So the big day has come and gone. What a day. Lots of impressive racing and athletes out ripping it up at Silvermere (Mol). I must say the World Champs race course is a pretty fun. Starts off with a long straight away on the pavement. 90 degree bend onto the crucial part of the race course – the infamous sand. This is where the first selection is made. Get the hole shot and you are off. Get a late or last row call-up or someone goes down in front of you – and all you get is bottle neck and frustration. So long sand stretch followed by lots of twists and turns. There are some spots in the woods to open up but from what I remember and experienced on Friday, success on this race course has a lot to do with momentum and maintaining it. A few tricky sections – one bump with an exposed root near the pits gave most racers issues. Some deep muddy grooves by the first pit also caused some hang-ups. By the pits more swoops and turns. A little run-up over some log stairs. A really cool and fast sand bowl. More twists and turns and you are back at the pit. Up and over some miniature barriers then it is onto the home stretch.
A great race course for racers and spectators. Speaking of spectators, there were quite a few people out to watch on Saturday. Most impressed with the numbers. So I wasn’t racing on Saturday – my job was to work the pits and to do whatever Marc and Ed needed (mostly stay out of the way and let them focus on racing). I hit the road at around 8:30 and pedaled my little Steven Super-Prestige over to the race course. Nice way for me to start the day and helped me get rid of some the nervous energy I had for my favorite guy. Got there around 10 – hopped in the shower and then it was down to business.
Ed raced at 11:35 so I made my way to the pit with his spare bike and wheels at around 11:00. Last year the pit was so packed I wanted to make sure I had a good spot. We had discussed where I would be in the pit and that I would be ready for a bike change on the first lap if things were jammed up coming by the pit (on Saturday the pit lane was definitely the fastest lane). So standing around the pit watching the earlier race and just soaking things in. When who do I see – none other than Jonathan Page. I starred at him. Thinking is this really JP – in the pits at the Masters World ‘Cross Champs? Yep – he was pitting for a Planet Bike (one of his sponsors) racers. Unfortunately JP’s guy broke his chain on the first lap right by the pit – and he only had spare wheels… So Ed’s race – he was called up last. Yep – dead last. Not cool There were about 4 rows of 10 guys in front of him…. Frustrating as all get out. But Ed did not let him get it down – he simply put his head down and got to business. He rode pretty good and managed to finish in 14th place. The winner of his race simply rode away from the field – we have watched this guy do this in every race. He is a big guy and he just seems to able to power away.
Massive shout out to Kathy Savary for winning her second World Masters Cyclo-Cross Championship title. I didn’t get to see any of her race but Tom S. told me it was an awesome battle between her and a French rider. Kathy was super happy with her race and win. She has had a tough go of it this season – an injury that slowed her start, then a concussion when she was here in Belgium, a calf injury on Wednesday – reasons for anyone not to have a good performance on the day. But Kathy put that all aside and did what she does best. Congrats Kathy!
Marc was up at 1:30. So after Ed’s race I got back to the super van – got the spare bike ready for Marc. Got the spare set of wheels. Gave Marc some sage advice (basically all the things Marc tells me before a race). Made my way back to the pits. Talk about packed. There was no room to move in the pits for Marc’s race. His race had 53 racers. And I think everyone of them had a spare bike! Got a good spot in the pits and got ready for the chaos. Same deal as Ed’s race – be ready for a first lap change. Marc was called up in the third row – so not bad. Admittedly I didn’t get to see much of his race – only what I could see from the pits. But he told me he got a good start and then the chaos in the sand combined with some sharp elbows started. I think Marc rode super well. He never let off the gas. Always digging and working hard. He made his way through a couple of groups – ripping them to shreds in the process. Marc finished 25th. He is disappointed. I’m not – he rode well. He did what he could on the day. It is tough though when so much emphasis is put on one race. It is hard to remember the journey, keep the perspective, and all the rest.
Well, I’m super proud of Marc. He rode well. Really well. Much better than he did last year. He kept his head together and didn’t let things get him down or frustrated. He just kept on truckin’. Good job Marc – awesome ride.
Chilled out for a while after Marc’s race and watched the next couple of races of “young” guys. I cracked and had my first Belgian frites. Oh – they were so good. I normally don’t eat fries but I needed them – really I did! Chatted with Tom S. for a bit and then headed home.
A good day at the races. A tough one as well. Everyone wants to be the best on the big day. This is so hard. The stars really have to align for everything to come together. I’m trying not to get all philosophical here about bike racing but…
Marc and Ed are racing again today. So I’ll be doing the pit work again and cheering them on. Should be another good one.
Thanks for sending all the fast vibes and positive messages to Marc – he and I really appreciate it. Next year we’re going to have to get more of you here to race at Mol and eat some Belgian frites!