Helen has a whirlwind tour of Europe
Nope this is not an advert for 'the only way is Essex'. This is actually my life for the last week. I have been a very busy bee since returning to Europe and in doing so have basically been living on the road out of the Kona van (yet to be named, all suggestions welcome). This last two weeks saw us travelling the length of Europe just to play in some muddy fields. As I am a visual person I felt it appropriate to draw a very in depth diagram on a map of exactly where we have been over the last week. It looks a little like the opening scene of Dads Army (showing my age) yet still I feel it is incredibly accurate.
So first up was the Czech Republic via a night in a hotel in Nurnberg. Czech always surprises me with the huge disparity in wealth between the past and the present so it’s always an interesting country to visit. You can be out riding and see falling down little shacks with people living in them alongside beautifully ornate cathedral like gold plated buildings. My friend Hanka (did I just name drop??) did actually inform me that the country was a power house in history so it is to be expected. Blimey - clever and fast. Anyway it was good to be back.
Some of the things I love about the country include the way that the no-smoking areas of the restaurants are only differentiated by a sticker on the table and the food is so good that you don’t care that you have no idea what you are ordering.
After the race on Sunday an unnamed person we shall call 'Hale' for this story, came to us and asked for the details of the hotel we had stayed in. As I went searching for the details I asked why. To which Hale replied 'Pace' (his father) has lost the car keys and needed the details to fill in the police report. Oh no, stuck in the Czech Republic with a locked car and no keys. Pace apparently also brought mothers car keys thinking they were the correct spares, to which I can only assume he was reprimanded for by his son. After searching the whole course the police came to take all the details and inspect the car. As they were looking at the car another mechanic came up and asked if they had tried the doors, he did, it opened. He then proceeded to pop the boot where the keys sat neatly on top of Hales kit bag. A happy ending, but incredibly funny from the sideline.
After Tabor it was back in the van for a quick trip to Plzen, then the next morning to start the journey to Nacht van Woerden, back in Holland. An overnight stay in another Etap hotel on Monday night was planned before hitting Woerden on Tuesday. All the riders were asked to attend the VIP area to schmooze with the race sponsors where I met two guys from Norfolk who pretty much knew all the Eastern league warriors who I am friends with from my youth. During the race they cheered VERY loud which was greatly appreciated. So armed with lots of cheese (loot from the podium) and bikes cleaned in the dark it was onto the next hotel before the short drive back to the Czech Republic the next morning.
Arriving in Pilsen was just as we had left it two days previously, misty, chilly and generally grey, lovely. It seems that this week the country was just covered in fog, which you would occasionally pop out of for very brief periods of time before delving back in. Still the countryside was nice enough and the roads were super smooth and straight, like Canadian straight!
Anyway by Saturday it had really chilled out and started to snow. I don’t know what had come over me when packing in 22 degree heat in Belgium the previous week. But somehow I had not packed my thermal skinsuit for an October cross race. Oh wait yes I do, it was still warm! Anyway this aside I had a great weekend again and didn’t really feel the cold in the end anyway, maybe it related to the bike riding we did in between the running race. Did I get that the right way round?!
After the race it was back on the road again for the final leg back home. With roughly two hours to go Stef finally cracked on the driving front and needed to sleep. I don’t really know what his problem was as he had only done all the pit work for me and Ian. I only changed every half a lap and the bikes only needed jet washing and prepping in the 5 minutes and 5 seconds he had between changes, before doing the same for Ian in the elite race (About 30 bike washes in total). Anyway so I jumped into the driver’s seat readjusted the settings and popped it in first to pull away. To which it whirred and jerked and didn’t go anywhere. Opps lets find 1st again then!
After less than 5 minutes the boys were fast asleep and I was clocking down the kilometres at midnight on the motorways. I may have struggled a little more on the final smaller roads, as having never driven a left hand drive van and struggling with the right arm operating the gear stick thing. However Stef only flinched once as I got close to a bush so I'm gonna call that a result.
This week we are off to Koppenberg on Thursday, the European championships on Saturday in England before flying to #Merica on Sunday for five races in nine days. Busy times. Can’t wait.
- Helen Wyman
Follow British 'cross champion Helen Wyman during the 2012-2013 season as the Kona factory team rider competes in both the United States and Europe through to the 2013 world championships in Louisville, Kentucky. Based in Belgium for seven years, Wyman has won the British 'cross championship seven years running, notched victories in the US and Europe and has stood on the podium at 'cross World Cups.
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