Race Day in Holland

Well, in the end I decided to race in Den Haag, Holland today. This was my original plan but then I switched it to stay closer to home and race in Tessenderlo. Found out yesterday from Nikki that the race in Tessenderlo wasn’t a sanctioned race, so I couldn’t race it. So back to plan A – race in Den Haag. Really glad I went.

A lot of people here thought it was a long way to go for a race – it was two hours away… As I told my pal Harrie Van Der Hoorst today at the race “two hours is nothing for a Canadian!”. Left with plenty of time this morning – in the event I got lost or had to make a stop on the way. As luck would have it, I did get a bit confused by the GPS so the little bit of padding was definitely handy. Got to the race site just in time to watch the Masters men start. This was useful since I could watch this race and pay attention to how the leaders were riding some of the different sections.

There was only 20 minutes between each race so I hopped on the course right after the Masters race to get in my first look at the course. In a word: muddy. In another word: greasy. How about: tight, twisty, turny, slippery, muddy, heavy grass? Yep, all of these and more. Wow – a really doozy of a course. But typical for cyclo-cross in Holland. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you look at it) – all of these things are a real challenge for me… There was also a super steep slippery, grassy, and muddy climb that descended straight down into a mud field. Crazy. In years past, this course would have sent me running. But I’m here to race and to be challenged. So I had no choice but to get on with it!

Funny, as it got closer to my race start, I started to have some negative thoughts and really had to convince myself to race today. First time this has happened this year. Suppose it was a bit of insecurity over the course creeping in, and also I really was there alone today – no pit person or really anyone to hang out with. Guess a bit of homesickness crept in. But I was able to rebound and my confidence and zest for racing and being challenged quickly returned.

The last minute tire panic probably helped with this… So I did two laps on the typhoons. Determined that they were picking up too much mud. Plus a quick peak at Edwin Raats tire choice (rhinos) confirmed that rhinos were the tire for the day. Cool, I had rhinos in the car. Switched out the tires. Went out for a couple more warm-up laps between the 1:00 and 2:00 races (basically on at 1:40 for a couple of laps) – my race was at 3 and I still didn’t have my number… I noticed that my front wheel was washing out on the pavement and really seemed to be buckling a lot. Strange. Picked up my number and hustled back to the car. It is now 2:15. I race in 45 minutes. Pin number on. Clean bike quickly. Check the tire pressure in the front tire – around 15 psi. Yep, too low. I simply thought that I hadn’t pumped it up. But, you know me, I’m anal about such stuff – so I knew I pumped it up. Uh oh – leaky tired… So I ended up running a typhoon on the front and a rhino on the back. Worked okay but I did notice after the race that the typhoon had picked up so much more mud than the rhino. And the leaky rhino – flat as a pancake when I got back to the car. Sigh.

So the race? Well, in short – I was 12th. I think there were close to 40 starters… So numerically this is not bad. But it could have been better. I explain this in detail in my race report. But suffice it to say, I was hesitant in the first lap and a half, then gave myself a stern talking to and forced myself to learn, adapt and ride this muddy twisty turny greasy single track stuff the way it should be ridden. This resulted in my passing lots of girls. A few more laps and I would have been in the top ten. Lots of lessons today. Good ones. I’m happy with the result but not content. I have more in me. And the next time I race in this type of stuff, I know I will do better. Bonus was getting a little prize money (10 euros) – not bad considering the race was free…

I was cleaned up and packed up super quickly – inside of 45 minutes and on the highway for the drive home. Was a bit white-knuckled with some crazy wind and rain. Not to mention the insane traffic through Rotterdam. But I’m home now. Clean. Fed. Rested. Looking forward to a super week ahead.

Tomorrow is an easy day on the bike. And then… I’m taking part in a UCI cyclo-cross training camp…. Cool. It is going to be at Koksijde. Run by the Belgian National Team Coach – Rudy De Bie. So everyday this week I’m driving to Koksijde with Rudy for training at the course. This is excellent preparation for the Koksijde World Cup on Saturday. Definitely going to be some tough days – two hours on the road in the morning followed by cyclo-cross training in the afternoon – not to mention the travel. But it will be so worth it. I believe the Mongolian team is participating, four Danish riders and a girl from Australia. Should be good. Think this will be one of those weeks where I learn and grow a lot as a rider and a person. I’ve never raced at Koksijde but I’ve heard stories – apparently there is a lot of sand at Koksijde. From what I can understand, you either lover or hate Koksijde. I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it. Then right after the World Cup on Saturday, I’m hopping in my car and driving 4.5 hours to Gieten, Netherlands for a race on Sunday. Then home from Gieten (3 hours I think) on Sunday. And then…. Off to the Brussels airport on Monday to pick up my favorite guy.

Like I said, next week is going to be awesome!

Speaking of my favorite guy… He was third today at the OBC race at Upper Canada Village! Congrats Marc! Sounds like an awesome ride. It was great to hear his excitement and zest for racing when he told me about his race. I’m super proud of him. Can’t wait to cheer him on in his races here.

Okay, I best be off. Think I should give the muddy clothes another run through in the washer. And I’ve got to look into that flat tire. Oh again, for the second day in a row, I was able to race in my short-sleeve skin suit without an undershirt. Yep, it is warm here. Nice.

Hope you had a good day today – be this racing, riding, hanging out with friends and family, eating turkey and pumpkin pie, or just simply being. Thanks for reading.

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