The VTT Departmental Championships are being held in St Junien this year, just 10mins away. Plus, just like any other year, the host club gives riders a couple of chances to make a reconnaissance of the circuit 3 and 1 week ahead of the race. This is great because it you can tailor your last minute training to suit.
Last Saturday was the first of two dates for St Junien, and as it was dry, I went along, yeah, so did just about everyone!
First lap is ridden en masse, with St Junien riders explaining anything that needs explaining. After that you’re free to do as many laps as you like.
Right, the start is fast, very fast. There’s a 200metre straight away before doubling back along the top of a steep escarpment. Next a fast descent down to the riverside, we’ll be like lemmings on the day.
Heading downstream over fast rocky ground, then sharp right past some old mills, then hook left, right, and onto the first climb. It’s not steep, but at race pace it’s gonna be tough, and lasts about 3 minutes. There’s a brief respite before climbing again. A short descent, then 90 left onto a very steep ramp 100metres to the top. Traction is key here, lose it and you’ll waste a lot of energy. Over the top, through a dip and onto the second ramp, not quite as steep, but slightly longer.
Still climbing, but only just, we cross the bridge over the Limoges-Angoulême road. A sharp right, another short climb, and we’re at the top of the circuit. The next few kms are mostly downhill, and very fast. Arriving back at the river, we turn right then wind our way along the valley side on sweet singletrack.
Almost home now, just two steep ramps to complete the 9km lap. These are tough. You wouldn’t want to be in a ‘head to head’ here. That would hurt!
So, sighting lap done, I do the next 2 laps with Jerome and the flying Baborier brothers. These boys are fast, I’m sure we’re going faster than race pace. Yeah, we must be, ‘cos the third lap the pace is a bit more sensible.
To sum the course up. Very fast, not overly technical, though you’ll need to be skillful to ride it superfast. It’s dry at the moment, and due to the rocky ground it could take a fair bit of rain and still be quick. A course for the strong and the brave. 🙂