I haven’t blogged in a while, and I told myself I’d have all the time in the world to catch up on this once I got to Europe, but since I’ve been here, it’s been non-stop bike stuff. Go to bike race, hurt lots, come home, shower, wash clothes, clean shoes, wash bikes, lube chains, re-grease bottom brackets and bring them back from the dead, re-grease wheel bearings, true wheels, ride when I have time, sleep when I have more time… It’s been a pretty big bunch of bike stuff, and a never ending check list! But it’s been fun! Kinda wish I had my own personal mechanic out here!
Leuven Soudal Classic:
We showed up to the first race n Belgium and were thrown head first into the deep end of the pool. No life jacket! The course was knarly and really quite short. It had a couple super steep ups and downs which on the first lap provided some entertainement, and as I was the last one to the first uphill, I had to wait about 30 seconds before I could even go anywhere! I got to wave tot he crowd and have a good time, till it was back to business. I was really able to make up some good spots towards the end of the race, but after loosing probably 2 mins on the first lap, it was doomed from the start. I made it to 45 mins in before getting pulled out as Niels Albert was charging pretty hard behind me and it makes sense, he did finish almost a minute ahead of anyone else. Oh well, onto the next one.
St. Niklaas UCI C2:
This one I was really looking forward to! I got confirmation that they would be able to provide some start money, and they even handed it out before the race too! Checked out the course and it was mostly flat with a big sand section on a beach, a couple ups and downs, before heading onto a running track for the finish. They also had one section with a big concrete wall that was hopable for me but no one else was riding it. It really gave me an edge every time I came to it as it probably saved me 5 seconds per lap!
The race played out really well even though I had a bad start. Out here, it seems when I have a bad start, I seem to come out of it on top because I’m able to see the pile ups and am able to avoid them. I soon enough rode around a lot of guys and straight through to mid-pack even before I got off the running track. The rest of the race, I was duking it out with some U-23 riders in a group of about 5 guys and finally was able to come 2nd out of the group I was with. It really upped my spirits and I was now ready for the tail end of the ‘holy week’ of cyclocross.
World Cup Namur:
Things got off to a bit of a rocky start when in the car half way to the race, I realized that I forgot to put in my contacts before we left, so I either had to race in my glasses (a huge no go as they’d fall off ) or no contacts at all). I decided to race without them as it was pretty muddy. I was able to do a couple laps in pre-ride with the glasses on to check out the pretty hairy descents in the course and pick the good lines. But the thing in cyclocross is that the course always changes as the race progresses, so if you aren’t able to change with it, then your out the back with a parachute. The course was basically a MTB course with lots of ups and downs and most of which was super muddy so you had to run soo much of it. It was hard to get into a rhythm. I tooled around kinda half wishing it would end, but then I got pulled shortly after the 30 min mark. I was bummed to get pulled so soon, but relieved that I wasn’t risking my life any more with not being able to see and all. Onto another race…
World Cup Zolder:
This race I was really starting to look forward to. The last time I raced here was probably 3 years ago and I was able to finish on the lead lap, which was really cool and hard to do at the time. Although it was before the 80% rule came into effect. So I was really hoping to have a good one here. I came the day before to pre-ride the course and pick up my race package, so I really had the course dialed in pretty well. It was also quite dry when I pre-rode so it was poised to be a super fast race!
Come race day and it was still pretty dry and fast. As it typically does, the weather turned for the worst during the elite men’s race, so we got a pretty good dump of rain after the race started. I again had a bad start and was off the back before the first corner, but in doing so, I was able to avoid the major pile up on the first couple corners to put me almost in the mid-pack. I was really doing well to maintain my position and after a couple fobbles in technical bits, I was really looking forward to staying into contention. After a few laps, I wasn’t far behind TJ and I wasn’t making many mistakes either. J-Pow had some bad luck and towards the end of the race, he was riding with me even. With 3 laps to go I was with Lindine and Powers (as they would ride away on the flat stuff, and I’d catch mack up on the technical bits, until I went through an unsuspecting mud pit and caught my bars on a fence post and crashed on the road. I went down hard and lost contact with the group, which of course was the last couple riders to make it onto the lead lap. I got pulled on the start of the last lap as the leaders were charging hard behind me. The 80% rule sucks, but it is there for a reason I guess.
Now onto Diegem, night race, I’m really looking forward to it! Then flying back to Chicago for the New Years Cup!
Happy Holidays Everyone!