This weekend, Marc and I loaded up our trusty little Kangoo and hit the road for Holland. On Saturday we drove to Amersfoort, Holland for a race and on Sunday we drove to Voldhoven, Holland for a race. Two great races in the Dutch calendar. It was nice to see lots of familiar faces – both Dutch and Belgian.
The races in Holland are great for us to do. They feature pretty much all the aspects that I struggle with – riding the single brown stripe through the woods, dodging trees, maintaining speed through fast corners, trusting the tires to keep you in contact with the ground through some super fast deep grooves and berms. Basically classic Dutch racing.
I’ve written race reports for both races and posted them over here.
Saturday was a good day on the bike in some aspects and a not so good day on the bike in other aspects. I found on Saturday that I was a bit tight and on my brakes more than I should have been. If I think I was braking too much – then I definitely was. Other flaw to Saturday was my start. Marc watched the start and he said I was right in there and then all of a sudden I just slowed down and let the other girls go by. So this put me you know where. So I had to do you know what. This was the good part of the race. My ability to keep getting faster and more smooth as the race progress. I find I’m not tiring during the races. This is also because I need to put more effort into my sprints out of obstacles (this is what Marc says – and as usual – he is right).
Today, I really just wanted to have a good start. And guess what – I had a markedly better start than I’ve had all season. But then I messed up. I was not prepared for the fight that happens the first time we hit the woods – I wasn’t ready for the girls to be super aggressive and to be pushed off my lines… Yes, so I gave up my lines. And ended up very close to the back again… To make matters worse – I rode myself into the course tape and had to stop. So now I was you know where. And I had to do you know what. But at least I know I can start better!
This race in Voldhoven did have an interesting twist to it. As is typical, we started one minute behind the junior boys. Today there were some pretty fast boys and they managed to catch me. Okay, no biggie – I usually know when the leaders are coming and I’m always very good about giving space and letting them go by. Especially for the top three boys. Well, today, I was in the second last woods section. I was just about to pass a girl in front of me – we were riding on the brown stripe but there was a big wide section of mud next to the brown stripe. This kid comes up behind me and yells at me to give up the line – now the leaders had long been by (this guy was probably in 6th place) – well since I was about to pass the girl in front of me – I wasn’t about to give up my line… Next thing I knew, the guy comes next to me – punches me in the face, yells at me and keeps going! To say I was stunned would be an understatement. Luckily I was able to keep myself up right. But as a consequence I lost some ground and wasn’t able to pass the girl in front of me. I was ticked off at this kid. I managed to see his bib number as he went by… So at the end of the race, I rode over to where he was standing. Tapped him on the shoulder – and gave him one back in the face… I’m not proud of it. But I was none too pleased with being punched. This resulted in a massive melee… Luckily for me, Marc was coming over to the finish and saw the entire thing happen. And also lucky for us, some Belgian friends came to our rescue and defended us from the rather irate parents of the kid. So in the end I had to make a formal complaint to the head official. He was not impressed with the kid and said it would be dealt with. Now, this is not something I do – go about punching kids in the face. But I really was quite ticked off. I could have been hurt rather badly if I’d ended up crashing or if his punch actually had any strength behind it…
Typically after races, we come straight home so we can get the bike cleaning and laundry done as quickly as possible. But today was the Blauberg Kerstmarkt. So we stopped to take part in the Kerstmarkt. It was a pretty small Kerstmarkt with about 20 stalls – all selling some type of jeneveer (many different flavors), hot chocolate, beer, and warm food. Typically each stall is run by a different club or foundation – for example today there were stalls run by the Scouts, Blauberg soccer team, Red Cross, a dancing club, etc. We took a walk around and decided to have our supper at the Kerstmarkt! We couldn’t pass up the chance to eat such tasty looking food. I had my iPhone with me so I snapped a few pictures:
A super fun way to round out our weekend of racing. The Kerstmarkt is still going strong right now. We might wander over again later tonight to take in the late night action.
So another great weekend of racing, traveling, learning, and enjoying life in Belgium is in the books!
Thanks for all the amazing comments, emails, and sentiments about my selection to the World Champs team for Tabor – it really does mean a lot.