Monday, October 3, 2011

Kalmthout in a Heatwave

by Brecht Toelen
Last year this course was lined with ice covered in a blanket of snow. But this year the event was held under not just warm sunny skies but held in a full-on heatwave - yes, a Belgian heatwave in October. Completely unheard of.  Usually the heat doesnt bother me too much - i can still function fine. But when it messes with my breathing that is when i go from my peanut version of a superhero to roadkill. Unfortunately this time around i was roadkill.
Within a minute's time, my mouth and throat was unbearably dry and my throat started to close as if it were responding to an allergy of sorts.  It felt like someone shoved a bucket of dusty dirt in my mouth and down my throat. 
From many years of experience, i knew i had two options under these conditions. I can either push above my very real limit and be run off to the hospital if i made it that far, or i could ride just below that limit and have a mediocre result but live to tell about it. I opted for the latter.
It was something i struggled with the whole race though as my legs wanted to ride full out - as did my will. 
by Luc Van der Meiren
You'd think i'd feel a bit sorry for myself but i felt nothing really. What i did feel was a bit stupid that i had let down so many supporters around the course. That broke my heart. I had so many cheers that it was almost a constant string of  "kom on christine" or "allez peanut" throughout the whole race!
With nothing to do about it, i just forged ahead and hoped for a miracle. While that never materialized the way i hoped for, i was able to at least pass a few riders before the end - finishing in 17th.
Just after i crossed the line, my part 2 of the day a journalist covering the race for CYCLOCROSS Magazine. So immediately i rode up to Belgium's superstar Sanne Cant and did an interview - dusty throat and face and all. And i did it in Dutch nonetheless which surprised me considering i was a bit lightheaded from lack of oxygen the last 45 minutes. Luckily she was easy to understand - and remember for when i was back in the press room twenty minutes later.
Directly after my race i did the trainer for ten minutes, a bucket bath for three, changed into my tiniest clothing and sprinted to the press room to catch the start of the mens race on tv. After watching most of the race, i sprinted back out just before their finish so i could catch them for post-race interviews.
Official Christine Vardaros Supporter
jackets courtesy of Marc and Tai Van Est
The first guy i tried to interview didnt work out so well. it was Frenchman Francis Mourey. Either he didnt feel like speaking a couple of words in english or he knows absolutely none. And after spending a season on a French team, i did learn some french but the moment i left the team all my words were somehow lost. Strange how that happens. Oh well. After collecting a few interviews - only one in dutch, the rest in english (i was getting tired), i headed back to the press room to finish the job.
how i looked when i saw the jackets-
photos courtesy of Danny Zelck
On a side note, i must say that the highlight of the day happened in the pre-ride when i spotted a couple of my supporters sporting a special "Supporter Christine Vardaros" jacket. wow, that blew me away. I always thought that would be the COOLEST to have supporters like that - a real genuine Belgian thing.  For the first time i felt like i made it, like i belonged both in the races and in Belgium - no matter my result (thankfully considering lately they have not been so steady). Thanks Marc and Tai!
The next event is this Sunday at Superprestige Ruddervoorde. The weather is supposed to cool down a bit so i look forward to it, although i am not quite ready for ice and snow.
Thanks for reading!

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