Kalmthout World Cup

Big race day here today. The Kalmthout World Cup is a popular race for riders and fans. The course lends itself to a very exciting and fast race. Good for spectators and racers. Today the extra dimension of snow, more snow, and even more snow – made the day that much more for everyone. The morning was pretty calm without a few flakes but by the time we raced at 1:30, we were battling some massive snow flakes and lots of ice. It was so bad the organizers had to order a snowplow and salt truck!

Today was a good day. My race went okay. Not terrible. Not first class. But definitely a step in the right direction. I’m not super satisfied with my ride because I made some mistakes that cost me today. The old adage that “the slowest way around a course is on your ass” definitely rung true for me today. I’ve written a full race report. Click over and give it a read.

Before I go any further I have to thank a bunch of people. First off, many many thanks to Marc for giving up his race today to come out and support me all day. Marc did everything for me today. Cleaned bikes. Calmed nerves. Prepped tires. Checked tire pressure. Worked the pits. Reminded me to stop talking and to get changed. Gave me lots of positive reinforcement after the race. Not to mention he battled the crazy traffic this morning and drove home at the end of the day. This race today wouldn’t have been doable without Marc’s help and experience. Thanks Marc!

Next on the thank-you list are our housemates Rachael and Brad. They were rockstars today – took my warm-up clothing at the start, were out on the course cheering me on, and were around in case we needed anything last minute. So thanks so much Rachael and Brad for the help! Much appreciated.

Many many thanks to Luc for more photos and for hanging out with us all day. Luc was an expert at taking us around the course during the men’s race to find the best spots to watch. Thanks Luc! Super awesome to have a new friend here in Belgium.

Huge thanks to Karl and Ken Hoppner for their cheering and for helping out at the start. Karl raced his first race in Belgium today. And he did really well. Congrats Karl on a fine race! In addition to racing today, Karl and his dad Ken helped me out by being at the start with extra wheels and a pump. Then they were all over the course cheering me on. Thanks guys! Super awesome to have some hometown support out there today.

Also thanks as usual to Rudy. I didn’t talk to him today but I heard him cheering me on and giving more advice on the course. One thing he said today really stuck in my brain “pedal – don’t be afraid”. This is a sure sign that I was tensing up. It is not that I’m afraid – rather, I’m trying to hard… My brain is thinking. My shoulders get tense. My feet stop moving. So, I’m super happy that Rudy said this to me during the race – it is a reminder of the work to be done.

So the day was good. I crashed a lot. I’ve got road rash now. A rip in my fancy Sealskin gloves. More bruises on my legs. But I came out of it a better racer. I learned more about my limits and riding on the edge of my technical abilities. I had some success on the course and a few missteps. This is bike racing. I had a good start. I rode some sections faster than I could have ever thought of. I crashed into trees, course barriers, and tripped over my self. Can’t ask for much more. Looking forward to taking the lessons I learned today and putting them into practice in Zolder at the next World Cup.

Small steps is all I can ask for. I would love to have giant steps forward. But if there is one thing I’ve learned these past two months, is that true learning and improvement comes slowly but surely. Nose to the grindstone is all I can do.

Okay, enough blathering and philosophizing, here are some awesome photos. Many thanks to Luc for the pictures.

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