Koksijde World Cup Pre-Ride

Sitting here in the comfy hotel with my race numbers pinned and ready to go. Had an easy travel to Koksijde today thanks to Alex and his expert driving. Many thanks to Karl and Denise for letting me tag along for this race.

Got to the course at the perfect time. There was literally just us and Martin Zamilek from the Czech team out riding. Hit up the course for some scoping out and analysis. I did my typical pre-World Cup day before ride.

One lap easy to feel out the course. Second lap little faster and stopping to run through the key sections. I practice each key section until I’m comfortable with it and then move on. Sometimes this can be a quick process – other times not so quick. Today was a mix of both. Then I did one more lap with Karl and Christine Vardaros to take one last look and just get some more input from others.

So the course… It is very different from last year. The sentiment seems to be that it is much harder and more challenging than last year. There is more than twice the amount of the sand. There are many more steep climbs and corresponding descents. There is much less road and power sections than last year.

It is a fun course. It is challenging – but so are all cyclo-cross courses. How do I feel about it? I like it. I’m not a sand expert but I’m better than I was last year. As for the descents – well I got down them all the first time I hit them so there are no issues. All I can do is line up and give it all I can do.

The sand makes for funny terrain. This is not like the sand we have it home. We are racing on a sand dune so the sand shifts and moves around. Super highways do not form. It stays just like a sand box with lots of little sand fingers to grab your wheels and stop your momentum.

The interesting thing about this course is that this is the World Cyclo-Cross Championships course for 2012… Cool.

Many thanks to Martin Zamelik for the advice today. He helped me out with riding down a sand hill. Here is what he said – hop on the bike with the hands on the tops, start pedaling immediately and don’t let your bum hit the seat, keep your weight back but don’t sit down. So I did it – what a difference – I floated down the hill. I also tried this technique on a bumpy and squishy grass section – seemed to make a difference. So this is something I will be implementing tomorrow.

The only crazy thing today was finding the number pick-up. The address in the material provided by the UCI was incorrect. Many thanks to Rudy de Bie for helping us Canadians out of a jam….

So now we’re waiting for Alex to return from the meeting and then we’re off to find some food. My wet clothes are drying on the radiator. My bike is clean and ready to go. Still feeling like the pipestrellos are the way to go. The weather here is so crazy. During our two hour pre-ride the weather went from freezing cold, to boiling hot, to rain, to sleet to snow….

After my pre-ride I hopped on the trainer for a 20 minute spin out. I really think this helps clear the legs of junk and keep them fresh for tomorrow. Now I’m putting back the water and my stomach is telling me it needs food soon.

I’m feeling good. I like the course. I knew what it would be like for the most part so no surprises there. I just want to get out and race my bike. As usual one of the best things about cyclo-cross racing for me are the people. Awesome to see Luc and his wife right away. Also great to see Nikki and her parents. Many thanks to Peter and Philip for helping me out at the number pick-up with trying to get the elusive Team A parking pass….

Gotta love this sport for the crazy stuff we do on our bikes. Never in my wildest dreams if you’ve told me in 2006 that I’d be racing a World Cup in Koksijde, Belgium would I have believed you. Well I’m doing it. Proof that anything is possible….

Thoughts the Day Before

Last year at this time, I was pretty amped up. It was the day before the Koksijde World Cup. I’d been training on the course all week. I felt good. I felt too good – I was over confident. I felt like I was going to have an awesome race and ride like I’d never ridden before. I also needed to only “finish” the Koksijde World Cup to get the last points I needed to qualify for the Canadian Cyclo-Cross Team and the World Cyclo-Cross Championships. Well, I didn’t have a great race. In fact I didn’t race well at all. The good news is I got the points that I needed. I did qualify. But as I was racing I was in a such a negative headspace during that race that I convinced myself that I didn’t “deserve” to go to the World Cyclo-Cross Championships. Yes, I was in a very bad spot. I had done a very good job of crushing myself mentally.

And now here I sit, the day before the 2010 Koksijde World Cup. I’m in a very different spot this year. If I have an amazing race, I can potentially get the points I need to qualify for the Canadian Cyclo-Cross Team and the World Cyclo-Cross Championships. But it is a long shot. A very long shot. I know this. I’m comfortable with this. Yes, I’d love to get the points so I can qualify. But I’m realistic. I know where I am as a bike racer. This year is a different year for me. I’m focusing on small improvements that will take me to the next big improvement.

So today I sit here with no false hope. No crazy thoughts of having the best race of my life. Instead, I’m going to go out there and race my bike. I’ll pedal as hard as I can. I’ll run as hard as I can. I’ll stay off the brakes. I’ll keep my legs spinning as smoothly as I can in the sand. I’ll attack the power sections. I’ll sprint into the climbs. I’ll keep my eyes up and focused forward. I’ll keep my brain clear. I’ll listen for my supporters out there cheering me on.

I won’t shake my head. I won’t shrug my shoulders. I won’t let my neck slump. I won’t let negative thoughts enter my head.

Nope, it is a new year. This is a new me. I’m just going to ride, smile and try to remember as much of it as I can.

Can’t hardly wait to race at the Koksijde World Cup.