Ramblings with Evelyn Dong
My First Euro World
Cups, Autobahns, and Go Pro Games
The Albstadt World Cup was about a week and a half ago at this
point and the Nove Mesto World Cup about 2 Ĺ weeks ago...plenty of time to gain
some perspective. More accurately, itís been just about the right amount of
time to tint those lenses a rosy hue and think, "Hmmm, I guess getting shoved
and yelled at in 5 different languages, and going OTB into Czech rock gardens
isnít so badÖĒ
But really, it wasnít so bad. In fact, it was downright fun.
Starting nearly last row in both Nove Mesto and Albstadt, at the tail end of an
80-90 person field sure makes you fight for every spot. It makes you question
why you race in the first place, but in a good way. Deep philosophical queries
ran through my mind - Was I the type of rider that just races for the win or
was I willing to scrap it out for 30th or 31st? Was I willing to dig deep on
the uphill even when I had no idea what place I was fighting for?
Nove Mesto was a race of survival, discombobulated by the huge
field and 30,000 drunk Czech fans. In Albstadt, I managed to focus a bit
better, and the only sounds I picked out were familiar American cheers, namely
from the Battens, who have been touring around Europe in an RV and riding
spectacular singletrack in the Alps.
Rental cars in Europe can be a bit of a crap shoot - I remember
one particular trip from my nordork days, stuffing three ski bags containing
about 50 pairs of skis, three duffels, two grown men and one half-grown girl
into an ADORABLE Fiat Punto, and taking the scenic route from the Zurich
airport over Julier Pass. While it all worked out in the end - no gear was left
behind - the only downside was one very carsick backseat passenger (myself),
due to an inability to see out of my tunnel of skis and gear combined with
twisty alpine roads. I had also managed to slightly OD on Sominex in an attempt
to maximize sleep on the flight over, so my head gently whacked the pile of
skis on every left hand corner, much to the amusement of my two teammates. But,
I was a rookie back then, not the seasoned traveler of today...
Thus, when Chloe said she rented a minivan for the three of us
(Erin Huck, Chloe Woodruff, and myself), I figured itíd be a cinch to cram it
all in. "MinivanĒ seems to be a fairly liberal category in Germany however, and
our VW Touran would certainly have fallen under the category of station
wagon/hatchback here in the USA. But, jet lag be damned, we played a short and
efficient game of car tetris outside the Frankfurt flughafen, neatly
slotted in three bike bags, three duffels, and ourselves, and were on our merry
seven-hour drive to Nove Mesto.
A week and a half later, somehow, things didnít fit quite as
neatly in there. But, nothing needed to be left behind or strapped to the roof,
so it was considered a success.
Our rental "minivanĒ may have been the tripís highlight, after
racing, of course. A 6-speed, German diesel on the autobahn = fun travel days.
Also, my shoddy conversion skills contributed to a lack of any idea of what
speed we were moving at. Letís just say that rallying my Ď96 Ranger down to the
GoPro Games in Vail this past weekend felt decidedly different.
Home Again (kind of)
Speaking of Vail...yes, I decided to head down to race the XC
mountain bike race at the GoPro Games after a minor travel hiccup and a few
short days at home on the Wasatch front. While I heard the race was exciting at
the front, with Erin overtaking Georgia on the final lap, I decided that itíd
be more fun to pedal solo at 9,000 feet and contemplate on how I really hate
berry flavored drinks.
The real kicker was my decision to register for the road TT taking
place the next morning. My 10:00 AM start came too early, but apparently not
early enough to miss the rainstorm. So, after a good effort to the top of Vail
pass, the downhill return trip to town was decidedly unpleasant. Sopping wet
and frozen (yes, Iím a huge wimp about getting cold on the bike) I whimpered my
way halfway down to a volunteer who gave me a red GoPro Games volunteer t-shirt,
size XXL. Feeling much better with a new cotton sail to keep me warm, I made it
back to town where I then ran into an old friend, Sylvan Ellefson, from my
skiing days who is one of the co-founders of a new whiskey distillery in Vail.
Sylvan and the 10th Mountain Whiskey Company tent were just a few steps from
the TT start line, how fortuitous... Well, in typical fashion, I managed to
acquire yet another grey hoody, but this might be the best one yet, as it
sports the 10th Mountain Whiskey Company logo and the CO flag. At this point, I
looked like a true hobo sporting a sodden skinsuit, an XXL volunteer t-shirt, a
fleece jersey I had stashed at the start, and my brand-spanking-new hoody - the
perfect way to pedal the five miles back to the condo, chuck everything in the
Danger Ranger, blast the heat, and putz through western CO and southern UT for
about 6.5 hours.
Now Iím home for real this time, spending a couple weeks here for
some quality training before the Missoula and Colorado Springs Pro XCTís.
p.s. Did I mention that 10th Mountain Whiskey is coming out with a
rye batch in August?