Monday, January 28, 2008

The European adventure is over! Monday, January 28, 2008

You know you have been away from home too long when you would rather be sitting on a plane going home instead of spending one more day in Italy. It wouldn't have been so bad, had it not been for the lack of sleep (you try sharing a twin bed with Tim) and the early wake up calls. Amy, my roomie was up before 4, departing at 4:30 and we were up at 6:15, departing at 7. But, I got all of my stuff to the airport and safely stored overnight and got Tim off. I thought I was off to have a nice day in Venice, meeting Patrick at noon in San Marco square. I just had to drop my final bag off at the hotel. It should have been easy...
Well, a long bus ride to the train station, only to find out that the next train was in over 2 hours found me in a very expensive cab. I thought my problems were solved, but then I find out that the trains into Venice are very regular except between 11 and 1. I had just missed the 11:00 train, so I was waiting until one. As if Patrick would wait that long. So, I spent 3-4 hours in Venice myself, walking the streets, re-visiting the city after 16 years. Not much had changed, but it was beautiful weather and a glorious day. I was pretty tired, so come pizza, coffee, gelato and I was set. Patrick was still missing, but eventually that evening, he knocked on the hotel door and had found his way. I wasn't too worried. I am excited to be heading home.

At least our good bye this time was only for 2 days.
My noon meeting place with Patrick.
Karneval is in full force. Next week is the real party.
Definitely a more refined Mardi Gras.
The pigeons of Saint Marks square. I don't really care for pigeons.
Typical Venice. View from Ponte di Rialto.

The 'streets' of Venice.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

CX WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Treviso, Italy, Sunday, January 27, 2008


It is quite a surreal experience to be riding in the world championships as part of team USA. It is a huge event with fans from every country. Definitely a venue to take pride in your country and represent. As a team, except for Katie, who couldn't ride, we rode to the venue from the hotel at 9 a.m. and did a lap. The course was in excellent condition in the morning, still frozen and totally fast. That would all change by our start time at 11 a.m. I got my tire pressure dialed in, had the mechanic insist on replacing my brake cable on my pit bike, and sat on the trainer to get a good warm up in. The warm up must have been good, because the best part of my race was my start. My line up was 24th, so the last person in the third row, but the grid in Europe is more like a mess of riders pushing in where they can. I was smart and went to the right hand side. I had a great start and found myself in the top 5 in the first few minutes of the race and then in the chase group that formed of 12 people. That didn't last long. I had my first crash of many. No matter what tires I had or what pressure I had, I couldn't seem to keep the bike upright and the funny thing is I crashed on the same corner over and over again. And it couldn't have been in a worse spot. Always right before where all the Cross Crusaders were standing. But at least they were encouraging and cheered me on anyways.
The race was fun, despite my lack of performance. It was an amazing experience and one that I will never forget. Of course I wish I could have rode better, because my legs felt great, but it is over. I have had an amazing season and one to build on. I am looking forward to pursuing a spot on the team again next year! Hoogerheide here I come!

Riding my heart out! When I wasn't falling.
My number one fan! Check that Butler guy out!
Up the stairs.

I didn't fall like on the stairs like Sven.

The masses of people.

Shannon & Todd, two of the greatest fans!

Patrick and Tim are all smiles.
The camera man was even sporting the "Sue Butler Supporter" hat.

Packing up to go home. I almost wish I was leaving tomorrow. One more day without my Timmy. Then back to reality.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

One day to go! Saturday, January 26th, 2008

I can't believe it is the day before Worlds! A leisurely morning was followed by a visit to the course for a few laps. Saw a bunch of Portlanders, but NO TIMMY! Apparently he was in the beer garden at the time. I haven't seen him today and it is driving me crazy. There were a lot more people around the venue today. It is funny to be riding around and have people yell out in various accents, "USA, USA! Go USA!!!" Almost celebrity status by virtue of our country! The course is pretty slick, but still so much fun to ride.
Now at almost 5 p.m., the day is winding down, dinner is at 7 and team meeting at 8. Then to sleep to have fast dreams about tomorrow. I am super excited and having a great time. I can't believe I am here and still have to pinch myself. It is actually starting to sink in that I am actually at the world championships! Tomorrow is the BIG day. Excited to race my bike!

The afternoons are quite pleasant.
Amy Dombroski, Kerry Barnholt & Me
We aren't having any fun...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tim has arrived!!! Friday, January 25th, 2008

After over 5 weeks of not seeing Tim, I couldn't have been more excited to go to the airport. After another nice day of sunshine (although cool temps), riding the course, getting team photos taken, renting a car, figuring out logistics for leaving Italy, it was finally time to drive to the airport and pick up the greatest guy in the world!!! It was awesome to see him and he is such a trooper to come just for the weekend to watch the race!!!

A sight for sore eyes!
Reunited!
Familiar faces everywhere with their "Sue Butler Supporter" hats!
Tim sporting his latest creation. He is my #1 fan!
Fans of all ages. My new friend Quinn.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

TREVISO!!! I have arrived! Thursday, January 24, 2008

We arrived late last night, so today was officially the first day really here. Our main event today, aside from a lot of food and eating, was official training at the course. We rode to the venue from our hotel on 'sketchy' roads and immediately rode the course. The venue and course is pretty amazing. And you really couldn't beat the weather. Sunny and beautiful. I hope we will see more of that sunshine. While riding the course, I think it finally hit me that here I am, at the world championships for cyclocross. WOW! And the main event is still days away. Check out the silly video on http://www.amydombroski.blogspot.com/. Here are a few pictures she took while we were at the course today!

The lake with the course off in the distance by the white building.
Not a bad view of the mountains.
The course is sooo fun!
The stairs with the camera on rails to follow riders.
My head and the finish line!
Chilling before riding to the course. Kerry B, me & Rachel L.
The run up.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Goodbye Belgium, hello Italy! Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Today is my last day in Belgium. I now transition to my 'worlds' part of this trip, flying to Italy later this evening. It is strange to be here without Wendy, and although excited to go to worlds, it is an end to a chapter. What a great adventure. Here is what I will miss...

the view off my balcony
the garage door entry (which you can hardly see)
our home.
my 'parents'
lounging on the third floor
our little village of Meise

Sunday, January 20, 2008

WORLD CUP#9 (third for me): Hoogerheide, Netherlands, Sunday, January 20,2008

It is hard to believe that this was our last world cup of the season and that Wendy will depart soon and I will be on my own to go down to Italy for Worlds. We were a bit nostalgic on our drive over there this morning, reflecting on what an amazing experience this has been. We were also planning our return and looking forward to next season!
Hoogerhiede is just across the border in the Netherlands, not far from where our first European race was, in Huijbergen. It is amazing how much more relaxing driving is now compared to back then. We also went up to Hoogerheide last night for course inspection and to pick up our numbers and parking passes. After our experience in Lievin, we wanted to avoid any stress the day of the race. And for the first time, we actually parked in Elite Team Parking. Well sort of...
Elite team parking w/ the fans walking by. Our fancy changing room.

The course in Hoogerheide was muddy and rutty! Perfect for a pacific northwesterner. A different kind of mud and some heavy, heavy grass sections, two not really rideable, and some slimy mud with deep ruts. I actually really enjoyed it. We actually got a fairly decent warm up and then were quarantined to the start block, riding up and down the hill near the start. Our line up was as expected, near the back, but not last. After a little budging and working my way in between a few wheels (with Wendy's direction from behind), I was almost in the third row. Out of the four, four and half that there were. Oh well. The gun was off and the mad dash to the first corner was chaotic as usual. I didn't panic, but tried not to get cut off and the sharp left after that. I worked my way around some of the madness and by the flyover was in the top 25. Passed a few more people that can't ride in mud and then when I got to the first grassy run section, I practically sprinted. For me, that is. And I passed some people. It was like cattle. So many damn bike wheels flying through the air. I rode a clean race, had a lot of fun, got a lot of mud in my face and before I knew it, It was over. I actually thought we had one lap left. I was fine that it was over, when the officials were flagging me to slow down as I rounded the corner. I guess I didn't slow down, b/c I wanted to make sure we were really stopping. I finished 19th, short of my goal of a top 15 (or top 10), but was only 1 minute off of 5th place. You alway start thinking where you could have picked up a few seconds here and there and where I should have rode harder, but heck, Worlds is next week, so I have one more race to leave it all on the table. I did have the best U.S. finish (but only because Katie Compton did not end up racing), so it was a satisfying race, but always looking to do better! Here are some racing photos, courtesy of Mark Legg. Katie and Mark were great fans, cheering us on!

I don't think that is a smile.Why am I dragging them in the headwind?The fun steep descent with the sharp turn right at the bottom!

Check out the video on youtube of the race: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7Vwpq6wp-c

Wendy and I took a cool down ride and then changed out of our very muddy clothes and went to cheer the men on. By the time we got to the race, there were only 2 U.S. men left to cheer for, so we did our best. Hoogerheide is the host of the 2009 World Championships, so I hope to be back. It is definitely no Hofstade, but it beat the pants off of France!

One last photo with Sven.
The start/finish!
The crowds at Hoogerhiede were much better than Lievin, but not like Hofstade.

The flyover!
Erwin Vervecken in the muddy ruts.

My new crush! He crushed the field!

Page having a great race.

A Wendy sandwich. Simms & Williams! Simms rocked a 5th place today!

The ruts prior to the descent. See below...
Muddy climb before the impossible grass...
We will be back next year for more!!! WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2009!