Monday, September 16, 2013

Europe part 2

After traveling via car boot, hatchback, way back in da back of tha car, we made it to Montecatini Terme and drove through town, a bit north to our beautiful apartments for a couple of days. 

This place is wonderful, it has a stream that runs behind it that you can hear at night, flowers blooming everywhere, a resident kitty, wonderful hosts and plenty of room for us all.  When we arrived a couple of things we needed to get done, laundry and groceries.  It took a little while to find a self service laundry mat but we finally found the Flower Wash and it just so happened to be across the street from a grocery store - SCORE! Back up the hill we went!

A couple of days later we headed back into town for the race hotel, Club Europa.  When races are this size and category, they have to feed us and house us.  We stayed there Wednesday through today(Sunday) and we were glad to be back at the apartments for another blissful week of training.  

The race - Giro della Toscana, was interesting to say the least.  I did this race last year with TIBCO and I remember it being a little crazy - tiny roads, road furniture, cars, crazy peleton, etc.  But this year seemed a bit more of all of that and then some which I will get to in a minute but first, the prologue on Wednesday night.  It was supposed to start at 7:30pm but didn’t start till 8pm, my official start time - 9:19pm!!! And there were girls racing well into 10pm! We all laughed about it and didn’t get back to the hotel till around midnight - ahhh Italy.  

On the second or third stage, can’t remember, one of the girls was crossing the finish line after a field sprint and ran smack into a camera woman.  Also one of those days, we were caught in a bit of a traffic jam coming into the last couple of kilometers and most roads had cars intermingling with us.  All this lead to a protest before the last stage and the biggest names and teams, including us, decided enough was enough and didn’t start the last day.  There was a group of 40 girls(originally 140) that started and we watched them as they left out of town.  

This week we will be preparing for our team time trial that is on Sunday and then I head home on the following Tuesday.  Still no pictures but when I can download them all I will and trust me some of them are classic!!! 

Until then....

Eating: mozzarella balls and fresh tomatoes
Watching: BBC, it’s the only English speaking channel on TV
Listening: Walk off the Earth
Reading: Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
Website: An explanation of the week’s events in better wording than I could ever put it and links to other riders from different countries and their point of views. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fort Collins and France.....

Seems a break was just what I needed...... Michael and I drove to Fort Collins for a criterium that the team was invited to last minute before we headed over to Europe for 2 stages races then worlds team time trial.

Arriving in Fort Collins fresh and ready to race, the team delivered me to the line perfectly and as one director said, you made that look easy.  Not necessarily easy but it was sure nice to put some money in the bank and have a win under the belt before heading to France for Tour Cycliste Feminin International de l’Ardeche and Italy for Giro della Toscana.  We arrived in Lyon, France and spent a week in Villard des Lans to get over the jet lag and have some time to practice team time trial one more time before getting into full bore race mode.  It was beautiful!!!! It was a ski town and home to the 1968 winter Olympics,  The town had tons of hiking trails, lots of bike riders and it seems lots of mountain bike trails.  And from the looks of the walking trails, I bet  the winter nordic skiing is superb.  The only Internet we could find(none at the house) was at the tourist information center right smack in the middle of town, so every afternoon around 4pm, we would all carpool down the hill and pile into the center and feed the addiction! HA!  Skype, Twitter, Facebook, e-mails with family and friends, etc.

Our team chalet was wonderful, it housed us all plus a barn for our mechanic to have a nice work space.  Everyday our rides were new and adventurous, over climbs, down descents, we found little towns all around and a beautiful gorge to ride through.  We could’ve stayed longer for sure, it was beautiful, peaceful and everyone in town was very nice.  But alas, we need to get on with the job..... racing.

We drove what was supposed to be 2 1/2 hrs but ended up being 5hrs to Ariolles and to our home for the next week - a campsite that was packed with fully outfitted tents and camper trailers that slept 3 to a trailer.  Our team had 3 and we made it home as best we could.  The race was either UP or DOWN, we would climb up one side of a mountain and descend down the other side, run through a town and start all over again.  I had a couple of great results and walked away 11th overall, not too bad for a climbing race.  The team also won team general classification and one day I delivered my teammate to the line first and I was second.  It was payback from the Tour of the Gila, she led me out in that race where I had won and she was second.  :) It’s fun to trade spots and keep everyone guessing.

After Saturday’s final stage, we jumped in the car and headed towards Gernoble were we stayed at a wonderful Holiday Inn Express, with Internet, comfy beds and yummy food.  

Today we are back in the car for 6hrs headed to our next race - Giro della Toscana.  My seat in the car?  The boot, the back, the VERY back:) hahah! I’ve made a pallet with all of our backpacks and I’m laying down typing this blogpost.  We will be staying in Montacatini Terme, that’s such a fun name to say.  

Listening: Walk off the Earth album - R.E.V.O.
Watching: just checking out the scenery
Reading: Seabuscuit, it’s SO GOOD!
Eating: road food, over here it’s more of paninis, sandwiches full of mozerella, tomatoes, procutto, mushrooms, etc.  
Website: roots clothing

Pictures to come when the Internet is fast enough to handle em;) ......