German World Cup

uci_wordcup_logoLimping into a World Cup XC wasn’t an easy call to make after a rough month on the bike but sometimes races like this can light a fire under ones ass.  Watching KONA teammate Spencer Paxson the week before work his way up from 115th to 65th in Czech inspired me so I threw my name into the hat.    I got worked over royally but at the same time came away with an interesting experience.    Getting to ride an European World Cup with over 150 of the Worlds fastest racers in front of thousands of screaming fans was pretty cool.  sheep-jam

During the start loop the elbows were high as riders from the back took big risks bulldozing there way up into the field.  Two minutes into the race we hit the base of the first single track climb which created a situation in which 100+ of the Worlds best bikers stood around in the German forest like a bunch of anxious sheep.  Anyone outside the top 30 was left stuck and soon it turned into a pushy line like an Old Dehli train station.

Having a chance to catch my breath at this point I looked back to see the damage, and realized there were just 5 riders behind me.  With a coughing diesel engine and a flimsy shoulder on my mind I had really failed the start loop portion of this game.   As a result it was a long wait in line, enough time to start conversations with the surrounding riders, then when it was our turn to go we’d sprint all out to the next traffic jam and continue the conversation.  We had enough time to discuss all the Worlds problems and come up with solutions as well.

The leaders did the first lap in around 11 minutes and I rolled through nearly 5 minutes down.  The 2nd lap was a bit bett11336901_943163011645_5660616829512079134_oer but the combination of sprinting all out and then standing and waiting is not something I have practiced enough in training this year.  With the 80% rule in effect, there was just over 1 more minute to lose before the officials pulled me from the race after lap 3.   Lap 3 we could actually ride without too many jams but by this point it was nearly game over as the guys at the front end of this race were rocketing around the course!

The last week in Belgium was great as I moved over to my friend Christof Marien’s place in eastern Belgium.  Over here there were a few more patches of trees, some nice fishing holes, and some quieter riding if you went east into the Netherlands.   Belgium was a nice place to visit for 3 weeks but the flatness and lack of any wilderness started to crack me good.

It was an exciting day to pack up Christof’s, parents RV and head south down the German Autobahn to Albstadat Germany for a weekend at the World Cup XC races.  Driving the Autobahn is something else with cars ripping by at 160 km/hr +.  I learned quickly if your a big motorhome driven at 110 km/hr you better be in the far right lane or else you’ll have a pile of pissed off Germans behind you.  In Albstadt we found a quiet corner of a Grocery store parkinglot and set up camp for the weekend, just a stone throw away from the start finish area.

Pre-riding the slick 4 km course on Saturday was scary as the stoney surface was like ice.  Knowing one fall on the2015 Albstadt World Cup - Elite Men shoulder could end my season I chose to stay off the slicker top half of the course and focused riding the second half of the course.  It’s surprising how poor your single track skills get after not riding any real trail in 1.5 months.   Lap by lap the skills slowly came back, following the lines of Nino Shurter and Absalon certainly helped speed up the process.IMG_3812

It was a relief waking up on Sunday morning to sunny skies as the course is real simple to ride in the dry, but one of the scariest danm things in the World if its slick!  My head was more in survival mode for the day which is no way to enter a World Cup.  In hindsight it was ridiculous to line up at this race with my mind and body so uncoordinated at the moment but some opportunities are just too cool to pass up..

After an overnight with my friend Aaron Schooler and a ride to the Ritter Sport Chocolate factory, it was off on the German trainline to my friends Manuel and Anderl in the Bavarian Alps just south of Salzburg.   We’ve had a stellar training week up to now which has been a great way to rebound the spirit and body as the build up to the Marathon Worlds continues..IMG_3850

Off to soak in some more Austrian Alpine air 🙂     (Thanks Robert Jones & Canadian Cyclist for the nice action shots)


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