Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Third Time's a Charm...

Last weekend I entered my third race of the season.

As you may recall, my first one was a self-inflicted bust before it even began since i entered it with the grand idea that I would spend the whole race at the back of the peloton and just "sit in." Well, the accordion effect that's worst at the back snapped me loose after only one hour into the race.

My second race was an "open" mens criterium attended by world champions, belgian champions, U-23 studs and others with impressive legs suited for thoroughbred horses.

The third took place in Holland. It was a criterium event - 42 twisty, turny laps totaling 60km. This time I was smart enough to start near the middle of the field of over 60 riders. My plan worked for the first two minutes. But thanks to my lack of timing, lack of racing rhythm, lack of time spent at the top end of my heart limit, I was back in last place by the end of the first lap.

In addition to the exaggerated accordion effect after every turn, I had to deal with riders in front of me losing contact with the peloton. Every time this happened, i had to sprint around them to re-claim my last place in the peloton.

One of these attempts to reattach to the peloton just about killed my race! I had to chase for a whole lap. Even though each lap was only a couple of minutes, in those two minutes I went through intense HELL! While cruising behind the peloton at an average race speed of 39kph, my body was in pain, my mind was in shock - it was so easy - and so tempting - to quit at that moment.

But then i thought about how i'd feel if i quit AND how much gas money would be wasted (keep in mind, our automobile fuel is not subsidized by the government. It costs 1.58 euros per liter here.) I never worked so hard for last place in my life!!

While I was in the back praying to the criterium gods to keep me in contact with the peloton while my body adjusts to racing again, a group of ten gals went off the front. This group contained the eventual winner - Cyclo-Cross Extraordinaire Reza Holmes-Ravenstijn.

Finally after about twenty laps solidly in last place, my racing sensations returned. My timing out of turns improved, I started to look for opportunities to move up in the pack. Even my legs recovered from the racing shock and started to feel spunky again. I made the switch from reacting to moves to anticipating the race. As my coach puts it, I raced the race i was in. I felt like a bike racer again.

On the last lap, I moved to the front of what was left of the peloton so I could enter the technical S-turns safely. Well the gals let me hang out in the front for almost the rest of the last lap. Going into the final straightaway they all swarmed around me. Last again. I finished 21st out of 21 finishers. (the other 40+ racers were dropped and pulled out of the race.)

I may not have won the race but i did get some valuable racing rhythm which will prepare me for this weekend's back-to-back racing. As goofy as it sounds, I just can't wait to race again!

Afterwards, we drove over to the Westerschelde (a really wide river that empties into the North Sea) for a picnic. While enjoying our pasta, salad and wine we watched the birds play in the wind and even saw what looked like a pirate sailboat.


bikesgonewild said...

...well, good on you for working to get the legs back...

...& now i'm waiting w/ baited breath for tomorrows posted headline: pirate sailboat fail...

Rickie Rainwater said...

Thats my girl. Loved the photos, I guess I have jonas to thank for that. Your biggest fan,

Anonymous said...

Hey C :

Congratulation for your race in Holland!

I don't go to Belsele because I'm working. I'm going to Prosperpolder.
For Borgerout? I think it would be possible.
I will tell you later.
But will give me your new address...

GCDavid said...

While you were screwing around in Holland

Hopefully that link turns out.

GCDavid said...


Here is the rest of it


GCDavid said...

BTW, do you know if Team Vanderkitten is going to grace our humble New England area at the Longsjo Classic Stage Race?

Big Bad Wolf said...

I love the little Holland roads.. it reminds me of the time I was deepsea diving in the Oosterschelde region.. this summer I want to go over there and do some cycling around the Oosterschelde.. there are a few bridges (Oosterschelde bridge and Neeltje Jans complex) which allow you to make a nice little 65K loop. In Holland , bikepaths are really awesome.

Big Bad Wolf said...

which reminds me.. I still have to make some pictures of you racing... ahh, so much to do, so little time..
kortenberg bakery..hmm, sounds tasty.. you have to show me one of these days :)

PEANUT said...

HAHA! Sorry no pirate sailboat fail, but that would have been funny!

Yes, jonas took the photos. He also included photos of flower close-ups, himself, cobbles, other women, his hand, trees, cars, commuter bikes, food, beer tents...

Thanks Adeline!!! I'll email my address to you direct.

GC: Wow, great photo! Your best bet is to ask liz about the road schedule. Since i made the decision to stay behind here in Europe, I'm not racing with the team in USA. They are doing quite well - AND they all have great attitudes to match their results!

bbw: I love that holland has so many little streams, canals, etc. The bakery is after GB on the same side of the street - it's the only one. Get the 16-grain bread, olive ciabatta and raisin-hazelnut roll.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a sound goal at the outset... but who knew that just sitting in would be the race that it was, eh?

I love the report Christine! I could almost imagine it was me racing, feeling the burn of having to chase out of each corner!

Great work on chasing back to the main group and then hanging with them and not getting pulled! Sounds like sitting in was the last thing on your mind?

I'm glad you didn't quit, and things started to come good in the end, who knows what might happen on your next race? Sounds like an upward spiral to me!

Sounds like a lovely picnic to end the day :)

Good luck at the races over the weekend.

CT :)

PS. I'm heading to France on Saturday, Paris Roubaix time is here... YIKES!

PEANUT said...

Hey CT:
THanks for your kind words. BEST OF LUCK at Paris-roubaix! Let me know how it goes.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Just re read my post and notice I have used the words 'sound' and 'sounds' far to many times. Guess i'm an unelloquent eejut!

Thanks for the luck for my ride, I hope I won't need it but I think the weather forecast isn't particularly good, so it may come in handy. 160 miles in the wet... eewww, oh well I signed up for the full Roubaix experience.

My FIL was taken ill a fortnight ago so not really tapered well, more of an abrupt stop, but the base is there!

I was interested to see that you ride a scott road bike in your pics rather than the Ahrens or BH that Liz et al ride.

PEANUT said...

hey CT:
i use ahrens for cross season. And like i mentioned i opted to spend the season here in europe so i'm not on the road team. I am enjoying a light road season this year. Just burnt out from full pro-team road season then straight into cyclo-cross. Now i'll be fresh for cross - my favorite of all the cycling disciplines.
But just so we are clear...I LOVE MY AHRENS BIKES. They fit me so extremely well that i feel like i'm not even riding a bike.
Scott in Belgium (combined with Fietsen Goeman) have sponsored me for road season since i'm here in belgium. I'm very lucky!
RE: Paris roubaix - you'll be just fine. The way i see it is that you'll be well rested!!! Go get 'em!

Rickie Rainwater said...

Peanut, are Chocolate and Coe Coe jelous of your scott? I am working on the music deal. I am so slow, but alot of this stuff seems to be a little frustrating and doesn't always work correctly. Here is a link to what I am working on. I am going to see Keith Urban tonight which should be fun. I saw Journey last night and I am about deaf from the loudness. Here is the link to what I am working on. All this has kind of put me back into the musical mood. I am now going out to ride slow as the wind is gusting about 40 miles an hour. Perhaps sometime, I will toat my camera with me to show you our animal friends along the way.

Big Bad Wolf said...

ps: thanks for putting me on your link page.. I'm honored.

Anonymous said...


I just recently started reading your blog. It's entaining to me as I also spend a couple summers doing the road thing over there so it reminds me of good times. I think I remember you from the Nor Cal scene from which I was was involved for many years. My name is Mike Taylor. Maybe you remember? Anyway, keep living the dream posting stories.



PEANUT said...

hey mike:
Thanks for reading the blog! It is strange to be an American bike racer living here in Europe. Things are much different from "home."
I met a mike taylor through Brenna many years ago. Is that you?

PEANUT said...

Thanks for the link rickie! I'll check it out.
BBW - your blog gives people an idea of what it's like to ride - especially off-road - here. Thought others, besides me, would enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Yep - that's me. Good memory. The whole racing culture in Belgium is very different from US - particulary Nor Cal and also on the PRO scene where so much travel time and expenses are a huge drain. In Belgium you rarely travel more than an hour or so and can somtimes even ride you bike to the local kermesse. Also dug the little cult of hard core kermesse fans that show up at all the local races and bet like there at the horse races - then throw you a buck or buy you a beer if you do well and they win.

Keep up your riding, racing and writing!


PEANUT said...

MT: The belgian mentality regarding acceptable travel time has not changed. Anything over 1 hour is considered a serious outing where spending the night may even be considered. Or to justify the trek, they will make a day of it by packing a picnic or visiting a place or a family nearby. And the French still think it's perfectly acceptable to drive 10 hours five days in a row for racing. Last year when i raced for Pruneaux D'Agen, i'd take the 8-12 hour train trip on saturday, race sunday and return sunday late night. Sometimes i'd miss the last connecting train from paris to brussels and would have to find some sleezy motel somewhere until the morning. I don't miss those days!!! BUT it all beats flying every weekend as they do in USA.

Anonymous said...

Soooo true.

My second year there I raced for a Beglian kermesse team called Orbais Cycliste and I lived in Mount-Saint-Guibert (south of Brussels between Wavre and Gemlboux). Stayed with a Flemish friend/teamate I met the previous season and his French speaking girlfriend. Anyway, One day for a training ride we road south across the French boarder and back. About 160k round trip. When we told Han's girlfriend where we road she was completely amazed at the distance saying the she, at 31 years of age, had never even been to France. In fact, she had neven been outside of lil' ol' Belgium. Amazing!

PEANUT said...

I suppose it has to do with living in a country that takes 3 hours to drive across - in any direction. But then again, what about luxembourg?

We'd be loathe to think this mentality doesn't occur in our own neighborhoods of America! Some of my relatives are a prime example. After making the trip across the world from Greece to USA, they've NEVER left the confines of brooklyn - not even to Manhattan - a 10 minute subway ride away.

On a slightly tangental topic, I have a belgian friend who has rarely been to France. He is saving it for when he's old and frail and cannot spend his vacations in far away lands.

Rickie Rainwater said...

I haven't been too far from my home in Arkansas really. I moved from Arkansas to Connecticut when I was 13 and then back at 18. I have never been past Wyoming and never out of the US. Have you ever read the Alchemist? Great book with a lot of wisdom. I love happy endings and that is the way I want life to be, a good story with a happy ending. See the sights of the palace, but keep the oil in the spoon. In other words, pay attention. I almost understand this one, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one your with." Perhaps I will visit Belgium someday, but there is no place like home when you find it.

PEANUT said...

rickie: Well put! THanks for sharing.

Rickie Rainwater said...

Yippiiieeeee! I did it. I had to create a playlist of numerous artist, but 4 of my piano compositions are in the list. It is now on my blog. Considering the piano pieces are just me playing piano it isn't as fancy as the country music productions, but that is ok.
I'm walking down the street to see Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood tonight. Not something you do everyday, and even got a good ride into day. I tend to physically crash a little after an hour after my ride, no matter what I eat, but I soon rebound. I guess that is just the way my body works. Talk to soon. Thanks for inspiration.

goat said...

Way to hang on! It is really tough to stay up front, but even tougher at the back. Unfortunately, I know all about it. Take care!

Anonymous said...

Hey Christine!

Found some time to read your blog again, just forgot it because I was busy.

Nice to read that the third crit went better. Where in Holland was it actually?

Fuel prices really go sky high these days! And the Dutch Government is planning to rase the price for diesel with 3 cents next month and they're not willing to stop that because of the high prices. (in Holland, aprox. 50% of the fuel prices are taxes)

Fun to read that your family originates from Greece! I had the feeling that it had to be Greece, when I read your name for the first time! I actually got family in Greece! My (Dutch) aunt married a Greek guy and moved to Greece. Unfortunately he died 2 years ago on cancer. She and her two daughters are still living there.

Oh yeah, got family in the States too!

Hmmmm, was planning to write a short message, but again I didn't succeed in that.... Oh well....

Fijn weekend!


PEANUT said...

hey Michel:
Thanks for the message. So, relatives in both greece and USA? Me too. haha. I will soon have relatives in Belgium as well - mom's coming to town.

Anonymous said...

Hey Christine!

My family in Greece is living Acient Corinth (Korinthos), on the top of the Peloponnesos.

My family in the USA is living in Adelanto, California. (He is my mothers uncle)

I haven't got any family in Belgium, so you win on that one. (Or going to win, since she isn't there jet)

BUT...... I have got family in Australia! Or do you have there family too?

Have a nice weekend!


Anonymous said...

Hmmz, I just realize that I used the wrong word, guess I'm pretty tired, had a long working day!

Family must be relatives.....

That's the funny thing in Dutch, you live in a family (for example father, mother and two children) but you also use the word family for anyone who is related to you (so relatives). It's sometimes hard to realize that there is a different word for that in English.

PEANUT said...

Dag Michel:
You win the family location contest. I think almost all of my relatives are in USA - mostly New York (via ellis island many years ago) and in Greece. Maybe soon there will be another contest in the blog posts so i can try again to win!!
Today is supposed to finally be 26 degrees and NO rain! It's about time. Ik moet nu weg naar Prosperpolder voor een wedstrijd. Tot straks!