After Saturday's race in Kontich, Belgium ended in frustration due to a crash that split the field in two (you guess it - i was in the second group) I never got a chance to give it a go off the front. As Coach Elmo says, "You can't win a race from behind." He was right. Surprisingly that was the only crash during the race considering the treacherous roads; rain does not mix well with cobbles or shiny pavement - neither the white nor black variety.
Even so, I attacked and went with breaks in a futile attempt to bridge the gap. Our efforts were always foiled by some gal who would either chase us down with the whole peloton in tow or reach us solo not contribute a drop to the workload. When we'd motion for her to come around, we would be greeted by puzzled look. If looks could talk, it would usually say, "Whhhhhaaaaaat... Why are you looking at me? What do you expect me to do. Do you think I'm in a bike race or something?!?" I understand these moves if they are part of a team strategy or even a personal strategy but unfortunately they are almost always not part of any plan larger than the one move it took to bridge to us. Strange.
Anyway, after a frustrating Saturday I was keyed up for Sunday's event in Zwevegem. I got myself a front row position and vigilantly held it. Girls pushed and shoved but i didn't waver. The course was a 3.8km simple gradual-up-and-down style loop - up one side and down the other - with the start line placed 2/3 of the way up the climb.
As i stood on the line, i kept a close eye on the race director. When he raised the whistle to his mouth, I firmly grabbed the brakes and put full pressure on the pedal strategically aligned in the two o'clock position anticipating the absolute chaos that typically ensues within a millisecond of the whistle sound. I watched him take a deep breath and my heartrate must have shot up twenty beats per minute. When the screetch hit my ears, I exploded off the line - WHOLESHOT BABY!
I shot up the hill, made the tight left turn onto the church cobbles, rode through the kermis (town carnival), passed skateboarders working on their tricks on the church steps, smiled at Guy Kostermans of Belisol who was in front of a cafe as he screamed my name, then it was onto a bit of twisty pavement before I was joined by a Norwegian gal. We worked together for a few minutes before engulfed by the hard-charging peloton. Game over...for now.
By lap two of 22, I was back at it again. And lap three, and four as well. Unfortunately for me my recovery after attacking is not lightning fast yet which forces me to wait a couple of minutes before going back out again. And in one of those moments of recovery the winning break was born. I watched them go but there was nothing i could do. The break waits for nobody. Actually that's not true but it sounds good in this context.
I joined in a few more mini groups trying to bridge to the front but none lasted. My last real effort of the race seemed the most promising. With four laps to go, I got off the front of the peloton with my former Lotto-Belisol teammate Kim Schoenbaert. I assumed it would stick since she had teammates in the group. Shortly thereafter I was reminded of what assume stood for. I finished the race firmly in the middle of the peloton. Considering I am still working my way back to fitness, I am pleased, but not satisfied, with the weekends outcome.
My upcoming races are Friday, Saturday and Sunday - three more
opportunities to shoot for satisfied.
(photo to right is of me, julie and adeline post-race and the one next to it is of the finish line banner)
Thanks everyone for reading!!