I'm just going to start this post with the fact that I was crying when I finished my last lap today on my pre-ride. I was so overwhelmed with emotions, with gratitude for the opportunity to be here, with joy because the course is so fun, with accomplishment for overcoming some of my fears and worry about the course, and with excitement about being in France for a bike race. Most of all though I was overcome with the feeling that I have learned SO much since we arrived in Europe last week. Seeing how growth as an athlete was one of my main goals for this trip, I just couldn't help feeling overwhelmed by the actualization of that goal.
|EXCITED!!! Plus there is poor Brendan hiking up the hill in the background :)|
The course climbs first on pavement, then trail all the way up the side of the mountain broken once with a tiny fun downhill, and then sends you into one long descent broken up with one tiny little climb. The climb is mostly an acceptable grade, with one soupy mud section and some fun, tight switchbacks. The descent has many personalities, from smooth fun bermed turns, to fun rock obstacles, to big old chain scraping drops, to a soupy awful muddy disaster near the bottom.
|There are AMAZING views from the top. I'll be too cross eyed suffering Sunday to appreciate them though.|
On our first lap, when the course started to head downhill, we pretty much immediately encountered another rocky section that after repeated tries we COULD NOT clean. I was getting freaked. I didn't know how on earth I would complete this race with so many sections I couldn't ride, plus one of them was on THE UPHILL! I tried to stay calm, but the whole way down was more of the same, more drops, A-lines and steeps that I couldn't clean without a foot out. At the bottom I was pretty shaken. We took a break and went to reg so I could get my number plate and then Brendan and I split, me to do more laps, Brendan to get the camera to try and capture some more of the action.
I think the nicest thing about having a coach, esp my coach, is that he gives me a specific task and because I know he's smart, I can let go and trust the plan. Last night I desperately wanted to sneak in a lap. I was bothered with anxiety about how technical the course was and wanted as much practice as possible, but I trusted the plan and stayed off my feet. This morning I was stressed by the difficulty of the course and kinda discouraged, but because coach is so smart and because I pretty much turn my mind off and listen to what he tells me to do most the time (not always, sorry Matt for all the times I make your job frusty :) I didn't think twice before heading out for the remainder of my workout/pre-ride.
|On the mini climb in the middle of the descent. There are lots of rocks here. It's rad :)|
|This part is super fun and twisty and rocky. Swoon :)|
|A series of beautifully banked turns on the descent. This is the fun smooth part.|
Now we rest, eat, hydrate and sleep. Tomorrow I will do a few more laps, maybe in the rain if it comes, and then rest hard to be ready for Sunday!! Thanks again to everyone who made this trip possible. Only 2 more days in Europe after today but I am crazy grateful every minute of every day to be here!!