More international jet-setting from the Harris & Ross team! This time, it was masseuse, Fi Lundie, who’s just returned from Andorra and the World Mountain Bike Championships:
It’s not every day the opportunity arises to attend a world class event, so when I was asked by Harris and Ross if I would like to go along with the British Down Hill Team to the World Mountain Bike Championships in Andorra, I said “yes” immediately. What a fabulous experience it was.
The event was held in La Massana in Vallnord, Andorra.
We arrived five days before the event giving the team plenty of time to acclimatise and prepare for the race. We were on the mountain by 6.30am each day. Practice runs were scheduled daily and riders were encouraged to walk the course several times to familiarise themselves with particular features and the fastest lines to ride whilst avoiding the many trees and stumps along the way. It took over 2 hours to walk the race track that was ridden in a matter of minutes. Some sections of the course were so steep, ropes had to be used to assist those walking get to the next part of the track. There were plenty of complaints by the juniors about their sore legs as a result!
We endured 3 days of heavy rain, each day got wetter and wetter until the course was a river and mud was the order of the day – everywhere! This provided my biggest challenge of the whole event. Team GB and Team Canada stayed in the same apartment block. Only one washing machine and tumble dryer was available for both teams to share. Those Canadians were timing each load down to the last second and getting a wash in between theirs was almost impossible!
Finally the sun came out and the course began to dry out. My work consisted of providing Massage Therapy in the afternoons and evenings – often not finishing before 10pm. Whilst on the mountain I was kept busy with various injuries to wash, dress, bandage, tape and generally patch together so riders could hurtle down the track again. At some points it felt like I was running a field hospital!! I imagine the trees were also feeling fairly bruised by the end of the event!
Race Day finally came in glorious fashion. Blue skies, and perfect race conditions. The bikes were gleaming and tuned to perfection by the technicians. Riders were up early, dressed in pristine uniforms (Canadians had left by now), and fed vats of porridge to keep them going. The atmosphere was electric and nerves were stretched. One by one each member of the team, starting with the Juniors, Women and finally Men, took their place on the starting block and set off for their ultimate ride of the competition. A few injuries, but nothing serious. Plenty of adrenalin, courage and determination carried everyone through to the finish line. Spectators lined the course providing raucous encouragement for the riders along the way with the finish line a mass of cheers welcoming every rider over the line.
We won Junior Gold, Women’s Gold and Silver, and Men’s bronze.
So all in all a very successful outcome for Team GB with riders overcoming the elements to master gravity and navigate an extremely challenging course.
My thanks to Harris and Ross for this wonderful opportunity and experience.