Monday, October 27, 2008

Tabor, CZE World Cup #2

I have never been to Czech Republic so I was pretty excited to race in a new country. It was a long haul but traveling with the Swift crew in their sweet pink camper van makes travel a hell of a lot smoother. Our crew was Stefan Wyman (Helen’s husband and the Swift team manager), Robbie the mechanic and Jergen the soigneur. Luckily Helen and Gabby were willing to share their mens. On the way down I watched the 2006 Tabor race to get an idea of the course. Grass. Fast. Not much else to report. When we got there Sat afternoon (after everyone playing a viscious game of scrabble in the back got brutal headaches once we hit the twisty turny roads of CZE) it hadn’t changed much. Grass. Fast. And long. There were 3 big metal up and over bridges and 2 sets of stairs scattered on the hilly course.

We went to find our Hotel but the signs looked more like a strip club than the official UCI accommodation. Hmmm. The smog (pollution filled fog) was rolling in when Stefan returned from the manager meeting with news and numbers. They were doing call up by UCI ranking so my “world number one” status was getting me on the line first. I figured if there was ever going to be a time when I would be a “random” choice for doping controls it would be now. Did I mention I was world number one?

The vampires came for me the morning of the race. But they were pretty nice vampires. I was a little disturbed when they went to take blood from me and they didn’t have gloves. What is the deal? Can the UCI not afford gloves to work with the blood and piss required to test athletes. The blood was for a quick hematocrit test that they would do at the race venue. If it was “abnormal” I wouldn’t be allowed to start. 

So as world number one I was part of the front row club. I am not going to lie. It’s a lot different up there. It really IS that much better. I had a great start without burning too many matches even after sustaining a massive blow from 66kg of pure German muscle going into the first corner. I may only have 60kg to hold my ground but I was a solid kid nicknamed “The Wall” in soccer. You are going to have to do better than that. I settled in behind Hanka and Daphny. I know we had just started but it wasn’t even that fast up here. This is what the front row club is all about. I wanted a permanent membership. I was sitting 3rd wheel for most of the first two laps. Nice and comfortable. Everything was great until I slipped a pedal and tried to make up the time on a fast steep bumpy downhill. I went in so hot I blew out the corner and shot UNDER the course snow fencing. Rung my bell. Stunned I crawled back underneath, almost got gunned down by the chase group and jumped on my bike. But my chain was off so I had to get off and manually do it. More riders whizzed passed me. Possible podium to 15th. arrrrrg. Dammit! I was starting to despair at the distance to the next group when Helen bridged up and stomped on the gas up the long hill. Her “come on, Wendy!” was all I needed to focus again. I rested up behind her for a bit and then took the lead at the start/finish. No more front row club. I was back to working my ass off. All alone. It took me 2 laps of suffering but I tagged onto the end of the first chase group. But the effort had taken its toll. I was dangling dangerously. I was wiped. I rested up a bit and then Robbie and the boys were yelling at me to move up so I struggled up to 3rd wheel. It was not pretty. Then we caught Daphny. I knew I should keep moving forward but I didn’t have the juice and stayed put to end up 7th overall. Bittersweet…

My doping control chaperone had to wait a few minutes for me to be able to talk. Long enough to hear that poor Gabby Day was running the last half lap. I was a “random.” Again. I started drinking as soon as I could. When it was my turn I could only eek out 60mL so I was relegated to the wait room until I could bring the cup up to a solid 100mL. Sitting in the wait room with a sample of my own pee. Not cool for conversation. 4L of water, 3 tries and 125mL of amber urine later I was allowed to go.

So my membership to the front row club has likely expired as European champs are next week and with it, points I am not allowed to get. I am surely bumped from World Number One and likely bumped from the front row. But I got a taste and -Wendy like - so I hope to be back soon.

-The mullet is alive and well in the Czech Republic
-The fans are no where near the numbers you see at Belgium races but you can always count on the Czech fans for a real air raid siren and I was not let down
-2010 World Champs is in Tabor but it will likely be a different game played on ice and snow in Jan of that year


Kristenn said...

Sounds like you put your guts and your talent to good use out there! Keep it up Wendy, your awesome!!

Peter W said...

Hey Wendy, What can I say but WOW you're doing great I really wish I was there to cheer you on... still thinking on the World Masters in Belgium. Train hard eat chocolate and get that front row seat back! Cheers

Anonymous said...

WENDY!!! You're amazing! Keep riding fast and hopefully I can go to Worlds in Tabor!