A most excellent morning was spent on the ‘cross bike today. On the schedule was a one hour recovery ride. I chose to return to the race course to ride a couple of easy laps and practice some of the key sections.
After a bit of sleep-in (8:00) and a tasty breakfast at the hotel, we hopped in the RV and made a stop off at the massive shopping plaza by our hotel. The largest Tesco I’ve ever seen along with a bunch of shops and restaurants. Had a bit of a wander around and got some Czech Kroners. By this time the frost had burned off and the sun was out. Time to ride!
Just as I was getting my bike sorted out, my friends Nikoline and Jacob rolled up. We had a good chat and then Nikoline and I set off for a couple of laps. It was good to ride with someone else and talk about the course, race lines and just chat. (Nikoline and Jacob lived with myself and Marc last winter in Blauberg, so we know one another well.) Got in a couple of laps and then Nikoline set off for a road ride. I stayed at the course and practiced the key sections – working on the steep climb, the fast downhill and the climb after the stairs. I’m feeling fairly comfortable with all three. Tomorrow I’ll try the descent without braking… Turns out there are 23 steps in the stair run-up! Yes, it is long and the steps are enormous.
I got in some road riding as well, just to shake out the legs and clear my brain a bit. Discovered some excellent bicycle paths by the course and was treated to some wonderful view of the city. Quick lunch in the RV and it was back to the hotel for a shower.
We spent the afternoon being tourists in Plzen. We explored the old town square taking numerous photos and poking in some shops. I was careful to not do too much walking. This meant we spent some time sitting in two very nice cafes. The second one was excellent – Orient Cafe (best hot chocolate of my life!). Then we hooked up with Nikoline and Jacob for supper (Happy Birthday Jacob!).
Tomorrow is the “real” pre-ride day. The fly-over (bridge) was not finished today so I’ll get to give this a whirl on Saturday and get in a few more laps of the course. Then it is the usual number pick-up, parking pass pick-up and back to the hotel to chill out and relax. Looking forward to the race on Sunday. My dad tells me the Sunday forecast calls for rain… But I won’t think about this until Sunday morning…
So all in all, I’m feeling good. I’m still a bit stressed about getting the UCI points I need on Sunday. But as my dad pointed out, if I don’t get them on Sunday it only means the next few races are that much more important and it doesn’t mean that I won’t qualify for the World Champs. Really, the best possible outcome is to get the points I need on Sunday, but if I don’t – it is not the end of the world. Rather just changes the emphasis of the next few races.
I really like the course. The grass is super bumpy. The descent is fun. The stairs are wicked (but stairs always are). There are some challenging twists and turns. Really a lot of variety. The trick will be to continue to accelerate and and not get bogged down in a gear (I think). I’ve been watching the video from last year’s race and really paying attention to where and how the top riders attack the course.
Hard to believe that in two days I’ll have raced two World Cups and that in two weeks I’ll be getting ready for the Canadian National Cyclo-Cross Championships and then a mere five days after this race I’ll be racing in Niel, Belgium on Nov. 11. Guess time really does fly!