Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Superprestige's Asper-Gavere - A Tough Day Out

Last sunday was supposed to be one of the most special racing memories of the whole season for me.  Partly because of the course design - stunningly gorgeous views with some technically demanding bits, some power climbs and speedy mud descents.   It is also one of the most famous races of the season which brings out tens of thousands of spectators; that always makes racing it more exciting!

But it was not meant to be for me as was determined by my crap first lap.  While hovering somewhere around top ten early in the race, my chain popped off on the outside due to a bump with another gal. Once on the bike again, i quickly moved through the field, but got nailed again. This time i was completely taken out by a nervous-nellie who got a bit too fidgety in the mud before taking herself out and knocking me under the course tape.  Once back on, i pedaled 500rpm until i realized that something was amiss, namely my chain which again fell off on the outside.

By the time i was back on track, the whole entire peloton was out of sight. For the first few minutes, my motivation flipped between giving up and digging deep. As i passed riders while hearing the crowds kindly cheering for me, my enthusiasm increased....but only for a bit before finally settling into frustration, knowing that i will never ever reach anywhere near the top ten by the end of the race.  Just before the finishing straight, I heard a stream of cheers for me which gave me one last bit of encouragement i needed to pass one more gal to finish 19th.   

Poor Dan Seaton, journalist for CYCLOCROSS Mag and VeloNews, had the unfortunate opportunity to be the first person i spoke to after crossing the line.  Immediately i dumped on him in my finest NYC slang exactly what i had gone through.  Once done, he pulled out his recorder and asked me to repeat it all but maybe make it more appropriate for family reading.  Oops. (you can read all about the race - and my quotes given to Dan by clicking HERE.)

As i turned the corner to the parking lot and spotted our van, i saw a group of people hovering about. And shortly after, more and more came by - all to say hello to me!  They dont know it but thanks to their visit, i went from feeling totally dejected to feeling like a real racer again.  You'd think after all these years of racing, i wouldnt be so fragile. I suppose that is just how i am wired - a blessing and a curse.

The next race up is Koksijde World Cup this saturday. It is most famously known for its extensive sand sections, where we are normally weaving in, out and over the coastal dunes.  But this year the course will be different. It is their trial run for next year's World Championship event.  And the difference from what i am hearing is that there will be even MORE sand. I dont see how that is possible, but i shall find out on Friday when i pre-ride the course.

Instead of sticking around after our race on Saturday, i have to go home to pack for Paris the next day.  I am speaking at Paris Vegan Day.  My speech is naturally about "A vegan diet for optimal health and performance."  Wanna come?

As always, thanks for reading!
ps photo courtesy of Danny Zelck - you can find him on facebook or flickr .

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Superprestige Zonhoven and GVA Koppenberg - back to back BABY!

After a week of the stomach flu that started in Plzen World Cup, ran through Nacht van Woerden (NED), and ended just before the powerhouse weekend of Zonhoven and Koppenbergcross, I had no idea what to expect of the weekend. 

read HERE to find out how it turned out.  It will bring you to CYCLOCROSS Magazine's online site where I am a columnist and writer.  I must warn you that the story you are about to read contains devastation and pitfalls but wraps up with a happy ending...or at least i am happy with it!

Next race is this thursday at Fidea's Niel in Belgium.

Thanks so much for reading!! 

Sand foto by Patricia Cristens
top foto by Dirk Verhelst
bottom foto by ronny de lange