Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Germany Day 16, 17, & 18

Day 16- Preride!
The group went out to the course today. It was a mix of good and bad. The climb was steep right off the start, after a short section through some grass.
It was a pretty long climb, but nothing compared to home, and was not as steep as Champery! At the top of the climb, it turned to sweet single-track. I was in the lead so I didn’t think twice when we came to the descent. I rode down to the bottom, feeling a little sketched out but not too worried. Alicia came right on my tail, followed bye Linnea. Unfortunately we looked up and saw that Ellie had crashed, and it looked pretty bad. We waited until she was able to walk down to where we were. Her ankle was pretty messed up and she was COVERED in mud!
Luckily nothing was too bad but the rest of the girls were a little worried about the descent! :( We let Ellie go down and rode the rest of the course. There were no more intense my disappointment :), but it was still some epic single-track riding.
After doing two laps on course, we rode down to the town of Albstadt to get some lunch. Linnea, Wesley and I went to a little pizza place while the others went to find money. We walked up to the counter and the man immediately knew we were Americans. He started babbling about the food but none of us knew what was going on. It was very overwhelming because I could not understand the slightest word of German! Maybe I should use that Rosseta Stone we bought... :D
After lunch we took a shopping day- I was trying so hard to find something with a German flag on it, but I could not find anything! It was so disappointing! Finally Ellen and I went on a mad hunt for something I could buy- we found some flip flops in the little boys section at a store so I bought them. Ellen and I sat dumbfounded as the checkout lady talked to us non stop. NO idea what she was saying. Oh well :)- Gino’s race tomorrow!
Day 17- Preride again
Today was Gino’s race. We all went out to preride the course, as the groups in this race took a different one. I am starting to feel a little sick but hopefully it gets better by race day! We watched the little kids race, which was really cool- they had so many participants. Connie took us to this stand that was selling recycled items, made from TIRES! SO awesome. She bought us all bracelets made from tubes and they are so cool! I spotted a tote bag... made of Racing Ralph tires.... I had to have it. It was the high point of my day, coolest thing I have ever bought!

After my excitement with the bag, we walked around waiting for Gino’s start. Unfortunately, Gino did not get to do the awesome short course we did, but instead did a long 13 mile loop. He ended up getting 2nd in his age category which was awesome! It was a fun day to watch the race and great to see some of the same racers from last weeks race! Race day tomorrow!
Day 18- Race day
UGH. My ultimate disappointment- I was too sick to race. Throwing up all morning, didn’t get any sleep. Worst feeling ever. I was so sad I could not race. The girls were all getting ready and I was just coughing up a lung. It was pouring rain of course... my absolute favorite conditions to race in.... which made it even harder for me to admit that I should not race. Instead I went out on course and cheered for the girls.
It was an epic race- Sabin Smitz was leading by minutes and the mud was just flying everywhere. Girls were crashing left and right and it was insane to watch. I went up to the first downhill to take pictures of the girls coming down the hill. Linnea was walking, and I knew she could ride it, so I screamed at her to get back on. She got on.... and rode 10 feet off the course into a bush. WHOOPS!
Next time I’ll keep my mouth shut! :D Next came Ellie, poor girl, she was having a hard time getting down the hill with all the mud. She ended up crashing in the same place, this time really bad. I helped her off course because her ankle was pretty torn up. This German medic came.... and he just would not leave us alone! He didn’t speak a word of English and a little French so we were trying desperatley to tell him I would take Ellie to Drew.
He obviously did not get it as he walked down the entire hill with us. Such confusion in this language! Luckily my friend Kevin helped sort things out and translated for us, making the journey much easier! Ellie was in good hands so I went on course again, not knowing how the others were doing. Alicia was killling it! She ended up 9th in the field which was awesome! The rest of the girls did great and I was so proud to be walking around with the American colors on my back!
Racing was over and packing was soon to begin. The group washed off the mud and started taking apart the bikes. I was really sad to be leaving but also happy to see my friends and family at home. Driving to the airport was fun- Ellen and I were the “sickies” so we were shunned from the van, but we had fun with Drew! I just hope I can get on a plane and home safely!

Switzerland Day 13, 14, & 15

Day 13-
We took a nice ride today up into the ski resort of Champery. It was in the same direction as Saturday but we went up a much steeper road. It was so gorgeous winding up through the fields of cows and goats! Once we reached the top the view was incredible- we could see for miles and miles!
We were also quite close to the French border so that was pretty cool to imagine :) Unfortunatley my back started hurting again... which means my spinal injections did not work :( I was upset but I tried pushing through it- in the end I turned around shortly after Ben and headed home. I would rather see it better and try to rest. Later that night we planned to go swimming in the river again and invited the Rabobank team. Only two of them were man enought to stick out the rain and go with us :) It was a blast and Ellen and I dunked ourselves several times in the river- SO COLD! :D Tomorrow is the last day in Champery.. hope it is a good one! :D
Day 14-
Last ride in Champery! It was quite sad that we were leaving the beautiful Swiss Alps but I was also excited to travel to Germany. We rode over by the race course- up above it actually and did some intervals. We ended up going to this steeeeeep climb that was unridable for most of us! (not Gino!) It is just amazing how steep the road was because it went up to a little town in the mountains. That got us wondering how their winters were :) On the way down I saw a Chamois- a very rare Swiss goat. It was exciting but when I stopped it was too late for anyone else to see it. Down at the race course we did some technical work and saw the British national team. After a long day we packed up our bags and got ready for the long drive in the morning.

Day 15- Drive to Germany
Today we drove to Germany! As exciting as it sounds.... I slept the whole way :) It felt like a really short drive and we were in German speaking towns in no time. I completely forgot about the World Cup until we reached Albstadt. There were German flags EVERYWHERE you looked. You can definatley see that their country takes a lot of pride in its sports. We reached our new home- it was actually a hotel like farm. There were stables with over 30 horses, goats, pigs, bunnies, cats, and even wierd crazy chickens! Ellen and I had a blast saying hi to every single horse we could find.
After a short walk, we had dinner- a full three course meal- with a very yummy ice cream dessert. Ellen and I went out to the horses again and got yelled at by an evil German woman. Wish I knew this language better... :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Switzerland Day 11 & 12

Day 11- RACE DAY!
WOOO. SO stoked for race day! It was a blast. We didn't get to go over to watch the Junior boys unfortunatley, but Matthias won Amateur so it was awesome for him. We started 5 minutes after the Pro Women, so it was a little intimidating.
We were pretty much the only ones warming up on the road, without rollers, umbrellas and full blown massage to warm up :) The start was less intense than I thought it would be, but at the end of the first straightaway, we turn on this bridge, and I got elbowed in the stomach. I had the choice of crashing into the river, or just plain crashing, so I kinda tried to slide over. This was a mistake, as people ran me over and someone kicked me in the head. All I could hear was Kevin SCREAMING on the side.. GO MEGHAN GO GO GO!! Ugh of course then I had a terrible position, with the moto right behind me, but I kept going. I began to feel really good, but I didn't really pass anyone until the start of the first lap. The rest of the race was definatley an adventure, and when the pros started lapping us.... wow, they are SO fast! I was just really happy to finish- I wasn't lapped! I wasn't last! I was stoked! :D
The rest of the girls did well, Alicia killed it, coming in 9th and even winning some money. It was awesome to see an American do well!
We sticked around to watch the pro race, as my hero of life Julien Absalon was there- OMG. :D I was so excited! Kevin and the rest of the boys were racing so we were running around the course like mad. Linnea, Ellen and I had a blast riding along side Julien up the climb. He was so cool about it too.
We tried it with the boys too, but most didn't like it! Poor Kevin had to drop out because of an injury :( but the rest of the boys did pretty good for racing in pro. My favorite part of the day was our picture with Julien... I know we pretty much stalked him to get it but I was stoked! :D

After the race Connie drove us to France for the opener of a big road race. It was an entirely different world over there, as the roadies lifestyles are completly different from mountain bikers. There were huge busses for each of the teams, equipped with everything a cyclist could ever need. It was also cool to see Contador start the race- even though I am not an avid roadie, he was amazingly strong and won the opener easily. In the end we were happy with how the day went and we all went back to the house and got some much needed rest.

After race day, normally I would take a day off, or just go for an easy ride. Instead Connie took us down to the World Cycling headquarters to ride the Velodrome. I have ridden the Colorado Springs velodrome several times, but this was much more exciting! We were in Europe after all and we also had the opportunity to ride with the World record holder, and Olympian Sarah Hammer. She was amazingly strong but we were able to hang with her on the warm up :) After countless laps around the track, the kids began to do hot laps... Kelsey had the fastest out of us all, but no one was able to break Sarah’s record :)
At home, we finally began talking to our neighbors, the Rabobank team. They had some amazing riders on their team and were hilarious with their inflatable pool in the front yard.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Switzerland Day 8, 9 & 10

Day 8-
After a great time in Montana we had to travel over to Champery to meet the US Junior Girls after their trip over here. We said bye to Anita and drove through the beautiful valley and up the mountain to the little village. I was surprised to see race signs everywhere! They have such a great program over here! My dad checked into his hotel but it was still pretty early so we decided to ride the course. It was AWESOME. I mean dream course for Meghan! Even though I could not ride the first drops, I still loved how short and technical it was. Such a great course for racing! I was a little bit intimidated as little kids were riding the technical sections faster than me, but I still was stoked for the race! We went to the hotel and cleaned up, but we had no idea where to find the girls. We were sure they were here, but we did not have any one's phone number and did not know the address. Finally we drove around and saw the team going out to ride the course. It was great seeing them finally and they told us where to go. The house is beautiful and great for the team to live in. Right in the heart of the mountains, it has a great location, not far from the race venue.
Day 9-
Preride!! The team went over to the race course to practice the technical sections and it was a lot of fun.
I got everything down and I was so excited to race on Sunday. The girls were riding great and we all were a little relaxed about racing.

Ginos race was the next day because he had to race in Hard. There were a few intense crashes along the way, but finally we seemed to get getting the lines, or deciding to run! After pre-riding we took a nice dip in the creek- although Gino, Alicia and I were the only ones who went in all the way! :D Got some much needed rest for Gino's race day!
Day 10-
Gino's race day! The rest of the group took a nice ride up the mountain, through the farms and up some steep climbs. Gino's race went very well- we were more or less expecting the worst and we were quite wrong! The girls drew on our stomachs to say GO GINO.... and this led to many photos taken by swiss people we dont know :)

It was great fun, as Ellen, Linnea and I pretty much sprinted around the course cheering for Gino.

He had a great race- starting in 52 place out of 61 and ended up finishing 24th! It was a great effort and we were all stoked for him! The girls are all stoked for tomorrows race so it should be exciting! :D

Friday, June 4, 2010

Switzerland Day 5, 6 & 7

Day 5-
In the morning we woke up early and moved out of the farm. It was fun staying there, but I was ready to explore more of Europe! We drove over Chateaux Deaux and headed up towards Cole de Mosses. It was a gorgeous drive and I loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, I was very very tired still from jet lag and sitting in a car for that long did not help at all. We took a stop in Aigle for a while to stretch our legs and get a special treat from the bakery :) then got back in the car to drive to Montana, the town in which my dad grew up.

After a long drive up a narrow, windy Swiss road, we ended up in the towns of Crans- Montana. It was far up on the mountain, right near the snow even! I met Anita- my step grandmother of some sorts, and we went out to lunch at a friends restaurant.

I took a long long nap because I was so tired, but when I woke up I was very homesick. It is hard not being able to contact the people you love for days on end, let alone be immersed in a different culture entirely. Hopefully it will get better over the trip because I still have more than two weeks!

Day 6-
Probably the best riding day so far- my dad and I went on an epic ride to Faverges on top of the mountain. We met a guy named Marcelle... actually he was a downhiller and he passed us going uphill :)

He was so cool and took us to the top of the climb so we could figure out where to ride. It was also good for me because he defiantly was pushing the pace. We rode all around Aminona on the bisses (flume). Such an incredible ride! Afterwords we were very muddy so we hosed down the bikes and our bodies in the front lawn. Later we went to Bluche on the Fanicular and walked to Randogne.

It was cool to see all of the places my dad worked and went to school. That night we went out to dinner with Anita at Petit Paradis. I found my favorite dish so far- Rosti :) So good! The owners gave us a bottle of wine so I am going to save it to drink in a couple years :)

Day 7- Our final day staying in Montana, we decided to go over to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn. I woke up really early to get a quick ride, then we proceded to drive to Zermatt. You cannot drive into the town so we took the train up. It was a little cloudy and we could not see the Matterhorn at all so it was quite dissapointing. Instead we walked around and took a picnic up in a little field on the side of the mountain.

Finally we just decided to go for going on the train to the Gornergrat to see the view. It was super super cloudy when we arrived at the top but it was starting to clear up. Luckily on the way down the clouds started to part and the Matterhorn was finally out with the clear blue sky.

It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

So amazingly spectacular I cannot describe it. On the train down, we got off a stop early to hike down the mountain- we found some epic mountain bike trails, making me wish I had my bike. Oh well maybe next time! I wanted to do some tourist shopping so I bought a Swiss Army Knife- very nice! After the long day, my dad let me drive home- that was sure to keep me awake! The people here drive so fast, it was terrifying having to drive home! I'm just glad I know how to drive stick, let alone drive it at 120 kilos an hour :) :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Switzerland Day 3 & 4

Day 3-
In the morning I woke up and rode to Schwarztsee- a little down in the heart of the mountains. It was beautiful up there, but I got lost a couple times trying to find where to go.

First race day for the Racer Bikes Cup. It was amazing just to watch the junior categories race- they were incredibly fast and incredibly strong on course. We pretty much just ran around course and watched the mega, rock, easy and hard racers. I also got to meet one of Kevin's friends Matthias Stirnemann- Swiss Junior National Champion. He had the lightest bike I have ever seen in my life!

Later that night we drove to Schwarztsee and to eat.

Day 4-
Finally it was race day in Plaffeien. We woke up super super early for a ride in order to watch the racing later that day. I was very glad I didnt not have the pre race nerves- I was nervous enough for the US boys! The first race we watched was the Junior and Amateur race with Matthias. He did very well and it was fun to watch.

Then we met up with the U23 boys team... watched them warm up and ultimately prepare for the race. Before the race started I got to see, or more or less creep on, Swiss National Champion Florien Vogel, World Champion Nino Shurter, and Olympic silver medalist Jean Christophe Peraud.

It was really cool to see the best racers in the world lining up at the start with Kevin and the rest of the boys. Unfortunatley half way through the race, it started pouring rain. Poor Kevin had to finish 6 laps on course, with the mud and crap all over the place. The rest of the Americans did pretty good- Russell did fantastic as usual and the rest trickled in behind. It was so fun to watch Kevin race and I am glad we were able to!

Switzerand Day 1 & 2

Day 1-
The first day in Switzerland was very exciting. After a long and exhasting flight from Washington, we arrived in the city of Geneva. The first new thing I noticed was the cars! I have always been a car person and I just loved seeing all the new and tiny cars over here. The taxis of course were all Mercedes... immediately showing me a little about the life in the city. We then left, or attempted to leave Geneva- it took a couple tries to get out of the traffic of the city. The drive was long, so we stopped in Ouchy near Lausanne on a part of Lake Geneva. It was so beautiful, so we grabbed a bite to eat from the town bakery. We discovered the Olympic headquarters along with several museums along the way.

Our second stop was in Fribourg- a larger town, but very spectacular. My dad and I took a walk down to old Fribourg, under the bridge and down to the river- such an amazing sight to see! At this point I was growing quite tired, but I had to keep myself awake to keep up with the time difference. Luckily the driving on windy roads at 100 kilos an hour kept me wide awake!

We finally arrived at our first destination- as we planned to stay in a bed and breakfast in the Swiss German part of Switzerland.

It was called Ober Maggenberg and the B&B was just a typical Swiss farm in the middle of the country. The people there were so nice to us and showed us around the farm- a lot of cows, chickens, horses, cats and dogs along with all the smells! It was still early in the day so I decided to ride to keep awake. I ended up seeing some old ruins down in the forest and found a path which seemed abandoned. After the steep descent I found a secret single-track, EPIC riding, unfortunately all downhill so I had to hike back up :( Overall a successful day!

Day 2-
BREAKFAST- oh the best thing about this country! I have never eaten so much bread and cheese in my life! Our hosts spread out an amazing meal for us in the morning and I nearly ate the whole plate of cheese :) I rode to Phlaffaien to check out the riding near the race course and met up with my dad who rented a bike at Mahu. We ended up riding the course several times and I LOVED it. If only I could race... but it was very intimidating. I just wish I could take some of this sweet down hilling back with me :) After a great ride, we drove over to Gryeres for some touristy fun.

Lunch was good in the castle walls and we lucked out, getting a tour of the castle while it was pouring rain outside. As we were leaving the city, we asked an information booth about the chocolate factory in Broc, the next town over. She told us the last tour was in ten minutes, so we RAN to the car, drove 100 kph to Broc and got the last tour of the day! I can’t decide if this was the best decision.... :) The tour was good- kind of cheesy, typical Americans would love it, but at the end of the tour they took us to this big “sampling” room.

Of course I had to try one of every kind of chocolate.... :) I was eating so much chocolate I don’t think I could taste it after a while. What do they expect when they put 200 of every kind of chocolate in a room with me?! :D Ah well I definitely think the stomach ache was worth it!