With a mere 7 days before the start of Craft Bike Transalp 2014 the butterflies are swarming and the neurones starting to tingle (i.e. I am starting to feel a little SCARED). This is not the first time I have races at Transalp and I have completed the infamous Cape Epic on 3 or 4 occasions but having raced and completed these events does not make the lead up any easier.
I arrived in Milan over a week ago and flew direct to Mykonos for some recovery from life and jet lag before heading to Basel (Switzerland) for the final week of training and relaxing. Mykonos was my first time in Greece and with no real expectations I was quickly adsorbed into the beach/party lifestyle.
The island is bone dry with not a shred of greenery and the buildings in the traditional white and blue contrast to the chaos that cultivates on the streets every day. The roads are narrow and flanked by stone walls, the cars are all small as anything larger would not be able to pass ways and the buses definitely rule the road. There are many four wheel motorbikes and scooters all heading somewhere with a purpose and if you choose to drive in Mykonos do not hesitate and know exactly where you intent to go or you will be overcome by the river of traffic.
The days are long and the beaches beautiful. In the evening the streets are alive the entire night with music, street bars, shops and people of all ages and nationalities. The perfect destination if you need to escape your reality and relax amongst a race of very friendly, open and loving people.
Five days later I was on a plane back to Milan and then a train to Basel (Switzerland), a days travelling and the contrast in climate, culture and landscape could not be more evident. The arid, chaotic Mykonos to the lush, serene Switzerland: In Mykonos I woke in the morning to nightclub mixes and in Basel I wake to bird vocals.
Basel lies on the boarder of France, Switzerland and Germany, it is a city but appears no more than a large town as it lacks the city buzz despite the population density. The drivers are very considerate to bikes and there are town bikes everywhere, everyone seems to ride as their primary mode of transport which maybe a jaded view but complements my peaceful perception of Switzerland.
I am staying with Colnago rider Nathalie Schneitter which is lucky as my motivation to train could easily be overcome by my desire to sit at a cafe or bar on the river and watch the world go by… Yesterday Nathalie had me doing efforts up a very steep hill and today I think she has a 4 hour ride planned… sigh… but there is always a cafe somewhere.
In a week I meet up with team mate Stu Spies in Oberammergau and we will embark on the amazing journey that is the Craft Bike Transalp, seven days of racing from Oberammergau through Imst, Nauders, Naturns, Sarntal, Kaltern and Trento finishing on the banks of the lake in Riva Del Garda. Stay tuned for daily reports..