The Zolder World Cup course is awesome.
From my vantage point at the rear of the race, I did a lot of things right today. The start was long and flat with lots and lots of bottle neck points. I braked in the right spots and punched it in the right spots. The soft sandy ruts I was blasting through at the training yesterday had frozen overnight. You could ride everything besides the forced run up after the solo descent feature of the course. That was a slightly sketchy bastard.
“We never see climbs like this back home,” Geoff Proctor said to me at the training last night. “They are so dramatic here. Borderline safe. We can’t use hills like this because 90% of the race entrants could not even complete a lap of the course.”
I remember looking at the results a bunch of years back and wondering why there was always an American in DFL or damn close. Now I know.
There are so many factors that get taken for granted back home. A decent night’s sleep. Being able to stick to your normal routine, and ride familiar training routes. The absence of cigarette smoke as you try to sleep. Good coffee and good food. I’ve found over last few years there has been a point about two weeks into my trip that I get a little home sick. Having crap legs after crap legs after crap legs is emotionally taxing.
I’m the kind of rider that has lots of ups and downs. When I feel like things are unraveling, I take a second to refocus.
Nick Weighall stopped by my car before my start and during his U23 race. “I dropped out,” he said, “I’ve felt like crap in every race I’ve started here. What the hell?” I gave him some supportive words: “It happens to all of the US riders over here.”
If you scan the results, on paper, the US riders have a spotty Euro cyclocross record. Only someone who has been here and suffers an entire year of focus and training disintegrating race after race can relate. We are all stoked on the experience for sure. But we are here to race our bicycles, progress our skills and earn some results.
It seems more often than not for the US riders, the legs are not going full speed in Flanders.
I’ve opted to start a small local race tomorrow instead of taking the day off. I feel like I am treading water. Did I drop anchor sometime before nationals? A smaller race may just drag me out of the ocean, lay me on the beach and give me some badly needed mouth to mouth.
“I think its good tomorrow to search your limit,” my Belgian advisers tell me.
Yeah, I think so too.
Thanks for reading.