Today was the Hofstade World Cup in Belgium. The crowds were so packed i couldn't even find space anywhere on the course to have front row view to watch the mens race. I thought i found space for a moment but, no, the mom and 7-yr old daughter were saving it for the husband and son! When i approached, they simultaneously spread their wings and flared their nostrils. I kept my distance.
The first bad news is that I ran out of trading cards. I always forget what it's like to race cyclo-cross in Belgium. People form a line in front of you to ask for your card. And once others see that you are giving out these cards, they want one too. And of course they all want one for their friends and family who couldn't make it to the event. I also flaked on pre-signing them so i spent quite a few minutes autographing them while they waited. I bitch about it but in reality i think it is just too cool that cyclo-cross racers rank just as high as baseball players in USA. AND that they would want a trading card from a woman is even another level higher on the super-cool scale! It's just funny to compare my trading card experience to the one i had in USA last week where i had to beg people to take a card from me - most of which were probably filed in the circular cabinet shortly thereafter.
In two days, i have to show up at Azencross (a Category 1 event in Belgium) sans cards. It will be like showing up to a Schoolgirl fetish party (in those tiny little skirts) without bloomers! Luckily i still have some old velo bella ones. Maybe nobody will notice that the outfits don't match.
Now for the even worse news. Gun goes off and i turn the first corner in 30th. Two seconds later, i'm behind a pileup midway up a dirt climb. But i stayed cool and eventually climbed up to 15th. All was fine until half way through the race I endo'd in a sand section. The sand was about 1 1/2 feet high and lasted an eternity. I went to scoot backwards on the saddle to let the front wheel go where it wanted but my skinsuit got caught on the saddle. Once i hit a thick spot in the sand, game over. I went flying into the air and landed head first into the sand. I quickly put my hands over my face to protect it from my lagging bike about to topple me. Bam! That hurt. As i made sand-angels, about 10 gals passed. THree pedals strokes later, I passed the pit entrance. Oh no. bike won't shift. great. I rode my heart out on an undergeared bike to the next pit. Grabbed the backup bike. THen grabbed the first bike. Still won't shift. Grabbed backup bike. Race over and i placed 25th.
My pit crew was even bigger and better today, though! I had Serge, Christophe, Renatta and their sister's kids (hannah and her little brother.) They worked hard to get me ready to go and to undo all the damage i was accumulating during the race!
Ok. Happy ending. On the way out of the venue, Serge and I were caught in some standstill traffic due to 50,000 fans trying to evacuate the race site. As we were "parked" we looked over to see a car full of guys drinking out of a little tin flask. So we both raised our drinks, mine a Mill Valley Cycleworks polka dot water bottle, and Serge a Coca Cola (which does NOT contain High Fructose Corn Syrup here in the EU) and yelled "Skul" (=cheers in USA). After a few exchanges of words, one of the guys gets out and hands me the flask, so of course i took a swig (making sure of course not to touch my lips on the opening for fear of getting sick!) Mmmmm...Jeniver - tastes like apple. (jeniver is a very popular hard liquor enjoyed mostly in winter and often served at cyclo-cross races.) After one swig of that, I was HAPPY!
On the way home, we stopped off at a grocery store around the block from me. It is similar to USA's Costco with the large item sizes and low prices but 1/50th the size! OK, i ASSUME it is like Costco, but i've only attempted to go into a costco once. My friend and i visited costco to get a digital camera that was on sale there. But when we entered the joint, our first vision was of a 400 pound woman carting around a mayonaise jar that weighed as much as ME! We were out of there lickety-split - actually we left QUICKER than you can say that word!
Anyway, at our version of Costco, i got fifty million gallons of water so i am never tempted to drink tap water again!
On another note: I stuck around to watch the guys race and it was well worth it! Erwin Vervecken won after attacking the group of 8 on the last lap. He countered Sven Nys' move! On the USA front, Ryan Trebon got a great start, hanging in 15th or so but eventually faded a bit. Jonathan Page had the opposite ride. After getting called up THIRD to LAST due to almost no UCI points, he fought his way up to the front, passing ryan on the way and finished maybe somewhere top 20 or so. He had a huge grin on his face every lap!
Urbanis (erik tonkin) also had a good ride. Barry wicks and Jeremy Powers had that look of pain on their faces but rode hard nonetheless!