Sunday, June 1, 2008

Andorra World Cup report

I wasn’t really sure if I was going to come back to Europe again after such a disappointing trip in May. But I shook off the funk and remembered that I had taken the year off work to travel to cool places and race my bike against the best in the world. So I quit my whining and booked a first class ticket on points. May as well travel in style. I could easily be a 5star girl. I DO like my luxuries. Traveling first class is sweet! They treat you like gold, they give you chocolates and wine with your meal and they practically tuck you into bed when they are done. Ahhh. It makes for pretty smooth travels and is much easier on the legs. The only problem with first class is you never want to go back to economy.

The drive from Barcelona to Andorra was a bit more of an adventure. Mapquest had estimated a 3 hr drive however it was closer to six with a crappy map, poor navigation skills, my lack of Spanish and a super twisty drive through the mountains. But the car rental had upgraded me to an Audi3 TDi so it was a pretty fun drive, especially with the 80s tunes pumping out of virtually every radio station. I finally got to Andorra and even in my jet lagged state I could appreciate how incredibly beautiful it was. Well, except the 5km stretch of Robson-like shopping that I had to drive through many times before someone finally pointed me in the right direction to the mountain. As Rob Jones said, “they may as well put a dome over it and call it the biggest shopping mall in the world.” I finally reached the Velvet Apartments. I stayed awake until my travel buddy Sandra Walter (XO-Felt) and her mom arrived after midnight and then I crashed hard. I was so tired. But… I was wide awake at 5am. Jet lag is a bitch.

The race in Andorra was at 2000m. Altitude sucks. Well, I hope that is what made my “3 blocks from the water” body feel like crap, otherwise its ME that sucks. It felt like someone was sitting on my chest. And I was drinking as much as I physically could but I still had headaches. Come on! It wasn’t even THAT high. But lots of top racers had decided to skip this race because of the altitude. Many are getting ready for the Olympics so it doesn’t fit into their grand master plan. I am usually affected a bit by altitude but I had nothing to lose. 

UCI Trade team perks
Kona is a UCI trade team. I don’t have the receipts but I am pretty sure Kona pays THOUSANDS of dollars to the UCI for this designation which seems to get them 1. a spot at the expo 2. the team name on results 3. a coveted rainbow pass for the manager (often includes drinks and snacks) and 4. parking passes for the team. Sounds like a great deal. I asked for a parking pass at the registration but they said they couldn’t get me one, limited parking so everyone was supposed to park at the bottom of the hill and take the gondola up. Huh. Nice perk. When we drove up to check out the venue and preride, the police stopped me on the way up and said “no pass, you park here” (this was ~750m down an 8% grade hill from the venue). But, but….."NO PASS, YOU PARK HERE!” he yelled. Ok. I should admit he was pissed at me because I happened to be accelerating up the hill when we came upon him. And he was telling me to slow down but it took me a second to come to a complete stop. BUT, in my defense, he was wearing a BERET. How I am supposed to take the Andorran police seriously when they wear berets?? It would really suck if we had to park down the hill and haul all of our gear in the rain on race day. That afternoon I went back to the registration and asked for a parking pass again. We gave the beret wearing cops a BIG thumbs up when we parked at the TOP of the hill race day with our thousand dollar parking pass. Thanks KONA! I don’t know if it was worth thousands of dollars but it made my life easier.

Sweet Sylvain
So I was checking all my bolts the night before the race, as I am prone to do (ha ha, Norm knows he is the one that usually does that!) and I noticed that my rear brake caliper was totally loose. Yikes! Close call. But when I tightened it I had some serious brake rub. I tried to fix it but needed a bunch of spacers. Norm packed me a few but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t need altitude AND brake rub slowing me down. It was almost 10pm but Sandra texted Sylvain to see if he could help me out. Not only did he fix it FOR me, but he showed me me a trick on what to do next time. Thanks Sylvain!

The race
I woke up race day and the fat man that had been sitting on my chest seemed to have taken a break. Or so I thought. It had also started drizzling a bit so the rooty rocky course was probably getting slipperier as we ate breakfast. Hmm. To pull out the mud tires or not? When it opened up and poured an hour before the race the answer was obvious. Everyone scrambled. I had to do my warm up on the course in the trees because it was pouring. I was soaked and muddy by the time we were called to the start. But I knew the bigger tires were a good call.

I didn’t want to blow up at altitude (been there – its painful and impossible to recover from) so I had a conservative start.  I got caught behind a big line of riders in the technical sections as a result of my conservative start but I told myself to not panic and try to make up time in the last 2 laps. Ren (Chines rider) was apparently a little more stressed out as she screamed "WHY!?!" when a girl crashed in front of her. Well, I guess its good that they are learning some English. I was riding technically well but I felt so slow on the climbs. My bike weighed a ton with all the mud on it. Neil Ross was feeding me and it felt like he had time to knit a frickin' sweater from the time I crested the hill to when I took a water bottle from him. (thanks for the feed Neil!). By the last 2 laps I soon realized that my speed wasn’t picking off any riders and noone was blowing up and coming back to me. The gaps were too big and I didn’t have the extra energy that was supposed to available according to my master plan. Dammit. Hopefully it was the altitude. Otherwise I might start losing my stalkers to someone faster….


Anonymous said...

I am stalking you ....

Don't tell Norm ...


Kristenn said...

Your stalkers will never leave you.

I don't know much, but I do know that a fat guy sitting on your chest is definitely a good reason to be having trouble!

Beauty pics! What an amazing location (damn elevation is good for something...!)!

Remember that you rock!

John said...

So how the hell did you do?????? 1st, 2nd, 3rd??????? You can't stop the post without letting us know!

As for your performance, I told you before - eat dried mango. Forget that chocolate crap!, I love chocolate too (only with copious amounts of cold milk of course). But, dried mango has magical power... Trust me - eat a generous amounts before you ride.

(not a stalker - but a big fan)

Good luck!

Wendy Simms said...

uh. I was 33rd.

By the way does mango mousse count?