We're all at the World Cups for the same reason, to win. But while that is the guiding light in our racing endeavors, you might not learn so much from a win. It's in the defeats, the mistakes, the hard to swallow pills where the real lessons are learnt. The lessons that then all culminate together in that top of the box moment when all of the stars align. And there's a lot of stars.
The French are outstanding at bakeries and bike racing. We certainly got our fill of croissants, but nothing could quite prepare us for the week that came, culminating in a race that had the ground shaking as a French rider went green at a split.
Lourdes was our very first World Cup and with it came a lot of learnings. While Luke and KJ unfortunately didn't make it into the final, the speed and confidence is definitely there with Luke less than a second off making the cut for the final. KJ's confidence in the racing environment is growing every time she gets between the tape. Many a lesson from our time in Portugal was implemented and it was clear to see the process coming together.
With a lot still to explore and figure out, we are over the moon that the riders are feeling comfy so early on with the bikes and that they took all the abuse from a seriously rough track in their stride. The RAAW DH bike is a toolbox, and we're looking forward to diving into and playing around with the tools we have at our disposal to help adapt the bikes to the different racing conditions that will be coming as we make our way through the season.
The best practice for racing World Cups is racing World Cups. No where else are the bikes ridden as fast in the pressure cooker race environment. And we walk away from Lourdes with many a tech detail to get out and test, many a push up to do, but more than that, we leave with even more hunger to succeed. It's an addictive feeling, and we head into a long break before Fort William with more test camps planned as well as a British National round to prepare for when the World Cup circus rolls into the Scottish Highlands in May.
We're also really looking forward to Ryan and Douglas being back to full health and coming out swinging in Scotland, a track that they know like the back of their hand.
It was also a pleasure to put the bike out there at the event, and the response from fellow teams, racers and the public was heart-warming. While we're not arriving in a pit setup that could rival some rural villages in size, we're stoked to have Lourdes under our belt, that first time round the process. Now we just need to contain our excitement to do it all again.
Photos: Ross Bell