The first World Cup of 2016 was being held in Cairns, Australia. It was an easy task to sell this trip as a mini-holiday to Josh for a number of reasons:
1. We have been long overdue to visit our friends Sue and Grant who moved to Cairns from Nelson 3 years ago.
2. We've never been to the tropics.
3. We always wanted to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef.
We arrived with plenty of time before race day to get adjusted to the heat and humidity. I was still recovering from my virus. So plenty of rest days were in order, which we spent play tourists around the place.
I was starting to feel better with every day. I enjoyed riding my bike and being able to do some efforts again. The course was closed all week leading up to the race but Grant showed us some great other trails. Thankfully he went downhill first and took a massive spiderweb out for me.
Despite being on the other side of the World, we had a decent women's field. 50 girls were entered. I was the lucky No. 50, which meant I got called up last again. My tactics were to be patient on the first lap and to wait for my chance to pass people. Mainly because I wasn't sure how my body would react to the race intensity after such a long break. As expected, the first lap was a shambles on the tight, technical track. People crashing front, center and back, bottlenecks, walking and running up and downhill.
I got into a good rhythm from the 2nd lap onward and started to pick up people. I really enjoyed the technical climbing and of course the technical descents. The noisy crowd along the course was unreal.
One of the technical descents - Jacobs Ladder
On my final lap, I was in a tight battle with the Japanese National Champion for 41st place. I passed her on the uphill and was leading on the downhill when my bike started to go wobbly.
A puncture! Not just one. A puncture front and back!!
Luckily the tech zone was straight after the downhill. I pulled in and took my wheels off. But no Josh insight. And no spare wheels either!
He had gone already to cheer me over the finish line. A friendly Russian helped me, but he could only find 29er wheels. There was only one option - run! Nothing like a 1.5 km run to finish off the legs!
Re-united with my support crew.
I was super happy with my race. 42nd and one lap down on the leaders. That was a huge improvement to my last (and first) World Cup in Italy in August last year. But most importantly I'm happy to be able to push hard again and being healthy. Bring on Europe!