Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Houffalize, Belgium!

It is Wednesday and my legs are still a bit toast from the race at Houffalize Sunday, even after a couple of easy days...tough race! You will see in the photographs my face screwed up enduring the hurtbox throughout. But really, it was a pleasure to race at Houffalize - I loved it! There is something about mud, carnage & pain for almost 2hours that is strangely euphoric. At the finish I had no clue what place I had come, and I wasn't really in a hurry to find out. I had raced hard, I was tired, I was muddy & I was happy.

Looking real happy here!
Turns out I was 44th. Last week I was 40th but this week felt better. Sure I can identify costly mistakes, moments of impatience and again I struggled off the start line against the bigger more powerful girls. But given the deeper field (+30?) & more testing race conditions I applied myself better and managed to move through the field throughout the race.
Believe it or not, my fastest lap was my last lap. I think this is an indication of the trouble you run into on the first lap with 120 riders in single track, the more powerful but less technically competent riders dismounting preferring to run a slippery descent and hence you are forced to follow suit. I wanted to get out of the aforementioned trouble with a more aggressive start (which I did this week) but I took a tumble through the tape in the single track of the start loop as I was too eager in a passing manoeuvre. Razzled (& very shitty) I continued to make errors that inevitably cost me a position or three. The good thing is, that so long as I address these few things I learn in each race I will go better in the next one, right?!

...and here! Trying to recover a little before a steep pitch that was a bit too much for me in my smallest gear (XX groupset). It was fine in the dry during practice...lesson learnt.

Aller! aller! aller! Pushing hard and trying to go straight.
I had been intrigued by this place called Houffalize the first time I heard of it. It had some sort of appeal to have raced there & be able to refer to it. I guess it has that effect. I laughed to myself when I drove into the village, it has one road through it & a central roundabout - the race village is the village proper & it was bursting with fans, families, riders & team personnel from Thursday. Despite the rain on Sunday, the support of the spectators & race atmosphere was fantastic. They are passionate people alright!
I have a weekend free of racing to fit in a bit of a training block this week & next. My next race is a German national series race in Heubach ('Bike the Rock') May 15th followed up with the XCO WC #3 at Offenburg May 23rd. Looking forward to lining up there. So without further ado, I am going to test the legs with a ride in the countryside. Thanks for reading, more news soon...
Ou Revoir! (I am learning some French too)
PS: Cheers to Jarrod for the photo's above & the rest of the Australian group for having me stay & the race support provided. Much appreciated!

No comments: