Since my last blog summer really has come to Germany...I did the swift transition from thermal knicks and jacket on the bike to just knicks and a jersey. Last week I was doing the happy dance when it got to 15 degrees and this week the happy dance has become frenetic as the mercury hit 28 degrees. We have had 3 days of 'not a cloud in the sky' weather, great for riding and bbq's. Apart from the weather there has been nothing too exciting for me to report...I have had a lovely week at 'home'. There is not many weekends with no racing in the season but I opted not to tackle the cobbles of North Holland and instead stayed in Thuringen and trained. On Friday we headed for the Inselsberg, the highest point in Thuringen. The way to the top is a very narrow, very steep path that people were having trouble walking up but Gunnar had assured me that a few years ago they had run a Thuringen-Rundfahrt (bike race) time trial stage that finished on the top, although 3 people had to walk. I was skeptical, due to to steepness (25%) and the terrible condition of the road...we tried and failed....we both came to a dead stop when it got to the steepest section. We then descended a little bit, jumped back on the road and 300m further around the side of the 'mountain' came across the cobbled road to the top...it was only 10% to get up (and yes, Gunnar realised that this was the one the race came up) and a bit of a grovel later we were rewarded with a lovely view. Yesterday I watched Gunnar race a criterium very close to home. I went out with Gunnar and his dad in the morning for a training ride, Gunnar turned early and so I went with Papa Kabisch and a bunch we came across for awhile. On the way home, I'm not quite sure how but Papa and I started swapping-off and before I knew it we were scooting along at 40kph....gees he's strong, and is the absolute master of the poker face! After the criterium we came home, collapsed on the coach to watch Paris-Roubaix...such a great race to watch and amazing to see an Aussie win a race like Roubaix. I am here for the week, before a national series German race on the weekend and the Belgie classic Fleche Wallone next Wednesday....it's a little bit more my kind of racing than those cobble stones. A big congratulations goes out to Lisa for running her first marathon...big achievement :)
Happy Easter to everyone...I hope everyone had a good weekend with friends and family. I have had a full weekend (and that's not just my belly!). On Saturday morning I drove to Belgium for the notorious spring classic...Tour of Flanders. It is hard to describe this race to people who don't know of it or haven't seen it before. It is an absolute minefield of potential disasters...crashes, punctures, broken bikes happen on more numerous occasions in this bike race than any other. The race begins in the town of Oudenaarde in the Vlannderen (western) region of Belgium...it winds its way over as many cobbled, hilly roads as possible to end in Ninove 120km later. It was my first 'big' race with the team, this being the second World Cup of the series...and unfortunately all did not go to plan. I have started this race four times (including now) and only twice made it to the finish...I was determined to get there but a crash at 30km which took out a lot of the field, and a puncture on the cobbles 25km later put an end to my day. I changed the wheel and chased but I was already minutes behind after waiting for the wheel change.....another 'Flanders' in which the Gods did not smile upon me.
Lil sister was there at the end of the race, she came to watch and was my lift back to Germany so we packed the little hire car and set off for the 650km trip back 'home'. We nearly made it home in 5hrs but were stopped by a 'stau'...traffic jam due to an accident...luckily we hadn't seen each other in awhile and had plenty to chat about.
Easter Monday started with a lovely breakfast and Easter egg hunt, nice 'training ride' in the wind and then a ride to lunch on the MTB's.....Kate has found her new time trial position we think :) We had a great lunch with the Kabisch's and the whole experience was enhanced by the roaring tail-wind to push us home.
I didn't get the Easter weekend with the whole Bates/Boyton clan but I was fortunate enough to have Katie and my German family. It was good to have Katie here, show her where I live, where I train and she got to meet the lovely Kabisch family who were as hospitable to her as they are to me every day. Its a great place to live :)
On the weekend, team Getraenke-Hoffmann headed to the north of Germany for two days of racing. It was a good opportunity to have some low-key racing with the girls before Flanders next weekend. We had two solid days of racing, under sunny (but still chilly) skies. The team dominated the racing, Theresa won on the Saturday and I was 2nd, with Claudia Hecht 3rd. Yesterday we started attacking early again into the race and again we filled the podium, Stefanie Pohl won, I was 2nd and Tina Liebig 3rd. It was good, positive racing and a great hit-out before the World Cups start for the season.