What a day. What a great day. Awesome day to be a cyclo-cross racer. Really, it was just a most excellent day. Only thing that would have made it better would have been to have Marc here (next year!).
So not only did I race in the World Cup today but I also had to get myself packed up and checked out of my hotel in Villorba. Many thanks to Jonas and Christine for transporting my bike boxes to the race (this saved me from having to go back to the hotel to pack up the bikes). Had a pretty chilled morning with a fine Italian breakfast of museli and fizzy water. Chilled in the room for a bit – catching up on the WWW action and just getting organized. Then it was time to get to the course.
My race was at 2:00, so I decided to arrive just before 11:00. I reasoned that this would allow me to beat the crowds int he parking lot and get a good spot. Well, lets just say I’m glad I arrived when I did – the parking lot was packed. Those motorhomes take up a lot of space. I basically parked in a non-parking spot. But it worked out well – I had a nice patch of grass to use later for my bike packing and I was parked across from Zdnek Stybar and the Belgian team. Pretty fast company. I put the bikes together and then ate my oatmeal experiment. Yep, oatmeal experiment… Typically I cook my oatmeal and add bananas, dates, and yogurt. Well, I didn’t have the means to cook my oatmeal, so I soaked it overnight with water, dates and spoonful of peanut butter. Then this morning I liberated a container of yogurt from the hotel breakfast room – I added this to the oatmeal and sliced up a banana I had bought earlier. It worked out pretty well. Nice taste combo with the dates, bananas, and peanut butter. Soaked oats taste pretty nice – basically a museli.
I had plenty of time since there really wasn’t much to do before the race. I pinned on my numbers and then rolled over to check out the expo. I was hoping to pick up some souvenirs for my favorite guy but no such luck. There was free gelato but I decided to pass on this!
Then it was time to get warmed up. Without a trainer to ride, I hit the open road and cruised around and got my leg spinning. A cool thing they do at World Cup races is use transponders to track the riders during the race – this gives feedback on lap times, etc – same idea as the transponders used in marathons, triathlons, etc. Excellent idea. The trick is remembering to pick up the transponder! Did this and then quickly changed into my skinsuit and jersey for some course riding. Things were going well. I had dialed in my lines. Decided to run the steep climb that I thought might be rideable… Then tragedy struck (okay, maybe tragedy is a bit dramatic…) – anyway I got a flat tire… Luckily Christine and Jonas saved the day. With this excitement minutes before the race, time really start to tick along. Then before I knew it I was lined up in the fifth (i.e. back row) and ready to start the World Cup! I wrote a race report with all the race details.
Suffice it to say, it was a good day on the bike. It was hot. It was dry. It was fast. It was cyclo-cross in Italy. I can say that the fans in Italy are much more friendly than the fans in Belgium. There was no booing or laughing. There were no visibly drunk people. Really just lots of cheering fans. I even heard a few “Go Vicki”‘s. Pretty smooth. I ended up 28th. Satisfied. But in typical fashion, I would have liked to have done better. But I’m content with this result. The trip was definitely worth it.
Have to say the water handed out at the finish was very welcomed. I was so thirsty during the race. It was funny to look at everyone – we were all covered in dirt, dust and grime. Signs of a good day of hard and fast pedaling. I quickly changed and then got down to business and packed up my bikes. It took about an hour to do – so I missed the men’s race. I would have liked to have watched this, but there will be many chances soon enough to watch the elite men race. So got the bikes packed, zoomed around and chatted with a few people and then took off for the airport. This was an easy 30 minute drive. Picked up the shuttle and I’m now settled in my hotel for the night. The hotel is literally two minutes from the airport. I took a bit of a walk and got some food. Pizza. Ice cream. It was pretty okay pizza – really just tasted like pizza at home. But considering I haven’t had pizza in over a year – I enjoyed every bite of it. And to finish things off – a double chocolate Magnum bar. Oh yeah, there is nothing quite like a Magnum bar.
I’ve got an early start tomorrow morning with a 4:30 wake-up call and a 5:30 shuttle to the airport. My first flight leaves at 7:00. I’ve got four flights tomorrow! Lots of flying. Hope my bikes make it all the way with me. Lucky for me, I’m getting picked up at the airport. Shaun’s mom is being super generous and picking me up. Thanks so much!
One thing I can say about this trip is that it was definitely made easier with the help of Christine and Jonas – they helped me out so much. Even just being around to talk to. Nice to just jabber away about nothing really for a bit. The wonderful treats from Belgium are an extra bonus – looking forward to a bowl of All-Bran Choco (might save it for Ottawa though).
Okay, I’m out. The morning is going to come fast and I must admit, I’m a bit wiped out right now. Thanks for all of your emails, Twitter messages/posts, and the speedy vibes you sent me. It all helped a great deal. I really felt like I could hear Marc’s voice out on the course today. As I zipped past the pits, I swear I could hear him cheering me on. And when I went through the twists and turns and made my way up the long climbs, I really could hear him cheering for me and yelling at me to pedal. Thanks Marc – you were with me every second on that race course today.