By Larssyn Staley, Andeer Cycling Team
It’s good to be back in Europe.
This past weekend I was back racing with my team here in Switzerland. We raced the GP Oberbaselbiet. It’s the first year for this race to take place. Going over the race info, our director told us that though the course profile looked hilly the race was actually pretty flat. He also informed us that there would be no caravan, but he wasn’t exactly sure why not. Once we arrived and warmed-up, we understood the promoter’s reasoning completely. We also realized that the hills on the profile were real.
The course was actually very technical, up, down and on roads no wider than a bike path, and if the dark clouds just off the horizon moved in it would only become more dangerous. There wasn’t really a flat spot on the course, and you never rode too far before making a sharp turn or two, never allowing much time for recovery. My average heart rate for the race was 170bpm.
It’s been hard racing over here. Racing track back in Portland at the AVC while coming back for my injury was fun. With just a couple weeks on the bike I was able to race competitively with the top women in the country. I was able to make some good moves and win some money. It’s different in Europe. It’s like every week everyone is on top of their game. To come back here not completely on form is like a slap in the face, it’s either gonna wake you up or get you up or get you down. Luckily I have a good team supporting me. They know I’m doing everything I can to get back on top form, but also that it takes time. So I need to learn to be patient. I’m just disappointed that there aren’t too many races left in the season as I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.
The race this weekend started off nicely. It was the first time I felt good in since breaking my back. The plan was to try to keep things together as much as we could for our leader Bettina in the sprint. Things got started really fast. I was with Carolina Lüthi, the Swiss national track champion, as she made the first move of the race. I wondered if she’d forgotten it was a road race and not a 3k pursuit, or crit or something as she charged up every hill and out of every corner. When we came to the biggest hill on the course I fell off pace, it was ok though, because two of my teammates were still there and then Lüthi ended up crashing less than a kilometer later. I slowly went back to the second group.
Things quickly became super split up over the course of the race. I have no idea how many groups there were. It would have been nice to have radios but our director decided against them so that we all learn how to race more efficiently without them. His reasoning is that we need to ride more as a unit and learn to communicate better in the races, which is true, but on this course I think radios would have been nice.
Over the course of the race I had two mechanicals, and I think one of my team mates had a flat (ie. Lack of communication…). Then with about 20k to go the dark clouds finally moved in. It started raining hard and became super windy, making the technical course even more extreme. The way the course was set up, and with the split up field, and the weather I felt like I was in cyclo-cross mode just a couple months too early. But I guess that’s European racing. In the end Jennifer was the top rider from our team in 10th place. She’d been in the initial move with me and had a good race.
I’m just happy to be back in Europe and racing again. Hopefully in the last few races I have this season I can soak up everything and use them to their fullest. Not only to snag another result before the season is over, but more importantly just because I love racing.Ciao,