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By Christine Vardaros

November 1, 2012

I just returned from the Czech Republic where I raced the first two rounds of the Cyclocross World Cup series events.
I would like to say how pleased I am with the outcome but that is unfortunately not the case.
I had flat legs in both races. Why can't bad legs time themselves better;
pre-season would have been a good time, or even that random free weekend in the middle of the season

It is both frustrating and disappointing when, in our two-person team of my husband Jonas and I,
I am the one who doesn't deliver on my half.
He was a rockstar - especially in the second race held in Plzen where we had to change bikes twice a lap on an incredibly thick muddy course with limited sprayer hoses in the pits.

On this trip, I couldn't help but to think of how his talents as a mechanic - especially a cyclocross mechanic - are completely wasted on me.
The first race in Tabor was super fast and mainly dry,
with only a handful of slick turns. There was more altitude change than typical in races but not enough to weed out the flatlanders who roll backwards in anticipation of the climb.
The first half of the loop was riddled with short steep u-turns and a couple of steep run-ups followed by a bit of power-pedaling.
The second half weaved up and down the gradual incline.
The crowds congregated around one plank that was situated on a steep climb in anticipation of witnessing a few attempts at bunny-hopping it.
It was something that would even challenge jump-master Tom Meeusen of Telenet-Fidea.
In my pre-ride,
I worked hard at nailing those tricky chicanes and off-camber climbs only to discover on race day that the course took yet another turn for the worse.
All that work on nailing those challenging bits was for nothing. Almost all of them morphed into runs.
Even some of the turns were more effective on foot even though they were "rideable" if you can call inching around a turn "riding". 
After no more than ten meters of riding, the bike was so clumped with mud that the wheels barely turned.

The toughest part of the course was easily that bitch of a staircase.
The mud-drenched steps were so steep and wide that it was impossible to get a rhythm,
especially when lugging that tank of a bike that had collected many kilos of mud.
The stairs humbled even the fastest of men, forcing them to slow down to a crawl towards the top. 
Oddly placed, it came just before the finish.
Even so, on the last lap, the men could do nothing more than walk up the stairs. A bizarre sight at the World Cup level.
The race in Plzen the following week was expected to be a flat version of Tabor.
When we checked out the course Wednesday before the race,
it was exactly like last year - a road race on dirt. Upon our return on Saturday,
the course did a complete flip. Mud filled every crevice of the track, leaving nothing but the start/finish strip free of friction
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