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From Hoogerheide to Worlds

It’s been a good week since Hoogerheide. The week flew by, which is weird because time usually stands still in Europe when most of our time between races is spent doing the same thing day after day after day. The daily routine goes something like this…

-sleep in (with jet lag still lingering sometimes ‘sleeping in’ gets a little ridiculous ie, 11:30)
-eat breakfast/lunch while catching up on emails, twitter, facebook and news
-ride, which in Belgium usually means riding the rollers because it’s too crappy to ride outside, especially on a recovery day
-eat again because what else is there to do
-post on twitter that it’s raining outside – again
-get a massage and body work with Paul Van Loon (my savior over here)
-drive to Delhaize, the local grocery store, to pick up items for that night’s dinner
-cook dinner for the ‘kids’, then watch them clean up (that’s the benefit of being the cook)
-reply to all the tweets and facebook posts from earlier, chat on skype since everyone back in the US is now awake
-watch a movie from Danny’s collection (do NOT watch ‘The Freebie’)
-finally go to bed around midnight
-start over

So, you get the gist. I wish I could say that when I’m in Europe I get the opportunity to do something a little more entertaining than sit around on the computer all day trying not to eat everything because I’m bored, but that’s the reality of it all. Actually, let me rephrase that…I DO have the opportunity BUT cyclists tend to be a lazy breed because we don’t dare stand on our legs when we don’t have to. I heard there was a group of Americans who visited the Westvletern Brewery (the same one I visited last year with this said group of Americans) but I was cordially NOT invited this year. So, I stuck to the game plan above instead.

We did veer from the norm on Wednesday when we drove to Kalmthout to do a woods ride with Paul VL, Katie, Mark and company. For this particular ride, Paul had designed a little mini Worlds course with steep ups and downs and even a stair section. We zipped around doing efforts on different sections of the course, which is just the kind of training that I wish I could do more often. Doing efforts on the road doesn’t compare to going full bore on technical sections when you’re gasping for breath while having to maneuver your bike over and around branches, mud, etc. Plus, there were some rutted sections that Danny and Cody were helping me with since ruts are one of my biggest weaknesses. I have to admit that one thing I really do enjoy in Belgium, at least in the Kalmthout area, is riding in the woods because it makes me feel like I’m doing something that will help me improve my skills the most. With the right group of people, it’s like doing a ‘cross race in your backyard.

From Kalmthout we drove on to Izegem to the U23 house to stay for the night. The next morning our alarms buzzed at us bright and early and the US team piled into the vans for the drive to Sankt, Wendel, Germany. Finally. The event we’ve all been waiting for – the World Championships.

After checking in to our hotel we had just enough time to get to the course for our first preride on the Worlds course. Dang, what a mess! Slick and muddy. Globs of mud got flung up both nostrils. I was blowing mud boogers the rest of the day.

We ride down this...

My bike was caked in mud

But overnight the temperatures plummeted and the course went from being a mud pit to being a frozen, rutted ice skating rink. From one day to the next the course had changed like night and day. That’s the thing about ‘cross racing, you never know what you’re gonna get. Conditions can change in an instant. When we were preriding today, the course was changing from lap to lap. One lap the line on the right side of a descent was the best. The next lap the one right down the middle was the hot line. You always have to be on guard for whatever lies around the next corner.

Workers flatten the descent by getting rid of the frozen ruts - safety first

Now it’s the night before my 2nd Cyclocross World Championships. I’m sure I’ll lie in bed tonight going through the course over and over in my mind. I’ll be imagining myself having the best start ever and then taking off with the lead group. From there, anything can happen.

In the Specialized tent contemplating...

People keep asking me what my goal is for tomorrow. Last year, in my first ever Cyclocorss World Championship, I was 12th. Now, one year later, with more experience and knowledge and skill, I want more.

January 29th, 2011. Written by meredith

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