Monday, May 28, 2007

Living it up

After arriving on Tuesday in Zurich I was again packed and ready to move on to Germany on Thursday. Sandra and I lucked out with our rental car. They were out of VW Golfs so we got to take an Audi A3. It was a beautiful car. Everything just felt smooth

It took us less than 3 hours to get to Offenburg and that was only because I failed as navigator at a crucial moment. Offenburg, literally translates to Open Castle and is the Gate to Germany’s Black Forest where they boast over 4000km of cycling paths and trails. From Offenburg we drove a couple minutes to the township of Rammerswier, the site of our race, and then further along to Durbach. Along with fellow Canadians Wendy and Kris we had rented the upper floor of a house for 49 euro a night. Pretty sweet deal. Our little apartment was only a 10 minute bike ride from the course. Durbach is known for its great wine especially Riesling. A local winery supplies sample bottles for guests at all local hotels.

First impressions of the race course were good. The course was about 95% wooded with at least 4 intimidating chutes and a couple drops. There was a steepish open climb on the start loops and some rough grassy sections to separate riders initially and then the technical sections and a deceptively long climb that wove in and out of the woods and onto brief open road sections. The soil type was such that rain would make it a bit greasy, but not disgusting and the large amount of canopy would also help.

Thursday night we all awoke to huge claps of thunder and pelleting rain. An inspection of the course next day however revealed that it could withstand a night time shower quite well. My Kenda Karmas were perfect for the conditions. Friday and Saturday were dry, but it was hot going up to 33 degrees and extremely humid. I rode from the course to our lodging with a back pack on and immediately had to strip off my soggy close and grab a cold shower. It was gross.

Thursday Sandra and I headed into Old Offenburg. The streets were all cobbled and closed to cars which made strolling around and checking out all of the markets, shops and bakeries a treat. If only they could get the tobacco free laws in place here. We were constantly dodging cigarettes and couldn’t eat inside. We made the wonderful discovery that an ice coffee here was coffee with a scoop of ice cream in it! That night I tried my first dish of Highland cow served up with some gnocci. The meat is lean and tasty.

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