Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Luxemburg and beyond!

Visiting Luxemburg brought several new experiences. Thanks to the 45 days that new experiences bring, I will now live to be MUCH older.
Some of the new experiences include-

  • going to Luxemburg (it's a pretty country)
  • staying in a Youth Hostel (not a 5 star kind of hostel)
  • all 5 girls sleeping in the same room (bunk beds; I was on the top)
  • all of us huddled outside a pizzeria trying to get the small amount of free internet service
  • getting woken up in the middle of the night 3 times by people claiming they were supposed to be sleeping in our room
  • racing my bike in Luxemburg (I got a little salty)

  • driving 9 hours from Luxemburg to Lucca after the race

It just so happens that The Mom and Dad are visiting. Now, I owe a lot of things to them, mostly the gift of life, but also the fact that they take me places I would never get to see if they didn't come visit me while I was racing. Venice, Stuttgart, various castles and museums and, as of yesterday, Cinque Terra (45 more days).

It was great.

Friday, April 25, 2008

From Holland to Germany

In the last three days we have been to Holland, Belgium, Germany and now Luxemburg.

Holland brought us pretty scenery, nice riding, the best hotel in the whole wide world (Maastricht Van der Valk), AND a chance to be a viewer of Animal Planet in real life.

While Christine, Katheryn and I were out riding, we got to learn about the mating rituals of swans in real life. I almost crashed Christine in the process, and that would have really made for an interesting story. "Well, while watching 2 swans getting it on..."
Holland also brought some interesting architecture.

Here's what you get when you take a picture of yourself with the zoom on.

A whole lot of teeth
Katheryn found a Dutch man to keep her company while she is away from her husband.

The best part about coming to Germany, other than the fact that it is filled with German people, is the bread. The German Brown Bread (as it is "officially" called), is THE best. We have been treated to warm roll after warm roll at Breakfast.

The second best thing about Germany is the chance to go to the track to test out different time trial positions.
How many guys does it take to set up a TT bike? (Carmen testing in the back ground)I could go on and on about the best things about Germany, but I'm not there anymore, so I will stop. I'm not sure what Luxemburg will bring. I've never been here before (here's another 45 days added to my life).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Here comes the Weeee!

After some much needed rest and relaxation in Lucca we are back in Belgium.

First, however, we were visited by Nanna, our wonderful Nutritionist from TOSH. Inspired by her words of wisdom, we made dinner together using all our leftovers in Lucca. It turned out really well.She would be proud of this salad. I can't tell you what's included in either the salad or the dinner as that is top secret. Special Team USA information only. The only thing I will say it incuded some sort lettuce with the salad and some sort of pasta with dinner. Go figure...Then we flew to Belgium and pre-rode the course for today's Fleche Wallone World Cup. The race finishes up a little climb called the Muir de Huy (Huy is the town's name). Here's a picture of the start of the climb. It gets a little steep. This is the middle switch back of the steep mo-fo (did I mention it was steep?). In case you were wondering, Huy is painted 93 times on the 800 meter finish stretch of the climb. Yep, I counted.
We race today, then head to Germany.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dr. Cracker: Italian Style

They, who ever "they" are, say everytime you have a new experience you add 45 days to your life. I now owe my new lengthened life span to the Italian Chiropractor I visited a few days ago.

Due to Holland and my Ostrich-ing into the ground I was having issues. Unfortunatly, Dr. Dave is not here in Lucca to fix me up and make me new (I wish I could just bring him along in my suitcase). I needed help and rumor had it this Italian doctor was good and worked on cyclists.

Did he speak English? No idea.
How expensive is he? No idea.
Would he be able to fix me up and make me new? No idea.
Where was his office? No idea.

All I knew was his address, phone number and that I had a 10am appointment. Ok, here goes. Bring on the 45 days.

I was a little bit worried. So I asked our friend and take-care-of-us-person, Lise, if she would call him for me and tell him what was going on and want I needed fixed. Phew! That makes me feel better. I plugged the address into the TomTom and was on my way.

Turns out, he spoke a little bit of English. We talked about my problems (neck, upper back, hurting ribs) then got to work.

"Ok we start." And he patted the table.
"Should I take off my shoes?"
"Yes, and your pants."
What?! Dr. Dave has never asked me to take off my pants before.
"But I'm only wearing underware!" Oh no! I'm wearing a lot less than that. I do not want to be face down on the table wearing only butt floss.
"Ok, but maybe you undo." He said as he pointed to my zipper and buttons.

Being slighly uncomfortable I sat on the table. He assessed me, then explained to me how exactly I must have crashed. He was spot on. Wow, not bad.

He then did the standard cracking and muscle testing. Followed by a rubber gloved finger stuck in my mouth (this is werid). Apparently a certain tight jaw muscle can affect the motion of your neck.

He fixed it and then told me to take off my shirt. Again with the "whoa"! He said he would do some massage. Oh! nice. Ok. I got on tableface down. He then proceed to oil up and take off my bra. Again with the "whoa"! Once more, glad I still had my pants on.

After 45 minutes, an assessment, cracking/fixing, massage and stretching I was sure I was headed into the poor house in order to pay this guy. In the US a Chiropractor will maybe spend 20-25 minutes (if you're lucky) on you and it'll cost $50. Needless to say I was plesently surprised when he said 35 (euros).

I left his office feeling better, straighter, and younger (I just had had 45 days added to my life).

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Whoopin'

I was pretty confident I liked Holland. I had all kinds of reasons. I even listed them on the blog. But now, I'm not so sure.

I thought the windmills were supposed to blow away all the crap and make things better. Not so much. Holland kicked my ass.

I come back to Lucca gimping away from Holland with:
-3 races
-2 crashes
-3 DNF's
-bruised, swollen nose (shooting from bike to ground landing on said nose)
-sore ribs
-yellow goo coming from nose and chest (weird lingering illness that did not go away with the arrival of pretty windmills).

All in all, it was a SOOOOPER trip...

Lucca seems to make all things bad go away. I plan on that being the case, because in a week I hope go back to Holland ready to fight.

put em up...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

AH. The Netherlands

We have left Belgium. The windmill makes it official. Some people say it is windy in Holland. That's why there are so many windmills. I say there are so many windmills to keep Belgium and all the "belgium-ness" away.

Yes, Belgium is pretty much the heart of cycling, but I prefer The Netherlands. Though I do miss eating at the the U23 house (thanks Els). That really was a nice treat.

The windmills in The Netherlands are responsible for;

  • keeping all the weird smells at bay
  • the bluer skies and the warmer temperatures
  • the pretty scenery
  • the greener grass and the manicured lawns
  • the clean towns and countrysides
  • the fluffy sheep and the cute little lambs
  • the really nice Dutch people who don't mind speaking English
  • hard, windy, big chainring racing

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Soon to be Epic-ness

Classic. Epic. Cobbles. Raw. The tour of Flanders. Tomorrow.

Flanders has always been known as a classic bike race. It has been raced for many decades. It has everything a bike racer could dream of; steep hills, cobbles, cross winds, spectators, and narrow roads. You name it and the Tour of Flanders has it.

Belgium racing is also known for bad weather. That's what makes some of the classics races classic. It wouldn't be that hard if it were just sunny and nice all the time. Then anyone could have a great day and do well. But you mix rain and mud with cobbles and that's when things get interesting. It changes the dynamics of the race. Little weeny wafer-racers all of a sudden aren't that tough and whining becomes the priority over winning. It's a tough girl day (or tough guy day) and the most burly will have success.

Such is the case on the eve of my second Tour of Flanders. Last years race was run under sunny, blue skyes and mild weather. Looking back, it was a great way to "get my feet wet" and learn the race. Now when I ride on the cobbles I feel good. Balanced. It feels like riding the dirt roads at home. I know what to expect and I am ready for it. This knowledge is going to be VERY helpful as tomorrow's race is forcasted to have the worst weather since 1989. You name it, we are supposed to get it. Rain, cold, wind, hail, snow. It is going to be epic. Classic in all parts of the word.

Bring it on.