The coast near Koksijde borders the north sea and is home of the biggest shipping lane in the world. Not the sort of water you would want to swim in, yet the water attracts insane swimmers wishing to put their name in history in swimming from Dover, England to Calais, France. The coast near Koksijde is also attractive to Belgians with money for a holiday home. What you're able to afford there defines your status- villa vs. apartment vs. caravan and the prices are near to as dear as Aspen.
We stayed in an Irish themed hotel called the Pipers with a pub with plenty of personality. The walls were adorned with myriads of old scotch bottles, a timeline of beer steins, Irish words of wisdom placards, and even an ancient Walkers shortbread tin. The beer and spirits were a-flowin', each with their own matching glass. The speciality seemed to be ribs which came out on a massive platter about the size of my torso. And in the morning the woman in charge of making breakfast was taken aback when I didn't say yes to eggs, sausage AND bacon. Proper.
During my pre-ride on Friday I was feeling a bit uneasy about the fatigue I was feeling in my legs and the pure energy zapping of the deep sand. But technically I was riding ok and having some fun in the sand dunes. Again it was a course like no other. Ride down an ocean beach or laps around a beach volleyball court and you'll have a better idea of the course. Zonhoven Superprestige certainly had me better prepared, but dern there was a load of sand to go up, down and flat out. It was like a nightmare of the sandman chasing you while constantly catapulting gargantuan sand bags before your every footstep (or pedal stroke if you were wicked strong). It's a different style of riding and is frustrating because some laps you will easily ride a section, while the following lap you will flounder and wallow in confusion as to what the difference was.
I'd say the sand zapped me. Then punted me up the arse and buried me and my cloud of exhaustion. Or something. I just didn't have the life in my legs needed for the sand grinding brute strength. I had my worst finish yet in 17th and I'm not happy with my race but at least I know what to expect for the Worlds. Through my riding, floundering and flailing it is a starting point and I know what I need to work on as January approaches. Yep, I reckon I'll move from Begijnendijk to the posh coast and train like Baywatch.
Shame it was the one day we needed a fast get-away to drive 450km to Gieten for an early morning Superprestige and I get tagged for drug control. A huge thank you to SRAM's Chris McKenney for his help, expertise and early morning wake to reserve a parking spot in the high demand tiny team area car park.