The French organisation was shocking. Like the UK on the snow, they couldn’t cope with the rain. The glacier was closed the start point was now from tbe top of the original qualifier route. Nobody appeared to know what times, what place or even whether their race was still on. I went up and down the Gondola twice. Got up 2 hrs too early and all the while the rain, the snow, the sleet, battering down, all of it was horizontal, whipping every ounce of energy from your body. We huddled at the top behind any shelter we could find, some people decided enough was enough and went back down on the gondola into the clouded oblivion below. Whilst the rest of us danced to Lana Del Ray’s “Summer time sadness” to keep warm.
Lining up there was one space left on the front row, far left which was the worst line! The familiar music kicked on, suddenly the girls all seemed to false start, before the ribbon went up. I responded, blasting down the rutted mud, snow whipping and stinging in my eyes (goggles were pointless) hands so numb I couldn’t feel the brakes. Managing to get through to 10th-12th, and so we went down, it was awesome! The altitude sapping every gram of oxygen that was available. As we descended, I heard Allez Allez! The French girls were catching me on the big rocky sections, then I’d turn on the burners on the inclines, dropping 2 or 3 on each climb. The treacherous conditions fired me out the side doors a few times, at one point I came round the corner to find 2-3 women sprawled down some steep banking leaving them scrambling to get back up. I laughed and carried on, opting to dismount, digging my boots into the ground for stability.
My poor bike was battered. The Specialized Enduro Evo was perfect for the job. being an xc/cx girl these days, I’m glad I had more of a big hitter out there. At 32lbs its a beast but I figured I’d cope with weight and rather have the stability. The dropper ceased to work in the last 10mins (it stayed down thankfully). The paint around the pivot points has now worn off, it was immaculate before this week. Otherwise it was a very dependable steed. I hadn’t changed anything from the factory finish, all original. I love that “out the box and go” approach. I finally rolled in at 1hr 1min. 13th overall, 2nd Master. It was hard and I was happy. I had a good chat to the other Brits, Manon Carpenter came in 3rd and another Brit Hazel Wakefield was 8th.