All respect to those that can race, relax and blog all within a short time from one another. Our weekend started in Germany, in a beautiful city called Wiesbaden, that I am told retained it’s good looks because the Americans had chosen it as their base for the end of the war so they refrained from bombing it like so many other German cities. Saturday was Hamme-Zogge, a small town that is home to, to, well… Mud. And Sunday we raced in Dottignes, also rather muddy, but it had the added bonus that was filled with crazy single speeders 🙂
In Wiesbaden our host was Kalle, he was to be racing the 2 hour mtb race before our cyclocross race started. He chose to do it on a cross bike and appropriately won the race by a good margin 🙂
I liked the race. We were the first team there, we got the choice of car parks, and people were friendly and helpful (although I did forget my race license there and am hoping they will send it on to me, so we will see) It was my first Cat.B race this season So aside from the French Champion (in his own bus) there were no big names. In fact the level of competition was such that as they read out the names (order based on UCI points) I was called on to the grid as the third rider. My race plan went completely out the window, I am not used racing ‘from the front’, all my tactics are based on starting at the back and working my way forward. There are exciting things that happen ‘at the front’ that I have never noticed before. VIP’s come up and meet the big name riders (the guy to the left of me and the Frenchman two to the right). but that was the end of the good stuff. To cut a long story short I was so tensed for the start of the race that when the gun went off I got such a shock that I quickly lost 6 places in the first 2 seconds, and another couple of places every few seconds until we hit the first swing. The race course was short, muddy and had two interesting sections that involved riding in two barns used for horse dressage. I came 17th in the end, an ok result in spite of a broken derailleur hanger.
Post-race in Wiesbaden, hard working mechanic in the background
The next day after a five hour drive to Belgium, a couple of Orvals, and an amazing meal of ‘Dendermonde Sausages’ at Brams mum and dad’s place we had Hamme-Zogge, our 2nd Super Prestige race.
Post-drive in Dendermonde 🙂
Flat, extremely muddy fields, with some steep embankments that we had to ride/run up and down in short succession, and the highest piece of scaffolding I have yet to see in a cyclocross race. We had a shitty time getting a car park (because we are not an ‘A’ team) and the race course, because of it’s muddy nature, was a bitch to warm up on. There is no ‘easy’ way to ride mud, especially when it is at times over a foot deep, so you just end up with a dissatisfied feeling at the end. The race itself wasn’t so bad. Bram stepped up to the plate in his job as team manager. It was him that got us a pretty good car park in the end, stood for the warm up protocol, and sorted the job of soigneur as well. Sven ‘The Beer King’ De Smedt, jumped in the pit with Bender and helped out as well. I was back to my familliar place at the back of the grid, even allowing a small gap to form at the end of the straight knowing that at the first sign of trouble everyone would hit the brakes and I would catch up again. It also allows me a little space so that I can find my own lines while everyone in front of me jumps off and runs. I found that that was quite a crown pleaser, someone that insisted on riding the mud instead of just running it. In fact once again it was the crowd that really made the race. Whilst they weren’t as feverish as the spectators in Koppenberg they were great at cheering you on when the mud was at it’s worst. In fact, I was most disappointed that when I got pulled I wasn’t going to get to make another round. I am once again proud to announce that I did not come last!! Just three places away from the prize money too 🙂 After the race we were once again spoilt by Bram’s family’s hospitality before heading off for the Hellcross and the most fun part of the weekend…
Our first attempt at a carpark (we quickly found out why it was vacant…)
I almost miss it now.
Shot from the pit, you can see some of the smaller scaffolding in the background and the embankments that we threw ourselves up (and down)