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Paul Hodgson photo

Paul Hodgson photo

Friday, 24 July 2015

5 weeks in Europe and 2 weeks in BC!

I had the chance to travel through Europe for 5 weeks attending 3 World Cups and one IXS Cup, as well as spending the past two weeks in BC for Canadian National Champs and a Canada Cup.  Although I had some crashes and mechanicals in Europe, it was amazing to ride all the tracks, and it prepared me for the races back in Canada where I placed 10th at Nationals and 3rd at the Canada Cup in Panorama!!  It took me a while this season to put everything together, but I was very happy to see my work pay off and end up on the podium in Panorama amongst some fast competition.

Next week I head East to two of my favourite World Cups, Mont Sainte Anne and Windham.  After that I will be in Whistler for Crankworx, then off to Italy for the last World Cup of the season in Val Di Sole.  As always you can follow me on my Facebook athlete page at Facebook.com/ForrestRiescoDH and on instagram @ForrestRiescoDH, where I post lots of updates, photos and Gopro videos of the tracks.

Below is a quick summary on the races I've attended over the past few weeks if you're interested!


Fort William, Scotland WC:
-This was my third time racing at Ft. William and the first year that I've qualified top 80 making it to finals!!  It is one of the biggest and most iconic races on the World Cup circuit, and always has a huge amount of fans, so it was very cool to be in the big show.  It was very windy and rainy for the first day of practice, and so windy on Saturday that qualifying was moved to Sunday.  Luckily I made it down with a half decent run to qualify 75th.  Finals didn’t go so well though, I couldn’t seem  to stay on my pedals thru the entire woods section, and was skating behind my bike most of the time.  I finished 70th, which wasn't what I was aiming for, but knew where I made the mistakes and felt I was on pace of where I know I can be.  

Leogang, Austria WC:
-From the first day of practice in Leogang I felt a bit off.  My riding was a bit sloppy and I was just starting to feel the affects of a cold, which didn’t help things.  I felt drained by Saturday and just survived my qualifying run.  I ended up 94th with a bit of a stall up in the tricky woods sections bumping a tree.   I always enjoy the Leogang track, but was unfortunately dragged down by the cold that just hit me at the wrong time.

Schladming, Austria IXS Cup:
-We got to do a few days of riding in Schladming the week leading up to the race, and it was amazing!  I couldn’t tell you what is exactly so much fun about that place, maybe the speed and wide-openness of the track, but its definitely a good time riding with some buddies.  Practice was going well and I felt good on the track until Sunday morning on my first practice run.  Literally the second corner I hit a mud hole the wrong way and it sent me over the bars and I hit the ground fast and hard.  Luckily I got up and walked away with only a bruised hip, but I was a little hesitant in my race run later in the day.  Crashes that you know what you did wrong and can say “I will never make that mistake again” are not so bad, but ones that come out of nowhere and are unavoidable, seem to scare me a lot more.  They’re  a bit of a reality check of how fast you really are riding, and HOW MUCH IT HURTS to hit the ground at that speed. 

Morzine, France:
-We had a week off, so we decided to spend it in Morzine.  Morzine is a pretty cool place as you can ride up and down thru valleys on several chairlifts to different bike parks in France and Switzerland.  As an example we descended nearly 7,000 meters in one day, and taking 9 different chairlifts.  It was fun to ride with some friends and some very good riders too, including the recently named “Winningest” rider in DH racing history Greg Minnaar, who is a pretty inspiring and insanely humble guy. 
I also made some changes to my bike setup over the week, which built up my confidence a lot.  The new Banshee Legend this season has a lot longer reach and slacker angles, as well as 27.5” wheels which I have only been on for a few weeks.  The longer bike and bigger wheels make the bike a lot more stable at high speeds, but takes some getting used to.  I was having problems finding how to centre myself on the bike and therefore changing my suspension a lot, probably too much.  I figured out two things though:  First was that my fork was too soft, and even though it felt good on rough sections, it was diving too much going into corners, forcing my weight rearward on the bike, which took weight off the front wheel and  not allowing me to corner how I know I can.  I ended up lowering my bars a tad and stiffening up my fork.   Second, was that with the combination of the new geometry and my fork, I was running a very, very slack head angle, and high BB.  This explained a lot of the problems I’d been having with setting up this new bike, so I’ve been playing with my fork/stanchion height now and have been feeling a lot more comfortable on my bike recently. 


A photo posted by Forrest Riesco (@forrestriescodh) on


Lenzerheide, Switzerland WC:
-This was a brand new track, and it didn’t disappoint! At first it looked like a simple and almost easy track, but it turned out to be the opposite.  The rock gardens were always challenging and constantly changing.  All the corners were really dry, and got quite blown out and slippery by Friday.  It took a while to get into the flow of the track, but after that it was a lot of fun.  I felt good for qualifying on Friday and was on a good run till the last third of the track.  I came into a fast left hander, and before I knew it I was losing traction and drifting sideways eventually flipping over the bars.  I scrambled to get my bike off from on top of me.  Unfortunately there was a  short uphill after where I crashed so I started to run and push my bike up the hill.  That’s when I realized I had a flat rear tire and no front brake lever.  I had to laugh at myself later for still pinning it after my crash with this idea that I could save my race run and still maybe qualify.  With over 150 of the fastest guys in the world, one small mistake or mechanical is going to set you back a lot.  And I had flatted, crashed, broken my brake lever, and pushed my bike up a hill, ha ha.  Of course I was a little bummed to miss out on the finals, but watching the race the next day always reminds me of why I love riding and racing so much, and I start to get all these ideas of things I could improve and work on.  It was a exciting race to watch as well, with lots of gnarly sections and big jumps for the fans!


Sun Peaks, Canadian National Champs:
-This is the one big race that determines whether or not you will make the National team to go to World Championships at the end of the season.  Unfortunately that took over my head and that’s all I could think about, which didn’t end too well.  I felt amazing in practice and was having a lot of fun on the wide open and flat out track.  I think the faster the track or trail is, the more fun I have.  I love technical trails for the challenge, but nothing beats flying down a trail and being on the edge of your tires’ biting point.  
My race run went pretty terrible, I let the thoughts of what lay on that race overtake me and right out of the gate I took a pedal stroke too many, clipped my pedal, lost my balance and over steered, dragging my front wheel thru the whole first corner and having to unclip to keep myself upright.  Then I T’d off every corner thru the new section.  I crossed the line and was pretty disappointed with how I rode.   I ended up 10th, and only 5 seconds off 2nd place.  I knew I could’ve been up there with the top guys with how I am riding at the moment, but I caved and definitely learned a lesson;  JUST RIDE YOUR BIKE!  It’s okay to be nervous and excited for a race, but when I get to the start gate I have to remember that those thoughts won’t hep me ride any better, and it’s best to just ride what’s in front of you and worry about where that places you after you cross the line.  


Panorama, Canada Cup:
-Finally!! I cleared my head, focused on my breathing and ended up putting together a smooth and fast race run!  Easy as that!!  It’s amazing how hard it is to shut everything out and just ride your bike, not over thinking things and just going with your instincts.  I find that visualizing important parts of the track constantly in my head over the weekend helps a lot.  Things such as where to shift, where to “take it steady” and where to keep good form and breath as I start to get tired.  I was amazed by myself when I pulled all this off in seeding and ended up 8th.  I knew I had more in me for the finals, and I ended up taking off over 12 seconds in my race run.  That got me into the hotseat as soon as I came down.  The Current National Champ, Matt Beer, knocked  35 hundredths of a second off my time, and that held until Troy Brosnan came down 7 seconds up on Matt’s time.  I finished in 3rd, which I was happy about, and was very glad to have had a smooth and fast run.  I made a plan before my race run, I knew what threw me off in the past few races, so I worked everything out and managed to pull it together for my finals race run. 


As always you can follow me on my Facebook athlete page at Facebook.com/ForrestRiescoDH and on instagram @ForrestRiescoDH, where I post lots of updates, photos and Gopro videos of the tracks.  

Cheers for taking a interest in my racing and I appreciate the support!

Forrest 

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