So there is lots to catch you up on. We safely made it from Ireland to Sweden and our bags and bikes did as well...just not at the same time. The day of travel was less tolling than the past because our flights were much shorter, but when we arrived in Sweden at midnight on Friday NON of our bags, or more importantly bikes were there to meet us. We were told they were scheduled to come on the next flight which would arrive at 9:20 Saturday morning and at that point they would be delivered to our hotel. The women helping us said probably around lunch time or so. We thought that wouldn't be so bad sense we would need to get some sleep and then by the time we ate breakfast it would just be a few hours and we could get set up and spin our legs out...which is kinda important given all the travel and jet lag issues. So we picked up the second rental car (Jess had the other one) and followed Jess back to our hotel.
The hotel is absolutely beautiful in every way! For World Cup races the teams are actually put up in hotels and feed a certain number of meals, and they don't skimp on either item. For the seasoned Pro's I guess this is no big deal but I thought it was pretty awesome! Our breakfast selection has been great and the dinner we had last night wasn't too bad either. Jessie told us it was located in a really cute small town but it was hard to see much as we rolled in past midnight. When we woke in the morning the beauty of the area was clear! Per usual one of the first things we did after eating breakfast was to go on the hunt for a good coffee shop...I'm pretty sure we have what you might call an addiction. It really all felt quite like a dream and I'm not sure how I landed in the middle of it but I'm not complaining and I had better take it in while I have the chance!
The little town of Alingsas
My hotel room!
day 1 breakfast
Such a cute little town
Out to coffee!!!
Unfortunately "lunchtime" came and went and we still had no bikes/bags. Oh and the office part of the airport closed from 1-5pm so we were up in the air a little. But no worries we remained calm, knowing that stressing and getting upset would get us nowhere but possibly move us backward. So out to lunch, walk around, chill in the hotel, drive the course were pretty much the events of the day. We did eventually get our bikes, but we got them at 8:30PM the night before the race. As I was getting ready to slide the box into my room there was a rider in the room next to me who opened her door, started walking in, back stepped and looked at me, walked forward again, back stepped and looked again and said "is that your bike?!?." I responded with a positive "Yep" and we shared a look of "oh man that sucks, but what are ya gonna do." So I pulled everything out of the box and pieced it together. Thankfully non of us girls had anything broken in the travel process because we would have had very little time to get a fix. My spin involved going out at dusk from about 9-10PM...not the most effective, but better than nothing at that point. My shifting had never really been properly adjusted sense having my new bottom bracket put in and Gary had to work on it for quite some time to try and make things work properly. For some reason my shifting tends to be quite a pain to adjust...we usually just blame it on the shorter chain distance of my bike because it is small.
I was so happy to see my bike arrive and this window was screaming photo shoot...check out this beauty!!!
On the way to the race
Race morning arrives and after breakfast we load up and depart for the race. The details are getting blurry at this point because I've waited too long to complete this report, but I will do my best. It is the usual warm up and get to the line to get a good starting spot. Oh, I almost forgot the rider presentation. Before the race begins they do a rider introduction for all the teams, so each team is called up and the individual riders and their home country are declared. The course was great!...lots of twists and turns to start out, some of the sections were a bit narrow and there were a few medians that could pose a problem if you weren't paying attention, but overall an awesome set up! We all got good start positions and the race began. These girls don't mess around much, it is pretty much on from the start so hanging around the front is key if you don't want to be left behind. Everything was going pretty well for me the first couple laps, I was working hard but hanging on. In the 3rd lap or so I dropped my chain...turns out my shifting skills weren't quite on. No worries though, I able to get it to jump back up with out getting off the bike. As the next laps flew under me I started to feel everything, I was drifting back and then working hard to try and regain a position but I just didn't seem to have the power compared to my competition. I don't even know what lap it was that I ended up popping and trailing off the back, but it happened. One of the caravan cars informed me that there was a group coming through not too far behind. I looked and could see 6 or 7 girls a ways back. I geared down and was spinning a bit to recover and let them approach so I could jump on the group. Great idea until I tried to sift back up and dropped my chain again...errrr...why now!? The really bad part was that this time I couldn't get it to jump back on and I had to physically get off the bike, which was of course taking place while the group was flying past me and now I was really on my own. Nonnie had already dropped off and Jessie and Theresa were the only two left from our team. Theresa ended up caught in a crash that took place in front of her and she pulled out due to injury. Jess was still going but before the last few laps she ended up out of the race as well. So, at the end of the day, I can't speak for the others, but I pretty much had to call it a good learning experience and put it in the motivation bank so it can be used as fuel to come back stronger another time! After watching the finish we returned to the hotel, cleaned up, and ate dinner. Then we went just down the street and got some ice cream to celebrate Nonnie's birthday, and we sat along the river and enjoyed our last views of Sweden before returning to our hotel to pack up the bikes we had pretty much just unpacked.
Theresa feeding the ducks after ice cream
Unfortunately, it was time to get to the airport and we had to drop Jessie off and head our separate ways. It was great living with Jess all summer and I'm gonna miss that girl! Hopefully I'll see her again before too long and if I'm lucky maybe I'll get to visit her in Australia sometime!
Few pictures of Jessie and I before we split.
So, we headed back to Ireland to spend one more night before returning home. Nonnie and I went out to Dublin where we were hoping to do a bit of shopping around before catching dinner and a beer, but everything was closing early because it was a "bank holiday" there. So we shopped around a few souvenir shops and then scouted out a good looking Irish bar. As it was only appropriate to have a Guinness while we were there. It was a neat little bar that had live music and an Irish atmosphere. We sat down at the bar and ordered a beer, some dinner, and some more beer. It turned out to be quite a good night and I was pretty exhausted by the time we got home after racing that morning and then going out. Had I been in the states I would have probably called it a movie night, but it's not everyday that you in Ireland so it was necessary to do something a little different!
Arriving in Ireland I found the chair of a queen!...or maybe just a tired of airplanes kacey!
Nonnie and I
at the bar
THIS IS FOR AUNT MARTY!: You said to kiss an Irishman for you but we thought it would be more appropriate to get kissed by Irishmen. So, Nonnie embarrassed me a bit at the bar and got these good looking boys with Irish blood to give me a kiss...
here they are
there we go!!!
a happy ending
Now it was Tuesday and time to get back to the home country. We got into JFK around 4:30 and Phil drove us the 2 hours back to Philly. Ohhh...to be back!...but wait don't get too settled the travel has not ended quite yet. I had a lot of stuff ready but still had some gathering to do. Got to get around 10 and up Wednesday morning at 5 to pack everything into my car and head home. Just as I'm walking out the door with my first load it starts raining...so now it is 90+ degrees with 98% humidity and raining as I'm trying to pack my life into my car to head back to MI. I did at least back my car up to the door, which worked out quite well. Only to start my trip out stuck in Philly traffic!...oh how i won't miss Philly traffic!!!
Morning in Philly
Welcome back to Philly traffic
Ready? Set? GO...