Professional mountain biker Katy Curd is one busy lady. She’s raced a World Cup, competed in her first Enduro event and been crowned the 4X World Champion – and she’s done it all in the last three weeks. Here’s her story of racing 3 different bikes across 3 weekends.
“Three consecutive weekends, 3 World Cup level events, 3 different bikes and a whole lot of travelling.
Until someone pointed it out, it hadn’t occurred to me that my race plans this year were a complete miss-match of events. Downhill, 4X and Enduro all thrown together in one crazy race schedule for the summer. I’ve always loved being busy and I love a challenge, but as I set off for an eight-week road trip it dawned on my just how hard it was going to be.
Weekend 1 – The Fort William Downhill World Cup
Location: Fort William, Scotland
Bike: Rose The Unchained downhill bike
Discipline: MTB DH
I didn’t really know what to expect from this event. After having 3 years off downhill racing I didn’t want to set my expectations too high, but at the same time I always want to push myself.
My first goal was to qualify, meaning a top 20 result which I was honestly unsure if I would manage. I was feeling great during practice but as always the biggest goal for me at the Fort is holding on for a full run! I managed to scrap a 14th place in qualies even with a big crash during my run, so I was actually pretty happy. It even left me feeling confident for a top ten result for the final.
Leaving the start hut in the finals run was mental! The entire way down the track was lined with people going wild and there wasn’t one moment where it was silent. It’s true when they say that the fans at Fort William really do make the event. My final run was feeling really good. Then, before I knew it, with an explosion of disappointment I hit a huge rock and punctured my tyre. Race over.
I was gutted, but looking back on the race, it was great fun and I’m so glad to be back racing downhill.
Weekend 2 – The 4X World Championships
Location: Leogang, Austria
Bike: Rose Bruce 4X bike
Discipline: 4X MTB
With my switch this year from 4X to Downhill, 4X world champs was kind of at the back of my mind. But I lost out on getting those rainbow World Champion stripes last year, and I realised I really couldn’t let it go. I wanted that World Champion title more than anything.
That said, I hadn’t really thought about the event until I actually got there, as I’d been so busy focussing on training and racing downhill. As soon as I arrived, it dawned on me how much getting that title meant to me. This year though felt different too; I was so much more relaxed and just enjoying riding a lot more.
Last year I threw everything away in qualies so I was determined to get a good qualifying run. As I left the gate I was relaxed and had a good feeling but dropping off the second corner I burped the air out of my tire and ended up rolling everything I was previously jumping. I qualified 3rd which meant I had my work cut out for racing.
Come race day I think its fair to say the nerves had hit me. I was bouncing off the walls in anticipation to just get racing. My first 2 heats went pretty smoothly and I was through to the finals. Sat up the top of hill waiting to be called to the start gate I was stuck in my little bubble. I blanked out everything and everyone around me, and just tried to think about that gate dropping.
When we finally got called, I sat looking down the first straight and I laughed to myself at the thought that in 40 seconds, 1 of the 4 of us sat on the gate will be crowned World Champion, literally a dream for all of us.
Riders ready, watch the gate…the gate dropped. I shot out the gate level with Anneke, both level down the first straight but Anneke shot out ahead out the first corner. Failing miserably at trying to keep calm, I followed behind Anneke thinking of every possible line to try make a move. As we came over the bridge I saw Anneke pull left after the first pro line.
None of us had practiced the 2nd jump but as Anneke pulled over to smaller line I saw my opportunity. As I saw the World Champs jersey riding away from me before I knew it I was up in the air pulling up on a jump that I had no idea if I was even going to make.
I came in to land I landed just ahead of Anneke and shot into the lead around the last corner. At this point I was literally going wild in my head thinking ‘This is it, I am World Champ!’ I soon switched back to reality though and quickly came back to thinking ‘Concentrate, I need to cross that line to make this happen, stay calm’. Staying calm…possibly the hardest task ever in that situation with only 30 metres away from the finish l
As I rode over the last jump I pedalled like my life depended on it. I had done it, I crossed the line and everything became a big blur. I am World Champion! I couldn’t and still really can’t believe it. Something I have worked so hard for and wanted for so long had finally happened: World Champion!
Weekend 3 – The Enduro World Series
Location: Valloire, France
Bike: Rose Granite Chief
Discipline: MTB Enduro
Still on a high from the Leogang we headed down to Valloire to race what would be my first ever World Enduro race.
I was more nervous about this than I was about 4x worlds, as I just had no idea what to expect. Every Enduro race seems to be different and has a different format. This one sounded like it suited me down to the ground, as it was all lift assisted, with no practice days so everyone is on a level playing field, and some descent downhill style tracks.
The stages were great, fun natural tracks but I soon found out I didn’t have the endurance to hold on for 20-minute runs. The brutal tracks were relentlessly rough and being at altitude didn’t help things either. After the first day of racing on the Saturday I had seriously never felt so beaten up. I wasn’t even that tired, but my arms were just in so much pain from trying to hold on all day I was struggling to clean my teeth at night!
Come Sunday morning, I had never felt so sorry for myself that I had to ride a bike. Struggling to even hold the bars I took myself up to stage 3 and ‘tried’ to ride the practice run. It was one of the best stages and trails I had rode but I just wasn’t enjoying it. I was wobbling through sections knowing I could ride them 10 times faster if I was fresh and thinking any minute I going to cause myself to crash.
I finally made it to the bottom and despite it going against every bone in my body I had to call it a day. I knew if I carried on it would end in tears. I was so gutted not to be able to finish but at the same time knew it was the right decision. I have so much more respect for the guys at the top of this sport; it’s such a hard event and takes so much varied skill to race. It really takes a great all round rider to win one of these things.
That was it done and dusted, 3 weekends, 3 different events, 3 bikes and one hell of a beaten up rider afterwards. The World Champs jersey obviously topped off the 3 weeks but all together I couldn’t of asked for a better trip away. Great riding, great company and some amazing places visited along the way.
No matter what the event and the result at the end of the day, it’s been a great experience and I can’t wait for the next few weeks of racing.”
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