EWS Val di Fassa | Liv Racing Report

with RAE MORRISON

Just a couple of days after racing in Austria-Slovenia, Rae Morrison of the Liv Racing Collective was back on her bike in the Dolomites. A staple on the Enduro World Series circuit, Val di Fassa is renowned for it’s loamy tracks and stunning views. Conditions were prime for this year’s race, and after a shakedown Thursday and practice Friday, Rae was eager to set tires to dirt on Saturday’s pro stage. Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan that day with a front flat near the top of the course. Still, Rae pressed on during Sunday’s stages to pull back time and finish 11th for the weekend. We caught up with Rae to learn a little bit more about what went down behind the scenes in Canazei, Italy.

Rae Morrison in Canazei, Italy

Liv: Last year, the season began in Val di Fassa with a double-header where you got two top-10 finishes. What were you looking forward to ahead of this race? What were your goals for this round?

Rae: I was going into the weekend wanting a good result, I’m always after the single digits, especially after doing well here in the past. I felt pretty good compared to last week – my cold had passed, and my body was feeling much better.

Liv: What were the conditions like? What are some characteristics of the tracks in Canazei?

Rae: Being in the Alps, we had almost daily thunderstorms roll through the valley, so I was expecting a very slippery, wet race. We were super lucky though, no rain the night before meant practice was slippery, but everything dried up in time for the race. The tracks are very physical with a lot of flat, pedally sections which were made a bit harder being at altitude.

Rae Morrison Val di Fassa

Liv: On Saturday's pro stage, you suffered a front flat near the top of the course. Describe how the flat happened and your mindset as you continued to ride down the course.

Rae: Yes unfortunately, it was my first flat in years at a race. It was the third corner in, I was late to enter a highline on a right-hand corner which meant I was slightly off my line. When I came back down onto the mainline, I landed on something sharp. There was an immediate ‘ppshhhhhh’ as the air left the tire. My immediate thought was not a nice word, it was my own fault for a bad line choice, but still devastating feeling the race was over before it began. There was four minutes left on the stage. I made the quick decision to try to ride it down, I am not a great runner, and the tire was still sealed to the rim, it felt like I still had 5psi in the tire. I rode slow and carefully to protect the rim, if the rim broke, I incur a 5-minute penalty which would be impossible to come back from. I rode over the back on the bike more, trying to unweight the front, and only used the back brake. I managed to get down the track and only lose about 30 seconds, which is a lot of time, but I could have easily lost minutes if I didn’t ride smart.

Liv: In 31st after the first stage, you steadily pulled back time with each stage on Sunday, culminating with a 7th on the final stage. Did each of the stages go to plan on Sunday? How did you stay calculated to jump 20 places from the previous day?

Rae: After the pro stage I honestly thought my race was over and I was devastated. Once I got back to the accommodation, Jesse and I started crunching numbers and realised I could make up a lot of positions if I had a good day on Sunday. I put Saturday behind me and set a challenge to see how many positions I could make up. I was consistent throughout the day, then on the last stage I knew it was my last chance and I wanted to give it everything and have nothing left at the finish line.

Rae Morrison in Val di Fassa

Liv: There were a lot of emotions when you crossed the finish line in 11th, how did it feel to have such a successful day on the bike?

Rae: Lots of emotions at the finish line. I didn’t have any big expectations after the pro stage, so I was pretty blown away by being able to make up 20 places. It’s been quite frustrating this block of racing as I’m not where I want to be in terms of results after a really good offseason. I had a lot of setbacks with illness, crashes, injuries and mechanicals with this first block of racing, so I think I had mixed emotions with frustration but also of relief that with all the adversity, I’m still around that top 10. I still feel I have a lot of unfinished business, and I am looking forward to the next block of racing in North America.

Liv: What are your plans for the next month before the next EWS round in Whistler?  

Rae: We flew straight to Canada! It’s the first time we’ve been able to go to Canada since before the Pandemic, so I’m very excited to be able to visit North America again. I’m doing a little road trip around BC to have fun on the bike and build my tolerance for braking bumps again (haha) and then we will head to Whistler for the EWS.

All photos by Sven Martin Photography.

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