December 23/10 21:03 pm - Shaun Adamson - A Canadian Cyclo-crosser in Belgium
Posted by Editor on 12/23/10
Canadian cyclo-cross racer Shaun Adamson is spending the season in Belgium, and is providing reports on his experiences there:
The house had actually been fairly quiet with only Craig, Gregg, and Holly around. Craig was putting in a solid training block and taking some time off from racing. I did some really nice days of some really hard intervals. It was my last real chance to build some more fitness before heading into the Christmas period of craziness. I was definitely feeling the effects going into a weekend of racing, but they were B races and I knew I would need the fitness if I wanted to perform well at the World Cups.
I headed out to Varsenare for another solo adventure. I had some fun getting there, as the address on the website was wrong and took me on a bunch of small roads leading to a dead end in a residential area. Luckily, the races can be relatively easy enough to find by just going to the church in the town center and going from there. The course was practically dry by Belgian standards and had a lot of nice flow to it. I handed out lots of my fan cards and actually got Bart and Geert Wellens' dad to take my bike to the pit. What a guy!
The field was pretty strong and I was a little tired from the week of training. I didn't spring off the line as I normally would and went into the first corner in about 20th place. I was just off the back of the chase group and stayed in about that place for most of the race. I ended up battling with one other guy for the last few laps and told myself I didn't care what place I got overall, I just wanted to beat this one guy. I thought I had it as I came around him and put him under pressure on the last lap, but I had nothing left in the finishing straight and he came around me. I did suffer though and I had absolutely nothing left.
Craig and I drove out to a small B race in Uitbergen. The course was bumpy and fast for half and muddy and boggy for the other half. We both commented on how this course would be described as super muddy in North America, but how it was pretty much dry by Belgian standards. It was a tiny field today, with only 24 starters. It seemed as though there was a lot less pressure for some reason. I had a good start and felt like I was riding well. I was losing time on the boggy sections and my back was really hurting. I did manage to hold it together and finish 16th.
I took the week leading up to Scheldecross pretty easy, it was taking me a while to feel recovered from the previous week's training and the weekend of racing. I knew that I could and wanted to use the Scheldecross for a bit of prep for the World Cup. I have raced here twice before and remember really liking the course. It uses the sand on the beach of the Schelde river and the grass field nearby with a few little hills. This year's race was snowy and icy. It felt like riding at home in Edmonton's winter. I really liked the course and felt comfortable on it.
The field was pretty big, with over 60 riders taking to the line. I was late registering for the race and forgot to the bug the guys at registration about my UCI points, so I got stuck right near the back. I didn't make up too many spots too fast, but was able to stay on my bike and ride some of the tight corners when other people were jumping off to run. I was trying to really hard to get to a group just in front of me, but couldn't quite make it.
Once I was on my own, I started daydreaming and making mistakes, missing the ruts and sliding in corners. In the last stretch of the race, I got my head on straight and started driving really hard. The leaders hadn't widened their gap noticeably in the last couple laps and I thought I might be able to make the lead lap. I was pretty disappointed when the commissaires stepped out in front of me before the final lap; I hadn't completely exhausted myself yet! In hindsight, maybe that was my issue. I did leave feeling good and excited to suffer and ride as hard as I possibly could in the World Cup the next day.
Kalmthout World Cup
Following yesterday's snowy conditions, I thought I might be able to break out my awesome white Cycle-Smart skinsuit from Verge, but the sky was grey and the course had churned up a bit of mud; I didn't want to ruin that skinsuit just yet. I was enjoying the really fast course laid out on the ice and snow. There were a lot of ruts and it wasn't technical per se, but you could easily lose a lot of time by making silly mistakes. I knew I had to focus and couldn't start daydreaming today. I was feeling great in my warmup and was really amped when I was riding the trainer. I thought today was going to be a really good day.
I didn't have a great start and couldn't seem to turn it around from there. I was driving my bike pretty well, I thought, and was really trying to grab the baseball bats and stand up and hammer out of every corner. As the laps wore on I just kept pushing as hard as I could, focusing on driving when I had to.
I didn't make it to the lead lap, even without the extra lap we race at the World Cups I wouldn't have made it, but when the commissaires pulled me on this day I had given absolutely everything! I was completely exhausted and knew that I had given my all. I guess that's all that I can ask of myself, eh? As I was riding back through the crowds of fans watching the big screens, probably looking somewhat dejected, one of the Belgians offered me a half-full bottle of jenever. I declined, but had to laugh. He knew I needed something to take the edge off.
This week is flying by and the weather is still cold and snowy. I have gone out on the roads with my cross tires on all week and have felt like I haven't even left Edmonton. Although I have left Edmonton, along with many of my friends and family, I have a great group of people here at The Chainstay and tomorrow we will have a Christmas dinner and a little gift exchange. I will go to midnight mass at the church in Oudenaarde, and even if I don't understand a word, I'll be able to follow the flow and feel like I'm a little bit at home.
Christmas flies by for a cyclo-cross racer here in Belgium, as I race the Zolder World Cup on December 26th, followed by the Diegem Superprestige on the 27th, Azencross on the 29th, Bredene on the 30th, in Petange on January 1, and in Waregem on the 2nd. It will be a whirlwind, but I'm really excited!
Thanks for reading and thanks for all of your support. I certainly wouldn't be here without all of you and your help!!
Team & Coaching....... Cycle-Smart http://www.cycle-smart.com/
Bikes..............................Van Dessel http://www.vandesselsports.com/
Clothing........................ Verge Sport http://www.vergesport.com/