• Mariske Strauss

XCE World Cup- Leh, IND

India, what an experience, a bit scarred, and not sure if it was just me but traveling in India with a bike seems to be quite the story! But we made it to Leh so all's well that ends well I suppose.


Firstly for those of you that don’t know. Leh is a surprisingly big city at a crazy high 3500m situated in the Himalayan mountain range I was not sure what to expect. I half expected it to be a very tiny quaint mountain town filled with mostly Monks and some goats, but to my surprise, it was a booming city. No goats but a lot of cows and stray dogs.


The trip to get to Leh was a long one. We traveled from Indonesia via Bangkok to New Dehli where we had to catch a flight the following morning to Leh. With half of the athlete's baggage that stayed in Bangkok, we spent the night waiting in the baggage terminal, luckily everything arrived on the next flight, and luckily we had time before departure to Leh.


Now on arrival, you are strongly advised to take it VERY easy for at least 24hrs after arrival. Made sense and my body were so tired from the travel there, I couldn’t have done much even if I wanted to. The following day we had free reign to explore and naturally I had to go ride the highest motorized road in the world. We made it to 4100m before deciding it was probably enough for one day ;).


With India being a 3rd world country I was really skeptical, there was no track two days before the race and with the race in the middle of town, there were a lot of variables, from stray dogs and cows to street vendors to the general public. I had faith that we would have a track race ready come race day, and thankfully we did!

Besides the altitude the surface was mostly these super slick cobbles, aesthetically very pleasing but racing on them was, well, interesting. But luckily we were all in the same boat, thankfully I had my LEATT elbow and knee guards so I had that going for me ;).

The race start was a bit confusing with everyone slightly unsure what was happening and ended up being 5min earlier than planned. I made my run and qualified 3rd, starting to get the hang of this I think.

I made it all the way to the finals with lungs that were already feeling like they were exploding. We lined up for the finals and I got boxed in the start so lying 4th into the first corner I was calm, I knew that the climb to the finish straight was where I had to make my move and I laid down some Watts, although at 3500m the thought of an effort already pushed your heart rate into the max, so actually doing it … well it definitely had a great afterburn effect. I managed to move up and it felt like I just needed another 100m, but that’s all I had in me so second place for me this round. This was better than last week and fired up for the next opportunity come Sunday!


The next race will be in Paris under… wait for it … the Eiffel Tower! I have always wanted to go to Paris, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would race under the Eiffel Tower, so beyond excited to head to France, and also eat some non-spicey food! Haha I love myself some curry but after two weeks of just having spicy food I am really excited to have something plain ;)… actually, I would bite a child for a braai right about now, but I won’t though…promise.


I am super impressed with my LIV Pique, this bike honestly is amazing, Blu is still going strong and one more race before heading back to the African Skies ;)



Thanks for all the amazing support and well done to the organizers that helped make this world cup possible, you had a lot of challenges and for a first-time event in the middle of the Himalayan Mountains… well done!


Lots of love,

M

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