09/06/2011 - Tomorrow marks my first of four weeks in Germany. It seems to have gone really fast even though the first few days of training seemed to last forever. On the 1st of June I departed Invercagill via Christchurch, Auckland, LA, London and Berlin. We finally arrived in Cottbus approximately two days later. We had planned to meet the Sprint team (Sam Webster "Wiki", Simon van Velthooven "Rhino", Ethan Mitchell "Basher" and Eddie Dawkins "Whooper") in Cottbus, however at Heathrow's Koru lounge we bumped into Eddie. Unfortunately his recent crash had left him unable to ride and he was on his way home.
On arrival in Cottbus we very soon learnt that our bags hadn't quite made it - they were apparently sitting somewhere at Heathrow airport - so we borrowed bikes, training gear and helmets and got started on some training. The Invercargill climate had not prepared me for the 30+ degrees temperatures. That, on top of the jet lag, made the first few sessions fairly challenging.
We are training twice a day and alternate between road/rollers/gym and track doing around 30 hours a week. After the first few days I was able to open my eyes and appreciate the awesome facilities, scenery and weather they have here. The roads (more like walkways) twist through forest/lakes/fields and small townships. It's a really nice place to ride.
The velodrome here is 330 metres, with 46 degree banking and an uncovered centre. This makes for hot fast race conditions. In two weeks Cottbus will host a Sprint Grand Prix. There is expected to be over 50 sprinters racing from countries such as Germany, Russia and Great Britain. Big name riders like Max Levi, Robert Forsterman, Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny are expected to race. I'm nervously excited to get amongst the action.
Cycling aside we have been able to have a look around the town also. Last Sunday we went out for dinner at a restaurant called Redo XXL. The four of us bit of more than we bargained for when we ordered the XXXXXXL Mega Doppelwhopper with 2kg of meat pattie and a 30cm diameter - none of us even made a dent in them. This bar also sold beer in half, one, two and three litre glasses. I have also taken quite a likening to the small cafes dotted around the countryside that sell ice cream and applescholle (fizzy apple juice) for next to nothing. These are a real treat after sweating it out on the bike for a few hours.
I'll write with more soon.
Matt Archibald is Cycling Southland's Development Officer