Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rain and some cash

So, update on yesterday's Kermis. Still work to do, those sprints kill me out of every corner. But, rode much better than the last one. About 70 guys lined up in the sun, then the only grey cloud in the Belgium promptly moved in above us and open up it fury. You could seriously see sun all around us except the course. It was ridiculous. Every one was laughing on the line. I managed to work myself into a front line position for the start which was awesome and going to be quite essential with the 2 cobble sections coming one after another 500m after the start, right after the first tight 90 degree corner. Got myself onto 3rd wheel coming into the cobbles, and flew through, no problems. Followed the first attack of the day (never know what will stick in these races, plus I was out to make the day as hard as possible for myself) and stayed away with one other guy for about 1 1/2 laps. Not bad, got caught, and a team mate of mine countered and I grabbed second wheel and let some Belgie tow me up to him. Basically of the 5 of us at the race, we had someone in every break and attack for the first half of the race. None of us left the top 15-20 at any time. Feeling really good with my positioning now, and more confident on the bike fighting for these wheels. Should mention I almost wiped out hard in the first break, came around the Belgie coming into a tight, wet corner and lost my rear wheel. Ended up sliding through the corner sideways - pretty freaky, but somehow held myself upright and kept charging. The course was pretty sweet and technical. Long slightly uphill finishing straight, tight corner onto cobbles, under a brifge, more cobbles, tight 180 degree turn, weaving through some corn fields, into town, another 180 onto a wide highway type road, up a 500m climb, quick descent with another 180 at the bottom (Cereal from my team wiped out good here) then a couple easy corners to the finishing straight. Plus the roads became very slick quite quickly with the rain after a day of sun. At about half way, I started to feel my efforts (we were already past the length of a normal crit back home) and got my wheel clipped. Guess I wasn't paying enough attention. Ended up having to do a serious chase for a lap (4-5km) and caught back on right at the start of the cobbles. So toasted from the chase that I got popped for good at the next acceleration coming out of the 180. Finished up riding a couple of tempo laps with this British guy and then taking him in the sprint for 41st. Basically, when they are about to pull you, they wave a white flag and you sprint for your placing if you are with anyone. Went back to change and hand in my number, and to my surprise, the commissars told me to wait 5 minutes - I was in the cash! Sweet! My moral quickly shot back up as they handed me my envelope with 5 Euros. Not much, but remember, the races here only cost 3 Euro to begin with. Plus, I am officially making money as a cyclist in Europe. This should hopefully give me a little extra drive and help me suffer that little bit extra to make a little more next time. These Kermis races are hard, I should mention that only about 10 dudes actually finished the entire race distance. Basically, the race shatters after about an hour, and if you are not in the front group, you are not making it. Crazy racing here. No negative racing. Everyone thinks simply that, its time to attack. No matter what. Pace at only 45km/h, better attack! In the gruppetto, better attack! Its all out from the gun. No rest, pretty hard to eat and drink too. I'm off for an easy 3 hours soon, back for today's stage of the Tour and a nice relaxing afternoon. Apparently I've got a hard week, racing in Drouges, France at a UCI 1.2 level race on Sunday. 1.2 is the next level up from the 1.12 UCIs I've been doing, and apparently the racing in Northern France can be even crazier that the racing around here so I'll have to be on top of my game. But at least I speak the language so will understand more of what is being yelled, maybe eve do some yelling back in the correct language! Ciao for now, I'm off to ride in the clouds of Belgium...

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