I’ve been in the Netherlands for a week, so I guess it’s about time that I post something.
It is SO COLD here! When we get off the plane and finally make it to home base, we always do a little spin to get the blood moving and help us stay awake. Then it’s dinner and straight to bed. I had to wear everything I owned on the ride and my hands and feet were still cold! I can still recall the days when I wouldn’t ride outside if it got below 50! That’s a luxury only Floridians get to have.
But the day before Het Nieuwsblad, the snow started coming down.
It didn’t snow in Belgium, so Het Nieuwsblad was still a go. It wasn’t forecast to get above freezing all day. I raced with a short sleeve base layer, a long sleeve wool base layer over that, arm warmers over the long sleeve base layer, a long sleeve jersey over the arm warmers, and a thermal vest over ALL off that! Two pairs of gloves, two booties, and legwarmers as well. And this was for a race, mind you, not a training ride. Here’s us before the race:
Het Nieuwsblad wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I made the split going over the second berg, but got stuck behind my teammate, Janel’s, crash at the bottom of the third berg and had to put my foot down. It was a very unfortunate place to have to stop because I never made up the those 50m to the group. As I was getting dropped, I watched a girl I know who was also slowed by the crash, barely make it to the back of a small pack.
I finished the race in a small group. The officials stopped us at one point and told us we weren’t getting finishing times, but we had to keep going to get to the team cars that were waiting for us at the finish. Just yesterday I finally looked at the full results and saw that the girl I knew who chased on was one of the last who got a finishing time! Bummer.
Still, I got to do some of the famous bergs (Kluisberg, Paterberg, Molenberg) and cobble sections (Holleweg, Paddestraat, Lippenhovestraat) you hear about in cycling lore.
By the following morning, it looked like this, which is why the ended up having to cancel Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne for the men.
Which meant I spent three days here:
This is the mechanic’s room. It looks like a kitchen with the stoves and everything, but to us it’s the mechanic’s room. Maybe you’ve heard, but the national team is moving team base from the house in Izegem, Belgium to Sittard, Netherlands. Truthfully, I’m not going to miss Izegem. We’re in a temporary facility in Sittard now which is why the mechanic’s bench is a kitchen counter for the time being.
After Het Nieuwsblad, a bunch of us decided we needed warmer cycling clothing. Andrew took us to “the biggest bike shop in Holland” which none of us were expecting to be very big. It wasn’t that many square feet, but it had everything! ALL of the best winter cycling clothing. There was one room dedicated to all Assos products.
By race day #2 yesterday, I had all the kinks worked out of my body and my bike, I had some warm clothing, and I was ready to go. The race was Le Samyn in Dour, Belgium. The forecast called for warmer weather (in the high 30’s and possibly reaching 40 degrees!) which got us all excited. Never thought I’d live to see the day I thought 40 degrees was warm. Ended up being just as cold as Nieuwsblad. I did triple shoe covers, and my feet were finally warm. Here’s a picture Jack took from the caravan.
Le Samyn has four, 20k finishing circuits. The most critical part is a short, uphill cobble section halfway around the circuit that you must be in position for if you want to make the split. As a team, we rode very well for only our second race together. We all made the front group of 70ish riders. When close to 200 girls start the race, a group of 70 starts to look small! Subsequently, we had some bad luck. Megan Guarnier did a gazillion bike changes and crashed once and Kmac and Janel both crashed.
Jade got 20th and I was 34th.
You know how I know I went hard? I woke up this morning with a bedside table full of crumbs, but I can’t remember making them.