2009 World Cup Round One - Practice and Qualifying

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2009 World Cup Round One - Practice and Qualifying

Post by ATO on Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:35 am

Apr 10, 2009

The World Cup has often been likened to a circus with all its fanfare and hype. This year, with eight rounds stretching across three continents; North America, Europe & Africa, a fourth if you include the World Champs in Australia, it is more than ever that circus and it starts this weekend.

*Qualifying Video INSIDE*
Kicking it all off this weekend is a long haul for virtually all but the current World Cup champion, Greg Minnaar, with a trip to Pietermaritzburg in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. After we threatened to hide his bikes, regular World Cup racer Tom Braithwaite agreed to keep us up to date with goings on in the southern hemisphere as he travels out there for this weekend's race, the first installment of which we have here. No stranger to those who race in the UK, Tom has signed to ride with 23 Degrees/Trek for 2009 and will be campaigning in all rounds of the World Cup onboard a Session 88.

Day 1:
Travel and Squid Wrestling

As I sit here in Johannesburg airport, waiting for a connecting flight to Durban, it’s hard for me to believe that I’m in Africa to ride my bike. It’s even harder to believe the kind of distant crazy places the plane has just flown us over. I was thinking… “There are people living in mud huts down there!” It’s a place that’s as famous for it’s dangerous reputation as it is it’s stunning scenery. I think everyone who comes for the 1st time has to listen to the horror stories from friends, of being mugged and “what to do if you get ambushed” rules. I’m hoping this is a large misconception. If every stabbing that happens in the UK was advertised around the World, maybe people feel the same anticipation stepping out of Heathrow. I’ll be on my guard just to be on the safe side though. I’ll also be checking my bed every night, after the rather graphic description on the plane by a Dutch wildlife photographer of how bad it would be if I were bitten by a Black Mamba snake.

“They’re not called a one cigarette snake for nothing!” he exclaimed. “Why’s that”? I ask. “Because you only have time to smoke a cig before you’re dead”! I don’t even smoke! Hopefully I’ll have my iPod with me. This is from the same guy who called racing downhill “as dangerous as squid wrestling” though, so I’ll let you make up your own mind of accurate his perception of danger is.

So, here we are, the World Cup circuit has mobilized for another season of antics, and I’m sure there will be plenty of them with 8 rounds to go at this year. One race at a time for me though and after the drama trying to book the bikes through to Durban I’ll be happy enough just to see my bike bags sat in the oversized baggage pick-up on the other side!

Cheers, Tom B

Video: http://www.pinkbike.com/video/69952/
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ATO
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