Last week, I was fortunate enough to be in Germany.  I race professionally for Topeak Ergon, but my “day job” is also Ergon related – I am the U.S. Sales Manager.  Ergon is based in Koblenz, Germany, so when my boss told me that I was going to Germany for a Research & Development Product Summit AND that I got to go watch the Offenburg World Cup, I could barely contain myself.  “You have to see a World Cup!!” my boss said.  “It’s unbelievable compared to U.S. Racing.  You’ve never seen anything like this!”

Road cycling in Europe is incredibly popular.  However, I was delighted to see that not only racers in Europe share my love for knobby tires and dirt, but spectators and people who don’t even ride come out to watch these races.  When I go to Offenburg, the first thing (besides the gorgeous architecture and green, lush landscape) was advertisements for the World Cup… everywhere.  Here is a photo of one.  They were on almost every bus stop!

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The very cool thing is the guy on reader’s right is my teammate – Wolfram Kurschat. He is the German National Champion or “Deutsche-meister!”

I used to race a lot of XC (cross country), but am now very focused on endurance mountain bike racing (50-100+ mile races) because I enjoy riding my bike for longer periods of time. I still love the thrill of an XC (they are usually about 1.5 hours) because they are very intense. However, World Cup courses are different from most national or regional courses in the US because they are spectator friendly. As a racer, you probably feel a bit like a hamster because you do 5-7 laps with each lap being 15-20 min long, but as a spectator it’s very exciting.

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Each person pays 10-15 euros to get in. There is a huge big screen TV showing the race where people sit in the stands and watch. There is also a “spectator path” that is completely clogged with people walking around to different parts of the course. At certain junctures, there are people 4-5 rows deep!

At Sea Otter and a Mountain States Cup I did a couple weeks ago, the course was similar to World Cup format (except that there were no spectators on the course!) The courses are also very different than ones I have experienced here. Granted I only saw this one World Cup course out of many venues, but there wasn’t a whole lot of singletrack. Also, the World Cup course featured several very scary drops with wet roots where if you don’t commit and make it, you will be in a heap of trouble.

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Irina Kalentieva is the World Champion (and also on my team, WOW!) When she arrived at the race, she was instantly mobbed by photographers and reporters when getting out of the car, like a movie star!

Some photos of the more technical drops on course:

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That’s Heather Irmiger- our national XC champ!

I wish mountain biking in the US had this kind of excitement. World Cup racing is kind of like the NFL there! For more photos and things about my Germany trip, you can check out my blog. Click here.

On another note, I think spring is here to stay! YES!

Thanks for stopping by!

-Sonya