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All American Gal: The Kimberly Baldwin Diary 2006

With both the men's and women's teams as one in 2006, Kimberly Baldwin now finds herself part of the all-powerful German-based T-Mobile squad. Everything is "pretty much kick-ass" is how Kim describes things. And once racing begins, kicking ass is something she's intent on doing!

Germany, April 4, 2006

Coming to Europe

Our T-Mobile teamís first week in Germany has been quite an adventure already. I must admit, the Air India flight wasnít all that bad. I mean, the plane was one big hunk of junk, but it flew and the stewardesses were very nice. The entertainment left a bit to be desired, as all they showed were old Indian movies with color and sound quality reminiscent of old Gilliganís Island reruns. There were 2 English channels but it was quite funny as one channel had one, count it one episode of Everybody Loves Raymond that played over and overÖ.for eleven hours. The other played one 22 minute episode of Frasier. By the end of the flight, I could recite the entire script to both episodes by heart. The food was rather tasty though and with it being an airline primarily for Indians, there was always a vegetarian option. You donít get that on United unless you call in a week in advance!

I must admit, I was expecting snow on the ground when we walked outside the Frankfurt airport. So I was pleasantly surprised to find a sort of mild breeze blowing and no snow. Our trusty friend Roland from T-Mobile was there to pick us up and drive us the 2.5 hours to our new home in Langawehe. Our director, Andrzej, and our manager, Bob Stapleton, have rented a townhouse for the season and itís our new home base for Europe. Since weíre using space at the SRM center in Julich for the team warehouse, they wanted to get a place fairly close. Kim and I were going to be the first inhabitants of our new place, along with the staff.

Apparently, when you rent a place in Germany, you basically rent the walls. The prior inhabitants took absolutely everything with them, including every light fixture and the kitchen. When Kim and I walked in, the guys showed us our room. But there was no lightÖ just wires hanging from the ceiling. They had purchased pull-out beds for us, but as yet had no sheets or blankets. And the heat wasnít working very well, so our first night was a little rough. When Andrzej was starting to set up the place in January, he had purchased an entire kitchen display at the nearest IKEA and had installed the whole thing. You donít realize how much work it takes to completely set up a house until you have to do it. From lights to towels to washer/dryer, and everything else, it really is overwhelming.

The perfect morning to both Kim and me is fresh coffee and internet. But as of yet, the wireless had not been connected in our new place. So it was just coffee and staring at each other. With jetlag, a bit of homesickness, and only rain outside, we were a bit gloomy at first. But with each passing day, the house improved, as did our moods. We got a lightbulb in our room. The guys purchased comforters and sheets for our beds. And when wireless finally arrived Thursday morning, we were giddy. The weather hasnít been great yetÖ itís rained every day weíve been here. But weíve got great rain jackets and even fenders now and the roads are beautiful. Langawehe may be small, but itís right at the base of the hills and mountains of the Eifel (Ardennes in Belgium) and it makes for some fantastic exploring. I went for a 3 hour ride one day and was lost the entire time, but I didnít care. I just kept riding until I knew where I was again. It was great.

Iíve never met Kimís mom but she seems really cute. Kimís boyfriend, Aaron Olson, rides for Saunier Duval, and is based out of Spain. I donít think Kimís mom gets out that much because she wrote Kim an email saying, ďWell, canít you just ride over to Spain and visit Aaron?Ē Kimís response was ďMom! I donít even ride to Denver from Colorado Springs!Ē

In preparation for Tour of Flanders, Christina and Judith arrived Friday evening to stay at the team house. Saturday morning, 4 riders and 3 staff left to head to Ghent, Belgium, stopping to pick up Ina at the border. Magali drove over from Paris and met us at the hotel. The menís team had already arrived at the Ghent Best Western so the parking lot was full with the T-Mobile caravan. There was lots of magenta and black flying around. We had a big team dinner that night in the hotel, and across the room, I spotted a friend of mine on the Davitamon-Lotto team, Henk Vogels. Henk had been on the same team as my husband one year and he, his wife Cindy, and his son, Jett, had lived in Boulder for about 3 years. I didnít want to run over to Henk and totally embarrass him in front of his Belgian team, but it was fun to see a familiar face. I kept my composure however and waited until breakfast the next day to say hi.

Next: The Tour of Flanders