It would appear as though I used every last ounce of energy at the world trophy.
I arrived in Bergen, Germany amidst the cold rain, fall colors, Oktoberfest and fleet of runners hoping to improve upon a World Trophy result that I was already proud of. The race director, Bibi, not knowing exactly which hotel to put me up in, decided last minute on the Gasthause Bibihoff... his own house, that is. Four star, four diamond with his wife, Rosie's cooking and his daughter Barbara's translating.
A test run of the course led me to believe that the race would go well, if not great.
A small canon started the race off forcing us to run immediately through a large cloud of burnt black powder. My legs felt heavy as they often do at the begining of a race. And they continued to feel so for the duration of the race. I finished 14th.One place worse than in the World Trophy and what would equate to five minutes further back. An accordian played a sad, sad song as I crossed the finish line.
Bibi asked why I was biking around from race to race. "for training?" he asked. jokingly, I pulled the inside of my pockets out revealing nothing more than lint and a couple ibuprofine and said "not for training. for no money." he found this hilarious and gave me 20 euro for pizza and two beers.
Following the pizza and two beers (and a grappa bought by an old Bavarian - Casper) I wandered back to Bibi's house. As I was entering, Rosie, on her way out, grabbed me and dragged me the two blocks to the ski shed at the base of the ski mountain. At about the time I thought I should protest, she opened the door to reveal a mini-Oktoberfest. Bibi, the accordian player and eight other blond-haired, blue-eyed locals sitting around, drinking beer, eating sausage, having a grand ol' time. A small herd of deer heads decorated the walls above us while a stuffed crow watched harmoniously over us on a case of beer stacked seven levels high.
In the morning, at the flee market on the outskirts of town, I found a two point deer skeleton to keep me company for the remainder of my journey. Like all of my decapitated animal friends - York is his name. He sits on the front of the bike, ensuring a sure, quick and gruesome death should I crash in that direction.
The ride from Bavaria to Slovenia was incredible. Fall colors and perfect weather. Camping at the edge of alfalfa fields and Lake Bled (how romantic). Eating lots of musli and yogurt, and chasing it with Austrian fire water decorated with grizzled Austrian backwoodsmen etc.
The Slovenian race revealed much of the same, but due to the wretched amount of downhill, I finished 13th rather than 14th. Lucky for me it was a Grand Prix finale... (The Grand Prix is an organized group of mountain races in Europe where you earn points for your finishing places - 100 for first, 90 for second etc. This race, being the grand finale, earned more points). Due to the drop off of competitors after fifth place, my thirteenth place finish combined with my third place finish at Telfes, Austria earned me a thirteenth place finish in the overall Grand Prix. 13th place, twice in one day... how luck am I!