Friday, December 28, 2007

Azencross: Loenhout, Belgium, Friday, December 28,2007

Good thing we planned to get there a little early, because we experienced our first highway back up today. Stop and go for almost an hour, and our extra time turned into getting there not early enough. At least we are getting good and finding the registration and following the sings in dutch. We registered and had to buy a Belgium racing card. I am now in the OBRA of Belgium. We even almost ended up in athlete parking this time, but in the junior lot. We have yet to park in the actual team parking at a race. It has become one of our goals. But right after we parked and were changing our clothes, and elderly man approached us and we got asked for a postcard. Apparently that is the big thing at the races. Fans collect postcards that athletes have made up (usually by their sponsors) with pictures and stats. If we had only known. Darn rookies.
So, after we registered, parked and changed, we attempted to find the pits. This was no easy task. By the time we actually got there and put our bikes in, we rode the course once, hosed off our bikes and had to go to the start. They had a stage presentation and sign in where we got a mini bottle of some kind of alchohol. So much for warming up. I have to say, this was the most chaotic race starts yet. It was packed with people, things were not easy to find and no one knew what was going on. Oh well. It is all about being flexible. The race was hugely attended and a lot of competition.
Our line up was not so bad. We were definitely not last like at the world cup. I think third row, which is not bad. The start was crazy, but at least I expect that now and I played it safe, but held my line. As a girl made a sudden move across the peleton, the girl in front of me yelled at her. Not getting crashed out is a victory in my book. After the first turn left, I worked my way up and was on the lead group. Further back, but in the lead group, nonetheless. I held on for a lap and a half. On the first time through the mud/cow shit running section, the girls were like sheep and just followed in the one path. Simms bolted to the right to run around everyone, so I followed her. We had to run up the fly over and there was a back up on the top, waiting for people to get back on their bikes. Crazy. The second time running through the manure, it thinned out and I throttled 'er back. The course had a lot of artificial bridges and some great little whoops and then my favorite, the whoopdee section. This was 8-9 rollers that had a surface that resembeled turf over them. It was so much fun. I wasn't the fasted at them, but improved every time through and at least I didn't crash like one of the girls in front of me on the first lap.
The wind was brutal and drafting definitely came into play. I was with the same two girls most of the race, going back and forth. One of them got away when I crashed after the ruts before the pit that sent me flying into the tape. This was not the easy to break plastic stuff. It was nice, thick, reusable stuff that got ahold of the front end of my bike and wouldn't let go. Oh well. Then with 2 laps to go, I saw Wendy sneaking up on me and cheered her on. Secretly I wanted her to catch up so we could work together in that damn wind. It was hard and I think I was a little tired from the world cup. I was having too much fun to worry about it though. I ended up 14th, still in the money, and Wendy, only 4 seconds back, was 17th. It was a fast race. We had our Oregonians cheering us on! It is great to hear your name on a course so far away! A great day of racing in Belgium!!!
The men and the crowd along this short stretch.
The rollers! My favorite part of the course and a crowd favorite.Wendy & I enjoying post race after yet another totally fun race!

1 comment:

jacmark said...

Awesome racing, Sue! Sounds like you and Wendy are having an epic time over there - I'm checking your blog every day for updates. Keep on rollin' - you guys are rock stars. Best, Joshua/CycloSportif