Bergan Norway has to be, by far, one of the most beautiful places I have raced my in bike so far. The city roads wound around the hills, taking us past private lakes scattered with brightly colored cottages. The town itself sat on a mountainside looking onto the ocean, sail and fishing boats filled the harbors.
The course, winding its way through the city, was the perfect tour of Bergen. It started off in the heart of the town, crowds of peoples gathered to watch the racers zip past as we disappeared into the tunnel running under the city and popping us out onto a bridg. We rode past schools where all the kids lined up on the fence to cheer us on before we hit Salmon Hill.
The hill was a 1.4km climb averaging about 6.4% gradient and topping off at about 7.5% as we crested the hill. The descent was sharp and as our race got under way the corners began to get slippery as the rain started to come down. Rain is no stranger to the area, as statistics say it rains about 240 days a year there, so we were lucky to catch about six days of clear blue skies during our time there. After Salmon Hill the course weaved its way back along the water and into town to the start finish.
We arrived well before any of our first races, that being the time trial. For myself and Laurie who were selected to represent Canada in this event on the 18th of September, we had a couple days to pre-ride the TT course. The course was challenging, it had tunnels, off camber hairpins, and cobbles; on this course you really had to focus and concentrate on the section of road you were on. Laurie and I rode our hearts out, I was able to sit in the hot seat for a few minutes after my ride but my time was not quick enough to keep me there, I ended up 20th and teammate Laurie finished 19th. To my amazement we were less than half a second apart!
As the day of the road race rolled around we were feeling good about the course, it had changed slightly from the TT course, adding on a climb up one of the side roads known as Salmon Hill. The Italians punched it up the first time, shredding the pack, and then repeating up the second. We were left with about half the field after the second time up.
It wasn't just the climb that was the deciding factor in this race, with all the winding descents and cobbles opening opportunities to attack and quickly be out of sight from the group, out of sight out of mind right? The race for team Canada I would have to say was a success for the most part. Simone Boilard of Quebec placed 8th at her FIRST world championships! I missed the split on lap 3/4 and was racing for 18th at this point, but I took a chance with 2km to go was caught with under 400m from the line, sometimes this chances pay off and sometimes they don't, either way what an incredible learning opportunity and experience.
This race is so different from any other I have experienced in North America; you could never show up to a race here and see 90-100 ladies on the start line. As I can only imagine, it will take time and practice to be able to race to win in a pack like this. Having raced at the world championships and seeing where I stand amongst these other ladies, it makes me hungry for another opportunity to race against and with them.