Justin Leov takes us through his Tasmania EWS journey, it sounds like it was one hell of a ride, Justin must be left wondering when lady luck will shine down on him. Get well soon Justin!
With the mud-fest of Rotorua over it was time to jump the ditch to Tasmania and be greeted with dry conditions and some amazing trails, which everyone was excited to see.
Hopping off the plane and straight away I had my first chance to walk two of the stages and what I saw reminded me of my DH days. Rock gardens which would be wheel breakers, lots of line choices in parts and a good mixture of technical and physical riding, we would see it all this weekend. I was pretty excited. Coming home that afternoon from the first track walk I wasn't feeling super flash and could feel a cold coming on. Unknown to me this would be a super bug and completely wipe me out for 3 days of nothing but bed rest.
Missing my chance to walk all the remaining courses, I switched my focus to getting better as best as I could, before training was due to kick off. I needed to give my body the opportunity to get some life back into it. My energy levels were on zero and a relentless fever was making sleeping rather difficult.
As the race grew closer the weather forecast was starting to get worse and Sunday was looking more and more like a disaster, with heavy rain and thunderstorms forecasted. It would be a double downer and I didn't look forward to having to be racing in the rain for 7 hours after being bed ridden with the flu. These are the moments when being a professional sportsperson isn't all it seems to be from the outside. I would however, do the best I could with the situation and try at least to get some points on the board.
For race day there were three stages in the morning before we could see the tech zone, then the remaining 4 stages to finish in the afternoon. This one tech stop after stage 3 was to be our only access to food and water, other than two bottles of 350ml water supplied by the EWS and what we could carry. Our tech zone time would be 20 minutes only, so with a wet race that meant trying to get fresh eyewear while trying to eat, drink and repack fluid and food into our drenched backpacks for the next 4 hours of racing.
I was coughing a lot through the day and with each stage finish I achieved my goals of giving it my all. I knew I wasn't on pace with how I felt and how my energy was, but I was racing with the same commitment I would normally put in when I'm healthy…though I was just getting by. Liaison times were steady so it was a matter of watching the clock and getting enough time to dry out goggles or clean lenses and make sure fluid and food was also being taken care of.
To finish this race I was glad to see the final time check and get off the bike. I was depleted physically and ready to get back to NZ and healthy again. It was a real battle to stay out in those conditions and not give up. That thought crossed my mind a lot over the day. It really was a day well earned by anyone who finished (just like two weeks ago in Rotorua).
I’m now back in NZ and have given myself pneumonia in one of my lungs from the effort, so it's time to put my feet up and rest before I can think about training or racing. Let's hope Madeira has more fun in store for the racers than what the Southern Hemisphere has delivered. Onward and upward!
Words by Justin Leov and Photos by Sebastian Schieck.