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Back to Belgium

A creative title for this month’s blog, but well its straight to the point.

This month there were two trips over to Belgium for three races. The first weekend was my “opening weekend” as such, two Kermesses out there, typical Belgian conditions and even a few cobbles thrown in the mix, which was a fair surprise on my warmup.

For the first weekend I travelled out with a teammate Isaac. For the race on the Monday, it was pretty grim weather that greeted us. Sideways rain and 20/25kph wind, typical narrow Belgian roads and a stacked field, a nice welcome to my first 1.12a race in Belgium. As you can expect it was a pure race of survival and just split massively with the cross winds, as well as a few guys going down on the infamous white lines on bends which were essentially sheet ice on this day in particular. My own inexperience caught me out, and I was on the wrong side of a split and that was the last time I saw the main bunch. I then found myself in a group of 15 guys or so off the back, still putting in a decent effort to try and get back but it wasn’t to be, getting pulled out with three laps to go. The only good thing is that I did win the group sprint for the line, which was good for morale.

Tuesday’s race was again another learning day. It was a cool course; my first experience of cobbles and again fairly narrow roads and another windy day met us. Tuesday went even worse than the Monday which I thought was hard to beat, but I was just proved wrong. I started off okay and positioning was better than the Monday, still far from ideal but okay. Then it rained. Rain, yeah normally fine but with the cobbles, for one lap it became a temporary ice rink. I had a moment on the corner, had to un-clip, couldn’t then clip in again like a total rookie and then a bit like Monday watched the bunch ride off, really tried to get back on as I didn’t want a repeat of Monday and for 10 or so k’s the gap stayed the same, but then eventually the gap just went out and I found myself getting changed much earlier than I had planned.

Moorsled 1.12A, lovely conditions

Photo by Zoe Wielerfoto

Coming back from Belgium I picked up some illness meaning I had to have a week off the bike which was far from ideal this time in the season but all part of it and with the help of Alan and Olly we eased back into the training which went okay.

The phrase “Third time lucky” does not apply to the weather over in Belgium. Rain was present again on the start line which was not planned on any of the weather apps. Not quite as bad as the other few days. It was 136km so longest on of the season so far. Started off fast and just never really let up! Alan and I had a chat before and we went in with a plan, and following the plan put me in a good position coming into the final part of the race. There was still a large group of us coming into the final few laps and the last lap which was about 10km was absolute carnage. It was virtually impossible to move up at some points but such a fun experience at the same time in this sort of chaos. Came across the line in 58th from a stacked field so pretty pleased with that and a good starting foundation to move on from in the coming races.

Zele 1.12A

Both photo's by Rita Thienpondt

So, been a good month, a tonne of learning done and looking forward to putting this to work in the next few weeks.

Thank you again to Pedal potential, Peter Mercer soft tissue therapy, and Alan and Olly for the continued support.

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