Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Muscles from Brussels

Yesterday evening was the Superprestige in Diegem, basically downtown Brussels. The elite race started at 5:30, which meant we'd be racing under the lights. The atmosphere was unbelievable. The only American event I can think of that is even similar would be Cross Vegas when Lance raced. And that's still quite a stretch to compare the two. With temps at, or below freezing all week, it meant another snowy, icy race.

I felt decent on most of the course, but there was a lot of pedaling and certainly no where to hide on the big climb. My start was mediocre at best, but I was upright. The first time up the stairs, my front wheel clipped the heels of the Belgie in front of me as we were running. He took issue with this and decided to stop, turn around, scream at me, then proceeded to kick me in the stomach. I tried to run around him, as to not let the race run away while he did his best Jean Claude Van Damme impression, but it was so packed that he had a clean shot at me. The kick caught me off guard, but luckily it didn't do any damage.

After the initial sorting out, I found myself in another very familiar group of North Americans. We pretty much took turns dropping each other and always ended up back together. We got pulled with 2 laps to go, but it actually felt like we were racing. The biggest thing is trying not to lose so much time on the first lap, due to the congestion. With snow and ice on all of these courses, there's only one feasible line, so this makes for more crashes and huge time gaps from the leaders. At Zolder I lost 3:30 on the first lap and only 45 seconds or so per lap after that. That's pretty much been the story every day here.

I must have appeared to have been racing a bit more than the previous days, because when I was walking back to the car a fan said, "American!"... and I turned and looked at him, and he said, "Respect!" Or maybe he's just noticed me suffering at the back of all these races and feels sorry for me, but either way it was nice to have something positive said, for once.

The late start made for an even later evening at the house. We had dinner waiting for us and I was tired, but at the same time I couldn't sleep because the adrenaline was still pumping. I eventually went to sleep by 1:30 am.

Tuesday was a non-race day, which was nice because we had a mix of rain and snow during the time that we were supposed to do our training. I opted to just ride the trainer and watch a movie. I got a massage to try to speed up my recovery for today and Thursday.

Right now I'm in the car on the way back from the Gazet Van Antwerpen race in Loenhout, near the Dutch border. The weather was slightly warmer today, which meant all of the snow on the ground was melting and turned the course into a muddy tractor pull. There were a few sections today that were comparable to the slow mud bogs in Bend a few weeks ago. I'm not sure what to contribute my extraordinarily bad legs. Maybe the massage wasn't a good idea since it's not something I do regularly. Maybe it was the fact that today was my 31st cross race of the season. Who knows. All I know is that this was a horsepower course and I had no horses. I got crushed and it was so quite frustrating. I feel like I'm making lots of mental progress and also some good improvements on the technical side of things, but I can't seem to find any legs for the life of me.  

I'm definitely feeling pretty bummed by today's performance, or lack there of. I'm not saying I'm cracked or anywhere near cracking, but I just wish I could find my legs for one more day of this season. I've gots lots of work to do on all of my mud/ cow shit covered clothes tonight, then get up and do it all over again tomorrow.

Thanks for all your support.

Final 2 Laps from Diegem

Watch that video. As usual, the video/ their skills make this course look flat and easy. I can assure you, it is far from it. Definitely my favorite venue of all time though.


Anonymous said...

Keep it up! and thanks for the great blog!

Sam said...

Literally kicked in the stomach? Isn't that against some UCI regulation?

Either way, great blogs, Ryan. Crazy to think of you doing crits in the hot summer sun to this. Good luck!

-(a Cat 3 roadie from Louisville)