Sunday, January 20, 2008

WORLD CUP#9 (third for me): Hoogerheide, Netherlands, Sunday, January 20,2008

It is hard to believe that this was our last world cup of the season and that Wendy will depart soon and I will be on my own to go down to Italy for Worlds. We were a bit nostalgic on our drive over there this morning, reflecting on what an amazing experience this has been. We were also planning our return and looking forward to next season!
Hoogerhiede is just across the border in the Netherlands, not far from where our first European race was, in Huijbergen. It is amazing how much more relaxing driving is now compared to back then. We also went up to Hoogerheide last night for course inspection and to pick up our numbers and parking passes. After our experience in Lievin, we wanted to avoid any stress the day of the race. And for the first time, we actually parked in Elite Team Parking. Well sort of...
Elite team parking w/ the fans walking by. Our fancy changing room.

The course in Hoogerheide was muddy and rutty! Perfect for a pacific northwesterner. A different kind of mud and some heavy, heavy grass sections, two not really rideable, and some slimy mud with deep ruts. I actually really enjoyed it. We actually got a fairly decent warm up and then were quarantined to the start block, riding up and down the hill near the start. Our line up was as expected, near the back, but not last. After a little budging and working my way in between a few wheels (with Wendy's direction from behind), I was almost in the third row. Out of the four, four and half that there were. Oh well. The gun was off and the mad dash to the first corner was chaotic as usual. I didn't panic, but tried not to get cut off and the sharp left after that. I worked my way around some of the madness and by the flyover was in the top 25. Passed a few more people that can't ride in mud and then when I got to the first grassy run section, I practically sprinted. For me, that is. And I passed some people. It was like cattle. So many damn bike wheels flying through the air. I rode a clean race, had a lot of fun, got a lot of mud in my face and before I knew it, It was over. I actually thought we had one lap left. I was fine that it was over, when the officials were flagging me to slow down as I rounded the corner. I guess I didn't slow down, b/c I wanted to make sure we were really stopping. I finished 19th, short of my goal of a top 15 (or top 10), but was only 1 minute off of 5th place. You alway start thinking where you could have picked up a few seconds here and there and where I should have rode harder, but heck, Worlds is next week, so I have one more race to leave it all on the table. I did have the best U.S. finish (but only because Katie Compton did not end up racing), so it was a satisfying race, but always looking to do better! Here are some racing photos, courtesy of Mark Legg. Katie and Mark were great fans, cheering us on!

I don't think that is a smile.Why am I dragging them in the headwind?The fun steep descent with the sharp turn right at the bottom!

Check out the video on youtube of the race: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7Vwpq6wp-c

Wendy and I took a cool down ride and then changed out of our very muddy clothes and went to cheer the men on. By the time we got to the race, there were only 2 U.S. men left to cheer for, so we did our best. Hoogerheide is the host of the 2009 World Championships, so I hope to be back. It is definitely no Hofstade, but it beat the pants off of France!

One last photo with Sven.
The start/finish!
The crowds at Hoogerhiede were much better than Lievin, but not like Hofstade.

The flyover!
Erwin Vervecken in the muddy ruts.

My new crush! He crushed the field!

Page having a great race.

A Wendy sandwich. Simms & Williams! Simms rocked a 5th place today!

The ruts prior to the descent. See below...
Muddy climb before the impossible grass...
We will be back next year for more!!! WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2009!

1 comment:

Uwe said...

Sue,

great to read about your cycling achievements in Belgium. That's awesome. Good luck next weekend in Italy! I know you will kick ass.

-Uwe