The Worlds has come and gone, and we had great fun. Alasdair raced like a champ and even got onto PinkBike. Conrad worked for the New Zealand federation team and met some great new friends. Other than all the racing and fun, it was also great to be part of the atmosphere when Greg Minnaar won his second WC title in a row, and on home soil.
Grab a cup of your favourite hot beverage and enjoy the read.
Alasdair came into this World Champs better prepared than any race in his life. The bike was perfect, he was strong and fit and ready to go. This is what he had to say:
“Being selected to represent South Africa at the World Champs 2013 was the best feeling of my life, it has been 2 weeks of awesome excitement.
I got to stay with the South African team and had the team spirit just building up. The excitement hit me hard on Wednesday, the first day of practice, when we walked the course.
Seeing all my heroes racing and the fact that I was racing against them, made me pretty nervous during practice, wondering if I would get in the way of these riders but I ended up having the best time of my life. Shredding in the super dry dust is one of my favourite conditions. I got my Morewood bike set up just perfect. It was awesome to meet up with all the Monster Energy guys at Worlds. They were super helpful organising a lot of refreshments for the riders and an awesome photographer. One always wants to see what one looks like when you ride. I was also practicing with a Drift HD Ghost helmet camera so I could see my lines at night and look over them.
On Saturday I had my seeding run for some reason, I was not nervous for it was just so exciting to fly down the track. It had rained the night before seeding so the dirt was amazing on the rubber.
I came down in my seeding run, having so much fun, smashing the jumps with bit of style and I ended up being placed 29th. I was over the moon as I had beaten some of the best riders in the world. I was walking around with a huge smile on my face with constant positivity. I got to sort out my Morewood bike with the mechanic and he made it perfect.
On Saturday night as I was lying there, things started to get quiet, I couldn’t believe I was racing World Champs in my home country it felt like a dream. But I hardly could sleep all that was on my mind was the track.
We had practice early Sunday morning and I put in two good practice runs. I was sitting in the pits watching people pour into Cascades Mountain Bike Park and it was getting louder and louder. My nerves kicked in big time as we had a 4 hour wait before we had to race down the mountain in front of thousands of people cheering you on. I had an awesome warm up with the music pumping in my ears.
When I went into the start gate, there are no words to describe the feeling, all the sounds become faint and the only thing I could see was the track and all the people were blurry. When the beeper went off, I motored out of the start gate like never before. I was flying down the track suddenly I realised I was half way down the hill, it was like a total black out on the pedal, every time I wanted to sit down I couldn’t because all the South African supporters were screaming like crazy PEDAL!! I came flying into a section, went off the track and back on nearly taking out trees but carried on pushing harder and hanging loose.
I was super tired but carried on pushing and pushing. When I came down to the MONEYMAKER. I looked at the crowd in the air and realized actually how many people there were. It was like in slow motion, seeing people jumping up and down going crazy. I pedalled so hard into the finish. I ended up being placed 50th. I was happy about my position as I am one of the youngest riders in Elite. Just being part of Worlds has taught me a lot, now I know that next time I will push even harder and do even better.
A huge shout out the all those crazy supporters out there. South Africa really knows how to support their Athletes and a huge thanks to all those people that helped us during Worlds, those at where were we staying and to all those in the pits.
I would also like to say a huge thanks to all my sponsors. You guys are really amazing. Without you, I would not have had the opportunity to race at Worlds. AN EXTRA BIG THANKS TO YOU ALL.”
The New Zealand Federation Team
Conrad’s role at World Champs was not quite as adrenaline filled, but great fun never the less. He worked – along side Ian Duxbury – as a mechanic and general nice guy, for the New Zealand federation mountain bike team. Here’s his take on that.
“What an awesome time and what an awesome bunch of people to work for! We headed up the PMB the Sunday before the race and met the team. There were eight DH rides and six XC. In amongst the XC team, was Karen Hanlen, on of NZ’s Olympians riding in the Elite Ladies field and bunch of World Cup podium finishers. You’d think with such a high end group of riders, things might be a bit stressed, but not at all.
We (Ian and I) spent the week getting bikes sorted, making sure they were clean and maintained for each day’s practice and racing, as well as making new friendships. Be the end of the week we had a bunch of contact details in in NZ and more than a few offers to come stay. I even had one or two of the guys pushing me to move, with promises of jobs. It was a great feeling to be liked by such a great bunch after all that has happened with work an stuff, in the last little while.
After I had finished up top and Wyn Masters had left the start gate, I packed up the wind trainer and headed down the hill in the shuttle. I got back to the finish area in time to see the top fifteen or so riders come down the hill. I had been rooting for Mick Hannah all week, but the Saffer in me really wanted Greg to win. One of my first DH experiences was going to a Greg Minnaar Big Air camp and learning from the man himself about riding a downhill bike. He taught me a lot that weekend and he is a hero to me.”
Mick came down in a blisteringly fast time to take the hot seat from his fellow country man Jared Graves. He looked set for a win. Then Sam Hill crashed and then Greg came down. He was up in the first split and then back on the second. He had to make up time on the third and final section, and he DID. He crossed the line more than a second ahead and Mick could not hold back the disappointment.
There were still two riders to come down after Greg though, so he didn’t yet have it in the bag. Steve Smith crashed in the first corner and that left Gee Atherton to take it away from Greg. He seemed to be cruizing down in this run and took it way to safe. Gee crossed the line six seconds back on Minnaar’s time and that was it. The crowd went mad, Greg showed he was very emotional and the South African fans were ecstatic.
It was great to be there and witness history being made. Greg Minnaar now has more World Chaps medals than any other rider in history and with three golds, he equals the great Nico Vouilloz for wins. Greg has had an amazing career and it has been awesome for me to have witnessed so much of it.
Well done Greg AND Alasdair. You did good.