Saturday, January 17, 2009
The trip has always included the weekend before for warm up races. many of these races have been repeated over the years. Places like Langemark, Veregem, Schriek, Viekevorst, Wilrijk, and this year 2 new venues at Londerzeel and Kasterlee. That first year, a 6th place at worlds was everything. Since then getting a silver medal and places consistently in the top10, keeps me coming back to dawn the prized tunic. Winning many of these races have kept me encouraged. Last years result was set back by a broken leg 6 weeks before, but it didn’t stop me from winning at Schrieck and placing 6th at worlds.
Last year a large contingent of east coasters showed and mark howland’s black market racing has brought a large group for many years. One thing all enjoy as much as racing in the worlds race is doing the local races. It gives a real look into the heart and soul of world class cyclocross. The fans, the kids, the young stars looking for contract, the moms , the dads, the officials and the promoters. All of it is so great.
This year trip began with the worst case of jet lag ever. In the past several year, I have got right off the plane and been able to win races, but this time, I didn’t sleep for 2 days. So the adventure began at 2 new venues, Londerzeel and Kasterlee.
So saturday was a bit of a struggle at Londerzeel, no sleep, up at 4am, driving around in circles lookin for the venue. all the Peets couldn't super charge this engine. The course raced on flats through horse pastures, with bmx style rollers, bumpy straight aways, lots of wide slick muddy turns. It was a wide open start in one of the horse pasture, not super fast ,like we are use to, but it wears on you always being on the gas, grinding away. not much finesse.
knew it would be a struggle as I started to doze on the way to the race. But was awoken on entering the lot, as a Belgium yelled out my name. There were lots of hellos and hand shaking. "how are you?", that is as far as are language skills take us. The officials ask me if I am going to win this year. One even joked, after the race, that I must be jet lagged, he expected me at the front contesting. The start went ok, with a mad dash across an open field, digging into the deep grass for traction. Not willing to take any risks, it took 2 laps to manage the front group, but by that time 2 great Belgium riders had already flown. a stubble here and a dab there slowed me off this lead group after serious effort from a back row start. But it was the slip in one corner that put me off and it required too much effort to regain them. Then the jet lag fatigue pulled the needed power out of me as I struggled to earn and protect a 6th place finish. Well, it was a good finish, but I knew I had to get some rest, falling asleep on the drive home to Retie.