Sunday, July 12, 2009

Peter Visit and My First Mountain Race

The past few days have been good but busy. Thursday Peter journeyed to Zollbruck to visit for a couple days. It was very nice to have him around. Since I usually see him every day, it has been weird not seeing him. We went to buy some forest honey from a friend of the family in the mountains. The flavor is a lot more caramel-like it's good.

The Emmental on the way to the Bienenhonig (honey)

Abigail, me, Peter, and Shannon

Friday, the parents took us to a Kambly cookie factory and a famous pottery and then drove us up a moutain that overlooked the Emmental.

Too many cookies

Emmental cow

Pottery workstation

Shortly after we got back Shannon, Peter, and I left with Susanna and Abigail to go to the Schloss-Spiez. The castle was neat of course but not as neat as the one that we went to earlier in the week. We did climb to the top of the tower on some pretty rickety wooden stairs. It was worth it for the view. After some quick duck feeding, we drove back to Zollbruck to meet Marco for riding.
Peter and I

View from the top of the castle's tower of Thunersee


Shannon and I had a nice easy ride to a huge, elegant Catholic church and back and Peter and Marco rode up mountains. The evening was pretty busy getting everything ready to leave early in the morning and the night ended up being far too short.

Peter, Shannon, and I riding in the Emmental

Saturday we left pretty early in the morning so that we could get to the area of the race by early afternoon for some pre-riding. Some areas of the country do not have roads connecting them to the rest of the world and instead you put your car on a train to reach it. It was pretty weird.

On the car-train

We arrived in Valais and went on a nice hour ride with the team. The region is very pretty with lots of vineyards and huuuge mountains. It was amazing to be in the valley and realize that the next day we'd have to go to the tip top of one of the big ones.


After the ride, we dropped off Peter at his hotel and went to Stephanie's Aunt's vacation house which was about 10k from the finish of the race the next day. Stephanie's Aunt and her boyfriend cooked us a delicious feast and we enjoyed a long dinner with many laughs. Everyone on the team and all the staff are great.

Shannon and Stephanie grate cheese

A late bedtime and an early wake up was no fun but eventually we made it down to the race course to get ready. We started at 9am with the juniors. Juniors really don't like women in their field and so they insisted on going 50k an hour for the first 35k on the flats. There was some confusion with the Elite Men and the motorcycles took them everywhere but on the course so all fields had to restart. Pretty confusing. We just restarted where they stopped us 11K into the race. A lot of the juniors blew themselves up before the climb trying to get rid of the girls. Funny because only one girl was dropped. They were going to beat the gals on the climb anyways... The climb was really hard. I've never done one so long was 35k total with one 5k decent in the middle. It took a very painful hour and a half to get to the finish in Nax. It was insane at the top looking down into the valley and realizing we had climbed over 6000 feet in just 35K. Wow. The team went 1-5 and Ernst was pleased. Peter did well too- he got 15th.. YAY!
At the top

Up and up and up

This is about 2/3 up the mountain!

Shannon and I drove back with Stephanie and her husband Phillip to Liechtenstein where we'll be staying for the week. The country is so tiny with only 11 villages. I think Stephanie and her husband have some fun stuff planned for Shannon and I this week. It's nice to change it up a little and train and see a new part of the country (or a new country!).

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