A nice road trip - three races, two girls and one dog - having fun and enjoying riding time on our bikes in the warmth of Spain and Portugal. Well, that was the plan.
Three days prior to departure my fellow travel mate got ill and couldn't make the trip. So off I went just a girl, solo, in a massive yellow van to my first destination, Barcelona. Because of my accident last June at the Whip Off during Crankworx Innsbruck, I lost all of my UCI points so during my trip I was going to try and gather a few points so I could at least do the first round of the World Cup in Maribor. I was now on my own, not having ridden my bike for 9 months and not knowing whether I'm even gonna be able to ride at all.
The journey to Barcelona went smooth the only issue was that the engine light in my van started flashing at the exact moment I arrived in Sant Andreu de la Barca, the first race venue. My house on wheels had lost all her power and went into safety mode. I decided to focus on the race for now and think about the van on Monday.
Training went surprisingly well. Ok, the track was not overly technical but still my arm wasn't giving me any problems and I could ride. Finally, I was so happy to be back on the bike. I started off with plenty of caution as I didn't know how far I could push my arm but with every run, I got more confident.
Then there was quali day, I had done an ok run and ended in 4th. Sadly this would be the end of the race weekend as Dani Valenti, a Spanish rider from Girona crashed in his quali run and died. The race was quickly canceled. I was devastated. Riding bikes are my happy place and there isn't room for death in my happy place. I didn't know him personally but I felt truly heartbroken. He went up there, with us all, just wanting to do his quali run, but he never arrived in the finish. Rest in peace buddy... shred some clouds for us.
I guess having to sort out my broken van the following day helped quite a lot to take my mind off that tragedy. Long story short, I was stuck in Barcelona for three days but the Spanish mechanics got it sorted and by mid-week, I was on my way to visit my new met friends from Madrid. I even went riding with Samu - in the middle of Madrid, in the kings garden to be exact. And from there on a bad trip turned great. By accident I sent my German friend Manu a message, we texted and she decided very spontaneously to fly down to Lisboa two days later to give me some company. So I picked her up, that crazy chick, and went straight to Porto de Mos - the second round of the Portuguese Cup.
It was an interesting track, flat at the top and steep, rocky and loose in the bottom half. I really enjoyed it and even my arm was dealing well with the frequent impacts. There were a few road gaps, drops and rocks. I love rocks! With Manu there, looking after me and my bike I couldn't have wished for more.
So quali was all good and then after a whole weekend riding in the dry, the rain came, just in time for race runs. It turned the stones into ice and because it was really drizzly, you couldn't see f*** all. I had to rip my goggles down even before the first road gap. God I loved it. Riding in the wet is definitely my thing. Unluckily I caught the girl up in front of me and she wouldn't let me pass. She wasn't very slow but I guess I lost a bit of time there, and the times were close. I finished 4th - one second to 3rd and three seconds to 2nd - and only 14 seconds of Miriam Nicole on 1st.
After taking some time off on the beaches of Portugal we headed to Lousa for the third and final venue. There we met with my Andalucian mates I got to know at the first race in Barcelona. So we teamed all up and made a massive pit. I vaguely knew the track from two years ago when I rode it a couple of times with Brett Wheeler. I quite quickly realized that this track is gonna test my arm quite a bit. It was rough.
After two days including track walk and riding another great track next to the race track the race was on. It was just soo much fun having the boys to ride and train with. Riding and racing are great but it's not half as fun if you can't share it with others.
Quali and Race run both went well. As the track was very physical and quite destroyed by my race run, I just didn't have the strength in my arm to properly attack and hold it at a higher pace. But I was very happy and chuffed with how I rode. I finished 6th so there is definitely room for more.
I can't wait for the season to start, thank you for an awesome time!