Tuesday, June 2, 2015

2015 World Cup opening campaign

 The Yellow Fields of Czech Republic
 Czech Republic Rock Garden Photo: Michal Cervany
 Leading Women's Team Overall after Czech World Cup Photo: Michal Cervany
 Hohenzollern Castle, Germany
Albstadt, Germany Photo: Michal Cervany

The last two weekends marked the beginning of the 2015 mountain bike season.  The world cup got a later start than usual on one of my favorite courses and venues on the circuit, Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic.  Since I had a slower U.S spring race campaign than most of my competitors, I was naturally a little bit nervous going into the first world cup.  But, spoiler alert, every single person is nervous going into that first race.  The North Americans have been racing separate from the Europeans so not everyone has raced each other.  No one knows how she is going to measure up.  I spent a month training in Vermont and motor pacing with my coach, Andy Bishop.  I worked really hard and gained confidence from Andy’s feedback during our motorpace workouts.  I could also rest my nerves a bit in the workouts themselves, which were some of the hardest I’ve ever done in my ten year long career.  This is saying a lot.  Going into Nove Mesto, I knew I could go really hard.  My goal was to really push myself and be mentally and physically strong.  I’m completely overjoyed to say that I accomplished both of those goals, and all of the hard work in the spring training build paid off.  I raced to 7th place in Nove Mesto and also the best start to a world cup season I’ve ever had. 
            It was such an awesome race.  I didn’t get the best start, but it was one of those starts where everything miraculously works out afterwards so I wasn’t completely out of contention.  I took the right line when girls piled up on the left line.  I rode a climb when other girls were walking.  With a little luck and a lot of hard efforts, I was able to catch groups of girls and bridge up briefly to the group battling for a podium spot.  It was incredibly exciting race, and I’m definitely relieved to have top 10 fitness.  My Danish Specialized teammate, Annika Langvad, also raced to fifth place, and our results combined put us in the lead of the women’s team competition.  This means that we got to go up on the podium and spray champagne.  This also means that we got the yellow leader number plates for the world cup the next weekend in Albstadt, Germany.  The most exciting part is that Nove Mesto result put me on the front starting row for the first time in my world cup career.  Since we start all together in a mass start and it usually bottlenecks into singletrack quickly, start position is crucial. 
            This past weekend’s race in Albstadt, Germany couldn’t have been more different from the Czech world cup.  The Nove Mesto course has perfect loamy soil that my tires just bite into.  The Albstadt course has clay soil and it’s so slick that it’s icy.  The world cup course in Germany is also packed with steep, relentless climbing.  While Nove Mesto is challenging in its own way, Albstadt is really just a pure sufferfest.  Nevertheless, with the previous weekend’s success, I was very excited to race.  I lined up on the front row, and my family watching the live Redbull feed online got to see me wave to the camera.  What happened immediately after the start probably also made their heart rates go a little too high for five o’clock in the morning.  I got into my pedal and then three pedal strokes in, my other foot unclipped from the pedal.  I couldn’t believe it.  My first front row start potentially wasted by a mistake.  I immediately clipped back in and noticed that the whole left side of the start straight where I was was open.  So, I sprinted and got the hole shot that I wanted.  I lead out the start loop, and it was such a great feeling to be leading a world cup.  That was the highlight of the race.  It all literally went uphill from there, and I was a bit off.  I hung tough mentally and was riding consistently in the top fifteen.  Finally, with the help of some caffeine, I came around for the last two laps and finally was racing aggressively.  I passed four girls on the last two laps for a ninth place finish.  I was completely relieved when that race was over.  I am still ranked eight overall in the world cup standings which means I get another front row start for the next world cup in Switzerland.  Until then, I am headed home for another hard training block in Vermont.  I so excited to see what this new venue in Lenzerheide, Switzerland and the next month brings. 

Happy training!  Thanks for all of the support and well wishes over in Europe. It makes a huge difference.


 We found a 'spirit cat' at the Czech accommodations
 Check riding through a field of flowers off the life list.  This was incredible. 

 The Czech fans are the best. Photo: Michal Cervany
 "Kate Courtney, Kate Courtney, Let down your hair"
 It's so great when you can explore Europe a bit.  Kate and I rode to one of the most amazing castles I've ever seen

 With a mandatory Frites and cake feed mid castle ride
 Whoa.  The view is incredible. 

 Backroads of Germany.  This is a lovely area. 
 Happiness Watts.  Mandatory Gelato stop with part of the team: L to R, Benno our team manager, Annika Langvad, Kandice Buys (soigneur), Kate, and myself
 Teammate Jaroslav's fan club at the Czech World Cup.  They made him into a princess cutout 

 German Countryside
 Our Team is killing it this year.  Start numbers for World Cup #2, noone places out of the top 10 in Czech
 Last Lap feed.  Photo: Michal Cervany
 Kate gave me this necklace for my birthday
 Watching Kate on the big screen during her U-23 race.  The fans come out in full force in Germany.  It's incredible
 Kate having a killer season so far and not afraid to show her excitement on the podium.  I love this. 
 Photo: Michal Cervany
Michal Cervany