Windham is not a resort town as you would think of it. It is more of a small country town amidst a hilly rolling country side. There are no major highway in, no major hotels, and no big chain restaurants. Friday Night I arrived at the “hotel”. A large farm house that has been retro fitted to be a Bed and Breakfast. The dining room is a place that feels like home with some cluttered table and other tenants bikes leaned about. There was a strong feeling of staying at a friend’s house. Two of the other tenants are women’s World Cup Pros and more than will to shoot the breeze.
The atmosphere for a World Cup event is awesome. The first thing I noticed on Saturday is the sear size of the event. The Worlds Cup Pro pits for both XC and DH are foot of the Ski resort. This is back dropped by a large resort and a general level of busyness from everyone. There is activity in all directions. Downhill guys are doing practice runs, Pro XC guys are warming up, and everyone else is either registering, checking in, or generally mingling in the event.
Saturday was race day for Citizen DH and Pro XC. That left me as a spectator free to wander the Ski hill and see how rough the course was going to be for me on Sunday. What a topographical fails to show is that 550 ft of climbing in 2 miles is a lot. It is close to triple the height of my last race at Cannonsburg. It is easy to lie to yourself and say it’s not going to be that bad a little as you watch the pro’s effortlessly climb the hill. Additionally what you cannot see from Michigan is the very dusty loose silt that piles over the rocky descents.
Race day started really early. The race was at 8am. That made for and early morning. My legs felt good as I prepped my bottles and started my warm up. The way that they set up the course for the worlds included a lot of gravel road climbs across the face of the ski hill. That is how the race started with a drag race up a gravel road. Then you would duck into the wood and navigate a technical rock section all slightly up hill. It took me a few laps to get use to riding large flat tippy rocks covered in dusty silt. They give us a countdown we charged up the hill. Three of us got away and then it strung out as we made are way up the long climb. The first few laps it was hard to find a manageable pace and the laps hurt. The two that was riding with made a push and got away. The last laps I rode solo trying to gain back some ground and make my way around slower lapped riders. In the end I made the third stick.