Thursday, May 30, 2013

Time for some more racing!

After the other girls and Graeme all left to head back to their various countries, I was on my own for a while. I had a nice relaxing time, setting my own schedule and catching up with James and Jake who are living only about 40k away. A roast night, and a night out in Gent, some sopping wet, muddy rides, and the week flew by. Already it was time to race again, another Kermesse in De Pinte, just south of Gent. No car, so I had to ride there and back, which meant for a long day in the on/off drizzle & rain. The race was uneventful, I was feeing a little flat, but I got through ok and thankfully had a tailwind home! Thanks to Bart for holding my stuff while I raced! 
My best friends over the past couple of weeks.. Becoming an expert bike cleaner.
Soon enough everyone starting arriving back to the house for the next block of racing, 3 x 1 day races in Holland and Belgium. Due to some injuries and illness, the team was down to just 4 of us, myself, Anne, Jane & Gaby. 
It's fair to say that summer is currently no where to be seen..

First up was the Boels Holland Hills Classic. As the name suggests, there's actual hills in this race! Most of them made famous by the Amstel Gold Race, including the Cauberg which featured in last years World Champs Course. I had a rough day, not feeling the best and struggling to get power down. Things went ok on the hills, but once I found myself having to jump around some dropped wheels in the crosswinds, I only had so much and found myself in a group off the back. We were pulled by the Broom Wagon just before the feedzone/Cauberg, and then had an adventurous ride back to the start finish with a big group. Things were fine while the sun shone, but about 10k from where we needed to be, things got a bit cold and everyone started getting rather hungry! After several stops to ask for directions, we made it back to find out how the race had played out, and it was time to head home.

Holland Hills.. Yep, in the gutter yet again!
Day 2 was set to be in Aalburg in Holland, however the team decided to instead race the local Kermesse in Wodecq, only 15k up the road. Anne's knee wasn't feeling the best, so only 3 of us raced, however we all started because they were offering bags of cookies, coffee and some start money to everyone who raced. It was a really nice course, with some gently rolling hills, and I was back to feeling myself. I kept active in the first part of the race and managed to get in a few breaks, but nothing that stuck, and whilst I was having a bit of a rest a breakaway managed to go. 2 girls got away and the race from then was quite negative with no one wanting to chase the break, and a lot of people trying to go across. I had a crack coming into the last corner with a fast finish, but just proved to be a good leadout for 5 other girls.. I held on for 8th, so not so bad in the end, but it's fair to say I was disappointed with missing the break.
Gooik Team Presentation
Day 3 it was time to get the climbing legs back on again and tackle Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik. This one had some of the most famous Flanders climbs including the Muur, which unfortunately was taken out of the race due to roadworks. I was feeling good again and looking forward to the race. Things were going well through the first few hills and I'd made the front half of the race, until we hit the long cobbled section and I went backwards so fast it was quite laughable. Next time I'll run a bit less pressure in the tires and will get some more cobble practice - which shouldn't be hard given the area we live in! I was just off the back of the main group with one of the Argos Shimano riders, but we weren't able to close the gap and were reeled in by the chasing bunch behind us. With 5 local laps to go, we were again pulled from the race as there was a small group off the front and the short laps meant to continue would mean we'd be lapped. Another disappointing end to the race, and the weekend, but there were some positives to take from all of the races.
The 'Bosberg'. My first cobbled climb in a race... ouch.
The racing eases off now for a little while, so I'm taking a short break before starting the 2nd half of the season. Things will kick off in London on the 8th June for the Smithfield Nocturne which I'm looking forward to racing, although a 35min crit will be a rude shock to the system. Then followed by a few of the Tour Series crits that same week. Should be a fun week back on the left hand side of the road, and I'll definitely be hitting up some good cafe's and outlet stores when I get a chance! For the next few days though it might be time to play tourist for a little bit, if only the sun would come back out...

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