Two days after Koppenberg was Superprestige Zonhoven. I remember this pair of races last season as a massive eye opener. Currently there is a lot of talk of how Americans can continue their growth to the level of European racing. I think a significant portion of this is the difficulty and varied terrain of courses in Europe. Following this week of racing last year I began to watch recaps from the prior season on YouTube to get an idea of what I would be getting myself into come race day. Last year Koppenberg was dry and we did not dismount our bikes a single time; it was dead hard in a sheer flogging yourself way. Whereas Zonhoven gave me a taste of hopelessness when I rode into the third corner of the course to a shocking sand quarry descent. Zonhoven was mentally and technically hard and held a lot of on & off the bike. I don't think you could find two courses more different from each other.
This year I knew what I was up against. And this is one reason I wanted so badly to return for another full-Belgium season: the first year is simply learning the courses, the layout. My technique in the sand was better this year but it still needs a lot of work. The most important part is the amount of fun I had descending those sand dunes this year, versus the absolute fright I had last year. That being said, maybe I had a bit too much confidence this year - in the first lap on a whim I tried a different line in attempt to move forward a spot. I hit a hole in the sand and went sailing head over teacup, taking the brunt of the impact on my arse and tailbone. I picked myself up quick as I could but had the feeling I became so familiar with when I was 8 - wheezing, no breath. I had asthma when I was younger and now I had the wind knocked out of me it was that same frantic panic. From where I crashed we immediately went straight back up the steep sand quarry and this time up was more of a hunched & labored hike as I gasped for air to fill my lungs. That must have been a slow lap. But it got better and it wasn't until the final lap when the adrenaline was wearing off that I began to feel the pain in my arse. I was able to keep forward momentum for the most part and finished 8th.