So not a creative title, and for that I apologize.
First things first, 705 people viewed my blog yesterday. Holy smokes people, I hope you found it somewhat entertaining.
Onwards to the race. Namur goes down in my life history as one of the coolest cyclocross venues ever, and one of the most rad courses ever! Saturday night we received our numbers and start position on the grid. That’s when reality struck that this was actually going to happen. I knew I needed a good nights rest, so I went to bed somewhat early (before 11). At 1am I woke up wide awake, thinking “man it has to be 7am I feel so awake right now”, I looked at the clock and was quite surprised to find it was only 1am, the worst part was laying in bed forever. I dozed in and out of sleep and then finally around 5am, I just laid there until 7 when the alarm went off to get up. My body ached and my face felt tired, but I thought it was best to ignore that, and continue forth. I chugged some coffee, made breakfast and put all my bags together. Elle, myself, and our driver piled into the car and headed to Namur. I tried to get a little rest on the window in the back seat, but there is only so much sleep you can get in the car.
We arrived at the course to find our bikes all ready for us to hop onto the course and pre-ride (thanks mechanics)! I was already really antsy pre hopping on the course, but it was nice to see some familiar american faces there! I had heard some knarly things about the drops here at Namur, so I was pretty scared to start. I hit the first one, no problem, not scary, second one fine, third one was long, but do-able. The fourth one…the fourth one was after a short steep muddy run up, and you had a total of 6 feet to remount before the course drops again. I got to the top and looked down and thought to my self “I can’t even see the bottom, I’m supposed to ride that”?? After watching one other rider ride it, I just went for it, turns out it wasn’t that bad, reminds me of stuff I mountain bike down at home, get your butt back and hang on for dear life. No problem. The rest of the course was up and down and tough. The only flat section of the course was by the pits, everything else is either up or down. The starting up hill is so long and pretty steep I was having a hard time imagining what it would be like to pedal up that hill at race pace, or drop down those descents full gassed. Smooth and steady was the name of the game.
The most interesting part about this course, was how lost and confused it left me. Once off the course, I had no idea how to get back to the cars. I wandered around lost and confused until I finally found the cars. Now, if I thought finding the cars was difficult, how about trying to find the start line! After hopping off the trainer and onto my bike to head to the start line, I realized I had no idea where I was going. Thankfully I just followed some euro girl who looked to be in a hurry as well. We cruised through the crowds of people and pushed our way to the start line, only to wait around for the call ups. Lucky me, I was start position #41, really awesome, I think that came out to 6th row. With a call up like this, all I can do is hope for the best and take it all with a grain of salt. I remained calm when the light turned from red to green and did my thing. Starts are always a cluster, but this one was a cluster even more! We started on this pretty tough muddy climb. I had an okay 30 second start, until a girl ran into a course stake in front of me which flung her bike sideways into mine. I caught myself before totally hitting her, only to get stuck behind a 2nd crash just before the top of the climb. This time I had to maneuver around a pile of girls and bikes, trying to figure out where the heck I was going to go. From there, I just thought “well this is what it is, have fun, race your race”. I did my best to try to catch up to the girls in front of me and make my moves where I felt confident. The most amazing thing for me to see, was how scared some of these girls where on the drops. They where almost coming to a complete stop at the top of the downs, or they where straight up running down hill! I thought this was a bike race?
The first lap I was trying to remain calm and comfortable with the course. I discovered where I could make passes,(for example) by the girls who where walking up the run ups! I realized my running was a lot stronger than theirs, so I made my passes there, or on different lines down the descents. I was catching up to girls in front of me and was making up lost places after a terrible start. The lack of sleep was very obvious in the lack of power coming out of my legs, but I was having fun so I just didn’t care! Going into the third lap I opted to pit, and after passing the pits during the third lap I ended up crashing, breaking a wheel (which didn’t surprise me, I didn’t think the Mad Fibers would be strong enough for this Euro mud and drops), a shifter and had to run half a lap to the next pits. :-( That was SO much running! My legs haven’t done that much running in a long time, it made the run ups that much harder, and I am sad to say I did have to walk for a second to catch my breath during one of the run ups. While I was running on the off camber rutted out hill this girl passed me, and as she passed me she said (in a foreign accent) “your wheel, your wheel is broken”. I laughed to myself because clearly my wheel was broken!!!! As I was getting closer to the pits I thought I was for sure going to get lapped. Turns out, I didn’t get lapped, grabbed my pit bike and finished the last lap. I caught a couple of girls on the last lap, but not enough to make me happy with my placement.
Remember with the last post how I said that if I didn’t do better than my start position I better start thinking about my racing career? I think that was karma, because I finished 42nd. Ugth I was so mad. The positive I took out of the race was how much fun I did have with the course. I re-fell in love with cyclocross. The course was challenging, the mud was wickedly awesome, and I had a smile on my face for most of the race! I could really only take the race with a grain of salt, a great experience, and a lot of fun.
I’m so thankful to have the mechanics here at the Eurocrosscamp. They have been taking care of us left and right. Dave, the head mechanic, took care of my wheels stat. Pulled off the tires from two sets of wheels so he could glue up the mud tires on the 2nd set of wheels. I’m so thankful to have people around to help me out and take care of everything I don’t know how to do. Thank you for that.
Reflecting back on the race, while I’m bummed about breaking a wheel (for multiple reasons) I am so glad I was given the chance to race a World Cup, and I get a second chance to race another one tomorrow! I’m here for the experience, a building block for the future of my racing. Thank you to everyone who has made it possible.