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The creativeness side in me being shown once again for the title of this month’s blog.

Anyway, May saw my first little stint in Belgium of the year. It was a little bit stressful getting there, as damage on my Specialized race bike meant that it was unsafe to ride and for a few days I was without a race bike! With help from many people within Project 51 a bike was leant to me for the time I was in Belgium.

Staying just outside of Ronse in the Wallonia region, it is a part of Belgium I had not really spent too much time in before. Class roads to use out on recovery rides between racing and not too far from Oudenaarde which we rode to one day, or Ghent where we drove too for an afternoon - so it was great in that respect. Also had the added bonus of drivers not trying to kill you when out riding too, which was lovely.

During my time in Belgium, I had 5 races planned with the final two being double headers on Saturday and Sunday.

Beginning in Puivelde on 13th May it got off to a rocky start, with a few issues on the borrowed bike meaning after 65km I had to pull out.

The next race was back in Puivelde two days later. During the day of the race with help we managed to get some bits adjusted on the bike allowing me to race and not spend a week watching! Using Saturday as a bit of an extended and harder than usual recon, I had a bit of a rough idea of what to expect. Almost a bit desperate to put amends for Saturday I was keen to do well but knew that it was important to stay focused and relaxed as if not, issues can easily arise from this, and being 120km it was about being patient. It was great though as I got to race with Olly, and it was nice being able to take some advice on board and what to do in certain scenarios as we were racing. It certainly paid off as I played things differently to how I would of if I did not have this help, coming in 30th.

Thursday we were in Oordegem with a great course. About 5 or 6km in length with a slight in-climb just after the finish. There was a bit of wind around and once out of the town it was fairly exposed and a strong crosswind on the lead into the finish which was a fairly narrow road. A fairly fast race, many attacks went but nothing stuck. I wasn’t really too bothered about the attacks though, my task this week was just to gain experience. Also see how the racing works out here, and moving around in these bigger bunches too. A break did go with 2 laps to go, and I came in, in the bunch. The finish was chaos, positioning was a bit sub-optimal, but with this said it was another good learning experience and I came away with many points to change for races like that again.

Saturday and Sunday were the double headers, in Booischot and Tielt respectively. Both had a few drags in them and again the wind was up. Nothing drastic however enough to make positioning important in certain areas.

Booischot started strong and I was in the front half of the group, groups were going up the road and then coming back and nothing was majorly sticking. Then at one point a group went and that was it, they were gone, and we didn’t see them again, a few other groups tried to go but nothing really got away. During this time, I was just surfing the wheels in the bunch and not going to near the front. On the last two laps I followed a few moves but none of them stuck, however it was nice to have a go and see that the legs were there.

Sunday in Tielt was a race of survival. Pretty fatigued from the week of racing, the sighting lap was an indication of what the race would be like. I knew from early on it was about being sensible here, doing as little as possible in the bunch and just getting round and finishing was the main target. The mission was successfully completed just about. It was a technical course with a fair few corners which were not fast and flowing, along with two drags which seemed to get steeper every lap. The important thing is though that the job for this block of racing was to be in the mix, learn what the racing is like out here, and to have fun too which were all completed.

Overall, it was a successful week racing, a common theme this year is “a lot has been learnt” but well that is true, and I am very much looking forward to more racing out there this year.

Thank you to Pedal Potential and Peter Mercer Soft Tissue Therapy for the support.

Tielt 21/05/2023

The finish at Puivelde, 15/05/23

Puivelde 15/05/2023

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