The race today was extremely fast. We averaged 32 miles an hour (on a 12 corner 5K course) for the first hour. I guess I should say “they” averaged 32, because I was off the back after 45 minutes.
We arrived at the race moderately late because of bad traffic and getting lost in Holland. After a 15-minute warm up, we lined up at the start. I was sitting right behind the start line and somehow I ended up 40 people back after the lead car had us move onto a different part of the course.
It was hot and humid today, 35 degrees C. And I didn’t drink enough water—only half a bottle in an hour. So I have the heat excuse and the no warm up excuse. But neither of those were the cause of my terrible race. The problem was my bad judgement and of course my poor cornering skills.
I spent too much time near the front during the first three or four laps—thinking I was strong enough to bridge and attack. A short while later, I had to retreat, out of exhaustion, to the middle (which very quickly became the back). Unfortunately, my moment of deadness was right when the field began to split up; I was forced to cover gaps in the long line of riders (plus the gaps that would form after every corner). The gap from me to the guy in front, while cornering, kept on increasing as time went by and my legs became more tired.
Eventually, there were only a couple people behind me; riders were dropping out left and right. Another gap opened up between the tattered field and the rider 3 places in front of me. I sprinted and covered it, barely. No one followed. Then the same thing happened again. I tried to cover it but I didn’t have anything left. The end. Within a kilometer, the peloton(s) was out of sight.
Today was much much better. Not only did I finally finish a race, but I won some money too!
In my warm up, I hit 1,450 watts in my first sprint, so I knew I was going to have it in my legs today. The race was much smaller than yesterday (50 riders compared to 80 something), and the corners were less harsh. But don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t slow. The average speed was actually faster than yesterday.
The way these kremises work is like a fast crit. Except instead of going for an hour, they go for 70 to 100 miles. Today was 125 kilometers (a little under 80 miles). And it started out fast, and slowly crept up to blistering fast. I was able to attack all day long, and also spent a lot of time up at the front pulling back break-aways. I felt strong at last.
I kept finding myself up front, pulling and sprinting off the front during the final six laps. I wanted to rest because my body was going into shock from overexertion. I would tell myself that “this is the last time I’m going to pull until I have a decent rest.” But one minute later I’d be back up there. For one thing, I just like to pull. The other thing is that if you are near the front and don’t pull through, even if you just took two or three turns in a row, the other riders will yell at you and push you forward. I had one guy jam on his breaks in front of me to try and make me crash because I wouldn’t pull while I had a teammate up the road. Ridiculous. And one time when I was in a break away and a teammate of mine wouldn’t help pull, some guy HIT him in the head and knocked his glasses off his face. Other close encounters included getting my pedal jammed in somebody’s spokes again (I’m pretty used to that by now since it’s happened at least once in every race), and I also ran into a guy while I was sprinting/about to bridge, and he was swerving to get a feed. I rammed him with my shoulder from the side into his ribs. We were going fast, and I have no clue how he didn’t go down.
With a lap to go there were 11 guys a minute and a half off the front. The paceline was dead and there was no hope of catching any of them. So it was do or die time for the last ditch effort to break away. I saw Eliad, my teammate and another couple guys attempting to break off the front. I bridged up with a prolonged effort and yelled at Eliad to grab my wheel as I came past him. I took off. He followed, and shortly afterwards another guy caught on. I did the majority of the work; Eliad did a good amount too, but the other guy hardly pulled at all. The peloton was right on us. The third guy was suffering, and it showed on his face. He took a short pull and I took over again. Four kilometers to go. 550 watts and rising. One kilometer before the end I screamed at him to “take one more fucking pull!!!” He did, then Eliad and I attacked and he was dropped like the useless baggage he was. I didn’t know how fast the peloton was closing on us or if the weak guy had managed to grab onto Eliad’s wheel, so I went as hard as I could for 900 more meters. The finish line seemed to be an infinite distance away. I had to sit down. Then I stood up again for the last 200 meters. Eliad passed me right at the end (I’m not completely sure why but it doesn’t matter). He took 12th and I took 13th. There was only one other U23 rider in front of us in the break. 13th doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, but it feels better than winning back at home. Tomorrow the whole team is going to be tourists for a change as we take a day off and visit Holland.
In other news, my brother, Galen, just showed up here today. He was visiting a friend in France and has been riding his bike around from city to city for the past two weeks, and now he’s up here in Belgium for his last week in Europe. A week that will be filled with painful bike training. Mwahahahahahhahahah!!!