Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It actually DOES rain in Belgium.

You could have fooled me, b/c I have hardly seen it really rain. Yesterday was probably my most miserable ride and it wasn't that bad. I did a road ride and was muddier than I was today after Jan and I trekked to the forest south of Brussels (Zoniƫnwoud) for a little mtb tour. It was pretty darn fun and a great way to spend the afternoon. I love riding my bike. The Neroroute was a nice treat on a rainy day. Oh, that's right, it didn't rain. We hit the window!!!

What would a mtb ride be without cobbles???
Nice muddy, slick singletrack. Some fairly 'long' sections.
An invitation to check it out???

Hey, this matches my kit!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

MTB WORLD CUP#2: Offenburg, Germany, Sunday, April 27th, 2008

I survived and did not crash!!! But again, one lap down. And somehow this week I am happy with that. I knew it was going to be a rough race, b/c my body was pretty beat up from the crashes the prior two days. I was hurting. I did a job on my neck, ribs and knee the day prior. Plus I was sore pretty much everywhere, including my butt, which I fell on. 2 crashes in 2 days = sore body. But again, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Starting with no one behind you in the very last row, there really is only one way to go, and according to cycling news, " the first singletrack an endless line of riders fired through something that typified the course – anyone with a poor start would be queuing and making the best of minimal overtaking opportunities." I made the best of minimal overtaking opportunities and overtook at every opportunity I had. I pushed when I didn't want to push and had to sit behind a slower rider every once in a while. It was hard. There is no doubt about it. And I was with the same group a lot of the race. On the second or third lap, I passed Heather Irmiger and figured as bad as I was hurting, she must be hurting more, so I was motivated to keep going. Norm was yelling at me from the pits that I had to keep making up spots. I was hoping for a top 60. But I fell short. 74th.
There was a large group within a minute, but once pulled, we don't get times. And we could have again made it through without getting lapped, but they pulled us anyhow, after making us climb the steep climb! I stayed and waited for the leaders to come through on that climb and cheered on the Americans and Canadians. Everyone looked like they were suffering a bit.
Wendy and I rode back to the hotel, showered and hurried back for the excitement of the mens race. It was fun to watch, but definitely not as fun as cyclocross. And people paid to get in at this race, and still the crowds were amazing. The feedzone/pit was a flurry of action. I hung out there and wandered to other sights to watch the men fly up and down sections. It was pretty amazing. Another world cup down and soon off to Spain and then home!
I don't really ever see this. I am one of the girls at the back who you can't see!
A smile b/c I survived the dual speed again. And Dave was cheering! But don't be fooled, I am suffering!!!
Mitchell (teammate from SLC) and I. I am done, he is about to race.
The crowds at the wolfsdrop were especially amazing.
Julien Absolon makes it look soooo easy.
Adam Craig didn't make it look so bad either. The snake pit from above.
Now that is the right bag for supporting! Wheels/tools & drinks all on your back.
Although I am not worthy, I am sure this is a nice ride on the mtb.
This was a spectator friendly event for sure.
The awards at the end.
Ahhh. Offenburg.
Does 74th place deserve this??? It was not optional, so I drank it. Two actually. Hanging out with Canadians is tough.But I definitely think I earned this.
Americans were actually outnumbered, but 12 English speakers at one table = obnoxious. Our waitress did warm up to us eventually.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Amazing Offenburg!

Home sweet home. Well, sort of. It is really fun to be back in Germany and be in a country where I can understand the language and communicate with people. It is almost like coming home. I like it. Offenburg is really beautiful. It is the ‘gateway to the Black Forest”. Lots of vineyards and forest around. And great bike lanes. It’s bigger than I thought it would be. It would be great to be here and just be able to take long rides and explore, but here I am on my second stop of my european mountain bike world cup tour.
The walking district of old downtown Offenburg.Vineyards all around the course.

I have to say that I have never been scared to race my mountain bike, but after crashing on Friday on my face on the world class drop and taking a little spill today on the ‘easy’ drop on the ‘north shore’, I have absolutely no confidence and I really don’t want to get hurt. Not a great way to go into your second world cup race ever. If I hadn’t crashed yesterday, I am sure I would have not crashed today. I was tense going into the first drop and must have grabbed a brake or something. I am not sure, but I am annnoyed. Funny thing is that I can ride the ‘snake pit’ of roots just fine. Don’t even think twice about that. I guess I have to seek out some really steep, short chutes in Oregon to start practicing.
Dual Speed. You can definitely go too fast down this.
The North Shore. A windy descent ending with a drop. Pictured below. This was the easiest, but somehow I managed to crash on it on Saturday! Stupid!!!
Imagine having to make a 90 degree turn to drop this. Crashed on this one on Friday. Looks easy, but that turn on the bottom is not fun.
This is the wolfsdrop. I have made the executive decision to run this. It drops onto pavement and a tree, so cost of failure is high. I wasn't the only one hesitating during warm up. And this is what I get. My old wound re-opened. The skin was not thick enough to withstand the fall. And to think if I didn't have arm warmers on.

Race day is tomorrow. I am trying to think positive and visualize myself dropping into the chutes smooth and not tensing up. I have already decided to just not attempt to ride the wolfs drop, since I didn’t do it in practice and frankly, the cost of failure is too high. I have to preserve the skin that is left on my left forearm.
You didn't go too far without seeing signs for the world cup.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mid-week fun.

Racing on weekends, training during the week. Ahhh, life is rough. Today was a trip to the 'bos' and 'wald' near Leuven . Apparently a 'bos' is a small forest and a 'wald' the actual forest. But we drove to Haverlee and had a nice tour. Jan is a great tour guide and this time, he even took a map, just in case. A busy day...

Sweet Belgian singletrack.
Beautiful, eh?
And maybe not so much. Get out of my picture, Jan!
The countryside. Looks a lot like the midwest to me.
We did them all, of course.
4.5 hours? Really?
Nope, not really.
Convenient that Lukas (son of Jan) had a dance competition right near the trailhead. They did great. It's been a while since I've been around that many kids. Yikes.
And since we were near Leuven, we had a few errands to run & took in some sights.
Nice University town.
Interesting bike parking. Winner of something. After being caught in the rain.Views for your enjoyment. City hall in Leuven.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

MTB WORLD CUP#1: Houffalize, Belgium, Sunday, April 20th, 2008

I got lapped!!! OK, maybe not the best way to start out posting about my first mtb world cup, but it was my one goal: don't get lapped, and sure enough, I got pulled. It was bittersweet, b/c the thought of doing another lap was quite daunting, but damnit, I wanted to finish the race!
So, this is my story! My call up was 117. Apparently there were 130 on the start list. Yep, that means I was in the back. There should have been 13 girls behind me, but when I turned around, I saw a lot of empty space and about 3 girls. And I am wise to the euro start, so I was not letting myself get budged. How does this happen???
I guess I had a pretty good start. Not that you could really move too forward on the steep paved climb as I had hoped. It was like frogger. Dodging in and out, avoiding wheels, trying to sneak a place here and there. And then when we got on the singletrack, I saw Willow Koerber. Hmmm. That is not good, for her, anyways. And then the shit show started. The rain yesterday has left us with a slippery, slippery mess. And somehow that makes people forget how to ride their bikes. Me included, at some points. But it was on your bike, off your bike, on your bike, dodge out of the way of the girl walking, crash! Can't get clipped in, avoid girl on left, crash! Walk, run, whatever you could do to keep moving forward. The start loop ended and I thought it would get better. I was wrong. Walk up the hill that was ridden yesterday, try to get clipped in with cement mud in your pedal, get to the rooty off camber section and get in line for the march. Walk some more. Try to avoid people on descent, oops, pedals not clipped in, ride it anyways, every time! Oops, slipped on bridge and went down. Damn back tire. Too much air. Gully was right! Girl goes down on climb in front of you, you walk the damn hill. Back on bike, ride, ride, ride. Walk, ride, fall, smile, ride some more.
It was by far the hardest one day XC race I have ever done. I am sure there are a lot of factors that play into that, but as hard as it was and as disappointed as I am that I didn't get to finish it, I had 'fun'. It was a great experience and I will learn from it and definitely gained some fitness from it. I have to remember, this is only my third race this year and I am only 2 months into my training. It's hard to remember when you want to ride faster. But I will ride faster. Next week, in Offenburg!
I also want to mention that without the help of Wendy Simms (& Norm), this whole experience would have been a lot more terrifying. It is good to have someone that has been there and done that to let you know how things go. And they even found someone to feed me bottles! Thanks guys! You rock!!!
And I thought the womens field was bad...
And I wondered why I had troubles clipping in... Like cement. It took me over a 1/2 hour to clean these darn things the next day. Belgian mud is thick!