us the chance to chat so some of our neighbours and wish everyone luck. Thankfully I had a helper take my bike up to the start line, which saved some valuable energy and earnt her a handful of Soles ( Peruvian currency).
Once we set off it was carnage, everyone was pulled forwards so we were elbow by elbow, handle bar by handle bar… sketchy. The leaders set off at such a pace it was just a matter of getting through the hordes and down the muddy sections onto the inca trails. Easier said than done with so many people!
My adrenaline was through the roof, and pedalling on the top section was tough, but then we all started to thin out and it became less nerve wracking.
Sadly not too far in I saw Stephan had another puncture and hen about half way down Kristin was on the side of the trail looking in a bad way. She’d come off on the rocks and thought that she’d broken her leg. A massive bummer, as it turned out later that she was ahead of all the pro women!
So out of team Europe/Germany (which I was an honorary member of) I was the only one to cross the line. We took Kristen to a doctor and they said it was maybe cruciate or ACL damage, no broken bones but still in need of a scan, which they will do today in cusco.
There were so many crashes on race day, with me included. I stacked it half way down the steep section which was really dusty and rocky, much more so than the day before. There was a photographer cheering me on, I blame him!
After getting untangled from my bike, and un-wedging my thigh from the handle bar I had to take a moment to get myself together. I got back on my bike and headed to the bottom, feeling really sore and a bit winded. I ended up getting a time of 46 minutes, which would have been less without the crash, but I did it. I survived the Inca Avalanche!
I ended up.coming 6th place out of 10-12 women. The fastest lady was 27 minutes, second was 28 and third 35. So no podium for me, but a great experience all round. I’ll be glad to have a break from the bike in the next few days 🙂