Well the first two world cups started off a little different then expected. Last year I came into the world cup season with no real pressure, I was a bit of an unknown and after the first two races I was leading the junior class. This year has been a different story all together, I’m on a full factory team with Devinci Global Racing and am supported for the full season.
I was over the moon when I was asked but at the same time I was really nervous. The first couple of local races I did weren’t my best in recent times and I was over thinking things instead of just riding and having fun like usual. It took me a little while to sort that out but I was soon back into a groove, that was until I went a broke my wrist at a national round in Thredbo. That took me back a far bit mentally as it was so close to the start of the world cup season. I was still able to train but not as I normally would, I put in a lot of hard work with little time on the bike it pissed me off a a fair bit.
Once my wrist had healed up enough to ride I had one more race in Australia before heading overseas. I was definitely not riding as aggressive as normally and I didn’t want to take risks which made me feel like I couldn’t get out of first gear the whole weekend. I still ended up with a good result but I knew I wasn’t riding as well as I know I could’ve been.
I kept the training up until Africa and felt good coming into the race my wrist beginning to feel up to scratch. I flew to Africa at the beginning of April to meet up with the team, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the whole team set up and how I’d fit in but it didn’t take long to settle in.
First look at the track and straight away I felt right at home, man made rock gardens, dust and pedaling…. Felt like most Australian tracks except for the big ass jumps. Practice on day one was a bit different in the fact I was in Elite and on a bike I’d only ridden down the street the day before (and attacked by a dog).
I was definitely felt more nervous then I thought I would be but as soon as I got through the first section of track it was an easy ride into the job at hand. Practice was great the following two days and I felt like I was in a good rhythm.
Qualifying snuck around fast and I was in the mindset for a good run but that soon went out the window. I went in too hot and made a heap of stupid mistakes and then didn’t hit the pedals hard enough because I wanted to save my legs for race day. I was surprised to see that I was 24th at the top split which boosted my confidence a fair bit even though I qualified 40th.
Race day and it didn’t start off the best with two messy practice runs to kick things off. I was still feeling confident that I could pull off something good though. I headed up for my race run with Nigel (mechanic) and got warmed up on a trainer witch was a bit new for me.
I got in the start gate and and waited for the beeps, as soon as they started I smashed out of the gate. Being on the same bike Stevie (team mate) put down on the first corner I was happy to get around that but then ended up almost throwing it all away on the rock garden 5 meters further along down the track. I did the big almost over the bars and smashed my stomach into the stem and bent my seat to 45°, straight away I thought my race was over and the rest of the run was pretty average. I ended up 49th.
The result wasn’t the best but I still got a boost in confidence from just being back at that level of racing and felt good going into Cairns.
Soon enough we were headed to Cairns for the second World Cup and it felt sweet racing my first World Cup on home soil. First glance at the track it looked like a track I could do well on not to mention it looked like heaps of fun with a good mix of features.
The first day of practice didn’t start the best with it pissing down rain, I smashed a back wheel and then after that an over the bars in the rock garden messed up a few of my fingers. At first it wasn’t too bad but after a while they started to feel, well, broken. I ended up just strapping them and somehow managed to hold on the next day for qualifying.
Given the damage the rain had done to the track, the aim of qualifying was mainly to stay on the bike. Luckily for me that was my aim anyway but I was still very unsure how quali’s would go.
I was going well and on a clean run. I got through the top rock garden but soon after that decided to jump into some rocks with my head and cut up my arm and side. I jumped back on the bike and tried to get my shit together but just ended up riding like a goon and ended up crashing again at the bottom just before the pedal. I thought it was all over from there but I still tried to pedal as hard as I could to the finish and somehow scraped in a 75th. I felt pretty beat up the next day but jumped on the bike and smashed out one run before race runs which went pretty well and I didn’t feel too bad for finals.
My race run started off pretty well but it just felt like I was being too safe with the mud and my hand. I was just riding slow because of it, at the bottom I made a heap of mistakes and came to a few stops and just lost a heap of speed. Ended up with a 51st which was pretty disappointing but looking forward to being home for a bit and getting some good training and recovery in preparation for Fort William. It’s track I’ve visited numerous times as a junior, I know my way around and is a solid chance to put the fight back in my season.
Words: Dean Lucas Photos : Tim Bardsley-Smith & Sven Martin
Dean rides for the Devinci Global Racing Team find out more at www.devinci.com