10 June 2011 | Race Reports
World Cups #2 & #3: Dalby and Offenburg Race Report
I was really looking forward to racing at Dalby again. I love the course, and I had a great race there last year. Unfortunately, it seems like I have some kind of weird bad-start karma that causes me to go from the front of the field to the back of the field in less than 2 minutes. Ok, it’s not karma, it’s just me not being aggressive enough. I definitely need to work on that because some of those Euros go absolutely bazooka at the starts. That’s my goal: bazooka. In any case, I got stuck behind the inevitable crash in the first singletrack and the inevitable walking of every section not flat and straight, then spent the whole race moving up through the field. I think I eventually made it up to 13th or so, but I was still disappointed because I felt great and I think that I could have been on the podium if I had gotten to the front of the race early.
From Dalby we traveled down to Essex to pre-ride the Olympic course. I think it will be a great course- it is very spectator-friendly and it is certainly hard. Multiple short, punchy climbs and equally short downhills make for little recovery. There is also plenty of room to pass which, in my opinion, is good (no, that has nothing to do with my recent spate of crappy starts….). Anyway, after a few pre-ride laps at the test course, we stayed the night in Essex, and in the morning we continued our journey to Offenburg via the Eurotunnel. (Katerina and I opted to drive with Waldek and Zak since another Icelandic volcano had erupted, and we didn’t want to worry about potentially missing a flight. And also we like Zak and Waldek and thought a road trip would be fun).
We arrived in Offenburg on Wednesday afternoon, and it was was beautiful (as usual): all the vineyards were lush and green, flowers were blooming, and the local towns were all celebrating spargle season. (Spargle= asparagus, although I think from now on we should all call asparagus “spargle”, it’s just more fun.) which meant we had a few days to hang out, pre-ride the course and eat amazing food at our hotel. Yes, Waldek did it again. He discovered Edy’s hotel/restaurant in Ortenburg (right outside of Offenburg) last year, we loved it, and we were all looking forward to staying there (and eating there) again. I don’t think we even tried any other restaurants because the food is so good! From the spargle salad to the thai carrot soup with seared scallops to the steak with morel mushrooms to the lamb chops to the tiramisu….or the rhubarb brulee…. ok, I’m hungry again. I got to the point where I wouldn’t even look at the menu, I’d just have the chef cook whatever he felt like. The service is fantastic as well, which is a bit of a rarity in Europe. (And also, our waiter looked like Joaquin Phoenix, so if you are a big Joaquin Phoenix fan…um…eat at the restaurant, and the waiter will entertain you with stories from his secret life as a movie star.) If you ever happen through the area, it’s worth a stop, and while you are there you can also pick up some home-made spice blends that the chef makes himself- lots of unique stuff.
Ok, enough about my meals and back to bike racing! The Offenburg course was dry and in great shape, I was feeling good, and I was ready to murder everyone at the start. I started well and made the initial selection at the front along with 8 or 10 others. There was a lot of jockeying for position, and after 2 laps Catharine and Julie managed to get a small gap over the rest of us. The chase group was whittling down as one-by-one racers dropped off the pace, but I was feeling pretty comfortable. I was riding in a group of 3rd-6th when, with 1.5 laps to go, my chain bounced off. No problem, right? Just shift it back on. I spent a few panicky seconds shifting my front derailleur, but I couldn’t get it to go back on, so I stopped and tried to manually put it on. Then I realized that the chain had somehow gotten twisted. For the life of me, I could not figure out how to untwist it. I was like some sort of evil puzzle that my frazzled brain simply could not solve. It looked so simple, and yet I could not figure out how it even happened! It seemed as if everyone in the race passed me as I sat there and tried to figure out how my chain ended up with a big kink in it. Finally, a spectator explained how to fix it and I was able to get the chain untwisted and get back on the bike.
I jumped back into the race, but I had lost several minutes dicking around with my chain, my legs felt bad after standing around, AND I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Oh yes, I had the full-on boo-boo lip. Then I started thinking about how my start position at the next race wasn’t going to get any better unless I started passing some people, and that helped me get my head back in the game. I ended up finishing 20th. Not the podium finish I was looking for, but at least I knew that I had the fitness to be riding at the front of the race. This time is was just back luck.
I am kind of sick of saying “the next World Cup will go better,” but that’s really all I can say at this point. I know I am riding well enough to podium at the World Cups, so the last few races have been frustrating, but I guess that means I will appreciate it all the more when I finally win one!