!!! Euro Racing Time!!!
A few weekends ago I moved up to Boulder, Colorado and within 10hs I was on the couch in the fetal position battling a nasty stomach bug. This would end up resulting in 30+ hours of zero food or water intakes, which took a pretty gnarly toll out of my body. After about 3 days of hell, I was able to start riding again and begin to enjoy all that Boulder had to offer. I wasn’t able to race that weekend due to obvious reasons, but I was looking forward to throwing down a few more sprint workouts before leaving for Belgium Thursday. The flight to Frankfurt was a lot faster than the previous year. It seemed like I watch three movies straight, dinner, sleep, breakfast, and then arrived. Once we all got together in Germany, we hit the road for our first race, which would be the Grand Prix of Europe in Belgium. Unfortunately it was another 3-hour drive to the race course which was brutal after just getting of the plane. I woke up Saturday morning feeling like a zombie due to the 9-hour time difference and the little 5 hours of sleep I got that night. Luckily we were all greeted to a pretty solid breakfast followed by some super sweet shredding of the course. The Belgium xc course was unlike anything I have ever done before. It seriously went straight up, followed by more straight up, then with a little diversity of somewhat straight up. The craziest part of the course was the little rest it provided. Somehow the descents were even steeper than the climbs so they were over in a matter of seconds and you were still hitting max heart rate due to the constant chances of massive crashing. I was pretty stoked on how I handled the descents and was feeling quite strong given the circumstances.
On race day we all woke up after at least 8 hours of amazing sleep and were ready to race some Belgians. We rode about 40 minutes to the course from the house were we found that there would be a start loop that consisted of about an 8 minute straight up climb with a quick turn onto the end part of the course taking us down the most sketchy descent of the day. This was all crazy enough when pre-riding, but with 40+ other kids we all knew some serious contact was going to go down. My teammate, Ryan, and I were unfortunately on the last row, which wasn’t too bad considering that the start loop would provide us a great chance to move up. As soon as the start gun went off it was full on. I was able to move from the last 40s to about top 20s by the top of the climb. The next 2 laps were easily the hardest 40 minutes of racing I had done in my life. I was feeling pretty spent after the start loop, plus I still was battling the stomach bug that seemed to not want to go away. Going onto my third an final lap, I was feeling great and moved up to 12 place/ 2nd American finishing behind Shane Skelton in 11th.
I was totally stoked on my mental and physical comeback and even more stoked on how many guys I passed on some of the gnarliest of descents. I am finding that Euro races are all about taking some crazy chances and not letting off the throttle for even a second because you will get passed and you will get dropped… HARD! After the race, my teammates Shane, Lucas and I hit up a recovery ride that was followed up my some recovery pastries. Our search for Belgium waffles was a no go, but later that night we were served some awesome Tiramisu, which went down pretty nicely after a long day of racing and bike commuting. We got up Monday morning and drove 5 hours to our base home in Germany and got in some solid rides before the next race in Switzerland. There has been many waffle and pastry stops along the rides and a great end to our day involves going to town on the local FroYo shop. Now some good recovery before the Swiss Cup Sunday. Well... not before a recovery waffle shop stop in the AM!