The calm before the storm
When it comes to cyclocross, Belgium is considered to be the Holly Land and in a sense I have come here to make my pilgrimage. In search of enlightenment. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started the adventure but one thing is certain. This is not a “Cycling Vacation”.
You don’t go to Belgium to do long rides in the mountains, drink good wine, and sharpen up your tan lines. If water isn’t coming down from the sky its seams as if it comes up out of the ground. We had Been fortunate enough to have actually seen the sun a hand full of times but I’m beginning to wonder if this place ever dries out.
I have been here now for nearly one week. I have done a good bit of training and one race so far. I was planning on racing an early week race in Surhuisterveen, NED, but I came down with a 24 hour stomach bug the night before, so that got shelved. I think the stomach issue is fairly normal for Americans adjusting to the different types of food and the way it is prepared. Add that to the 8 hrs difference in jet lag and I think it‘s your body’s way of saying that you just need to stay in bed for one full day.
My first race here took place in Maldegem, just a short drive from the house in Izegem This race was on the same day as the World Cup race in Namur, so I knew it wasn’t going to be a huge race, but I wasn’t real sure what to expect. Ryan Knapp, who came to the camp last year, was racing here with me and helped me through the registration process. The course had to be shortened because the lower field was flooded and full of standing water. The course consisted of a couple of super muddy sections, some waterlogged grassy bog sections a short piece of pavement and some cobbles. I was most impressed with the fact that this race just took place on someone’s farm out in the country. There was one section, right before the pit that had exposed barbed wire as the course marking. At first when riding the course in warmup I thought it was just a wire fence, but then i realized it was actually barbed wire. There are multiple reasons that this type of race would not even be possible in the US. Mostly due to liability. This was by no means a UCI race, but the level of racing here was still pretty high. I never saw the official results, if there even were any, but I was some where in the mid 20’s.
It’s about to get real
Friday night is the Superprestige in Diegem. Again this is a short drive for us, only about one hour. However this race couldn’t be more different from the race we did in Maldegem. This is one of the long standing races here in Belgium. This will be the 30th annual. The race takes place in a very urban setting at 7:30 pm. They are predicting there to be over 25,000 spectators for this race. To many this is their favorite race, so I am greatly looking forward to this experience. I don’t want to get distracted and get too caught up looking around. I want to try and stay focused but I’m sure it will be difficult with some many screaming spectators not to mention the level of the field will be phenomenal. I will do a complete post on this race after the dust settles. Stay tuned.