Immediately after the Trans Germany we headed off to St Wendel to check out the course for the World XCM Champs that takes place in August. Dirk (Team Manager), Lars (Team Mechanic), Dave (Team Supporter and my number 1 fan), Alban (aka Albanator) and I spent 3 days at a great hotel enjoying lots of lovely food, doing some biking and generally chilling out. It was really nice to spend time with the team without any race preparations for a change. Locals Marius and Sascha (Endorfin Solvis Team) guided Alban and me around the course. Thanks guys!
Our next stop was the Rocky Mountain Bike Marathon in Willingen. Dirk and Lars had to head off to Albstadt for an XCO race, so Dave and I hired a car for the drive to Willingen. Dave bought a road map and carefully annotated it with our route, which he predicted would only take a few hours. Dave drove and I navigated. As we drove into Willingen I folded the map away and looked forward to finding somewhere to eat, but within seconds of seeing the 'Welcome to Willingen' sign we saw the 'Thank you for visiting Willingen' sign. Huh? It was a much bigger town when we visited last year??? At that point Dave was suddenly hit with the realisation that perhaps there was more than one Willingen in Germany. After another 2.5 hours we finally arrived in the correct Willingen......Whoops.
The Rocky Mountain Bike marathon series always provide three different distances for riders to choose from on race day. At Willingen there are three different loops and you can stop after the first (50km), the second (100km), or the third loop (120km) depending on how you feel on the day. My plan, like last year, was to ride the full 120km route. Unfortunately my legs had other plans! I felt fine for the first 50km but not too long into the second loop my legs didn't want to play anymore. I decided that it just didn't make sense to push on and complete the full distance so I opted out and pulled into the finish to take 2nd place in the 100km race. This was a hard decision for me, but after a chat with Pia Sundstedt (Rocky Mountain) during the first loop I realised that sometimes it's best to make decisions with your head rather than your heart! Pia was also going to race the full distance but she reluctantly pulled out (due a bad calf injury resulting from a crash in the Trans Germany) after the first loop to take the win in the 50km distance race. Team mate Alban Lakata won the 120km race so it was another a successful day for Topeak Ergon Racing Team :0)
Looking back, it was obvious that I hadn't fully recovered from the Trans Germany the previous week. After 2 months out of training due to my knee injury I was using the Trans Germany and Willingen as training races. They served their purpose and I am now starting to feel stronger. Yay!
1st Kristine Norgaard (Rothaus-Cube MTB Team) 4 hours 17 mins
2nd Sally Bigham (Topeak Ergon Racing Team) 4 hours 19 mins
3rd Katrin Schwing (Trek) 4 hours 41 mins
Women's 100km podium