Misty Riding in the Black ForestThe first mountain bike of the 2013 season has arrived, and I've been in Europe since Monday preparing for the race. I flew to the new USA Cycling headquarters in Sittard, Holland on Monday and got a chance to experience the new facilities for two days. I was incredibly impressed with how bike friendly Holland is. There are signed bike routes with corresponding maps everywhere. I mean everywhere. I couldn't ride half a kilometer without stumbling upon another intersection where four new bike routes began. It's incredible. It's also incredibly flat there so thank goodness there are maps at most of these intersections so I could find my way around. The find on the first day of riding were these little guys hanging out in a yard.
The second day I drove thirty minutes over the border to the more hilly region in Belgium. I was delighted to find the legendary Amstel Gold road race course marked out perfectly. It's a very relaxing experience to be able to follow signs at every turn instead of trying to remember where you are. Navigation is highly desired skill across the pond. Of course, afterward a three hour exploration, I had to have some Belgium staples, frites and waffles. I wasn't able to get a hot waffle (seriously, there are few things more delicious than a true, fresh belgium waffle), but I got some impostors from the grocery store.
Belgian Frites in all their gloryOn Wednesday, I drove with USA Cycling from Holland to Albstadt, Germany, I've been resting up and dialing in the course ever since. The course, in true european fashion, has some steep climbs and descents, and they did a great job with the design. It's challenging, slippery, and technical. There's one 'A Line' drop in the course and I'm thrilled that I've been able to ride from the beginning. The USA Cycling skills clinic that I took in early March with Shaums March is paying off ten fold. It's revolutionary that I'm able to have skills to focus on when approaching these technical sections. Today the sun even came out to dry the course up but who knows what tomorrow holds. I'm really excited to race tomorrow and see where my legs can take me. It's also the first time I've gotten to race a world cup on my birthday! It's my 30th birthday, and I know exactly what I want for a present.
You can watch the race live (or if you don't want to get up at 5:30 am EST, watch the replay) at redbull.tv
Wish me luck, send me the flow and snappy legs.
After this is onto the second stop on the world cup tour, Nova Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic. Then, it's home to kick off Little Bellas season in Vermont.
A castle in Valkenburg, Belgium
More misty riding in Germany