Life is Good: Windham World Cup
The day had finally arrived, the 2012 Windham World Cup. After attending last year, I had been looking forward to watching this again in person all year.
Rich had offered to help Justin with Allison’s top feed zone, so the plan was for him to be at the top, and I would be close by in the woods taking pictures (had my good nikon this time!). That morning eating breakfast with everyone at Kelly Acres (have I mentioned how much I love the community atmosphere this place creates), I realized Katherine, another pro (& last year’s Australian national champ!) we had met, didn’t have anyone to help her with feeding. I asked if she would like some assistance and she gladly said yes. This meant we had two passes for the top feed zone, so Rich and I could be there together and Tracy would join Justin in the bottom one.
It was a cool experience to watch the “behind the scenes” of the pros getting ready for their race. In fact, we even picked up some cool new tricks, such as tube socks for ice on hot days, using a sharpie on the lid of your water bottle to mark what is inside (water, coke, mix, etc), and soft cooler bags are a must. I was amazed at the lack of nervousness and no one appeared to be rushing around, even a mere 1.5 hours before the start of the pro race. I can definitely learn from this, as I start getting nervous hours (or even days) in advance, compared with when I used to swim and I had everything down to a science and didn’t get nervous until minutes or seconds before the race began.
Clearly Rich and I were amateur feed zoners, as we hiked up the entire mountain with camera equipment and the cooler full of heavy bottles and ice. Once at the top we discovered all the “pros” knew to take the chair lift up, so they weren’t dripping in sweat like us. I stayed with Rich and helped him get stuff setup, but once the women’s race began I went into the woods to find a good spot to take pictures. I knew there was a small descent after the top feedzone and figure I could get some good shots there.
Unfortunately, it became obvious once the first few riders went by that I had picked the wrong line in my prelaps (and then in setting up my camera), as the vast majority of the pros were taking the left hand line (meaning there was a tree between me and them in the best angle). Also because they came over the crest so quickly, it was hard to pick out riders ahead of time, and I almost missed Allison and did miss Katherine, sorry! Once all the woman were by on their first lap, I decided to move down the trail further, so I had more setup time, but could still get some shots in the woods.
Here the lighting wasn’t ideal, but I had a long straightaway to spot people and take many pictures of them as they got closer. Allison was ahead of Katherine the first time they passed me, however, Katherine came through before I saw Allison. I was bummed for her, as it looked like she had fallen back pretty far, after having a great first half a lap. However, the back of the pack riders came and went and no Allison. I decided to head back to the feed zone to check with Rich to see if I had somehow missed her, and when I got there he was panicked, thinking HE had missed her for her water hand off. We called down to Tracy in the lower pit zone, and were very sad to learn she had crashed out of the race.
We continued to feed for Katherine, and I ended up leaving the pits to take some more pictures on the last stretch of the climb, but the excitement from the day was definitely wearing off, as we were worried about our new friend and hoping she was ok. Because redbull tv has done awesome coverage of these events, we were able to watch the race live from our iPhones while in the tech zone. In addition, the pro teams all had walkie talkies, so they could communicate throughout the course, so we really felt like we had a 360 experience.
On their final lap, Georgia came through with about a :50 sec gap on Catherine and Katerina, so we couldn’t wait for the finish and to be present for her first wold cup win. Unfortunately, the next thing we heard was one of the mechanics yell out Catherine just won. Instantly the entire feed zone went dead silent, as we all listened to the radio. Just after our phones confirmed, as we saw the video of Georgia pushing her bike as her two teammates rode past her to the finish line. It was a heart breaker, and even the luna team members in the feed zone didn’t show the level of excitement expected for sweeping a world cup podium.
Now that we were experienced, we knew to take the chair lift back down to the bottom of the mountain, where we could watch the men’s race. We alternated between the start/finish area and Kabush falls, hoping to see a good wipeout or two, like last year, but luckily for the riders they all made it cleanly through. Burry easily took the win, and the US finally got 2 men in the top ten.