Monday, August 6, 2007

Heat and racing

Hot today. Sign read 34 degrees as we pulled out of the Cycling Center. Damn. At least its not as humid as home, much drier heat and there is the ever present wind to help while you are moving. None the less, 35 is still 35. Legs felt a little dead, so pretty glad we were riding to the race. Only about a 40 minute ride. Packed lots of water, some food and set out. Got to the race site, registered, scouted the course and got my head in the game. Very windy and open course, plenty of corners, but nothing too tight, mostly sweeping. Long headwind home straight, 90 degree left into cross long cross wind straight, leading into several winding corn field sections, quick chicane, couple of tighter corners back into the long finishing straight. The race went a little oddly by Belgian standards. Started off ridiculously slow, held my position at near the front on the narrow roads at about 25km/h. We had about 5 minutes at this speed, which was worrying as you know that eventually some maniacs will jump and string it out. And it happened. Good position, legs responded and we were off. After a few laps of general attacks and bridging, the real racing started. We had a solid 2 laps (laps were about 7km each) of the hardest racing I have had. This is a time where everyone hurts and every one works. This is the key time in a Kermis when the break gets established. Where you go if you have the legs, or try to hold on for dear life and close gaps otherwise. This is also normally the time where I find myself suddenly riding on my own. Not today. I found the point where I usually give up, and gritted my teeth and attacked. The field had split into about a million small groups, so I along with every one else who could would attack their groups to bridge up to a group up the road. Over and over again. The pain was incredible, but I am happy to say I survived and got myself into a zone where I simply focused on the task at hand and ended up in the third group on the road. After this period subsided, we settled into a rotation to hope that we may pull back the second group, who by this point was apparently about 2 minutes up the road and the break was a further minute or two beyond that. They were motoring with some serious horsepower. As happens in these races, the attack began again. No Belgian wants to sit in a group, never happy to simply work together. So, following th trend we continued to break up the group. Seeing a small chase group up the road getting away, I made my move to attempt to bridge up. Attacked coming into the twisty cross wind section to try and move up. Got about halfway across the gap before I absolutely exploded. Seriously was beyond cross-eyed. Little light headed, unfortunately no one had come with me. Oh well. Passed by my group, tried to get back on but the legs would not go. Just could not hold the wheel. No groups left behind us, all had been pulled. In the end only the break finished the whole race. So about 8 finishers. Even the chase group got sprinted out. Tough day, yet a good learning day. Managed to play a role in the race, still not racing for the win but racing. Next up, Berneem on Wednesday. Another race, another 3 hours of pain. I can't wait. Weather so far not as nice today, but I'll be out soon to get a couple of hours of easy rolling in.
Grocery run this morning, kept to the budget. Lots of fruit and veggies plus some meat. Should be a good week. Met some cool people at the race as well. Amazing how having two small Canadian flags on my bike can start so many conversations. Belgians love Canadians. Met a cool older couple at the race who noticed the flag and felt the need to come over and meet me. We talked about Canada, Belgium, how I was enjoying myself and then about the war. Yes the war. They invited me to some kind of big march and party involving some old Canadian war veterans the second weekend in September they are involved in. Apparently to help celebrate the Canadians freeing Belgium in the Second World War. Very nice people, just out for a day in the sun like hundreds of others lining the course. Perfect day in Belgium to get drunk while watching a bike race. I'm off. Enjoy your days.

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