Monday, April 21, 2008

Fruit filled waffles and Racing

How do they get the fruit filling inside the waffles? I’m not sure, but they’re delicious.

I arrived in Frankfurt Germany on Thursday and met up with Georgia, Katerina, Zeph, Waldek and Georgia’s mom Susan and partner Bo at the airport. From there we drive to Houffalize through German and Belgian country side. Houffalize is a small town with cobbled streets and stone houses. We rented a place outside of town in Cologne. It’s a great house with a wood fireplace, deer in the back yard and an overly friendly jack Russell next store.

It felt more like fall than spring when we arrived and I was regretting that I hadn’t packed my winter gloves as we did our road spin into Houffalize.

Day 2 we rode into Houffalize and hoped on the course for some easy laps. The course is fun with lots of climbing up streets and trails and multiple line descents through the woods. On the way home we picked up some fruit filled waffles (cherry and peach) and some tarts to go with dinner. I don’t know how European towns support so many bakeries, but it’s great!

Day 3 we again headed to the course. The venue is starting to get really busy, but we’ve got some space with the Orbea team so all is good. I just do one lap today. It rained last night and the course conditions have really deteriorated. At each descent there are 15 people overanalyzing the lines by standing right where we want to ride down. I hate stopping at descents, I’d rather just roll them and not let my head get in the way. I get grumpy as I feel worse and less confident on the course than the day before. I just want to be able to link it up nicely, but there are so many people. After a lap I head home on the road and the time away from the crowds puts my head back in a good place.


Race Day

Last night was a full moon. That has to be good for the Luna Team right? I had a great sleep and am excited to get the World cup season going. We get to the venue early and Katerina and I head out to check out the start loop. The constant drizzle yesterday has made the course really mucky and greasy, but Zeph has Medusa mud tires set up for us and I’m feeling confident on my bike.

This is the biggest women’s field I have ever raced. 130 women are at the line and everyone is hoping to prove themselves worthy of an Olympic spot. I warm up on the trainer. After yesterday’s experience with crowds I need to be able to keep my head straight and focus on warming up my legs which feel disgusting.

I get called up in 19th position, just ahead of Gunn Rita. Georgia, Katerina and Kiara are just in front of me and Sandra, Mical, Wendy and Amanda in the box behind. The gun goes off and we are speeding up a steep paved climb. Sandra has a wicked start and is in the top 5. I’m holding my own and catch up to Kiara and Wendy before the descent. I hit the woods in the top 10 (I think or close to it). My goal was to have as few people in front of me as possible because with the course conditions there was going to be lots of mistakes and I didn’t want to be loosing too much time to the leaders. Nearing the end of the start loop I caught up to Sandra and came through in about 6th. Next lap I worked my way up to Kalentieva and Gunn Rita. Most people would smartly think at this point that they should settle in as it will be a longer than normal race. Not me though. I think hmm I can go harder than this so I ride like a rookie just going hard without much of a plan because I can (at that moment) and drag two world champions around the course.

By 2.5-3 laps I’m starting to suffer. Georgia and Marie Helene catch me and I can’t stick with them. From there I switched to survival mode and just tried to not give up too much. I ended up loosing 7 positions in the last lap falling from 6th to 13th.

I’m still happy with my race though. I know I can ride with the best, I just have to be smarter about my pacing. I felt good technically and know that more time getting settled into the time zone will have me feeling stronger. I gave up a lot of positions, but you can’t loose anything if you haven’t tried for more. 2 years ago I would have lost 6.5minutes to the leader in one lap rather than over the course of a 2hr17 race, so I held it together pretty well. There are just so many women out there capable of closing a gap when weakness is shown.

Georgia finished 5th and Katerina 25th as she comes back from her knee injury. With my 13th we claimed the top women’s mtb team position and were called to the podium where we were given some of the local beer (which comes in 1.5 l bottles).

Marie Helene was 3rd, Kiara finished 20 seconds off me in 14th, Sandra finished 25th,Wendy simms 26th, Amanada in 38th and Mical top 60. Mical had stomach flu all last week and said her body just gave up on her mid race. That seemed a common theme this weekend with the mud, long race and first WC of the season there were a lot of spectacular bonks.

We’re hanging out in Belgium until Thursday when we’ll drive to Offenburg. I get plate 13 next weekend….Good thing I’m a ¼ Italian and 13’s a lucky number there. I think it’s going to be great and another epic battle for the front.

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