September 7, 2007
September Already?
Swisspower Cup 2007 is history, Canadians come and go, Cow poo, Gearing up for Slovenia, Thinking of home, Only 18 more days…

My World-Class Fan Club (Just $19.99/hour)

Here is my fabulous fan club! Back (left to right): Trudi, Sepp, Sonya; Centre (left to right): Heinz, Marlena, Me, Grosvati, Sile; Laps (left to right): Christina, Beat, Daniela; Photographer: Daniela. You guys rock! THANK YOU!

I've updated my Swisspower Cup #6 - Bern report with more photos, courtesy of Daniela. Check them out here.

What? Summer’s over? It’s September? What happened? I’m sitting here in a fleece, track pants and fuzzy socks, waiting for the water to boil for tea, wondering how summer could be over if it never actually began…. That is a conundrum, if I ever heard one.

Yesterday I had a fantastic training ride, which included 15 hill intervals and 4 flat, start efforts. Have any of you ever heard the words “fantastic training ride” come out of my mouth when it related to a total of 19 intervals? It was a beautiful, clear crisp day and I found the perfect middle-ring climb on which to do my workout. It overlooked the Wohlensee (a lake) and while I was givin’er on the climb, I could look up and get an unobstructed view of the Alps, dusted with fresh snow (yikes!) with flimsy white clouds trailing from the peaks. For my flat intervals, I had this wicked tailwind, so I put it in the big ring and my wheels hardly touched the ground for those 30-second efforts. Wheeeeee!

Here is the bear that I went riding with when I was home in July. I saw him twice on Burke Mtn while I was training. Now he's looking for me, trying to see if I'm home. I'll be home soon, buddy!

Victory is Mine!
Wednesday afternoon I rode my bike to my grandparents’ place for our weekly card-playing. Wednesdays are great. I arrive and there’s always something freshly-baked out of grandma’s oven waiting for me, along with a cup of tea, made by my grandparents out of a mixture of something like 26 herbs they collect themselves. I believe it is the key to the reason my grandpa is 89 and still kickin’! The best part of this week’s grandparent visit, however, was the fact that I won at cards! We always play “Jass,” Switzerland’s national card game. Don’t know if any of you know it, but I can teach you sometime. Catharine and Jeanine know the basics too, so we can all get together at home and have Wednesday “Jass” nights.

Cow Pies and More Bovine Contributions
On Tuesday afternoon, I met up with my teammate, Fabienne, and pre-rode a 21km loop, which we’ll be racing on Sunday morning. We lucked out with the weather, but not with the cow patties…. The course traversed what seemed like dozens of cow pastures, all generously adorned with fresh cow pies and deep holes from the bovines’ hooves. I decided the rough cow pastures are the only reason you might consider using a dually to race XC in Switzerland.

Fabienne and Me: Riding buddies!

Worlds Predictions
Catharine and Ricky arrived last week for a quick stopover before heading to Fort William, Scotland to rip up the World Championships. They race tomorrow and I’m totally stoked for them. I have a very good feeling about it. In the words of Ricky: “They are going to tear the course a new one.”

While my two Canadian colleagues were here, we all went to Muttenz, Basel for the final Swisspower Cup of the season. It was a good time and we had a lot of fan support as usual. It’s nice to be popular. Read the report.

Kika lookin' pro in the Swisspower Cup. Photo: M. Studer

Drive for Show, Putt for Dough
After the race, Catharine, Ricky, Sonya, Sepp, Daniela, Ben and I contested a mini-golf tournament (consisting of a grand total of us). It was an exciting and close game, with Ricky and I tied for the lead in the first half. Leads kept shifting, the match was so tight, but eventually I faded in the second half (classic) and Ricky and Ben duked it out. Eventually, Ricky came out on top. Afterwards, we were rewarded (by Sonya – thank you!) with ice cream. Mmmm…. Catharine had a flambee thingy and all the alcohol didn’t burn off, so she got drunk and Ricky had lemon sorbet with vodka and he got totally hammered too. Ah, lightweights!

Saturday was the annual Meikirch Market here in Meikirch (my adopted hometown while I’m in Europe). I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I haven’t taken my camera out in ages, so I don’t have any photos to show you. I need to get back on the photography bandwagon.

Anyway, this market was great! I thought it would be small, consisting of a few stands selling baked goods and fresh produce and a few crafts, but it was huge. It included restaurants, a flea market, live music, several bakery stands, dozens of craft stands, flower stands, and it was crowded. Catharine and I rode our bikes there because driving would have spared us maybe 10 metres of walking, ‘cause the cars were lined up on the side of the road, parked almost all the way to our house. We walked our bikes through the market and had quite a difficult time maneuvering through all the people. I suppose we could’ve leaned our bikes up along the fence where all the other bikes were, but we didn’t really want to risk it….

Road Trip!
Catharine flies back to Zurich on Monday and then on Wednesday, we start our Euro road trip to Slovenia for World Cup Finals. I'm super excited about this, as I've never been to Slovenia before and it's supposed to be really nice. I will let you know if it actually is when I get back.

After the World Cup, we are going to the World Cup party, which should be amazing, as all these uptight XC racers, who have been counting calories and filing down bike parts to make them lighter, will cut loose and got nuts on the booze. This is just an assumption, but I would like to stick around just in case it does happen.

Catharine is a lucky girl (and fast), so she gets to go to China to take part in the Olympic Test Race on the actual 2008 Olympic MTB course on September 22. Boy am I jealous. She flies out of Austria on September 18, so I've decided to stick around with her until she leaves. We'll do some bikin' and hopefully we'll get to check out some sights. I like sights.

After I ditch her at the airport in Graz, I start the lonely trek back to Meikirch. I'd better take some good CD's with me, 'cause if I have to listen to that freakin' umbrella song or Nelly Furtado or J Lo or one of those horrible German love songs one more time....

Book Recommendation
I am currently reading a highly entertaining travelogue by Bill Bryson. It's called "The Lost Continent" and it's his impressions of the U.S. as he goes on a road trip across the country. This guy is hilarious. His humour is dry, sarcastic, morbid and (lucky for him) self-deprecating. But he's brutally honest and I love it. I've seriously had to burst out laughing (out loud) several times while reading it, and that doesn't happen often. He also has positive things to say about his experiences, which I find useful, in case I ever want to check out more of the States.

Bryson has a whole series of books about his travels, but this is the first one I've read. I can't wait to get my hands on the others, though, especially the one about Canada. I would love to be able to write stuff like he does about all my experiences. I should get on that....