|From z trainings, where I had ALL the fun!|
I went to bed Saturday night already completely satisfied with my experience in Europe, the race Sunday would just be the icing on the cake. I learned so much about myself and bike racing over the past two weeks I felt I’d ‘gotten my money’s worth’ from the trip.
But as we lay in bed the heavens opened up and the most magnificent/scary thunder and lightening storm rolled through the valley, complete with a deluge of rain. My biggest fear for the race came true: a wet, slick, muddy course. Conditions I am the least familiar with, and which I didn’t get to practice because from thursday through Saturday the course was drying out and getting better and better.
But as the French say, c’est la vie. I rolled out the door Sunday morning to warm up scared but still feeling good about the trip and the day.
|Brendan got this good shot right at the start!|
|Can you see my right foot popping out to dab. Lots of slippery rocks meant lots of spinning rear tires... ugh :)|
The first descent was crazy too, having never ridden the rocks and roots in slick conditions I wasn’t sure how it would be, but it turned out the short/steep climbs were trickier than the scary rocky A-lines! I hit every A-line because they were fun, even launching things I rolled in training, but slid out on many of the climbs and did A LOT of running. I also did a fair amount of crashing and getting ‘stuck’ as the race progressed, because the person in front would hold me up enough that my pedal strokes would be off from what I had been doing in training, resulting in striking rocks/getting stuck in rocks/just plain falling over… There was one section near the bottom where I took the A-line option on every lap, but ended up ON MY ASS in the mud sliding down it rather than riding EVERY SINGLE TIME (except lap 5 when I finally had the sense to STOP TRYING TO MAKE IT WORK)! It was just so slick there was NO staying upright, I heard even Yolanda, the race winner and gutsiest of all of us, crashed there.
|Some parts were fun wet/tacky... like this slide of a desent.|
So laps 2-5 were a pretty fun loop of suffering like a dog on the climb, trying my hardest to leave nothing on the course in the portion I could control, and fighting to stay upright on the descent. I would pass multiple girls on the climb each time, and then get overtaken by one or two on the descent for various reasons. The highlights of these was getting passed on the descent on a drop by Pauline Ferrand Prevot, who launched herself off a ledge to my right passing me IN THE AIR! It was equally terrifying and incredible. I also spent a few laps with Julie Bresset, a very accomplished French rider who had EVERYONE on the course cheering their brains out for her, so that was pretty cool.
So happy to be in one piece!
And then we washed bikes and rolled up the hill to pack because Colin’s flight was Sunday night. The highlight of Sunday afternoon, besides watching the men’s race with binoculars from our rental house while we packed, was eating an incredible pastry Colin procured for me that I had been eyeing all week but abstaining from eating because ‘race weight’. It wasn’t anything like I thought it would be, but the fluffy, incredible panettone goodness was a pretty fantastic way to end the trip. Oh, and the drive through Munster, France to get back to Stuttgart, Germany was out of control pretty too!
|This guy was pretty big, like the size of my head... almost.|
So I am still feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for being able to make this trip, and there are so many people I want to thank for making it happen, but it’s hard to incorporate that in a blog post that’s already this long. So for now I’m just going to say that I am so so grateful for Brendan. He took all his vacation time to come to Europe with me, to be the chauffeur, tech zone guy, photographer, and general go to guy to make stuff happen. He rode with me, went to bed early with me, cleaned and wrenched on my bikes and basically spent 2 weeks in Europe not sight seeing but working an unpaid position as my support crew. I am so so lucky to have such a dedicated and selfless husband. I will repay him with waiting to have babies until he is ready ;)