It's been just over 2 weeks since Koppenberg and my last race report and in that time I have raced 3 times, bought a piglet leg, morphed into a race commentator via the twitters, had a cold & fought a cold, bought a new peppermill which was actually a nutmeg grinder, had 114 people like my Supporter Club on Facebook, and searched all over the streets of Begijnendijk for someone to trim my bangs/fringe so I don't develop a Belgian mullet. Such a multi-tasker, me.
Following Koppenberg I needed a break, but at the end of this break felt the head cold. My emergence back into training was not as hard and quality as I would have liked and on the morning of our drive to Nommay, I was feeling the worst of it. We decided to trek on to France in the hopes of some health returning. The morning of the race I was feeling the best I had in quite a few days so I took to the start line and managed a 5th place finish. It wasn't a valiant performance but it was what I could squeak out with limited energy.
One day's recovery led into Hamme-Zogge Superprestige. Although the women were a far cry from the importance of the Men, the course was still impressively built with 2 massive flyovers and 3 stair sets. It is frustrating to race at 10:45am, while the men have live coverage and a plethora of spectators at 3p, but we do need to remember that last year women didn't even have a category at many of these prized races. It's not going to happen overnight, but change is happening. At this race, I finally had a great start and was even sitting second wheel through the first lap (as seen on tv). But quite simply, I wasn't good enough and I fatigued quickly. I kept losing time on the straights, was popped to no-man's land, then joined by 3 other Belgians, 2 of whom out-smarted and out-sprinted me as I eventually crossed the line in 9th.
Finally my health, strength and energy felt about normal so I went into a block of training following those 2 races. I have become a "regular" on the Begijnendijk group rides with pats on the back and various comments like "you like to drive to 9th, uh?", "oi bambino, and?", "ehuh, legs strong yoO!". Those rides and battering around in the woods and on cobbles were my existence last week and to sink into the sofa yesterday to watch the men's GVA race ( because there was no women's race) was a welcome reward.
Another brutally early and dark alarm this morning to set off to Asper Gavere Superprestige. Change, equality, can you happen sooner? The women's race had an impressive line-up as many riders had returned from mini-training camps in exotic locations. The first half-lap held 2 crashes in slick corners. It was deceptively slippery out there, with shiny grass and greasy mud to steal your tire from underneath, similar to icy conditions. Fortunately Sanne Cant, the strong, gritty and determined Belgian Nat'l Champ was also caught in the crashes and we were able to move through the field together, cutting our time to the leaders down to about 25seconds at the half-way point. We moved into 7th & 8th and were honing in on 6th when my fireworks went off and I came unglued. Fortunately when I shattered I only had a lap more to get round so I held onto 8th place but lost a lot of time on that final lap. I may have finished 8th but one twitter follower said I won the Internet today in my men's race commentary. A win is a win.
I'm pleased with last weeks' work in training and the races up to today. Next weekend is the 3rd World Cup in Koksijde Belgium so I'm hoping the work pays off in those sand dunes!