Thursday, June 21, 2012

staying up until the sunrises is sometimes the best training

So after that little trip I took up to Zermatt, I came to realize I had zero matches left. I was completely exhausted mentally from 3 months of my little apartment, thousands of miles away from my friends, and 6 months of eat, sleep, train. When I arrived on the starting line in Bern at the beginning of June for the Swiss Bike Trophy, I had nothing to give. Its been a couple, few years since I got pulled in a race, and although some crazy rain made the course a complete mess and impossible to ride in places, that wasn't the reason I didn't finish. I just didn't want to be there, I just didn't want to be racing. I wasn't finding anything redeeming in it for myself. I wanted to go ride sweet trails, drink beer, bbq and be a "normal person" for a bit. I needed  it. I don't know if I've ever been in that place before, it was really uncomfortable and I was seriously examining the value in racing my bike in circles considering my limited time and energy.
Generally I am pretty resourceful, so I called up my friend Felix who lives in Freiburg, and made plans to spend a few days just hanging out riding trails with him. Allen was also coming through Frankfurt on his way home from Russia and I considered cruising up and catching him up there for a few beers too. I just needed anything but my apartment and Valais.
I woke up that wednesday to rain... and although I was still very unsure about whether it would be worth my time to drive up to Frankfurt seeing as how I would be back in Bozeman in a couple weeks time, but I told myself I had nothing better to do and that it wouldn't be something I ended up regretting. I threw my bags and bike into my car before I had time to think any more about the 6 hr drive.
Long story short, after I picked allen up and the airport, we got lost in the red light district of Frankfurt, ate thai food and wondered around drinking beer. And its something I won't ever regret. I slept perhaps 3 hrs max, before we got up to watch the sun rise, drink coffee and then find our way back to the airport. Its a little trip I will remember for the rest of my life... nothing particularly special happened, but it happened at the right time in my life and with my best friend.
I backtracked down to Freiburg and  spend four days riding exclusively awesome single track with Felix, fueled by all that comes with a lack of sleep, espresso, ice cream, and endorphins. I think we were on the  mountain bike for 15 hrs over 4 days, and it was all trail I had never ridden before, even after spending each of the past 4 summers in the area... We only rode in the afternoons, because we were staying up each night until the skies would begin to brighten with the approach of morning. My circadian rhythm and body was pissed at the end of it, but I haven't had such a rewarding 4 days in a long ass time.
After spending all week recovering from the trip (bed at 10pm, waking at 11am) I showed up in Grenichen last weekend ready to rip. I was having a lot of fun with the team, and the course was awesome. I for the first time since probably Houffalize I genuinely had fun racing my bike. And it showed. I finished 15th, which on the surface doesn't sound so hot, but 8 of the worlds top 10 were on the starting line, and the other guys in front of me were all capable of top 15 rides in a world cup. I was stoked. I felt better than I have all season, and I think that is only going to continue to improve.
Tuesday we flew to Quebec, which brought me 6 time zones closer to home. And perhaps for the first time there was something redeeming about the sight of walmart. It at least meant I was on the right continent... Even if the language is still french.
We will see when I get back over to Europe... the olympic team has been announced, and I have no hard feelings whatsoever about not being chosen. I think I could have put in a ride as good as anyone, and my results this season have shown that. But I know Todd has the experience, and Sam has a bright future too. Im happy for those guys and will  totally be cheering for them on Aug 12! In addition to that, the Federal Police in Zurich pulled me aside as I was trying to pass though customs tuesday and told me I had over stayed my visa in Europe by 4 days... so as it stands now I can't go back until Aug 22. That means I miss the final World Cup in Val D'Isere, but means I might be able to sneak in a little mid summer backpacking trip after racing at the Missoula Pro XCT and will give me ample time to kick it in bozone, and ride epic trails before prepping for the final few BMC Cups and World Championships. It also means I have an apartment in Switzerland full of stuff that would do me much more good on this side of the pond as I start trying to find a place to live in Bozeman again...