Eating Sandwiches and World Cup Racing in Germany
June 6, 2014
Post by Evan McNeely
I wouldn’t be surprised if the sandwich was invented in Germany, or whichever civilization occupied current German territory at the time of first sandwich digestion. Sandwiches are pretty much all they eat here. Hotel breakfast: “how about some bread and cold cuts this morning (make a sandwich *wink wink*)?” Lunch: sandwiches everywhere. Dinner: “Well, you ordered a salad, but we put some cold cuts on it for you anyway”. Airport: literally nothing to buy but sandwiches. They like sandwiches; I like them.
After a fairly successful run in my first World Cup event of the year in Nove Mesto, CZE, I was confident in my abilities and excited to try my hand at another World Cup event, this time in Albstadt, GER. Well, the event was actually held in Tilfingen, a small town a short distance away from Albstadt in South Western Germany. Peter Disera and myself left the Czech Republic with the Canadian National Team and drove the 9 hours across Europe into Germany for this event. Norco Team riders Haley smith and Andrew L’Esperance flew from Quebec to join us shortly after their race in Baie Saint Paul the previous weekend.
The course in Albstadt was physically challenging. There where two big climbs with several steep pitches and switchbacks. SRAM XX1 was great. Enough gear to sprint down the start straight in the 10t and yet still able to spin effortlessly up 30% grades in the 42t… all while saving weight. Like why wouldn’t you buy that. Going downhill, the course was more tame then most race courses on the circuit. Sure there were some drops and rocks to hope over, but the most technically challenging aspect came from this extremely slippery top layer of dirt. Most of us choose to race Kenda Karma tires, normally a mud tire (course was dry), just to get some bit through this slimmy layer of mud. I find the 650b Stans wheels to be ideal on the World Cup circuit since the style here is a lot more punchy accelerations, tight turns and playful descending.
Peter Disera and Andrew L’Esperance competed in the Eliminator on Friday. The Eliminator is an event where 4 riders sprint head-to-head to the finish of a roughly 1 km track. The top two riders advance to the next round, the last two are eliminated! I’d compare it to ski/snowboard cross but on bikes (with jumps and turns and everything). Both Peter and Andrew qualified in an elite group of 32 riders that get to compete in the eliminator heats. Peter was caught out in the first turn of his heat, forcing him to chase early and expend a lot of energy before the finishing sprint and did not advance. Andrew recaps his experience in the eliminator:
It all started on Friday morning with an early wakeup to get to the venue in Albstadt to race the qualifier for the eliminator. I crushed my ride and came across the line 12th unsure if it would hold to make the top 32. After a cool down, with teammate Peter Disera, I found out I finished 18th and I would be racing with that number in the heats in the evening. This was a goal of mine coming into the race and any more success in the XCE would be a bonus. The remainder of the day was spent resting, recovering and sitting on the nerves that come with racing a World Cup Eliminator. I got 3rd in my heat and was eliminated in the 1/8th finals but it was a great experience. When the XCE comes to North America at Mont-Sainte-Anne and Windham I’ll give it another shot and hopefully break out in this quick and exciting discipline.
– Andrew L’Esperance
Haley Smith was next up to bat in the U23 women’s mountain bike race on Saturday.
World Cup #4 in Albstadt, Germany, went relatively well for me (although there is always room for improvement!). The steep climbs and days of travel in my legs made for a tough race, but I did the best with what I had on the day and ended up 19th. Now it’s time to relax and recharge for a week in Tubingen, Germany before heading to Paris for the most stereotypically-tourist vacation I’ve been on to date!
Peter and I were in the U23 men’s race on Sunday. We both had a bad spot on the starting grid, 57th and 100-something, on a course where the start is everything. With no start loop, the race bottlenecked early. I recall stopping, complete standstill or track stand, at three separate points in the first 2 km of the race. Peter almost fought somebody… I had his back. Coupled with a bad start, I also had bad legs. If you compare them to milk; in Czech I had legs fresh out of the cows udder. But by this race, they were curdled. Peter did his best with what his start position allowed. We both had enormous amounts of fun.
Starting near the back of a World Cup race is actually pretty fun. The stress is high, crashes happen often and you get stuck with a tremendous job of battling for position. It is amazing how much effort and fight you have to put in for 92nd place. Everybody wants to be in front of you. At the same time starting at the back is relaxing as you encounter bottlenecks where you stop and wait. In Nove Mesto I had a good race. With a long start loop I was able to make up some good spots. The course there was also fantastic! When McNeely and I made our way to Albstadt with the National Team I found a very challenging course. Albstadt was going to test me. The long steep climbs were going to put me in a hole I was sure I wouldn’t recover from. This was the case in the race. Making up quite a lot of spots in the first lap I found myself in the top half of the field. I started 101st out of 145+ riders. After some interesting encounters with some aggravating people and riding as hard as I could until I blew up I ended up in the 60s. Not exactly what I was hoping for. As for Europe, there is no other place like it, the racing, the thousands of fans and the beauty. It is a wonderful place and I am thankful for being so lucky to race at a level that allows me to travel and experience the world – especially from behind my handlebars. Thanks to Team Canada for all the support and Norco Factory Team for some wicked fast Revolvers!
– Peter Disera