Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Belgium Trip Day 2
Today was the first of nine races that we will be doing while over here in Izegem, Belgium. It was a 68.6 km course that consisted of 12 laps of 5.5 km. The six of us did a quick one hour spin a few hours before we left for the race. After that we ate some a quick lunch which consisted of a few apples and a turkey sandwich. At around 1:00 we packed up the van and departed for the small town where the race was being held, about 30 km away. After we arrived we jumped out of van to head over the Primus, the local bar (and no, not to get a drink), but to get registered for the race. The moment I stepped into the bar I wanted to leave. The air was filled with smoke that made me want to puke. Nevertheless, I waited in there long enough to sign the paper and grab the numbers. The numbers here in Belgium are extremely different than any number that I have ever used. First of all, they are pretty much a piece of cloth with ink printed on it. Secondly, the sides are littered with tiny holes where other pins pierced through the material used by numerous racers before me. I made sure I arrived at the start line with plenty of time to spare so I could start at the front. The start was probably one of the fastest starts I have ever been a part of. I was already going all out before we even hit the first turn. I was able to get right at the front of the pack to conserve some energy for later. A few times I found myself all of a sudden at the back of the group, and had to work pretty hard just to get back in the top 20 or so. The best way for me to work my way back up to the front was the corners. I would just slip in on the inside and pass about five or so Europeans that were slamming on the brakes for a sweeping turn. With about six laps to go two things happened. It started to rain pretty hard and I found myself off the front with three other juniors. I put my head down to take my pull and didn’t see the corner man waving the flag for us to go right. I rode straight ahead before I realized that I didn’t turn the right way. I slammed on my brakes and did a quick U-turn. I jumped back up to speed, trying to stay ahead of the pack that was coming up to the turn fairly quickly. As I went around the turn I felt my bike slip out from under me as I landed on the ground (who can’t corner now?), giving me a nice raspberry, right into the middle of the pack. I stayed on the ground to watch multiple cyclists swerve around me. As the last one passed I jumped back up and onto my bike to try and limit my losses to the back of the pack. I spent the next half a lap chasing back on to the group before I made contact, and I spent the next lap just trying to move back up to the front. When we heard the bell with one lap to go I tried another attack to try and bridge up to the leaders that were about 10 seconds up. Right when I made contact with the leaders a kilometer later I looked back just to see the field sitting on my wheel. I sat up to try and get a better position for the sprint. With about 250 meters to go I saw American Comrade Joel Shaffer slide out due to a rider taking out his front wheel. I tried to keep my focus ahead to the slightly uphill finish as riders were swerving around Joel. With the finish line coming closer and closer I tried to spin my 52X16 a little faster to end up in 13th, the best placed American Rider. After a quick cool-down I headed over to the bar to get the results and to pick up my winnings, which was 10 Euros. After getting back at the house I took a quick shower, and went downstairs to another wonderful pasta meal made by Els. After dinner we had a quick meeting with Tim before hitting up the Wall, a huge vending machine the size of a store window, and washing our clothes. Tomorrow we plan on going on an hour and a half easy spin then a cycling class in the afternoon. The next race that we plan on doing is this Saturday. I’m not sure of the details, but I’ll keep y’all posted on what is going on. Also, thanks to my parents for making this trip possible along with NWCC and Optimist International.