Friday, May 18, 2012

Olympics

 Bike path in Durban, South Africa

The chase for an Olympic berth is on, well, it's actually almost complete.  This Olympic qualification journey started with the first world cup in South Africa, then moved to the second world cup in Belgium, and I'm now back over in Europe for the last two qualification opportunities in Czech Republic and France.  It's been a very exciting spring racing campaign and definitely has had its ups and downs. 

Here's a very quick round up of how the racing has turned out. The United States has two spots to fill for the games and, as predicted, it's been a close competition for those coveted spots.  At the beginning of this year, the US created an Olympic long team of nine women.  From those nine, two US women will go to the games.  In South Africa, I felt amazing and had a great race.  I raced myself from the back of the pack (due to a chaotic start) up to 14th place.  I was the first American.  It was definitely a solid start to the season and I was completely thrilled with the result.  I have never had to start the season with such fitness and it's always a question how my preparation will work out.  This result affirmed that I am definitely prepared for the early racing and ready to go.   For the second world cup in Belgium, I was flat.  I had a great start, but I just didn't have the extra zip needed to close gaps and move up.  Instead, I had a solid race and placed 19th as the second American.  This result wasn't what I hoped for, but I was still happy nonetheless.  I left Belgium ranked 18th and the first American in the world cup rankings.
 jojo rides by the world cup soccer stadium in Durban, South Africa

Last weekend was the third world cup in Nova Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic.  I was so excited for this race and feeling fantastic after a great training block at home.  I've come into this last trip with great fitness.  This Czech Republic course is one of the most fun tracks on the circuit.  It winds through the open Czech pine forest, over roots and rocks, and up a fair share of punchy technical climbs.  Last year, this was my break out world cup where I finished a career best seventh place.  I was pumped.  But, everything doesn't always go as planned.  About one hundred feet into the pavement start, a racer weaved in front of me and I was forced to the left to avoid crashing with her.  I was pinched in the tight pack of seventy girls and I locked handlebars with the girl next to me and went down hard on the asphalt.  I was on the bottom of the pile.  I jumped up and had a lot of road rash on my right side and a charlie horse on my left leg.  I stopped in the tech zone to change a rear flat tire and then started my race at the absolute back.  I was so far back that they were letting spectators cross the start loop by the time I got there.  I couldn't even see anyone in the race.  I forged on and resolved to just do my best under the circumstances and pass as many girls as possible.  I clawed my way up to 37th place which I was really proud of giving that I was still bleeding  and dazed.  I was the fourth american on the day and I'm still the second ranked american in the standings. I'm definitely bummed about the bit of bad luck but at least I'm still moving and well.  I only have bruises and a lot of road rash to show for it.  I can race this weekend which I am really grateful for.  Without the valleys, the peaks wouldn't seem as high. 

I'm looking ahead to this weekend.  It's the last qualifying opportunity in La Bresse, France.  The course has a lot of climbing which suits me and the descents are steep, slippery and rocky.  It's exactly the conditions I grew up riding in.  I'm going to relax and ride my bike as fast as I can.  Simple as that.  Hammer.

Think fast!
Lea

 a little south africa beach recovery time
 South Africans have a sense of humor
Sampling one of the local cuisines, bunny chow. Dig out a loaf of bread and put curry inside

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