Straight from injury rehab to Crankworx Innsbruck and Val Di Sole World Cup!

Straight from injury rehab to Crankworx Innsbruck and Val Di Sole World Cup!

Leading up to my trip I was unsure whether I’d be able to ride at the first couple of events. I broke a few bones in my wrist shooting a video, 2 months before my flight and at first the doctors were saying I would be getting my cast off the day before I flew out…
I did everything I could to get it healing fast!
At the halfway check-up, my cast was so beaten up and broken that they just cut it off thinking it had been 8 weeks. Initially, the doctor said I would have to get a new one for the next 4 weeks. After consulting with the head doctor and looking at my x-rays she decided that I was healed and didn’t even need a splint or guard!
I got straight into rehab work with only 4 weeks until the qualifying day at Crankworx.
After our flight, we drove straight from Munich over to Innsbruck and got all the bikes built up. The next day was a full practice day for Dual Slalom as well as Speed and Style, which I was stoked about! I was keen to feel the wrist out and see how it would handle the vibrations and impacts. Slalom practice was good, I was feeling quick considering I had only had a few chill rides at home before flying over and this had me so pumped for speed and style training. I just wanted to ride the course and get through it being the first day, by the end of training I had flipped and spun both features and the wrist was feeling good!
On day 2 we had a few practice sessions, DH track walk, Slalom qualifying and Slalom racing.
The speed and style practice session went really well and I landed my first front flip to dirt since my crash that broke my wrist and had linked the whole course together really well.
For the rest of the afternoon, it was Slalom racing. I was feeling good on the course but had a few crashes pushing too hard, probably due to lack of bike time leading into it. One of them was right before my qualifying run which caused me to feel a bit hesitant so ended up qualifying back in the mid 20’s. First round of 32 was really good, the run was the best yet and I won the heat! I just had to stay rubber-side down for the second round but I crashed and took myself out for the rest of the night's racing. I was a bit bummed but stoked to know the speed was there and I just had to hold it together.
It was finally Speed and style day!
Practice, qualies, heats and finals were all on the same day which meant you could get in a good flow. The practice session went really well and I did everything I needed to. I had a good qualifying run slotting into 8th, with still a couple more tricks in the bag. I was so pumped to be there after not even riding features that size since Rotorua Crankworx in New Zealand because of injuries.
In the round of 32, I had the advantage of qualifying higher. The first heat went perfectly doing my two base tricks and taking the win on speed as well. In the second heat, I came into the first feature too quickly and over-rotated my 360, hitting the deck hard. It took the wind out of me and I had to crawl off the course. That one beat me up a fair bit, my shoulder was all bruised up and my wrist was a little stiff but still intact. I just chilled for the rest of the day and watched the rest of the racing.
Pump track the following day was pretty challenging after the crashes the days before. I showed up and did qualifying and landed in 20th. Unfortunately I didn’t make it past the round of 32 but I turned my focus straight to DH training. I went up and did some practice laps with Ellie and sussed the track out. The body felt surprisingly better on the Downhill bike. I got two practice laps in and it was straight into qualifying which I just treated like another top to bottom practice run and landed in 54th.

Sunday was Downhill race day and man was I keen!
The body was feeling better after another good night's sleep and a pretty chill day prior, so I was keen to give the race run a crack. I did another two practice laps in the morning and then it was race run time. My race run was so fun, I was smiling the whole way down! I had a pretty big moment at about halfway almost launching myself off the side of one of the bridges but managed to hang on to it right to the bottom. I bumped myself up a bunch of spots into 39th and I was happy with that, especially with so little practice and a big moment.

And just like that Crankworx Innsbruck was done and dusted!

World Cup at Val Di Sole here we come..
We started our road trip down to Italy the following morning for the next World Cup at Val Di Sole. I was super keen for this as I’d never been down into that part of Europe before.
The scenery was amazing the whole way driving through Austria and into the Italian Alps and the Dolomites.
It’s amazing the places you get to see through riding bikes!
We had a couple of chill days when we got into Val Di Sole before the track walk, which was good to catch up on a bit of admin and let the body recover after a big week at Crankworx.
Track walk was cool, they had done a bunch of work to the track putting probably thousands of tones of dirt down to bring it back up to ground level. It looked like a super fun track!
I ended up in A practice with the plate number I got, so was lucky enough to not have to be one of the guys wearing the track in. A lot of lines had formed by the time I got up on the hill and a bunch of the fresh dirt had already been blown out. It was like riding on powder I’d never felt anything like it!
Practice was good and I got a lot of my lines dialled in, punching out a bunch of laps despite all the red and yellow flags.

There was a 4X at Val Di Sole and I’d always wanted to race one, that night after practice I did qualifying and ended up in 16th and was through to race the next night after downhill qualifying.
Downhill qualifying day was so fun, we’d had a bit of rain over night and the track had bed in nicely. My two practice laps were done at a really good time and I was keen to do a race run!
I got to the top of the track ready for racing and had a good warm up, my body was feeling the best it could after the previous weeks racing and I was ready
!
My quali run was wild but controlled apart from one section where a massive hole had formed and I bottomed my fork out and got bounced off line but managed to hang onto it and got to the bottom alive. I was buzzed finishing my first downhill World Cup in one piece and placing a bunch of spots higher than my plate number by a bunch of spots!
119th doesn’t sound like much but all the guys are riding so quick and I really wouldn’t call my self a downhill racer so I was happy with this result!

Next up for the evening was 4X, it was a late one with racing not starting until 9pm under lights. In my first heat I had Thomas Slavik who went on to win the night and one other guy. I got a good gate and slipped right in behind Slavik and was holding his pace. Coming out of one of the turns I put power down and slipped my foot off the pedal and rode my top tube off the next jump, I didn’t crash but it slowed me up enough to lose my position and I wasn’t able to get back.
Even though the night didn’t go as planned it was still a super good time and I’m keen as to race another 4X if the opportunity presents itself again!
We hung around for the next day and watched the downhill finals and the following morning made our way back to Munich to get our flight to Canada!
We’re now living out of a U-haul van riding the bike parks and getting ready for the next round of Crankworx in Whistler.

Stay tuned for the next part of the adventures!

- Duke Millington

 

 

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