After our win at the National Marathon Championships in Scotland we had a few days at home in Poole, England before loading up our van for another 5 week long Euro road trip. We were blessed with one sunny day before the weather changed and I was once again battling the wind and rain - and dodging black birds and road cyclists; the roadie missed but black bird didn't! Ouch!
|At home in Poole: Days when Dave agrees to ride with me are becoming rarer and rarer!|
Our first stop was Kirchberg, Austria, which is home to the famous Kitzalp Bike Marathon. We have a lovely apartment really close to the start and we were able to spend a week re-familiarising ourselves with the course. As always the UCI have reduced the distance of the ladies course for the World Champs, so unlike previous years the women will race over a shorter course which misses out the Ehrenbach descent and the long steep climb back up past Hahnenkamm. I would happily race the full 95km/4400m distance, as I have the last 2 years, but this year I'll have to be content with just 85km/3700m ;)
|Final Kitzalp climb: Stunning views and searing heat: 36+ degrees last week!|
Last week Dave and I were really excited about visiting the Maloja Head Quarters near Lake Chiemsee, Germany. Maloja is a very cool clothing brand which is really popular in continental Europe and which, at long last, has finally found it's way to the UK. Hooray! We've always loved the brand since first seeing it at one of our very first races in Riva del Garda, but after visiting the office, meeting the people behind the scenes and learning about their philosophy, we're now passionate fans! Not only do they produce eye catching and technically advanced clothing, but they're also heavily focused on giving back to the community and being as ecological as possible. Now Dave and I will be the best dressed cycling duo in MTB :)
Last Thursday we left our base in Kirchberg for a few days and went to Selva val Gardena, north eastern Italy, to take part in the Sellaronda Hero. This was our first time there and I hope it isn't our last. If you love the mountains as we do, then you have to visit this area. It is breathtakingly beautiful.
|Dantercepies Pass 2298m|
The Italian's certainly know how to host events: the race took over the area with top level organisation. Following the UCI regulations the Women's race was shorter than the men's covering only 62km, but cramming in 3300 metres of vertical climbing. Consequently the climbs were steep, which is fine, but the fact that the climbs were covered in extremely loose, large gravel stones meant that finding traction wasn't easy and every time the rear wheel slipped it took more energy to keep moving forwards! The terrain on the descents was also similar and in this case finding grip on the front wheel was top priority! With very little asphalt; lots of single tracks in the forests, on mountain traverses and open ridges; and inspirational views the Sellaronda is one not to be missed. More to the point it is a tough and challenging course and I'm excited that it will host the World Championships in 2015.
The women started separately from the men at 7.20am. The separate start was perfect, but the time, well, that was a little too early ;) Elena Gadonni set the pace from the start and I was happy to go with that, we stayed together for 15 to 20 minutes after which she started to fall off the pace and from then onwards I rode alone with only the lead motorbike, a quad, and a helicopter for company - no toilet stops for me then ;) In a live interview with SKY after the race I was asked when the race was won for me. The answer to that was easy: at the finish line! I never relax until I'm over it!
Spectators could watch the race from the finish line
1. Bigham Sally 4:17.37,2
2. Gaddoni Elena, 4:30.37,0
3. Veronesi Daniela, 4:37.40,8
You can watch a reply of the live race footage here.
The evening podium was like no other and it was certainly the first time that I've been driven directly to the stage in a Jaguar convertible sports car! Perhaps the winner of the 2015 World Champs will parachute in from a helicopter ;)
Now we're back in Kirchberg focusing on our final preparations before the World Championships on Saturday. All the hard work has been done and now it's time to eat, sleep, relax and cross our fingers for good luck and fun.