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Paul Hodgson photo

Paul Hodgson photo

Friday, 11 September 2015

Final races of the 2015 season!

Here's a quick recap on the last few races of the season!! I had a two week trip out East to the two North American World Cups and then headed back out West to Whistler for Crankworx.  After that it was a quick turn around and I was headed to Italy for the last round of the World Cup series in Val di Sole!  And as you'll read below, it was awesome to end the season on a high note!!



Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec World Cup:
-If I had to pick my favourite track it would definitely have to be MSA!  It’s the definition of a World Cup track to me, with lots of flat out open sections and gnarly rock gardens.  It rained on and off throughout the week, so you kinda had to choose to stick with dry tires or spikes, as you couldn’t keep switching every time the weather changed.  I stuck with the Maxxis “Shorty’s” which I was most comfortable on.  My bike felt unbelievable on the track, the suspension was soaking up the small bumps while still not bottoming and the added reach on the new 650b Legend gave me a lot more room to move around on my bike and I didn’t have to hang off the back the whole time.  
Qualifying went really well and I ended up in 44th with a smooth run.  I cleared my head, breathed and just rode my bike, which seems to be the secret formula for me.  For finals I was feeling good and knew I could bump up my pace.  I was on a good run until about a third of the way down there was a really sick rut corner that you could dump the bike over into and it would still hold you, but unfortunately it was a little slipperier on the exit then I’d expected and I ended up sliding out and spinning around on the ground.  I jumped up, turned myself around and tried to get back up to speed as quickly as I could.   Of course after that I nailed every section and rode amazing to finish in 62nd.  With the time it takes to get up and get back up to speed I usually estimate a crash adds about 10 seconds give or take.  I try not to get into saying “What if”, but I’m gonna say it now and looking at the times 10 seconds would’ve gotten me into the top 30, where I know I can be.  It was a really fun race run with all the fans cheering, and as I crossed the line I was honest with myself even before I saw the times and knew I had ridden well, besides my one crash.



WIndham, New York World Cup:
-Usually I love these wide open fast tracks, but this year I struggled to get up to speed at Windham.  I also didn’t start things off very well with going over the bars in the first corner, on the first run of the day, on the first day of practice.  I really didn’t put together any decent runs until qualifying, so I was happy to get by and squeak into finals in 74th.  I started to work up my speed for finals and managed to put together an alright run.  It wasn’t anything amazing, and it was pretty steady until I got a little wild exiting the last rock garden. I must have hit a big hole and it nearly sent me over the bars, but as some would say “Jesus took the wheel” and I pulled out of it somehow (See photo below).  I was happy with how I rode, considering how bad I felt on track the whole week and was alright with taking 56th!
And it was amazing to witness Aaron Gwin take the win by an unthinkable 3.5 seconds, when that guys on form he is unstoppable.  



Crankworx, Whistler:
-As always, the Canadian Open DH track was amazing!  Fast, steep, gnarly, and lots of big jumps!!  My bike felt amazing and I was having a lot of fun on the first day of practice, until I felt a pop and a sharp pain in my rib cage!! Since my crash the week before in Windham I hadn’t thought much of my sore ribs, but as it suddenly got worse I thought I should probably get it checked out.  Ends up I had a cracked rib and a separated rib, the separated rib being the one that caused the “popping feeling”.  I wasn’t sure of my fate as I was waiting to hear from the doctor, ha ha.  But he gave me the “Okay” to ride, or in his words “You should take six weeks off, BUT, if you do decide to ride you won't die".   With some tape to hold everything together I was able to ride not to bad.  I seeded in 9th on Saturday and then finished 22nd in finals on Sunday amongst a few World Cup guys.  I had an alright run, but it was far from perfect.  I had a few little bobbles, but what bugged me most was how I didn’t commit to a few corners near the bottom.  It’s easy to lean into corners and throw some roost when you’re just cruising, but at race pace it takes a bit more commitment to dump your bike over and let the tires slide.  I hesitated too much in too many corners which made me a little disappointed in myself.  I was committing in practice, but still haven’t found that secret formula to let loose in my race runs and always tend to tense up.  



Val di Sole, Italy World Cup:
-Going to Italy was a bit of a bonus to end off the season.  I wasn’t in the best condition with a cracked rib, and I hadn’t been selected for the Canadian National team to compete at World Championships (Which is a whole other story for another time).  Not that I have anything to lose at any other race, but this one was easier to just “ride my bike” and not give up any of my headspace to any unnecessary thoughts.
Honestly I was a little scared of the Val di Sole track, as the last time I was there I really struggled to find any flow or speed on the track.  My goal for the week was to learn the track and try to get comfortable on it first, then start picking up my speed.  My bike felt amazing, I found a good flow on the track and before I knew it I had put down a solid qualifying run and I was in the finals on Saturday!!  I was very stoked to say the least.  I was so caught up and focused on learning the track, with no distractions with my bike setup or head games, that I didn't even realize I had accomplished my goal for coming to Italy already, and all that was left was the easy part;  Ride my bike friggin fast!!
I was pretty excited for race day!!  Was a bit nervous in the morning as usual, but 5 minutes before my run I started to focus on my breathing, which stops my mind from wandering.  And my run was amazing,  it felt fast and smooth, which are two words I din’t expect myself to be saying on a track such as Val di Sole.  I felt strong and consistent the whole way down and once I was thru the last tricky section I got way too excited and let off the brakes, launching down the finish line fade-away, which got me even more stoked.   I crossed the line in 4th which placed me 45th overall at the end.  I was just over 13 seconds off the fastest time, which might sound like a lot, but it was better then 25 seconds like at some races.  I was stoked with how everything went and to get my best World Cup result of 2015 at one of the gnarliest tracks on the circuit got me pretty pumped.
And it wasn’t just a ‘Hurl myself down the mountain as fast as I could” kind of weekend,  I had a plan from the start and executed it perfectly, ending up with a better result then I even imagined was possible.  A good race run and weekend, regardless of the end result, can almost be more satisfying then just a good result sometimes 



Now it’s time to rest up for a few weeks and heal up my broken rib I’ve been avoiding for the past few weeks.

2015 was a bit more of a learning year then I had expected it to be, but I’m excited to put everything I know now towards 2016 and see what I can do!!  

I’ve got a few video projects planned this Fall and of course will be sending out 2016 racing resumes very soon.  

Thanks for the support and taking a interest in my racing and travels!!

Forrest 

A photo posted by Forrest Riesco (@forrestriescodh) on











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