I have just spent 5 days in Cottbus, Germany, which is 1.5 hours drive from Berlin and it is a seriously cool place! So excuse me for the long blog. I travelled there for a weekend of racing against some of the Worlds best ELITE riders on their way to the Olympics, and they sure didn’t disappoint!
Germany and the Cottbus Track
Everybody in Germany was very friendly and helpful, they love their sparkling water and pretzels, and people of all ages, ride commuter bikes to and from their destinations.
|The central Cottbus Square|
The girls were staying in one big apartment at the same venue as the track. Our apartment block was in the same complex as an athlete’s college, which is for 9-21year olds who live, train and school away from home. All of the other teams that were there for the racing, were also staying in our apartment block. This included the Aussies, Great Brittan, the Nederland’s, the Malaysians and the UCI Centre.
The Cottbus track was a fast concrete, partially indoor 333m track, with a rain cover over the track, and the inside of the track open to the sky. This meant that when it rained, we could still race! Each country had there own individual cabin, that sheltered us from the rain or sun, and the cool thing about the track is that its sole purpose, was for SPRINT track cycling. The track had a lot of history to it, as many of our coaches had also raced there back in their hay days.
|The Cabins and the Track|
Racing - Sprints
The first day of racing in Cottbus consisted of sprints. I qualified in a time of 11.92s, which was .1s off my personal best and placed me in 13th out of a quality field of Elite Women. I was happy with this time as I wasn’t on my best set of wheels and my personal best 200m qualifying time is on a much faster track so I’m looking forward to seeing what time I can do, come August! The New Zealand elite squad women including Steph and Katie, placed just above me in 11th and 12th respectively, for the qualifying round.
|Sprint racing |
What happened next, blew me away. Anna Meares (World and Olympic Champion) came up to me in the pits and introduced herself (I smiled and said ‘Oh I know who you are’). She asked me what I was thinking during the sprint race. I told her that I was planning to attack from the back, on the outside with one lap to go and she said that she was infact very worried with the strong position I was sitting in at this point! Stoked! She gave me advice as to how I should have gone about giving myself a bigger gap to be more effective next time. A true role model she was.
The next round I raced against Yvonne Hijenaar from the Nederland’s, it was a close race, and she just piped me on the line for the win, but I walked away very happy and confident with how I had finished the day of racing!
That night, the New Zealand track team was invited to a local’s house for a BBQ. In their backyard, it was very relaxing hearing the birds chirping away while sitting on loungers, chatting about the days racing and eating deliciously marinated steaks, straight from the Barby. It felt a little bit like home ☺ and was by far the highlight of hospitality on the trip!
|The team with our hosts for the BBQ in NZ t-shirts |
|One of the restaurants we went to|
Racing – Keirins
The next day of racing consisted of Keirin’s and it was sure to be a goodie. I made my way through 2 rounds to the semi finals where I faced Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte of Germamy (current team sprint world champions), Willy Kanis and Yvonne Hijenaar of the Nederland’s (who placed 6th and 7th in the sprints the day before), and Natasha Hansen from New Zealand (who is in the NZ Olympic Team). This line up was like an Elite World Champs Semi!! And I was very excited! I tried out a few different tactics, but in the end the other girls were just too strong. The best thing about this race and the rounds before, is the amount I learnt from them. I’m still young experience-wise, and I will take all the advice I cant get to improve! And everyone had plenty of advice to share, so I had lots to think about and write down at the end of the day which I was pleased about. I placed 10th overall in the Elite Women’s keirin, so treated myself to a rather large ice cream with blueberries that night.
|Blueberry's and Ice Cream|
My Semi-final Race
The ride of the day went to my NZ team – mate, Natasha Hansen, who rode her way to 2nd place overall in the keirin!! With such a quality field of riders, this was an awesome achievement and I’m sure it will give her great confidence leading into the Olympics later this month.
|Tarsh on the Podium|
After racing we had a day to check out some of the history that lies in Berlin. It was so cool to see the actual height of the Berlin wall and also read about the extent that many people went to in order to try and cross it when there was the separation between the East and West Germany.
|The Brandenburg Gates|
Thank you for reading my blog ☺
Next stop is Rockhampton, Australia!