It feels good to be back racing World Cups and everyone on the circuit was all smiles starting in Czech. The season seemed to take forever to arrive. With the slow build up I was able build a strong foundation in my training, but for the top-end speed I need to win, I really need to race and there is no better place to start than in Czech.
What makes Czech special is both the crowds and the terrain. Fans bus in from over Europe for their favourite racer, marathon athletes racing that weekend, fill the surrounding fields with their camper vans and locals arrive with costumes and creative noise makers (chainsaws).
The trails are like coastal British Columbia, flowy and root strewn. This is one of the few courses where you feel like you get to spend a substantial amount of time going downhill fast, and the climbs are technical, especially when the rocks and roots are wet, demanding attention as well as power. You have to be on your A-game physically and technically to perform well.
I knew going in that I could be strong, but felt some of the other women racing all spring in Europe might have a step on me, which they did.
The course went from fast and dry Saturday to sluggish climbs and slick descents Sunday, but it was no less enjoyable.… ok maybe faster climbs would have been nice;-) My body felt good, but not exceptional. I rode consistently lap to lap, recovering from losing positions on the start loop by passing girls in the rocky descent and where ever else I could, but never quite tapping into that raw climbing power i have come to rely on. Hopefully with more days on the time zone and a hard race in my legs I will find that this Sunday in Albstadt where it is all about climbing.
Railing the descents and striving to clean the expert climb each lap as well as winning the end of the race (cinched 2 positions last lap…a goal of mine to raise the back end of my racing) were the highlights. So for the moment I am content with 4th, but have some work ahead to be riding at the front of the races.