Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cyclocross World Championships - Treviso, Italy

I am back at home in Nanaimo, still feeling a little fuzzy from the travel so CX worlds already seems pretty far away. Back to reality after 6 weeks in europe. But there are still e-mails and calls coming in with congratulations so I figured I should recap the Italy portion of our trip and I will try to get a slideshow up soon.

Norm and I arrived in Italy on Tues night and by Wed I already missed Belgium. Treviso was a pretty big city with lots of cars and noise and construction. It just seemed dirty after our great little place in Hertsberge. Sigh. We met up with the Canadian team: one Junior (Dave Larsen), 4 Espoirs (Kyle Douglas, Brian Robinson, Ian Manning, Shaun Adamson), 3 Elite men (Mike Garrigan, Aaron Schooler, Osmond Bakker) and 2 Elite women (Kelly Jones and myself). It was a huge change from the team of 2 we had the first year I came to worlds in 2004. We even had a manager (Glen Rendall) and Norm and Brad were the mechanics with help from Brian's dad Ian. We also had a decent sized fan club as some parents of the team came from Canada to cheer, a group of 30 Cross Crusaders had made the trip from Portland and the Luxembourg support club were staying at our hotel and remembered me from the New Years race so they adopted us. All it took was a few Kona trading cards!



Our hotel had complimentary townie bikes (in various states of disrepair) for us to use so we held the first ever "Knock down" national championships in the Treviso city square Wednesday night. Knock down is like bumper cars on bikes. Norm and I play it all the time. Some people use skill and balance to outwit their opponents but I generally just smash into other people and try to force them to their feet. The baskets on the front of the townies were especially helpful when smashing head on. There was no "official" ref for the national champs but I am pretty sure I won. Our pansy junior may protest but you can ignore him, he is just a whiner.

I was still feeling pretty haggered from the Hoogerheide race. I didn't want to broadcast it, but I actually felt like I was coming down with a cold so I did next to nothing but fight it off for 3 days. There was no way I was going to come to europe 6 weeks early to prepare for worlds, have some of the best races of my life leading into it, and then fall prey to the common cold. I won the fight and finally headed to the course on Friday. After looking at videos of the Treviso world cup from 2007 I had prepared myself for a fast dry race but when I actually got on the course it was muddy and slick. It had been freezing overnight and when the ground thawed parts of the course turned into a mess. Interesting.

Saturday the juniors and espoirs raced. I spent about an hour and 20 euros trying to watch the races LIVE on wcsn and cycling.tv but due to blackouts and mac pop up blocker issues I didn't get it sorted out until about 10mins after the last race at which point the coverage was over. '%$#@*'n technology. The ironic part was the race was only a 10min drive away from me. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Oh well I got the animated play by play from the Canucks. Everyone was pretty pleased with their races for the most part, with the exception of one DNF. Interviews with the boys are on canadiancyclist.com

Race day. I was feeling pretty good Sunday morning. I had fought the cold, my legs had come around after the Hoogerheide race and I had confidence (and a second row call up) after my two 5th place finishes at the last world cups. Nothing more to do but pull it all together.

I had a good start off the gun and went into the first corner top ten without burning too many matches. We immediately went downhill into a muddy few corners which threw some girls off track so I ended up sitting comfortably in 4th place (yawn) behind Daphne van den Brand, the Czech girl I had been battling with the last two world cups and an Italian girl who was getting HUGE cheers. The comfort didn't last long as Hanka towed up a group of girls and pushed the pace. We hit a descent and Daphne went down, taking a few girls with her so I was back in 2nd place going into my favourite part of the course. The slick mud. I rode the muddy section pretty smooth (like a west coaster should) and suddenly I was LEADING the world championships!! Holy crap. I looked back after the mud and saw that I had a GAP on Hanka and the chasers!! My Queen Ann cutting through the mud and dropping 5 world champions from my wheel (van den Brand, Kupfernagel, Vos, Salvetat and Leboucher). No time to gloat. I ducked into the pits to change my bike (which had gained about 10lbs) and tucked back in behind Hanka and the French girl.

And pretty much the rest of my race was like groundhog's day. I would get passed by a world champion and try to stay with them as long as possible until I would blow. Then I would try to recover and get back on track before the next world champion would catch me. First Kupfernagel. Then Vos. Then Salvetate. Then Leboucher. My mouth was wide open looking for more oxygen the entire time. Norm said he had never seen me suffer so much. I was doing pretty well except for this one long mushy hill where I seemed to need just one more gear to stay with them. I had known it would be the hardest section for me. You know those grades of hills that are just a little off your strength? But I had my own Canadiana cheering squad running beside me to keep me honest to the very top. The boys were screaming and ringing bells and waving flags all the way to the top (after they had raced yesterday) so I couldn't let them down. They were working harder than I was. I was pretty scribbled by the last lap and lost my 6th place to Mirjiam Melchers (a road world champion) which was probably the only spot I was bummed about losing because I didnt have much fight left in me. But I saw Daphne's pigtails coming for me strong and managed to outsprint her to the finish. So.... 7th place at the world championships!! Of course holding onto first would have been nice but even those 2 minutes of glory were pretty sweet.

I finished my race, drank some beer, ate some Neauhaus chocolate and tried to stay awake for the men's race. I cheered for the Canadians but I am ashamed to say my legs couldn't run up the long hill even once for them. Sorry boys, I could barely walk to the top without stopping for a rest. We went out for dinner with the Canadian crew that remained and celebrated the best CX worlds for team Canada. I had lots of wine and pizza and gelato and then I am pretty sure I took another knock down win. Norm streaked through the centrum of Treviso on his townie. Monday we woke up a little hung over but visited Pinarello and met Giovanni, the legend. We went into Venice to check out San Marco square and the carnivale chaos. Then we were packing up and heading home at 4am Tuesday. Ouch.


Thanks to everyone who helped me get to that 7th place finish at worlds. Kona-yourkey.com for supporting my extended trip over here. Our team sponsors (FSA, Alpha Q, Shimano, Kore, Swiss stop, WTB, Honey Stinger and Verge) for providing us with such sweet gear (it took a beating!). Helly Hansen for keeping me warm. Frontrunners for letting Norm sneak away to support me. Brad and Norm for keeping my bikes dialed. The Canadian team for being so fun and cheering me on during my dark place on the course. Malaspina for letting me take some time off work to follow a dream. And last but not least, my brother Kevin Simms for coaching me all these years.







Saturday, January 26, 2008

video


Quick slideshow of my trip! 

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Quest

I am not a huge “pastry person”. As you can guess, chocolate is my vice. But the first year I raced in Belgium (2004) I stumbled on this tasty little pastry. It didn’t look like it had special powers, but trust me, it was a little piece of heaven. A fresh pastry boat filled with sweet pudding and covered in chocolate. mmmmm. I am salivating already! Back then I didn’t have the will power I have now (are you choking?) so Norm, Corey and I would visit the bakery a couple of times a day and I devoured my fair share. Norm doesn’t usually keep tabs on my food intake but it got so bad the week before worlds he gingerly asked “do you think the other girls in your race are eating baked goods every day?” That day he felt the wrath that only a fat kid threatened of starving to death can dish out. Hell, I wasn’t sure if I would ever taste that sweet nectar again so, lardass or not, I had to take advantage of the situation. We left for France and it was years before I would find it again.

I told Bernard about my quest to taste the golden pastry again and he warned me that it might be a regional specialty. Lucky for me, I wasn’t weak for the regional specialty of Hertsberge because I could practically spit on the local bakery from my room at the Cycling Center. Besides, my inner devil had made a deal with my inner angel (after she had him in the choke hold) that I could eat Neahaus chocolate if I avoided the bakeries. BUT…..if I should locate the golden pastry this rule was void. 

The quest continued. I told Barb, Derek, Natasha, Nathan and Lesley so I had more eyes looking, but nothing. One month living in Belgium and still no golden pastry boat. I had been pretty good too. No baked goods. Well, except for that one break down on a freezing cold ride, 45 mins from home, big guts eating little guts…..my inner devil had used the Malachy Crunch to take that round. Tasty. But no golden pastry boat. 

After the Hoogerheide world cup we had a bit of time to kill on our drive down to Charleroi before our flight to Italy. Norm suggested we visit our buddy Frank from Ciclo Morello. In 2004, when the airlines lost Corey’s bike for the entire time we were in Europe, Frank lent him a bike so he could race. 

We popped by the shop and caught up with Frank. On our way out, Norm casually asked him where the best bakery in town was. I described to him what I was looking for “it’s a pastry boat, filled with sweet pudding, covered in chocolate…does that bakery sell it?” He looked at me like I was on crack and said “uhh. yes, you can find those everywhere.” BINGO. Regional specialty of Hoogstraten! 

We went to the bakery and I ordered five (kidding! only one. Ok, seriously, just two). Norm caught the whole thing on film. And then he asked me “was it everything you remembered?”. Actually it was MORE. The chocolate had HAZELNUTS in it!



Monday, January 21, 2008

Masters World Champs

Saturday Norm came 12th at the Masters World Championships in Mol. He had a wicked start into the beach and was top ten for the first half of the race. Then he pulled out his patented “suffer face.” Nobody I know can suffer like Norm. He wasn’t super happy with his race because he fell out of the top ten (and he had told himself he was allowed to buy this sweet Italia jacket if he came top ten). But I was impressed. And I was happy the guy that won wasn’t smoking in the start box like the winner 3 years ago. That is just a smack in the face, even if he is Belgian.

I was Norm’s pit crew in Mol, my bike ready in case his met catastrophic failure during the race. The Kona Queen Ann got a few smug grins from the other manly pit crews. But that didn’t last long when my rider came through top ten on the first lap. All I got was respect after that! Joe-smug-smirk from Great Britain had to get out of MY way now. I had no clue there was such a hierarchy in the pits. Matson, I wish I could be in the lead more so you could feel like KING in the pits. I bet you would totally strut the catwalk and occasionally spin on your heels for effect. Maybe even the moon walk?! Or are you a worm guy?

Hoogerheide World Cup

Next up, my last world cup before World Champs in Italy. The Hoogerheide course in the Netherlands is a pretty familiar one for me as I have raced it a few times. Once, it was dry and crazy fast. This year, it was not. It had been a mix of rain/drizzle/downpour for a few days so the course was a mess. Perfect. I got to pre-ride with Bart Wellens and Sven Nys. They didn’t actually acknowledge me, but I rode behind them to pick up some tips. I figure that is the first step to us becoming fast friends. All of the field sections were deep soggy mud, the downhills were treacherous, the head wind was fierce, and the long cobbled uphill road section was almost a relief. It was going to be a tough course with lots of running. Good thing I have “gazelle” legs compared to most of the girls.

The French team was making fun of my long socks in the start box. Stupid France. I decided to give them even more to laugh at. Since there was going to be so much running I decided to pull out some old skool Geo stretches on the line. Nothing says professional athlete like a few side stretches and lunges. Laugh it up Frenchies.

After my 5th place at the last world cup I had a second row call up. Not quite as rockstar as the front row, but pretty sought after none the less. More like rockstar’s assistant. Unfortunately it didn’t do me much good as I got boxed in off the line and had a pretty crappy start. I hit the dirt somewhere around 15th. Up the road I could see Helen Wyman, Hanka Kupfernagel, Mjiriam Melchers and Daphne van den Brand off the front already. Dammit. Back to reality in the teens it was crowded and super aggressive. Girls clumped together like a big bolus. So I just jumped off my bike and started running to get around them. My long socks took big long strides in the mud and passed many a midget girl. I am pretty sure there were some French stripes in there. Who’s laughing now? 

I used up a lot of matches in that first lap to move into 7th and fought hard to stay in the vicinity for the rest of the race. At one point Norm said I was 10seconds off third! I would ride a mud section really well and pass a few girls but then I would bobble and lose a spot or two. Back and forth. Back and forth. Most of the race I was locked in a ferocious battle with the Czech National Champion. But my kung fu is very good. I ended up with a group of 5-6 in the last lap and attacked through the pits to try to shake them. Miss Czech popped off the back (finally, I was getting sick of her boyfriend running around the course yelling at her). But she was the only one that cracked under my power, so I eventually had to abandon that plan and rest up for the finish sprint. I conveniently found the Belgium National Champ’s wheel for the last cobbled section up to the finish and then we hit the finish chute for the "sprint". It seemed like more of a drag race than a sprint but I ended up second in the group, apparently some wee little powerhouse had more juice left than I did. So I ended up 5th overall. I was pretty close to puking.



Photos of the women’s race can be found on pedalmag.com


Monday, January 14, 2008

France World Cup


Down time
I haven't written for awhile because I really haven't been doing that much....the glamorous life of a pro cyclist isn't always that exciting, even in europe. I was starting to feel a bit scratchy in the throat so I prepared for battle. I was not coming here 3 weeks early to fall prey to the common cold right before the world cups. My recipe was a steady stream of vitamin C, zinc, cough drops and hot honey green tea, sleep hours that rivaled my teenage years, cutbacks on training and sugar and a heightened spidey sense for "carriers" (the bakers and butchers with the sniffles). I got cornered into buying a loaf of bread from a girl that had just blown her nose, got the drips with her hands and then promptly picked up my loaf, cut it and packed it for me. All with an oozing red nose and a smile. Straight into the garbage. The combination of vitamin intake and heightened germ awareness seemed to work as I held steady all week, nothing erupted. 

Fellow Canucks Kelly and Brad arrived Tuesday and Norm finally got here Thursday. Finally! 

Pre race melt down
With all my down time, rested legs and my winning fight against the common cold, I was feeling  pretty good about the world cup in Lievin on Sunday. It was time to pull it all together. 

We headed to Lievin Saturday to preride the course and that is when I started to strip every shred of confidence from my head. I prerode the course and crashed into the ropes 3 X in the course of an hour. I felt like I had never ridden a bike before. I tried to shake it but the anger had seeded and then I got us horribly lost on the way home so the anger flared. We got home late and I rushed through my race prep. BUT I had a great sleep and my good mojo magic Norm was here. 

The next morning I told Norm he needed to have baked goods on the line for me. The bastard put his own spin on the deal and said that for every place I lost HE would get a bite. Crap. Race prep went smoothly until I got on my bike and went for a spin on the bike path. I ate shit on a wet wooden bridge an hour and a half before my race. I wanted to cry. 1. because I had totally stripped the skin from my shin and left ass cheek and 2. I felt like a moron. Any shred of confidence I had was gone. I ran into Ryan who promptly made fun of me for being so dirty after eating shit moments ago. It was time to preride. I went out paranoid about crashing and rode like crap. I didn't get out of my granny gear the entire loop.  But I forced myself to do another loop. Lucky for me I was behind this Italian girl who was absolutely terrified on the downhills (and she was wearing a buff - ha ha that always makes me laugh). I started to loosen up and had a better loop. Good note to end on. Get out while you are ahead.

The race
I was called up third row. In europe that means row 2.5 (if you have learned anything). I had an incredible start up the loooong straight chute. The last time I raced here there were crashes at every corner so I wanted to get clear. Third place into the first corner - pretty clear! I didn't even feel like it was an effort and I could hear the pile-ups starting behind me. The pace was pretty comfortable up front until Hanka and a few other big wigs passed us and picked it up. Here we go. Then we went through a muddy section and it was like I had pulled some voodoo magic out of my butt because every single girl in front of me hit the ground, at the same time! All five of them. And I rode right through the middle. Suddenly I was leading the world cup. Crazy. The Lievin course is super hilly and the efforts sneak up on you so I didn't try to go off the front. I did not want to blow this. Salvetat (world champion) and Hanka K (previous world champ) caught up and took the reins while I proceeded to race my guts out. I am pretty sure there was a fair amount of snot hanging off my face for the majority of the race but I held my own. I suffered in the middle but found my form again near the end to shake a wee little leech off my wheel through the last mud section. 5th place! My best world cup finish ever. Not too shabby considering I had zero confidence an hour before the race..

Pee etiquette
I was one of the "randoms" selected for doping so I couldn't really celebrate and enjoy the finish with Norm. I was whhhisked (Hot Rod style) off and sent to doping. I did the standard forms and then had to pee in a kindergarten boys bathroom (picture mini urinals, no toilets) with the woman watching me. After we were done the woman (wearing NO GLOVES) is testing the pH, practically  flinging my urine all around the office while she checks it against the standards. I am literally looking at a drop of my own piss running down her hand. Now its my urine so it wasn't really an issue for me but she would have seen 4 people in every race that day so at least 16 people's pee was all over that office so I wanted to get the hell out of there fast. She definitely could have sat in on the intro safety lecture to the pee lab at Malaspina.

I went straight for the baked goods (minus 4 bites...) AFTER a heavy dose of purell.



Saturday, January 5, 2008

We went to the chocolate museum in Brugge.  I must come from royal blood lines because in europe only the wealthy or nobility could have chocolate for a long time. Some priest tried to stop people from drinking cocoa in church (the chocolatiers continually interrupted his service when delivering the cocoa) and banned it, but he got murdered soon after. 

I learned a lot about my addiction but got really, really hungry for chocolate. I was pretty much rabid by the time we left so we did another choc-off. 

The Chocolate Line vs Neuhaus     
Winner: Neuhaus (PS they invented the praline. duh)

My favourite display at the chocolate museum. 

Question: Does chocolate make you fat? 
Answer: blah blah blah, pretty much FALSE

Brugge by day


Brugge by night

My new friends Gary and Betty in the Brugge Market square

SWF (an ode to Barbarella)


Since the gimp (Barb) is out of commission I have decide that I will try to steal her identity, "single white female" style. Bit by bit I will become Barbara Greer Howe. I started the master plan yesterday. I called up Barb's friends Gary and Betty Noe and we spent the day in Brugge, just like old friends. Soon, they will like me better than her. Then, I will start wearing my hair like hers and dress like her, in red cords. I will sign the glossy trading cards she left behind at races. I will talk like her, using words like "bunch" , "huh?" and "oh la la" excessively. I will become vegetarian (but i will still eat bacon. I can never give up bacon. and lamb. and lobster. hmmmm maybe I will just give the appearance of being vegetarian). I will sew skull hats for everyone.  I will make lots of soups. With lentils. I will know big name cyclists like Erwin Vervecken and I will chat with them at races but not introduce them to my friends until they punch me in the back and demand to be introduced. I will shudder when recalling the plague. I will talk about how cool my cat is and brag about how many people stop to visit her because she is so cool. I will use UV rays to fight germs.  I will have to learn to nap. I will talk about what a great friend Mel is, she would clean my toe jam and wash my hair. I will ride a commuter bike with a burrito holder. I will wear lots of Sheila Moon. I will have to fool Spindle Meat but I think he can be duped. 

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Directionally challenged

So far in life it seems that I have been dealt a pretty decent hand when it comes to my genetics (thanks Lizzie & Geo!). Sure, I am so blind I have had to wear coke bottle glasses since I was 4 and my ankles are so wimpy I am a pathetic skater (a big deal growing up in Ottawa with  “the longest skating rink in the world”) but overall I think I have done pretty well (knock on wood I don’t get poked by the fickle finger of fate with some nasty disease). But one thing I never got was that “internal compass” that can be helpful in many situations. I have tried to focus and improve on this but if you know me well you know it’s never going to happen (Norm is the only one in denial). I once did a 3 day adventure race in Panorama and got lost for 3 hours on the first day, 2 hours on the second day and 1 hour on the third day. It was deemed a success in my eyes because I actually got back on track every day. As my nephew Noah would say – yeah me!

So with this acceptance, whenever I am in a new place and trying to get longer rides in it is always a bit stressful. Nobody wants to be lost in a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language, where legend has it Ryan Trebon was arrested and thrown in jail for turning right on a red light on his bike. With most of the crew out with injuries, and now gone, I have been doing a lot of my training rides solo. I started with out and backs to get familiar with what Hertsberge looked like from all angles. Oostkamp and back. Brugge and back. Beernem and back. Then I graduated to small loops, always moving in a grid-like pattern. Next up, figure 8’s,: a loop to a known point then another loop from that non-Hertsberge point. Then bigger loops encompassing a few towns on the perimeter of Hertsberge. I know, it seems pathetic but I am seriously a bit of a directional moron.

I was starting to feel more comfortable so today I thought I would expand on yesterdays Beernem loop. I got to Beernem no problem. Easy peezy lemon squeezy. Left. Big move Wendy. Crazy, I know. I started towards a new town, Assebroek. This was supposed to be a big loop so no turns, I kept straight and then realized I was heading towards Brugge. Hmmm I knew Brugge pretty well by now so no biggie. I also knew that my new favourite chocolate store “Neuhaus” was in Brugge so I kept my course. Lucky for me the euro towns are always centered around a giant church that towers above all else so I made my way to the centrum. I was having a wicked ride! Snaking my way to the centrum on some cobbled alleyways and people watching. Ladies in fur coats and heels riding their bikes with style. Guys riding no-hands so they could smoke. Tourists. Shoppers. The smell of fresh waffles. Horse drawn carriages. Brick bridges. I was pretty obvious in my bright orange Kona-yourkey.com kit so I got as many stares as I gave out.

I found my way to Neuhaus – no problem, its right near the big church. My chocolate assistant recognized me so she directed me towards some new ones to try (this trip was unplanned so I forgot the chocolate guide that Barb and I had poured over, circling the ones we wanted to try). When I left, it started to snow.

I headed back towards Hertsberge and then got cocky 1-2kms from the Cycling Center. I still had to find a good spot for my workout. There were lots of woodsy areas near our place that I hadn’t explored yet so I popped onto a diagonal bike path (another crazy move as I usually only deal in straight lines). I saw signs for a castle and took some side trails. This was looking like a great spot to check out further. I found the castle. Did my workout and then realized I had no clue where I was. Uh oh. I was cold and tired and needed food (other than chocolate…). Bad combo. But I got all mantracker and started looking for clues. I finally found my tire tracks in the snow and followed them out of the woods and headed home. What a great ride! The only thing that could have made it better was a buddy to share it with….

 Notes:

-if I hear anymore Phil Collins on the radio I might snap

-no races for awhile now, just training, so if you are bored with my idle chit-chat, tune back in after the Lievin World Cup on the 13th

-my FSA spoke arrived today – thanks FSA! Now I can get that wheel up and running

-7 days until Norm gets here!

 

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Yawn. 


My sister Heather is always trying to stay updated on my life when we get a chance to connect. Her questions usually include: where in the world are you? is it cyclocross or mountain bike season? and how is the racing going? She has made a wierd observation about me. Apparently when I am recounting good results I yawn, presumably to downplay them so I don't appear to be cocky  ?? Who knows, but I had no idea that I did that until she mentioned it (laughing hysterically) and she has busted me many times since she made the original discovery....I haven't heard from Heather yet so I figured I would give give her the latest scoops.  

After a yummy New Years eve dinner with Ann and Bernard (and some extended fireworks thanks to the neighbors) we got up bright and early (but not chipper) to welcome 2008 with, what-else, a CYCLOCROSS race. I took my good luck gimp (Barb) and my catch all (Bernard) and we drove to Petange LUXEMBOURG to a race that has been running since 1948. I think the entire town sponsored the event because they had a nice glossy book filled with sponsor ads that had absolutely no information on where the race was. They also offered me and the gimp (if she wasn't so gimped out) 150 euros start money! Most of that ticked away with the kms we covered to get there but it still makes you feel like a bit of a rockstar to be paid to show up. With everyone hung over and off the roads we made it there with 3 hours to spare.  Well, apparently the Luxembourgonians (??) are a little more lax than Belgian cross promoters because the place was deserted. We waited in the parking lot until registration opened an hour later. 

The course was not your traditional cyclocross loop - straight up a paved hill through town, run up some stairs, plough through a cowfield, straight up another road,  power through the muddy woods, keep going up in the woods, then slip n' slide down the muddy trails, plough through another cowfield. Repeat. Considering most of our races this year have been flat, it was a pretty tough course with all the climbing. Not a lot of girls showed up for this event, as all of their National championships are this weekend, but the World Champion Maryline Salvetat (France) was on the start list along with a few Americanos and even Japan.

Because the course was straight uphill, we had to turn around and park on the side of a narrow, euro  steep road. The kind that would never meet code in Canada. Unfortunately the turning radius of the big gray van was not great and one of the wheels made its way onto the nice green grass with slippery mud below. Uh oh. The wheels started spinning and Bernard tried everything but the situation just kept getting worse and worse until we were in the middle of the soft grass field. Luckily, the Goddart's offered up a tractor after the event so we just had to leave it and focus on the race.

So basically, I (yawn) got my first european podium in Luxembourg. With (yawn) the current World Champion. Sooooo 2007, don't you think? Pip. Pip.  Salvetat took off the front and I tried to stay with her but she dropped me on the first climb. But then I (yawn) caught back up to her on the descent with my mad MTB skillz. Buuuut then she dropped me again on the hill. I settled into my own pace after that and took home second while Sue Butler (River City) pulled in for third. Sue and I we were both pretty excited to get our podium photos taken with the world champion but our personal photographer (yeah Emily that is you) wasn't pushy enough and got crappy photos so now I am begging the organizers to send me one. 

While we were freezing our butts off watching the tractor pull our van out of the mud pit, I busted out some rusty, choppy French to convince the concession stand to give us some gluwine - a hot red wine mixed with rum and spices. YUM. I highly recommend it. It even warmed the gimps exposed toes right up. She was even more exhausted than I was after using her gimp stix to hop 600m uphill from the start line to the finish line.  

Now we are packing up the gimp's things as she flies out tomorrow. We stuffed about 85lbs of gear in her bike bag, hoping the airline would feel sorry for her and not dare question the weight of her bags as she is wheeled to the check in counter. Then we bought about 20lbs of chocolate for her to bring home to  friends. 

I will miss the sound of her hop-along steps in the halls after she is gone.....