Offenburg is one of my favorite courses and favorite venues (that I've attended) on the World Cup circuit. Nothing beats a super fun course, with vineyards as far as the eye can see as a back drop, and rowdy fans with German beer and sausage!! I say it every year, but it's pretty wild how much cycling is part of the European culture compared to North America...I love it.
We stayed in the most idyllic though not ideal house at the top of a mountain overlooking the Durbach valley. It really was like a vacation with amazing weather and a big hard bike race at the end of the week. Each morning I'd get up, make a big Bodum of coffee and sit out on the front porch eating my oats and berries, reading and checking out the vineyards. I mean, how much better does it get....maybe internet would have been nice, but you can't have it all. If I stood out on the porch and held my phone out as far as I could, I could send and receive the odd text with Regan (did I mention I love my iPhone!!!!!)
Friday, being 2 days out of race day was a rest day and we spent the day poaching internet outside a nail salon in downtown Offenburg....the only unsecure network we could find, Germany is totally locked down with it comes to wifi. And it poured, and hailed, and poured most of the day...like...it was really nasty. Turned the hardpack dusty trails into super slick rooty and slimmy trails, and the Saturday pre-ride was funnnnn. Picking up a little too much speed through a couple of sections I thought I was going to die, once you get going, there's no stopping....no slowing down for that matter.
The focus of this week was rest and recovery, trying to get the most out of my legs for the race as possible. That being said, after the short early ride on Sat, we were house bound on the top of out mountain for the rest of the day with no internet and only one english channel (and about 78 channels of various other languages...and if you know me, I'm useless when it comes to language). It was funny, by the end of the day, everytime we heard a tractor or vehicle driving up our mountain we'd all run to the window like eager dogs just to see who was coming.....maybe someone was coming to visit!!!! Haha.
The course dried up amazingly for Sunday, back to the hard dusty conditions, there actually wasn't even a stitch of mud. At plate number 55 I was I think the 3rd or 4th row from the back, but off the start I had my typical great start and moved up to 35th....ish. I really have to figure out how to keep that pace up...then I'd be unstoppable...seriously! With the great start I was able to avoid all the bottle necks, except the Wolf's Drop which is, in my opinion, the scariest drop on course. It's pretty straight forward, but super rough and rooty and nearly a straight down drop for 12 feet. Here someone in the group stopped, so people were off their bikes running (no matter how gnarly this is on a bike, I don't think you can actually walk this drop, you'd have to take a jump and pray not to land on a root and roll and ankle). I managed to stay on my bike and pass a few people trying to decided what to do...really wish someone would have gotten a pic of that mess.
From there I was able to settle into my own pace, which unfortunately meant loosing about 10 spots back in that second lap, but I found myself moving through the race with some of the same people back and forth. Third lap in I was really starting to feel the effort in my legs, and was super happy with my Coke feed. It's the first time I've tried Coke and I actually really enjoyed it. Fourth lap I found my pace again, using a continuous mantra of "Easy Power" to help me find my gear.
On the last km of the 5th and final lap, I noticed USA's Chloe Foresman gaining on me, and I threw the last of my gas into the final long steep double track climb, going cross-eyed near the top, to stay in front of her and finish 48th. I'm actually really happy with how my race went, as per cliche, I left it all out on the course....though not super happy with my placing. It's funny, I know I'm getting faster, but sometimes it really feels like I'm just going backwards. I think the whole women's field is just progressing with leaps and bounds as everyone is striving for Olympic spots.....the question is "What can I do to be there too??"