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2011 race season begins with trip to Cyprus and CA

March 22nd, 2011

3rd in XC. First 2011 US National race (ProXCT#1 Bonelli Park San, Dimas, CA)

Yes, my season is starting off well! This post gives an overview of my last four weeks. My 2011 schedule has races in the USA and ~eight other countries. It will be an exciting year.

As mentioned in my blog I spent the winter riding with Scott Morris exploring Tucson, AZ area trails, attending social MTB events, volunteering with Trips for Kids, and offering MTB skills clinics. The 2011 Race season began in February, ready or not!

Feb 5th SSAZ

The race season started by doing “race pace” efforts in Singlespeed AZ on Feb 5th. That race is so much fun, this year I got to ride with Jake Kirkpatrick, Tom Ament, Dax Massey, the Durango crew and other super fun singlespeeders. I was never able to catch Niner’s Tim Allen. Most of us got a flat at some point, mine was at the top of Milagrosa, I ended up finishing 4th (1st woman).

Neutral roll-out, chatting about how long SS bars should be

Getting heckled by Dejay and crew on the dirt road climb to singletrack.

The coveted mug with Rudi Nadler artwork!

Well, one of two mugs, Tim won the other one.

Cyprus Sunshine Cup Feb 20-March 3

My awesome husband Todd had the last minute idea to head to Cyprus for a few weeks for the Sunshine Cup. The way it worked out, I had to go alone to make the first XC race and he met me later.

Luckily I have awesome new Osprey travel gear, the laptop/daypack attaches to the back of the carry-on rolling bag which has hide-a-way backpack straps in case your hands are full.  The black gear bag attaches to the big rolling suitcase. So that is four bags requiring only one hand leaving the other hand free for the bike box. Genius! See more here. Now if only the bike boxes would piggy back.

The trip did not start well, long story short after delays and sitting on the Tucson tarmack in an American Airlines plane I picked up all my bags at the Tucson baggage claim, rechecked them at the United counter and flew out 9 (very stressful) hours later. Changed airlines in LAX and finally left the US. I had missed my connection, had to spend the night in London, and did not arrive the Larnaca, Cyprus airport till Friday pm (the first race wasn’t until Sunday morning).

Layover in London:

Awesome comp-ed hotel meal

On to Cyprus:

Some facts: Cyprus is it’s own country, not part of Greece. The northern part of the island is occupied by Turkey with a neutral (UN controlled) zone in between. The Brits colonized the island then got kicked out, so everything is in Greek and English and there are many British and Russians vacationers on the island.

Waiting on bikes at the Larnaca, CY airport… The Scalpel didn’t show.

Sweet rental car!

Just like our red Nissan 4×4 stickshift pickup but this one had 4-doors and the steering wheel was on the other side. As soon as I saw what car I was given I was completely confident in driving here, I have shifted left handed many times, broken collar bone, shifting while Todd drives and chats on the phone, etc.

Since only one bike showed up I was able to fit everything inside. Driving in villages, on the wrong side of the road, was cool. More like racing on narrow roads, darting in and out of parked cars to let on-coming traffic by.  Fun! I think driving the motorhome made it easy for me. The drivers were really nice, racing around honking horns (but not in a mean way, more a way of chatting, tapping not really honking). On the motorway everyone stayed in the slow lane (left lane) except to pass, used turn signals, and sped; traffic flows really well when everyone respects each other and the laws of traffic.

No tailgating on the motorway. Posted signs said to remain “2 Chevrons apart”, in this picture there are two chevrons between our car and the next one although you can only see one.

Village of Voroklini.Across the street from the first place I stayed and part of the XC #1 course.

Saturday I cut my new SRAM XX brake lines, registered, pre-rode, Stan’s-ed tires, tried to get shifting adjusted and found a village market walking distance from my place. I had driven to the market which meant I got to park wherever I wanted “locals style” (on the sidewalk since there were only 2.5 really small parking spaces).

Sunday. Watching the Jr race before warming up.

Hmm, pretty similar to Tucson (my winter training ground) terrain, sweet.  There were some steep drops where I thought “really?” when I first saw them, but it wasn’t like you could walk it for inspection, the drop in was too steep. Since there were three trailcrew guys watching I swallowed my heart and dropped in. The drops were tiered, a short drop, brake/turn, drop, brake/turn, drop, pretty cool. After the first time it was no big deal.


Start/Finish Line XC #1

I finished 13th with cramping legs, not bad for all the travel and I was happy with the first part of the race (before my legs cramped and I dropped places). After the race I hurried to the airport to pick up Todd who had already given up on me and taken a cab to the hotel.  After that we figured out local SIM cards and phones. I have Droid Global so just swapped out the SIM card with a local CY phone number. Todd had to buy a cheap GSM phone since his Droid is CDMA only. I had been told to shut off all data capabilities or would have rung up a huge bill.

Todd enjoying a Frape (yes that is spelled correctly) which is Nescafe’ blended to a foam with milk then poured over ice. See how to make one here, I never got it right… Cyprus folks are not coffee drinkers, so a cappuccino = Nescafe’ instant coffee with milk.

Luckliy I had packed emergency coffee. haha.

Our self-catering apartment.

Kitchen/living area with door to bathroom and bedroom. I think we had three Greek TV shows.

Living Room

That was the first couple days, I’ll try to summarize the rest. We moved to the city of Limassol for the rest of our stay.

We wanted to experience both the village living and the city, luckily I found a good deal on a nice place.

GPS, street names and exit numbers do not exist. You need to know towns, villages and landmarks. Or, drive around looking at a map that only helps a bit and trusting everything to these blue signs. It was a game of remembering where you have been, what the last sign said then trying to triangulate to the final destination. A compass would have been helpful since we were usually driving at noon. I gave up trying to figure out where we were and just read the signs, or said “go left”, “go right” to Todd while he had fun driving like a Cypriot (think hammering in a car). Many people told us that they got lost every day trying to get to the mountain venue of the stage race, I am not sure we ever took the same route, it turned out to be the perfect way to see many villages.

headed to the mountains

Village of Kapedes, closest village to the Feb 25-27th stage race and where the point2point race began.

trying to stay warm between rain showers

mud? what’s that?

The mountain TT/XC course was my favorite, awesome steep DHs through the trees. It made the first race seem really easy, I was able to ride everything and was having so much fun that I forgot that it was a race. The point2point was not my favorite, road race start (with very nice but aggressive Euro racers) then lots of dirt road climbing.  Although the loooong downhill singletrack was almost worth it. It would have been much better if I wasn’t riding blind, the singletrack had technical sections (up and down) that I just couldn’t clean the first time. I wanted to go back and re-do sections once I could see where the line was.

Amathous, just east of Limassol, site of the last XC race March 3rd.

Cyprus was an awesome training experience; I rode well in a very strong European field which included many National teams including the German National Team. I placed 9th in the Stage Race and in the overall Sunshine Cup (5 races in 15 days).

The eight ahead of me in the series were:
BLAZA KLEMENCIC(Slovenia) Felt 2008 Olympian
ANNE TERPSTRA(Netherlands) Specialized
RIE KATAYAMA(Japan) Specialized 2008 Olympian
ANNIKA LANGVAD(Denmark) European CX Champion
LENE BYBERG(Norway) Specialized 2008 Olympian
IANA BELOMOYNA(Ukraine)
MELANIE SPATH(Germany)
ASA ERLANDSSON(Sweden) Swedish Nat. Team
KRISTA PARK (United States)

Lene skipped one of the XC races or she would have placed even higher and Annika would have won the overall if she hadn’t missed the start of one of the XC races due to a start time change she was not aware of.

Back to the airport.  There is only one British Airlines flight out of Cyprus a day and there are no connections that late in London so we spent the night in London, this time it was planned layover.

We did miss our flight the following day as I was detained for carrying a Buck knife through security. I just looked at the Buck website for a replacement and the front page states “Essential everyday tool” and has a picture of a backpacker. Exactly! The London airport folks were astounded that I always have it in my laptop bag, next to a little flashlight and think of the knife like a tool or scissors, not an illegal weapon.

Obviously I knew I made a mistake by not putting it in my checked bags, but had no idea I had entered the country with an illegal weapon. Good thing I didn’t have my pepper spray, also illegal in the UK. Long story short, they pulled Todd and all of our bags off the plane. Todd was worried he may have to bail me out of jail and kept his distance so he wouldn’t go to jail too. We were texting till my phone battery started to die, luckily I had my laptop and powered it on to charge the phone. After waiting for over an hour for the London police to come to the airport for me, an airport security person said the police told him to just let me go and helped book us another flight. This security officer, Mr. Fox, was really nice. He had actually lived in Tucson and understood that it was an honest mistake, I wasn’t a threat, just an American.

Poor Todd

Empty seats are awesome.

Because of the messed up flight we ended up in Phoenix and had to rent a car to make it to Tucson. We were home for 36 hours, Todd bee-lined it to Serria Vista with the rental SUV for a job while I un-packed, re-packed and loaded the van for a quick road trip to CA.,

ProXCT #1 San Dimas, CA

I wasn’t sure about racing the first ProXCT in Bonelli, CA as it required traveling back from Cyprus (a 2-day ordeal), un-packing, building/fixing bikes, re-packing then driving 8 hours. We decided to give it a go and I registered last minute. I must have traveled well because my legs felt good, I was able to get in 2-laps on the course Friday evening and one Saturday morning in my warm-up. I loved the new Bonelli XC course, it wasn’t as technical as the Cyprus courses, but so much better than past courses. I competed in the entire Triple Crown (XC, SuperD and ST) finishing 3rd in the XC and 3rd overall. That adds up to 8 races in ~3 weeks.

Article about the Bonelli Race: http://www.examiner.com/endurance-sports-in-tucson/tucson-pro-mountain-bikers-on-the-podium-season-opener

Home for 1.5 weeks.

Next up: Fontana ProXCT #2 March 26th and 27th, also a Triple Crown event. Word is I will have new frames and forks on Monday the 20th, if all goes well I’ll have new bikes for ProXCT#2. SRAM XX parts, NoTubes wheels, SRM Si/XX cranks are all here, I can’t wait!

To keep up with my travels in real time find me on Facebook (Krista Park) or twitter (KristaPark).

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