Not to be confused with Koppenbergcross. Last sunday i skipped the eight-hour drive to Germany to race with Hanka Kupfernagel and instead went local, really local as in my neighborhood woods. The last time I raced in these woods was a month ago for the 6-hours of Kortenberg relay MTB race. But this time around, it was a skinny-tire'd event.
As there was no women's category since it was held on the same day as European Championships, the three of us who showed were put in the men's 50+ year category. With no series points i had a last row callup, in fact i had no callup at all. I just had to file in behind the guys - and two girls. While i stood at the start, Jonas told me, "Don't let anyone beat you in your own woods." As funny as that was, I did feel a certain hometown pride about racing on my training trails. I even had my own cheering section in the form of Jonas' mom Godelieve, his sister Eva and her kids Lukas and Karel. And Jonas' friend Jo was there to yell. He raced the 40- category later in the day - his first cyclocross race ever!
The race start was on a skinny strip of grass, followed by a tight left hander into a singletrack trail. I was towards the back of the field going into the singletrack but worked on my patience. Periodically I'd pass a guy here and there and was surprised to find that some of them were clearly unhappy about it, whining as i passed. It started to make me think that the race was rigged and nobody told me.
During the second lap of seven, i was passed by one of the gals. I didnt whine although of course i hoped it didnt happen. The one other race we've been in together this year, she beat me by a couple of minutes so I wasnt terribly surprised. We rode together for two laps until i attacked her on a descent while thinking, "not on my turf". I may not be able to beat the men, or even the gal but i sure as hell was going to try since this is MY backyard. For the next four laps I defended my turf, finishing as first place woman and 9th "50+ guy".
The best part of the day was an unexpected compliment I got from a 60+ year old guy as I was about to mount my bike to ride home. He said, "Beautiful. Just beautiful." I dont know if he was compimenting my bike, my clothes, my riding, or my smile. But either way, I took the kind words in as I saw fit, translating them in my head as, "beautiful ass" of course.
I may have showed decently in my local woods, but Nommay World Cup next weekend will be a whole different situation. All the big guns like Hanka Kupfernagel, Marianne Vos, Daphny Van den Brand, Helen Wyman, and Katie Compton will be there. And even the little guns will be there too. But you never know, even BB guns like me can do serious damage when aimed correctly.
Thanks for reading!