Culture

Letters from Larssyn: Springtime in Switzerland – fertilizer and matchmakers

Editor's Note: Nineteen-year-old Larssyn Staley - the 2003 world champion in the junior women's points race - is the only American riding for theSwiss-based Andeer team. Throughout her first season on the continent,the Beaverton, Oregon, native will be sending us updates about life inthe women's peloton and providing a newcomer's perspective on racing in Europe.It’s spring here in Switzerland and the air is filledwith… with… well, it’s filled with fertilizer.It seems like every field I ride past is getting covered in fertilizerby the same means by which we water our fields.

By Larssyn Staley – Andeer Cycling Team

Riding with Michi - By William Cass

Riding with Michi – By William Cass

Photo:

Editor’s Note: Nineteen-year-old Larssyn Staley – the 2003 world champion in the junior women’s points race – is the only American riding for theSwiss-based Andeer team. Throughout her first season on the continent,the Beaverton, Oregon, native will be sending us updates about life inthe women’s peloton and providing a newcomer’s perspective on racing in Europe.


It’s spring here in Switzerland and the air is filledwith… with… well, it’s filled with fertilizer.It seems like every field I ride past is getting covered in fertilizerby the same means by which we water our fields. When I ride past I haveto make quick inventory as to whether I’m safer on the other side of theroad. I’m quickly learning I’m better off riding in the mountains and forests.Besides the occasional sprint to avoid an unpleasant shower, the ridingis absolutely beautiful here in Zürich. I never take a map – I justride from village to village until I find my way back to Zürich. Iwish my body would allow me to train for six-plus hours every day. ThenI could explore everything.

The training here, in keeping with the racing in Europe, is deceptivelyhard. I always end up more tired than I expect to be. I blame it on thefact that I am surrounded by the Alps. My flat rides here are inevitablyhillier then the hilly rides I did back home, and that adds up.I often ride with Michi, my team director, which is nice because I learnabout cool little back roads (not that any roads are too big here). Trainingwith him is good because normally I put all my focus in my training towardstime-trialing strength, and Michi forces me to sprint a bit, whichprobably isn’t a bad thing. Riding with him is always entertaining.He doesn’t speak English, and the German I know is what I’ve been ableto pick up while being in German-speaking countries for a total of maybefour months. Though he complimented my improvement on a ride last week,he has still signed me up for a once-a-week German course. He likes tomake sure I don’t waste any time here, which is good for me.Michi, is very good at making the team think, race smart and race asa unit. He makes sure to point out our mistakes in a constructive manner.Let’s just say we’re always learning. The team is very young, the oldestbeing just 23. Everyone on the team is crazy in her own right …and none of them is afraid to share it. Despite the array of personalities,we’re becoming a very cohesive unit.VeloMatch.com
In keeping with the fact that it’s spring, my team is currently ona mission to find a Swiss man for me to marry. Their plan is for me tobe able to race with them in the Swiss national championships, and to do that,I have to be Swiss. They have ignored all of my objections and mydeclarations that I will always be American and represent the U.S. in competition.I’m not sure exactly what they’ve done, but my inbox has been very fulllately.Last week when I was on a ride I passed some guy who quickly caughtup to me, saying: “Hey, you’re Larssyn. I know you from your team website.”I didn’t chat long; I had to meet Michi for a ride on the other side oftown. Our website, www.Andeer.com/teamgets quite a few visits and has all of our email addresses on our bio pages.When I arrived home from my ride I had an e-mail from him sayinghe’d met me on my ride that day and that he’d like to show me Zürich.My e-mail address is no longer on the team page.I really don’t know why there aren’t more U.S. women here, or why living and racing in Europe sometimes gets the reputationof being a bit depressing. Personally, I think “crazy” is a more apt description. I wouldn’t change what I’m doing for anything. Still,I don’t think a week passes without people asking why I am in Europe. To me, theanswer is simple. I want to race at the top level of this sport.All the best racers and races are in Europe. So to be able to beat them,I figure I’d better be here to take part and learn how they play the game.However, when a woman moves to Europe to race it’s a little bit differentthan for the men. There’s no community of American women cyclists overhere like the pro men have in Girona, Spain, or the under-23 men’s house inBelgium. They have a luxury that we women don’t get. They see a familiarface or two and even get to speak English now and then.For a woman to spend the season in Europe she’ll more than likely bethe only American on the team. To my knowledge there are only four of us racing in Europe: Meredith Miller, racing for S.A.T.S. inDenmark; Amber Neben, racing for Buitenpoort-Flexpoint in Italy; Rook Campbell,racing for S.C. Michela Fanini for Record Rox, also in Italy; and me, spendingmy days in Zürich.I guess I could think that I’m alone here, but I don’t feel thatway. I just feel really lucky to be building friendships withmy teammates. All in all, I love it here, and don’t know what’s stoppingthe girls back in America from making the leap. There’s definitely something about Europe andthe racing here. I am eager to see the rest of my season unfold. One thing’sfor sure – the racing here is crazy, and it only drives me to workharder and be a bit more diligent.
Ciao,
Larssyn


Nineteen-year-old Larssyn Staley – the 2003 world champion in the junior women’s points race – is the only American riding for theSwiss-based Andeer team. Throughout her first season on the continent,the Beaverton, Oregon, native will be sending us updates about life inthe women’s peloton and providing a newcomer’s perspective on racing in Europe. As you can see, Staleyhas a rather formidable season ahead of her:
January 1: Mazur Coaching Training Camp; Tucson, AZ.
January 24-30: USA Cycling Endurance Women’S Training Camp;L.A., Ca.
January 30: Mazur Coaching Training Camp (Continued); Tucson,AZ.
February 15: Depart For Europe.
February 18-28: Team Andeer Scott Interflon Training Camp;Tuscany, Ita
March 6: Gran Premio Brissago – Dadi Knorr; Brissago, Ch
March 13: Trofeo Citta’ Di Rosignano – Giro FrAZioni; Rosignano,It
March 20: Köln Schlund Frenchen; Köln, Ger
March 28: Trofeo A.Binda Comune Cittiglio; Caravate, Ita
April 2: Frühjahresstrassenspreis Des Rsc Fürth; Fürth,Ger
April 17: Grand Prix Des Communes Réunies; Grand-Lancy,Ch
April 24: Int. Berner Rundfahrt; Bern, Ch
April 25: Gran Premio LiberAZione; Crema, Ita
April 30: Nat. Kriterium; Mauren, Lux
May 1: Souvenir Magali Pache; Lausanne, Ch
May 3: Dienstagabendrennen; Oerlikon, Ch
May 5: Auffahrtskriterium Diessenhofen; Diessenhofen, Ch
May 8: Raiffeisen GP; Thurgau, Ch
May 10: Dienstagabendrennen; Oerlikon, Ch
May 16: Cologne Classic / Volksbank Giro 2005
May 17: Dienstagabendrennen; Oerlikon, Ch
May 24: Dienstagabendrennen; Oerlikon, Ch
May 28: Stadtkriterium Thun; Thun, Ch
May 29: Oscar Camenzind Trophy ( Rund Um Die Rigi); Gersau, Ch
May 31: Dienstagabendrennen; Oerlikon, Ch
June 3-5: Eko Tour; Poland
June 6: Omnium/Kriterium Ostermundigen; Ostermundigen, Ch
June 11: Breite-Kriterium; Schaffhausen, Ch
June 12: Märstetter Radsporttage 2005; Weinfelden, Ch
June 14: Dienstagabendrennen; Oerlikon, Ch
June 18: Stadtkriteriun Wetzikon; Wetzikon, Ch
June 21 U.S. Time Trial National Championships; Park City, Ut
June 22 U.S. Road Race National Championships; Park City, Ut
June 24 U.S. Criterium National Championships; Park City, Ut
July 3: Nationales Kriterium Steinmaur; Weiach, Ch
July 9: Critérium Du Centenaire; Monthey, Ch
July 15-17: Nordwest Tour; Basel, Ch
July 19: Dienstagabendrennen; Oerlikon, Ch
July 24: Internationales Rundstreckenrennen, Altenstadt, Ger
August 3-6: U.S. Elite Track National Championships; L.A., Ca
August 6: Städtli- Rennen Um Den Siegelturm; Diessenhofen, Ch
August 6: Olympia Preis; Dortmund, Ger
August 7: GP Oberes Fricktal Gansingen; Gansingen, Ch
August 14: GP Oberbaselbiet; Zunzgen, Ch
August 17-19: Albstadt Etapenrennen; Albstadt, Ger
August 20: Nat. Radsporttag Bern-West, Oberbottigen; Bern, Ch
August 21: 5ème Prix De La Roue D’Or Montheysanne; Montey, Ch
August 23: Dienstagabendrennen; Oerlikon, Ch
August 28: Int Profi Rennen Ludwigsburg; Ludwigsburg, Ger
September 4: Nationales Rad-Bergrennen Open; Chur-Arosa/Graubünden, Ch
September 6: Dienstagabendrennen; Oerlikon, Ch
September 9: Horgner Kriterium; 8810horgen, Ch
September 13: Dienstagabendrennen; Oerlikon, Ch