... to start the racing season. Ryan and I have arrived in Cyprus two days ago to take part again in the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. This is the first mtb race of the season, so we are both very excited. While Ryan has done the Cyclocross season in Ireland, I've practically not raced since the end of last year. The first race of the season is always awaited with great nervousness, you don't know if you have improved since last year and how the legs will react under a full out race effort.
The first race of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup takes place in Voroklini tomorrow, on virtually the same course as the last race of last year's Cyprus Sunshine Cup. Ryan and I have been pre-riding the course yesterday and today. Last year I was quite scared of the steep and technical descents and "locked up" completely when I was on the bike, being reduced to tears on one particularly tricky drop (which was later taken out of the race), but this year I was riding all of them without a bother (OK, they did make some sections a little bit easier). The course now flows really well and I am particularly happy about being able to ride down the riverbed in a controlled and relaxed manner. This part of the course has not been changed, and seeing some guys walking it is an indication that I may actually have improved. I feel a lot more comfortable on steep and technical descents this year, which is strange, since I spent most of my past while on the road bike or on rollers. I am looking forward to tomorrow!
Again, the profile of riders taking part in this prestigious race series is high, owing to the excellent organization and race course design by the race organizers. Taking part in the cup will be title defender and U-23 silver medallist at the world champs Alexandra Engen (Swe), Lisi Osl (Aut) from the central Pro Team, Anja Gradl and junior European champion of 2008, Mona Eiberweiser, Julie Krasniak (Fra/Team Look), Janka Stevkova (Svk/CK Epic Dohnany), Barbara Benko (Hun/Rothaus-Cube) and Alla Boyko (Ukr) in the Elite women's race. I've already seen a few of the names training on the course and with this calibre it's not going to be a soft ease into the new season....
I'll try and put up a little video that I took from the last bit of the riverbed descent later on. Oh, and it's 24 degrees and sunny... ;)