What a week! My final days in Europe were definitely the most epic.
I said good bye to my Mistral teammates and boarded a plane for Barcelona. From there I rented a car for the week to get me around Spain. I quickly realized that Barcelona is not a place you want to be driving and ditched my car as a soon as I found my friends. I went to visit Ely, a local girl who teaches SUP Pilates on Mistral inflatables just like me. We have been following each other on Social Media for quite some time and I am super grateful we got to meet. She hosted me in her home for one night. We met some of her friends and went out to a fabulous vegetarian restaurant in the city. The next morning we headed to the W hotel for Ely’s SUP Pilates class. It was a blast!!!
Then I got in my car and drove 6 hours to Madrid where I met another friend, Nicole, who I have only met twice before in the US. Nicole invited me to stay at her place and I couldn’t resist seeing a little more of the Spain with a free place to stay. Madrid was a fun city. We saw her friend's rock bands play live, more of a local gathering than a touristic adventure, which was really cool. Then ate probably the best vegan food I have ever had at this restaurant called Vega.
I finally made it to Bilbao on Thursday and managed to get my board out of the Euro Tour van where it had been stored and on the road and went for my first paddle of the week. Its been a while since I had 4 days without paddling and I was going a bit crazy.
Bilbao is a beautiful city! My favorite of Spain so far. The river is very much a city river, (not a place you want to fall in) but the scenery/architecture while paddling is gorgeous.
The race organizers certainly pulled out all the stops for this event. The production was over the top. So much fun and so worth the 80EU entry fee. 3 parties, 4 meals, and 2 races included. The first party was a welcoming on Friday on one of the top floors of the Iberdrola Tower with a 360 birds eye view of the city. Saturday afternoon was the 8 mile long-distance race. The course was two laps in the river in the city center, with the start line being right off the World famous Guggenheim Museum.
I started off well, Fiona Wylde and I fighting for 1st position, but shortly after things got a bit more difficult for me. They started the mens class after the women's which meant that for the whole first lap, we were being passed by draft train after draft train of men. I learned quickly that I had chosen the wrong fin for holding a straight line or being able to draft in those wake-y conditions. I lost Fiona and she gained a significant lead. As I watched her get away, I was very close to giving up and settling for yet another 2nd place finish. Once we started the 2nd lap, I saw that I was using the current to a better advantage. I saw Fiona slowing down and it gave me the confidence that I needed to pick up the pace and close the gap. I knew I could catch her, There is so much of this and every sport that is mental strength, strategy, and just plain ‘how bad do you want it?’ I wanted it. I passed Fiona in the last 2 miles and was able to hold the lead all the way to the finish line for my first Euro Tour victory!
It feels incredible. I was a little too exhausted in the moments after the race to celebrate, but it was cool to hear everyone say they saw my interview on SUPracer.
That night we partied pretty hard. There was a dj dance party on the dock at the event site and an after party at a nearby bar after that. The Spanish know how to party and everything happens super late. My favorite part was when we were all dancing by the water and two of the race organizers picked me up not their shoulders and paraded me around the dance floor as their victor. I made so many friends in Spain.
Sunday was super fun too. They had fun sprint races all day long and I joined in on the giant inflatable races with about 10 people per board. We all ended up in the nasty river water after pushing and ramming and splash battles, but it was worth it. :D
I toyed with the idea of staying another week in Spain and the Euro Tour, but I think I will need to plan better for it next time.
I am still on Cloud 9. So happy with myself and my results on this tour. It has really been a break out experience for my SUP career. I learned something at each event and know where I need to make the most improvements. Always training and getting better. Always doing my best.
My favorite part of the three weeks in Europe was winning the Fastest Paddler on Earth. To hold two titles so distinctly different as the 24 hour Guinness World Record and now the Fastest too! Its incredible! I look back at how quickly this has all happened and I know I am exactly where I need to be.
I want to once again thank the people and products that make this all possible.
@Mistral SUP for the winning board the Vortex 14. Seriously it’s a rocket! And for the support to be in Europe making my dreams come true!
@ Carbonerro for the the Champions paddle, the pro series 85
@Remedys Nutrition for keeping my healthy and energetic for 3 weeks of travel and racing
@VMG Blades for the fastest fins around
@Keys Mobile Chiropractic for keeping my body held together for week after week or heavy racing
@Vestpac for my new pink hydration pac