Friday, December 26, 2008
Zolder World Cup
Well I made it.....did my first World Cup Cross race earlier today and finished 46th on the lead lap less than 5 minutes down on winner Thijs Al. I'll start from the beginning....
A good pasta dinner thursday night followed by a trip to The Wall (a huge vending machine built into the side of the brick buildings where you can buy just about anything) for some peanut M & M's, and a night of tossing and turning being nervous, excited, scared, and pumped all at the same time.
Race day started with an 8:30am wakeup some eggs, toast, and cereal followed by some sandwich making, doubling checking the race bag and a 2:00 hour drive to Zolder!
On the drive to Zolder we got some free advice from Noel a former Jr World Champ and multiple stage winner of the Vuelta. Vans of old Belgian guys were constantly craning their necks at us to get a peak of what US superstarts where in the team car.
The Formula One race course made for a huge venue, with the team areas already set up we were swept in like superstarts. The jumbo TV's were set up and the course was ready to rock.
We hit the warming van for a quick swap into the thermal skinsuit (it was 0 celsius with a headwind down the start straight) and 3 laps on the course. The course was lightning fast. With multiple steep drops and the same number of insanely steep climbs one requiring you to dismount and run.
After the warm up it was a quick stop by the UCI tent to get the transponders and check in on the womens race via the jumbo screen, then back to the warming van for some food and a final warm up on the trainers.
There were a ton of people snapping photos of the Americans....it was like being at a Packer game with all the fans tailgaiting, but we, the bike racers, were the main attraction.
Before I knew it I was on the start line and rolling. I was called up 51st out of 70riders. I had a descent start down the 500meter pavement start and took the first line to the left on the inside. The next right I was pushed to the outside into the barriers and forced to dismount. As I mounted the bike I took a quick glance under the right shoulder to see that I was in last place!
On the first technical sand section I picked a hot line and passed 10 - 15 riders. The next steep climb some dude crashed in front of me and his bars were tangled in my front wheel. 10 guys passed me back. The rest of the race went by like a blur. Battles on every corner and lots of suffering.
The fans weren't as crazy as I had hoped, but I think I need to be in the top 10 for the fans to care. They don't want to cheer for the American a half lap behind there superheros.
This thing is getting a little lengthy with not a lot of cool pictures so I'll cut it here. Hopefully tomorrow I will find some photos, get some rest, do some laundry, and then pack the bags again for Sundays race.
Thanks for reading.