Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Report from Spain

by Wendy

The airplane gorillas.
My flight to Europe was pretty uneventful. Or so I thought.

Apparently while I was munching nasty plane food and trying to find a comfortable spot to sleep two inches from some complete stranger, the airplane gorillas (as Alex likes to call them) were stomping up and down on my sweet Kula Lisa. I remained oblivious to this fact until the day after I arrived because not only did the gorillas stomp the crap out of my bike, they were obviously taking a coffee break when I transferred flights because my bike didn't arrive when I did.

When I finally got the bike on Friday and put it together I started taking note of all the problems. The derailleur hanger had snapped off. The chain rings were horribly bent. My rotor was bent. One of my wheels was warped. Oh yeah and I later learned that the drop out on my frame was so bent the wheel couldn't sit in it properly. I tried not to stress out.

Cody Peterson (3D racing), Sarah Tescher (3D racing) and my teammate Kristin Danielson took pity and pushed me to the venue so I could get some help. This was waaaaay beyond my mechanical expertise. Patrick from the Swiss Kona team and the SRAM boys (Jeremiah, Torbin and Marty) were super helpful, spending a long time on my bike to get it working again.

Casa de Campo
While they were working on my bike I was hanging out at the SRAM tent trying to stay out of the sun. As people returned from pre-riding, the common question was "have you seen the whores???".

Hmmmm. Not really what I would have expected. But I finally got out there and saw it for myself. The race course snaked through Casa de Campo, a park that was apparently a hot spot for the Madrid ladies soliciting love. And they were pretty obvious. I only saw a few on the course but that was enough for me, because they were showing off what they seemed to consider their best assets.

And apparently this was how the venue looked after it had been "cleaned up". I guess in previous years the hookers would be waiting super aggressive at the entrance to the race site and jump on the hoods of the team cars, or just open the doors and try to get in. This venue made Fontucky look like a church camp.

After the prostitutes, there really wasn't much to talk about when it came to the course. It was hard pack, fast, smooth, twisty, with no roots, a few short steep climbs and one steep sketchy descent. It was fun to ride but it was going to be pretty tough to race. No start loop, not a lot of passing spots and crazy fast.

Start list
Oh yeah. And 114 girls were going to be starting!!

The biggest women's world cup in a looooong time. I would like to think that huge start list is indicative of the growth of mountain biking but I am guessing it has more to do with the quest for Olympic spots in 2008. Either way it was pretty cool to be racing against 100+ of the top women in the world. I just would have rather had a better start position among those 100+.

My 71st ranking was going to be tough but I had to keep my trap shut because Kristin was 99, Sarah was 109 and poor old Cody was 182.

The Race
Race day was perfect at 10am. HOT at 1pm for the men. The call up started 20mins early because there were so many of us.

After the top 20 they gave up on names and just called numbers. I waited in the shade for my 71 to be called. The start was a bit delayed back on row 9 but once we got started it was all out war. 114 girls trying to make up spots in the 25m start stretch and beyond. And those euro girls are aggressive!! You had to fight for every single spot and hold onto it with all of your energy.

The course got really skinny at the top of the first climb and everyone was off their bikes trying to force their way through. It stayed like that for the first lap before things spread out a bit. But for the rest of the race, if you slacked off or slipped up, there was always someone there to blow by you.

But I had a solid race, picking people off whenever I could and holding onto most of my gains. I finished 35th but it felt like I had worked hard enough for top 10 so I was pretty happy with my race. And the best part was that I got some valuable UCI points to help my start position for Belgium.

We hightailed it out of Madrid pretty quickly after the race. It was dirty, noisy and full of traffic and construction.

We drove to Girona to stay at Kristin's place - much nicer! Great food, wicked rides, funky character and beaches. We are here exploring for a few days before Kristin and Sarah head home and I go to Belgium to meet Norm.

While I am sporting a few more freckles from a day at the beach, I hear its raining in Spa.....

Thanks to all of our team sponsors Velo Bella, Kona, SRAM, Easton, Schwalbe (the Fast Fred's rocked!), Zeal Optics, Fox, San Marco, SIDI, Hincapie, Team estrogen, P@zzo, Vanderkitten. Thanks to my sponsors Helly Hansen and Frontrunners. Thanks so much to the SRAM boys and the Swiss Kona wrench Patrick for saving my trashed bike and Valdic from Luna Chix for feeding us in the heat.

Photos by Rob Jones of Canadiancyclist.com


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