The third round of the World Cup brought me to Les Vosges region of France in the small town of La Bresse. It was simply a beautiful place. Small single lane roads, which felt like single track for road bikes, snaked up and across the tree covered mountains surrounding the town. Louisette, our contact for accommodations, told us the Tour de France came through La Bresse last year. Nearby, the Grand Ballon, is a tour climb that takes you to the highest point in the Vosges region and is the only Hors Categorie climb in Northern France. La Bresse is where mountain biking legend Julien Absalon grew up. You could say that the town and the region are rich in cycling history.
The World Cup course was very exciting. It had steep climbing, half on road and half on single track, with a technical decent that lasted about as long as the climb. The course was 4.3 km long with 145 m of climbing. (for those on the east coast, 2016 Victoria Secret MTB race had 90 m of climbing in a lap that was almost 3 km longer.) The bottom section of the course was probably the most technical with rocks, mud, grass and ruts. For bike choice I went with the Norco Revolver HT, although the FS would have also been a good one! Tires were Kenda Karma for the muddy section at the bottom of the course, pressure was 24 PSI front and 26 PSI rear. Rockshox RS-1 was setup with 15% sag and rebound fairly quick.
I was called up 112 of 133 starters and got right down to business when the gun went off, well I actually waited 5 seconds for all the other rows to get rolling, but you get the point. I had a solid start with some crafty running and some strong climbing to get into the 70s. From there I got to work and did the best I could on the day and came out with 88th place. This is a massive improvement from where I would have been last year so this is very positive moving forward.
La Bresse World Cup trip highlights:
- Renting a car and driving in Europe – that was a lot of fun! McNeely and I rented a VW Touran, 6 speed manual that fit all of our gear and was still fun to drive on the twisty roads from Zurich to La Bresse
- Louisette brought us crepes and homemade blueberry sauce the evening after the race. Best crepes I have ever had, sorry crepe boy.
- Watching the Canadian women have some amazing performances! Congrats Catherine and Emily.
- Meeting new people: The NFT Evan’s and I shared accommodations with Americans Evelyn Dong and Spencer Paxson.
- Riding and racing on a challenging and exciting course!
- The fans.
I am back in Ontario now recovering from travel and gearing up for the next two Canada Cups in the series. First up is Horseshoe, then Hardwood Hills.