Fat and sassy season is a long awaited time of year, when racing and training is done, and period of indulging in some decadent food and drink, and no specific workout program. Good or bad, mine was cut short not quite 2 weeks after Nationals when my colleague asked me if I was going to go to Master's Worlds, now that I had won Master's Nationals. Pfffff....what? Worlds? Why would I go to Worlds? It's for fast people, and I don't even know where or when it is. Hm. It happens to be in Gossau, Switzerland - 3 hrs south of my sister who lives in Germany. In 3 weeks. Why should I go? It's expensive, far, and the Euro competition is most likely to lap me. When however, will I get the chance again to race at Worlds Masters, with my family there to cheer, wearing the Canadian jersey.....? It took me another several days to think, decide, convince Jeff to come with me and coordinate a surprise visit through my brother in law.....but we bought the tickets, registered, and I started to wrap my head around this next race adventure. Wine and treats were out, and the workouts were back in. Christmas parties and -20, the bane of my existence. It was tough, but I made it through till Dec 24, my last day of work. Now I can focus on just training and resting.
Tuning up my bike - seized bb. Not surprising given the wet conditions of my last few races. Am I taking a second bike? Nah, that seems too much work. Jeff decided he would work the pit, and was happy to drink beer instead of train. Am I taking a second bike? Hmmm, Jeff thinks it's needed, and since we have the room, I decide to pretty up my old Rocky Mountain Solo - lighter seat and post, carbon wheels, new bb and cables - shifting beautifully! And still 19 lbs. Yikes!! 3 lbs heavier than my Scott. Hopefully I don't need it! I do need another 11-28 Ultegra cassette, which I can't find, so I order one from Chain Reaction, to be delivered to Germany. I actually need 3 - and my good friend Steve lent me an 11-27 for my spare wheelset, since I was not excited to use my 11-25.
Dec 30. Packed and ready to go, forecast is for 6 degrees and raining. Perfect. Calgary-Heathrow-Frankfurt. Grab the rented car, and drive the hour to my sister's place. They are away until the next day, so we get a quiet New Year's Eve in Ettlingen and a relaxing Jan 1st before the get home. Put bikes together - including my 11-28 which has arrived, everything working well, short ride and workout, a little dinner.... and surprise!! My sister and nieces were so excited, and absolutely caught off guard. A day visiting before we pack up the Canada van and head to Switzerland. Unfortunately, I am now one wheel short - as I wheel my bike to the van, my wheel doesn't turn, something's jingling.....JEEEEFFFFFF!! Seems I have broken a spoke at the nipple, which is now tinkling inside Ray's tubular rim. Yes, the carbon rims with the PDX- my fave race wheel. AHHHHH! Oh well, nothing to be done, but continue packing the van. 6 people, 2 bikes, 1 wheel, and a dog. Go Canada go!
Jan 3. Day before the race: Head to Gossau via Brent's (brother in law) GPS. Hmm, differs from my directions. The hotel is booked in St. Gallen, 5 m from Gossau. Wait a minute - there are 2 villages named Gossau!! At least the GPS sent us to the race site. No worries, see signs for the course and folks are there checking it out. Muddy, soft, wet....yikes. Flat and not super technical, but the conditions will be energy sucking!! Not exactly my strength. There is one off camber downhill, which I ride every lap (I am a mountain biker, after all) - all mud, rutted, but find a couple good lines. Wash up bikes, and now to drive another 100km to the OTHER Gossau, and to the hotel. Thankfully everyone else is just along for the ride, excited to be here, and are not stressed at all. Great hotel in the end, super nice owner Albert, and a great dinner.
Jan 4. Race day. Fantastic breakfast - more options than you could imagine, and the muesli, yogurt and kaffe mit milch was perfct for me. Quick drive to the course, to get ready for my race at 2pm. Pull up in the Canada van, and who do we see but Andre Sutton, here for his preride! Register, get my chip and time to check out the course. Same conditions, maybe muddier with all the preriding. Trying to find the best line on that descent today - front wheel washes out in the same place, as my wheel is sucked into the ruts. Hmmm. One more try. Riding across the top and pop! My wheel pops out, deraillieur hanger so bent but not broken! AHHHHH!! I had been unable to find a spare dh for my Scott in Calgary, and had ordered one from France - but had not arrived at my sister's house before we left. That's it. I'm done.
I'm down to 1 bike, and it's my pig of a commuter bike that has no business even being at Worlds!!! Thankfully, super calm Jeff wanders around, finds a helpful Brit riding a Scott, with a handful of spare dh's, and willing to sell. Back in business!! Whew!
Warm up, fuss about with layers, finally concede the decision to Jeff, reminding me that I always dress too warm and convinces me to go with my long sleeve Terrascape Jersey, my Canadian jersey on top, regular gloves, and my bib knickers. Gel at the start line, and time to meet the other women. All 4 of us. What? I had expected much larger fields, and am still not entirely sure why, being my first and only European cross race. Smaller women's fields? Because it's Masters? Too close to US Nationals? No one wanted to race this course? Who knows. They combined the 40+ and 45+, so we were racing a 40-49 category. We start 2 min behind the 30+. A few smiles at the line, then the count down.