January 27/05 3:00 am - Report #2 from Europe: Racing in Belgium 1 Week before Worlds
Posted by Editor on 01/27/05
World C-X Trip 2005 Report #2
Sunday. Muddy Sunday
The next day we raced again and I now know about the Belgian mud, sticky and deep. Norm and I raced the masters, 34-44. The masters30-34 started a minute before us and the 44-death behind us by a minute. Some of the 44+ past us before the first half lap and about three or four laps in Santas slightly slimmer brother past me in the muddiest section. It was also a cool course, at an old fort full of bunkers and brick buildings. It cost us eight euros to get in, the same as spectators but we got five euros back after racing. Pretty decent, I wish we could make our races that cheap and charge people to watch. On the down side, it did cost us five euros for two litres of water at the race. We thought about drinking beer before, during and after the race instead since its was a third of the price. Thanks for reading, thats all for now.
P.S. The best thing about being a master racer is the van has more pastery crumbs than mud on the floor!!
We left our friends Frank and Johan in Hoogstraten, Belgium to be closer to the Hoogerheide and Wilrijk races for Sunday. They gave us some Ciclo Morello arm warmers because the forecast was calling for S-N-O-W. Luckily, the Italian team had jammed on their reservations so we got a nice hotel close to the World Cup race in Hoogerheide. We were all pretty fried so we just wanted a good night sleep to get back on track. Norm has been getting up at 3:00am and anyone who knows Norm knows he just can NOT stay still very long so we have banished him to the bathroom so we can get some sleep.
Sunday morning we got up early for our meat & cheese breakfast (Corey added chocolate sprinkles so if he puked again we would have had no sympathy!). The boys took off early for Wilrijk and I went to check out the World Cup course. It was totally different than Heerlen-fast and hard-packed grass, dirt and sand with lots of cobbles & pavement and only one short run-up. There was only one really technical section: a steep dirt downhill with an immediate right turn where all the neuwelings (juniors) were trying different lines. The huge man-made ramp that the euros love so much was slick with frost but I was hoping that would warm up by my 1:00 race. With such an open course and big field (34) of world class girls I decided I would race smart and start conservatively, trying to stay with the first pack of girls. Most of the US girls were there too along with Canadian Tara Ross so I would have a few familiar jerseys to pace myself since I seem to be too stubborn to do it myself.
The announcer called us to the line and I am happy to say that I had a good conservative start. No screaming legs. I was still in with the top group of girls for the first corner and even sprinted ahead of a few into the technical descent. The big wigs broke away pretty quickly but I managed to keep a comfortable pace without too many people passing me. Ever-friendly Ann Knapp passed me early on with a cheer (thanks Ann). But I started to notice that when I was passed it was in the grassy sections where I was bumping around and couldnt seem to hold my power. Girls would pass me in the off-road sections and then my Xmas workouts would kick in and I would hammer the paved/cobbled sections to catch them again-only to slowly lose their wheel in the dirt. What the hell? I am supposed to be a mountain biker!!
This strategy (I didnt seem to have much choice) was fine until the last lap when 4 girls passed me (including Barb Howe) and my legs were just too tired to catch them on the pavement. I ended up 17th at my first World Cup cyclocross race, third North American (unfortunately Tara had a mechanical and had to drop out). I wasnt ecstatic with the race but I was glad that I had raced smarter, I was much closer to the leaders (2:30 down on the winner, 1min down from top 10) and my legs felt pretty good even if it was only on pavement (thanks Kev!!). I just need one more lap out of these sticks!! No 70 euros but I will take the baby steps forward any day. One week to worlds!!
1 Mirjam Melchers (Nl) at 36:34
2 Daphne van den Brand (B) at 0:11
3 Hanka Kupfernagel (G) s.t.
4 Marianne Vos (Nl) at 0:46
5 Laurence Leboucher (Fra) at 0:48
6 Ann Knapp (USA) at 1:06
7 Anja Nobus (B) s.t.
8 Hilde Quintens (B) at 1:08
9 Corine Dorland (Nl) at 1:22
10 Arenda Grimbergen (Nl) at 1:30
14 Barbara Howe (USA) at
17 Wendy Simms (Can) at 2:30
20 Rhonda Mazza (USA) s.t.
21 Sara Kerlin (USA) at 2:47
25 Josie Beggs (USA) at 3:48
Trying to fit in 2 races this year has required a bit more planning than before. Corey and I wanted to experience a different smaller race than Mol and we found one south of Antwerp on Sunday but it meant that we would have to plan our escape carefully to be back in time for Wendys race.
The race went OK. We now know why on the tapes of Euro C-X races the guys always have their feet sticking out around corners as in the mud your brakes become useless. I had one major crash and my gears were still skipping as I had not figured out the problem yet but it was really fun. I ended up getting lapped with about 1.5 to go and it was no suprize as the locals were riding the mud SO fast compared to me. I did get announced a couple of times as being from Canada so that was pretty cool.
Corey and I canned the warm down in order to get in the van
.logging the chamois time and head back up to catch Wendys race. It was going fine but we took one wrong turn and ended up missing the entrance to the ring. Thus when we arrived back, quickly got changed and headed to the World Cup course a block from our hotel the race was under way and we had missed Wendys best part of her race.
Back in the pits of a euro cross race
.it was like we never left!
Thanks to Frontrunners Nanaimo, HELLY HANSEN and Brodie Bikes.