amy alison dombroski

my words



The last five races


Gavere, Belgium
Koksijde, Belgium
Roubaix, France
Antwerp, Belgium
Overijse, Belgium. 

running the Koksijde sand with my teammate Pavla.
keeping pace with the leaders at Scheldecross.
because this is how you should look in a "classic" .
Five races have flown by since I wrote my last race report.  Two of those were World Cups where I finished 11th both times, missing out on 10th, an automatic World Championship qualifying spot by a matter of 2 seconds. But the good news is I am only getting stronger every weekend and I'm very happy with how I've been racing and training. I am in a very good spot right now with a dialed routine and Belgium is feeling like home more than ever. 
Koksijde World Cup concluded November on a positive note.  There is no other course like Koksijde in the world and for some riders it is a good friend and for some it is their worst enemy. For me I'd say it was more on the enemy-side of the spectrum. Last year the Koksijde WC was when things began to spiral downwards with my health and outlook.  Last November was my first time with Koksijde and an eye opening experience like "oooh so this is what they mean by sand...!"  I'm sure part of this year's ride was due to the fact that I am actually on good form and healthy physically & mentally. It definitely did not seem easy - no way in hell can that course ever feel easy as there is zero rest and the lines are ever-changing. But I felt more in control, more like a stick-shift car where I can choose my gears, as opposed to last season where I felt stuck in reverse. 
The following weekend was Roubaix World Cup. I carried with me confidence from Koksijde and my good luck charm, my father had come to visit.  My heart rate was 125 whilst sat on the start line and I was foaming at the mouth to be let loose. I had my best start possibly ever and rode another strong race. I was hung up a couple times, made a few mistakes and didn't think ahead tactically as much as I needed to. So when my group raced in for 6th through 11th I was gutted to take another 11th. It was a very good result but I struggled to see this because in a matter of a few seconds I could have had 6th which I would have been ecstatic with, but had to "settle" for 11th. 
Saturday the 1st was my Dad's birthday - he woke up in Belgium and went to sleep in France. After Roubaix we had a whirlwind tour of Europe.  We went to Ypres for a night where we saw the Last Post Ceremony, then to Brugge for lunch, to Gent for the night, to Maastricht the next day for lunch and to Aachen that night and following day, then back to Westmeerbeek to pack up and go back to Vermont. It was a short trip but we had a brilliant time together and he met a lot of the people in Belgium who are making my life so good right now. It was sad to leave Dad at the airport but it was also time to get back to work. Seems our visits to all these Christmas markets signaled to Winter that it could arrive. Snow and bitter cold graced us with its presence but I took a certain sick pleasure in this, knowing that the coming weekend would be a lot more fun and challenging.
Double weekends used to be a staple of my racing in America and often times the Sunday was a better ride than the Saturday. Not this weekend. Saturday was Scheldecross in Antwerp. This race was one of my first Belgian races since I began coming to Belgium. One year a bomb was found on the shore of the Schelde and the men's race was delayed by 10 minutes. To me this was a first realization of what cyclocross means to Belgians. I believe anywhere else in the world the race would have been canceled!  I have seen this course in a myriad of weather conditions and when I speak of the advantage of being Belgian & knowing the circuits in any weather condition, this is what I mean. The courses I have raced 3 or 4 times are now becoming like a home course. There are sections I look forward to, sections I struggle with which I may try to replicate in training. I know what I'm getting myself into and how I need to prepare.  I had a good race, hung with the leaders for over 1 lap and finished 4th, just 8 seconds away from a podium. It was a similar gutted feeling to that I felt at the World Cups - to be so close to the goal. On one hand I need to be happy for the progress I have made but on the other hand I can't help but dwell on the mistakes that may have made up those missed seconds.
Overijse was yesterday and it is a classic with the same prestige as Koppenberg or Gavere, and is truly only proper if it is grim and muddy weather. Last year I got on the telly for a spectacular crash on the first lap and I'd like to think this year my name was being called for having an ok race. Overijse is bloody hard, like doing a hill climb when all you've done for training is ride criteriums. It was a shock to my body and I just didn't have the same energy I had in my legs on Saturday. My focus wasn't as keyed in as it needed to be on such a slick and technically demanding circuit. A couple offs and crashes, the focus dwindles, there is no easy race in Belgium so a double weekend depletes a racer of everything - physically, mentally, emotionally. To be honest I am struggling writing all this because all I really want to do is stare absent-mindedly at Flemish cartoons on the telly. 

Thank you to everyone for the encouragement and support, for the cheers & photos at the races and especially to the Telenet-Fidea mechanics and helpers!

Copyright © 2012 Amy Dombroski. All Rights Reserved.