Sunday, June 29, 2008

Great Day at the Races

Today was the last day of National Championship road races for most countries (except USA).
After I finished my race today in Zolder, Belgium today i quickly rushed back to the van to catch the last 80km of the mens Belgian championships. Since the course was fairly flat, it was expected to come down to a sprint finish. Tom Boonen was the pre-race favorite.

I arrived home to watch the last 30km. Within thirty seconds of turning on the TV I saw one of my cyclo-cross heroes Sven Nys attack the field. I've been so accustomed to seeing him in his orange Rabobank kit that i almost didn't recognize him. Oddly enough i knew it was he based on his riding style. His break didn't stay off the front for long but it was exciting to see him with good form nonetheless.

The sprint was easily the most exciting part of the race. Quick Step had a leadout train started from 10km before the finish. For the most part, powerhouse and outgoing Belgian Champion Stijn Devolder did the work at the front with Tom Boonen on his wheel. Just as it looked like Boonen may take it, his train was engulfed by riders on both sides at the 1km mark. As the other riders passed, Boonen tried to find a hole to get through. But in the process, he moved a little to the right and took out his teammate who was on his wheel. That shakeup combined with another guy to the right of Tommeke swerving across the field cost him the title. He ended up fifth and fist-poundingly disappointed.

The surprise of the race was SunWeb ProJob's cyclo-cross star Sven Vanthourenhout. He placed 2nd.

A couple of other cyclo-cross specialists who had a great day was Lars Boom and Marianne Vos who won the Netherlands Championship.

As i was scouring the results I saw that my friend and former Lotto-Belisol teammate Siobhan Dervan of Fenix won the Irish National Champion jersey, crossing the finish line over two minutes ahead of 2nd place.

As for my day on the bike, it was a snappy race (about 39kph) with lots of twists and turns and mini undulations but i stayed strong throughout. My sprint is still not quite ideal yet so i finished far back at 50th place of 65 finishers out of 95 starters. When i picked up my prize money, the guy handed me the 5 euro prize money in an envelope and said, "you're lucky." I expect he was referring to my placing 50th, the last place to receive prize money. But when i replied "thanks" i was thinking about my luck in recovering from such a bad head injury over the winter to be able to stick with the peloton. My goal for the next race is to infiltrate a successful break so i can sprint for the win against a maximum of ten gals versus the usual 70-100. Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading!*^%&


Rickie Rainwater said...

I didn't realize you had a head injury last year. A guy around here, a Tri sport member and Tyson race member fell on a narrow bridge getting his front tire caught between some metal seperators and broke his neck. They flew him to Colorado and evidently he is completely paralyzed. This happen a few days ago. I realize stuff like this happens and can easily happen to anyone. I have a bad habit of putting my head down and not paying attention to the road ahead of me. Instead of my usual over 90 miles, I did just 30 last week. I had too much to attend to and was very distracted. It is the little reminders that put things in perspective.

Kang Boim said... hopping here from have nice blog.. :D :D

PEANUT said...

hey rickie:
Sadly enough the head injury was in the form of three consecutive knocks to the head. First on a ceiling wood beam, second on a tree in a sketchy descent where most of the racers fell, third on a low concrete lip on a ceiling. I was lucky to have not done more damage but stupid to have tried to continue to race all winter. THis is why it has been such an arduous process to recover. Thirty miles in a week is still 30, which is 30 more than most.
hey boim: Thanks for hopping this way. It's nice to know people read what i write.

Anonymous said...


PEANUT said...

got it. THANKS!

Cyclopathic said...

Ah, Leuven is one of my favorite Belgian cities. I simply enjoy that it's so far away yet so close to a big city. I'm hanging out down near Soignies doing the Hainaut Province Series while stationed here with the US Army.

Are you 6 feet tall? What gives with all the head knocking? I'm 6'5" and I suffer from not-duck-enough-itis bashing my noggin on door jambs, water pipes in my basement, and the stupid spiderwebs that reappear daily in my greenhouse. Hope the head is 100% soon, good luck with racing, now get out there and kick some ass!

PEANUT said...

Hey Kris:
It's great you get to do some racing while stationed over here. I am only 5'9" but i still manage to do an excellent job of smacking my head on everything. And after one big smack, when judgement and vision is a little off I find myself hitting it even more often. Thankfully it has been a few months since a last major knock. It must suck being that tall at times. Good thing you are working in submarines.
Enjoy the weather!

Anonymous said...

Hello Christine,
Interesting blog. Nice race report. We here in the States donot have the race coverage that you get in Europe as you are well aware of.
I am an amateur cyclist and recently suffered a crash in a local crash and broke my clavicle. Do you know of other bike racers who have broken their collar bone and if so are you aware of how long it took them to get back on the bike and start training again and what they did in the mean time.
It has been almost 2 weeks now for me since the accident occured and the doc gave me the go ahed to resume light spinning on a stationary bike, so I tried that yesterday for an hour, it was very uncomfortable experience.
Anyways have a nice stay in Belgium. What took you there (I just started reading your blog and don't know if you addressed it in an earlier posting)?

PEANUT said...

hey frank
sorry to hear about your collarbone. Typical recovery is about 4 weeks from what i've seen and heard. Most everyone rides on the trainer to keep in shape. You can do thinks like 'big gear' efforts which won't shake the body as much. I would guess there are other things you can do on the trainer as well. I have found that there is a wide variety between doctors/therapists in how they choose recovery. I have always gone to ones that cater to pro athletes so they typically push you to your physical limit while keeping the injury from be adversely affected. They don't baby you. If you think that your doctor is babying you, maybe do some research on the internet to see what others are doing. Best of luck and thanks for reading the blog.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response. The doctor is not babying me. He has given me the go ahead to start riding the bike on the trainer for the next 4 weeks and let the pain be my guide as far as how hard to push myself.
My concern is not with getting back on the again, it has more to do with the mental aspect of dealing with this in the future in race situations especially in crits. I suspect there will be a getting used to period and I wonder how I will fare when i have to hold a wheel going at speed through a turn.

PEANUT said...

Hey frank: I too believe that pain is a good guide - in most cases.
Regarding the "getting back on the bike" syndrome, i would guess it is something that is dealt with in hundreds of different ways. If it were me, i'd first think back to the time of the accident. is there anything that can be learned from it? Was it due to overlapping wheels? Did you follow exactly behind a wheel instead of slightly to the side of it? Were you looking ahead to see what's going on farther up the field? Etc.
Then i'd take any information i could gather from the incident and go back out and apply it.

If you race bikes, you're bound to crash. And it may just happen again. But i can assure you that if you go into another race focusing on crashing, you will. Instead focus on protecting your front wheel, keeping it out of harms way. Maybe leave a little more of a gap between you and the rider in front of you until you are comfortable again. Let me know how it goes.
On a side note, injured riders almost always come back stronger than before.

PEANUT said...

hey frank:
And to answer your last question - i came to belgium for cyclo-cross. Every visit here i fell in love with it more and more and now i don't want to leave!