Posted by Editoress on 01/27/06
Wendy Simms and Normon Thibault are in Europe prepping for this weekend's CycloCross World Championships. Over the past couple of weeks they have been training, travelling, racing and... blogging. Normon's report from the Master's World's can be found in Daily News. Below is a series of reports from the start of their trip. Reports can also be found at : Frontrunners Blog
We got a bit more of a dusting of snow again yesterday and the temperature has been hovering from -2 to +2 degrees. The course will be slick! Several parts of the course never see sun so they are the most frozen and rutted of sections. The 5 of 6 Canadian riders (Stacy has yet to arrive) rode the course yesterday at different times to see how things were looking, try out lines, check tire pressure and work their legs. Lyne was out early for her first walk over the course with Stu from Cyclocrossworld.com. They went out in the morning and then stayed out while Lyne did a few laps of the course. Greg (Reain) and Wendy rode out in the early afternoon. Greg followed a few guys to see what lines they used and how they were handling the super slick corners. He said that there were several spots on the course that had hidden ice and that were so slick that you did not know which way you were going to come off it. Wendy played with tire selection and tire pressure. Pim and I were stationary (and I was freezing my nuts off) watching the action and seeing how everyone was doing. Some people were very relaxed and others were so tense that you could see that they were super concerned about the skill-testing conditions. Occasionally we would see a rider that was just riding around with a totally blank look on their face and we knew that they were pretty much petrified.
Ryan (Hopping) and Mike (Bidniak) rode the course late afternoon. Ryan had been railing the downhill section each time he rode the course. Yesterday he was riding the paved downhill section after the technical dirt one. He is not sure what happened but all of a sudden he was on the road and laid out. He is a little bruised up and his bike a bit scraped so we will see how he feels today when he gets up.
The UCI is a funny little organization. They make a huge effort to write rules for each and every cycling sport down to the nth degree. When it comes down to the event....sometimes they just choose to ignore rules. For example; the rule used to be with the UCI that for a start at a UCI race you had to have a 400m straight paved stretch. Last year this was ignored or changed to allow for the start on the run track at last years worlds. This year the rule states 200M for the start. At the worlds course here in Zeddam the start is located on a straight stretch of pavement that is over 400M in length BUT the start line is only 110 meters from the first almost 90 degree left turn to dirt. This is great for those athletes that are starting on the front or second rows but for others it does not give much time before the first bottle neck of the course.
We hunted down the technical delegation for the UCI to bring up this inconsistency. They replied that it was 180 meters to the first turn (which it is 180 meters to the second turn by actually measuring it) and that they were satisfied with the start. I just find it so strange when they could easily move the start line to conform to the rules that they choose to basically ignore them. Well not entirely strange when you watch the DVD from the last two worlds and see who the fast starters are.......at least in the girls race. The last two years in a row Dutch racer Marianne Vos showed she is a rocket off the line. In the first 150 meters last year she already had a 50 meter lead over the next girls. With the course as slippery as it is to be out front and clear of everyone else will be a distinct advantage. It might just be a coincidence but never be naive and believe that there is not a lot of politics in every level of sports.
Late Wednesday afternoon we made a trip to BikeTown with Wendy, Mike, Greg and Ryan. They wanted to check it out as I had been telling them about it all week. We cruised the back way over to Bocholt about 30k away. As we found out their shop is 6000 square METRES. I am not sure how many square feet that is but it is HUGE. Ryan and I went into their wind tunnel that customers use for checking out Windstopper. However we were not wearing windstopper but actually our XL size Canada Team Jackets that are used by the mechanics in the pits over their regular jackets. It was pretty funny at 45k an hour simulated. IF we can get the gallery working I will link a picture. We looked around a bit and Wendy was asked in pointed German NOT to take any more pictures (although Mike and Ryan fired off enough shots).
A little side note. Being a dog co-owner I notice things like dog care and poo patrol when I am away. One noticeable thing in Europe is that people do not "pick up". You have to watch your step everywhere. On the sidewalks. In the forest. The most dangerous spots are the small bits of grass or shrubbery in cities where there is literally a fountain of dog poo cascading on top of itself. It is disgusting.
The athletes perspective (by Wendy)
The week leading up to worlds is an odd one. You have tons of time on your hands (for once in your life), you are in a foreign country with lots of cool things to explore, but you aren't really supposed to DO anything. Rest. Rest. Rest. Well at least that is what I am supposed to do anyway. My first year at CX worlds I ate lots of baked goods, checked out everything in the area and was always on the move. It seemed like rest at the time but now I know that it wasn't even close. Maybe that is why I was 26th and a little disappointed with my results. BUT in my defense it was my first time in Europe, my first time at a major cycling event and I was just enjoying the experience because I wasn't sure if I would ever make it back. Last year at CX worlds I cut back on the baked goods, stayed off my feet more and had much better results. THIS year I feel more like a real athlete as I am doing everything prescribed by my brother Kevin who coaches me (well except for that meal at McDonalds last week but it was either that or starve to death!). And my brother has a lot of REST in my program.
So what does an athlete that is normally on the move do with all this down time? Well, you discuss the politics of your sport with the rest of the Canadian team, you watch a lot of crappy TV, you read, you go over and over and over every inch of the course in every possible weather condition with every other team member, you somehow piss away 3 hours waiting for your laundry, you eat lots of carbohydrates & protein, you think that this is your third year here so you really should have some signed cards for the fans (they take it personally if you don't have any...), you think about all the books you would like to read but are at home because they were too heavy for the plane, you talk a lot about bike parts, you watch a lot of Eurosport, you stretch, you avoid germs in every way possible and you rest. Norm is great because he gives me little homework assignments to keep me busy but still rested. Yesterdays homework assignment was to write down my goals, go over the course in my head for 15mins with the map then draw it from memory, stretch for 15mins and then think about the course in terms of what my heart rate will be doing. These little homework assignments help me focus on the race for a short period of time so I can get back to resting. Today our homework is taking video of the team on different sections of the course so we can keep our speed in the corners (and discuss it afterwards - obviously).
But not everyone is resting. Its always interesting to see what other racers are doing for their worlds prep. Some people are off the bike completely while others are doing 3 hour rides. Some people are doing interval workouts and other people are just spinning their legs. Some people are doing lots of laps of the course while others are avoiding the course because they don't want to fall and lose their confidence. Some people are looking at what other people are doing and changing their program while others trust their program completely.
Rough life you say, resting for a week. Yeah it is great but you still have the big race in the back of your mind and it never goes away because you have all this time on your hands to think about the best case scenario, the worst case scenario and everything in between. But things after the race start creeping into your thoughts too. Like cross country skiing and snowboarding at Mt Washington, surfing in Tofino March 15th (what the hell was I thinking), how my grass is growing at Malaspina, the next lecture on the West Nile virus, Marty, my training camp with Velo Bella in March, the upcoming mountain bike season.....
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