For the last couple of years I’ve been lucky enough to head over to Europe to race some rounds of the Mountain Bike World Cup. Stepping outside the community I normally race in in Colorado is a stark reminder of the high level our sport has now achieved, and the huge professionalism of the top riders and teams. The pit trucks are massive, taking crews a full day to set up and tear down. The crowds that arrive to watch the races are also vast, filling the hillsides around the XC track four-people deep, and fuelling themselves on beer and pretzels, and making lots of noise in the process.
While last year I raced in France and Germany in relatively dry conditions, it would not be the same this year. At the Vallnord, Andorra World Cup at the beginning of July, the rain fell gently all week leading into the race, making for mixed and variable conditions for our practice runs. On a 4-km racecourse, you would have thought there’s little time to get wet or cold, but it’s a different story in the mountains. I quickly noticed that I wasn’t the only person carrying a jacket in their back pocket. While waiting to session the Caldea’s Natural section on the Vallnord course, the rain started pouring, and the small collection of riders at the top pulled out their jackets and zipped up. I have a GORE® GORE®TEX SHAKEDRY jacket, and found it in good company – a trusty GORE® jacket quickly covered all those sponsor-clad jerseys when the weather really came in. I noticed jackets of all colours and thicknesses, with GORE® logos on almost every single one. It’s this ubiquity that has defined GORE®-TEX as the go-to material for cycling, and that’s still true at the top level in the XC field, too.
Next up on my short European adventure was the Lenzerheide World Cup. We arrived in Switzerland to glorious sunny skies and warm temperatures, but that wouldn’t last. The rooty and twisting course covered a mixture of steep downhills and rutted off camber climbs through the trees. While our practice days had been in the dry, the heavens opened on the evening before the race and barely let up. Being a privateer, my warm up took place on the road, with the other riders who had arrived without a team. The number plates belied our start positions – spinning along in the pouring rain, past the tents and trucks of the factory riders, who were quietly going about their own preparations in the dry. But again it was noticeable, lining up in the start pens to begin staging, that the majority of the riders were wearing a non-team issue GORE® jacket. It seems that, if you’re going to have a jacket that needs to be called into service at a moments notice, you need to trust it’s really going to keep you dry. And the majority of professional mountain bikers are placing that trust in GORE®.