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Ronde van Drenthe

The World Cup was cold. Very cold. The sign in building was near the start finish so we stayed inside until the last minute, myself, my team, and the whole peleton, eyeing each other’s clothing choices and, in my case, second-guessing ourselves. I had a bundle of clothes on under my rain jacket, bibs, legwarmers, and three (3) shoe covers. Legwarmers AND three shoe covers? I wasn’t sure it was necessary, but sometimes warm and heavy beats hypothermic and light. Vos was wearing legwarmers anyway, so were the Belgians, both good signs. People were starting to move toward the door. I had to push those thoughts out of my mind and go.

Team presentation and sign in room:

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In this World Cup, the course profile literally looks like this:

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Don’t believe me? Photo coming soon…

Each of those hills is actually the same hill, Trash Hill, that we go over it three times. It gets its name because, you guessed it, it’s a hill of trash with sheep grazing on top.

The race would not be decided on the hills, however. It would be decided on the three cobble sections between the first and second GPM’s, and on positioning out of the third GPM. That’s why I was SO excited to be in the front group coming out of the third cobble section. Half the field was gone. I had made it, but I was gassed. I yelled to Jade who had caught on after a crash, and we moved up together before the second GPM. I must have spaced for a minute at the wrong time because all of a sudden we were turning into Trash Hill, I hadn’t seen it coming, and I was near the back.

I made it over the hill, but got popped on the crosswind section immediately following. The course takes you into the finish before it goes back out for one final small loop to Trash Hill for the 3rd GPM. I rode through the finish and was almost back to Trash Hill when they pulled me and the girl I was riding with. We had to ride back anyway! I wish they’d just let us finish. I ended up riding only 10k less than the total race distance.

We got lost on the way back, and ended up having to stop to ask directions which was very bad. My feet were frozen even with the three shoe covers. We were soaked to the bone and disgusting. It was 34 degrees out. Here’s Jade post-race.

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The next morning we awoke to more snow. That’s our hotel on the left.

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Around 8:30am, Jack was sitting at the breakfast table with us when he got the call from the Novilon race promoters informing us the race was cancelled. All the directors were called, and immediately people were coming to the table with smiles on their faces saying, “Ave you eard da news?” You could hear and see the collective sigh of relief. People began laughing and talking to people who weren’t their teammates. Kirsten Wild said to Janel in the buffet line, “I guess I should not eat breakfast now.” Then after a pause, “Eh, no I eat anyway,” grabbing some bread and loading her plate.

There wasn’t time to relax though. We were in the car headed back to Sittard less than an hour later to get ready for the next adventure, 2013 Worlds Recon camp in Italy. Worlds is in Florence this year, and we’re going to be ready.

Just couldn’t leave this guy out:

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Foreshadowing my next post. Pushing team vehicle.

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Het Hageland

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Artwork in the main staircase at Fitland. I noticed it the first day and laughed, but after some time here, like every time I travel here, I adjust to the fact that everything is just a little different. Today I learned that Fitland, in addition to being a sports school, a training facility, a hotel, and a beauty school, is also a place where the military trains. Who knew you could cram so many things into one place?

Jamie tried to get a manicure at the beauty school a few days ago and was denied. The studio is right by the main staircase. The door is always open, nail polish is lining the walls, and there’s always someone sitting inside at the two-person table. But can you get a manicure? Nope. They are not trained yet! That is why it is called a beauty SCHOOL duh! Oh Europe. The best restaurants are never open, you pay to use the public restrooms, and you can’t get a manicure at the beauty school even though the manicureist is sitting right there doing nothing and how hard is it to learn how to paint fingernails anyway?

But I digress…

Our Friday training ride turned epic when Jack’s Garmin took us down this road. Yes, that white stuff on the ground is snow. Someone said “I think I see pavement up ahead”, we started down it, and (with Speedplays especially) there was no turning back.

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The mechanics took it well though. These are our mechanics. Meric is sitting in the back. He’s Polish and is teaching us some lovely polish words to use during races. In the front is Rico AKA Pinky Winky, so christened by Meric who apparently watched the Teletubbies once, pronouncing it Tay-Lay-Toobies, and never forgot them. The nickname is great, except for I know the Teletubbies theme song by heart from my babysitting days. Now end up with it stuck in my head at very unfortunate times such as during yesterday’s race.

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Yesterday’s Het Hageland had it’s ups and downs. I got stuck behind a wreck at an unfortunate time, and it could have meant the end of my race if the groups hadn’t come back together. I made the final split of 50ish, but started feeling it in the last 40k because I hadn’t been eating. It’s very rare that I feel comfortable taking my hands off the bars to dig in my pockets, and the Belgian Crack was in full effect on this course making me feel even less comfortable doing so.

So in Belgium, roads are often paved in slabs. Each slab is one lane wide. When the road is two lanes wide, the slabs meet exactly in the middle. They gradually spread apart over the years leaving a gap of 2-3 inches that will eat your tire if you hit it. You might say, well don’t ride near the crack, there were 203 starters in the race so someone’s gotta be in the middle. Those that end up in the middle are bunny hopping from side to side constantly to keep up with the flow of traffic and maintain position. Last year there were tons of crashes because of the rain and the crack. This was me after last year’s Het Hageland:

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At least it was dry this year and there were hardly any crashes, but I was disappointed I wasn’t able to help Jade more in the finish. She was 17th. I was 29th.

Today is a rest day for me, and what an AMAZING rest day it’s been. We woke up and the sun was shining through the windows! I’ve forgotten what that looks like. Janel was soaking it up before breakfast:

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Heather and I ventured downtown to the bakery on the cruiser bikes. I got a croissant and an apple tart, and I’ll be going back tomorrow for another pastry if it’s the last thing I do! Sittard has an adorable downtown. It felt exactly like I was at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios!

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Time for my massage. Bakery, sun, massages. How lucky am I.