For my own records as much as for the entertainment of my readers, here’s a brief run-down on my last two races:
Wednesday was a kermess out in Hoegaarden. I was hoping for something hilly, and though it wasn’t dead flat, it was far from being hard enough to break things up with the little bumps the 15km course provided. I attacked more than my fair share, followed moves, bridged across in the crosswind to dangerous-looking things, but nothing I was a part of ever stuck. The racing was too negative and the course was wide and easy enough for a lot of guys to sit in fairly easily and wheel suck all day. I attacked just before we came through the finish line with one to go (break usually goes with one to go if it hasn’t already gone) but sat up when the field caught me and the couple guys that I’d tried slipping off the front with. Right then to my right I saw a move of three take off and get a gap. I slid back a bit further to recuperate and a split of like 15 guys went off the front in the tailwind section. That ended up being the race. The break of three was caught with 200 meters to go (just needed one more guy) and the rest of us came in 15 seconds later. I was 40th.
I spent the next two days doing two-hour easy rides then did a two-hour race-simulating group ride on Saturday to open my legs up for the BVB Interclub on Sunday, which was down in Momignies in the Wallonie region. Again, I was hoping for a hilly-enough course to really smash things apart, but like Hoegaarden the 16km lap didn’t have anything serious enough to create true havoc. It had a number of small hills and a tiny bit of wind, but most of the field was still all together with one lap to go.
After downing a large fake Red Bull 20 minutes before we started, I was primed for some pain right from the gun. About six guys got away right as we started and I began my bridge on a fast descent. It quickly went up hill and the next couple minutes on the roller coaster section of the course was the hardest effort I did all day, but I made it. Unfortunately the group split up and fell apart when more groups bridged up there and pretty soon the entire field was on us. We did the first lap averaging 30 mph.
On lap two I went again on the same section of the course and got away with six other guys. It soon became a group of 15 or 18 and once the strongest team bridged a few guys up there, I was certain this was the move. Every strong team seemed to have at least two guys. We were pulling through full gas, maybe too hard, because everyone started skipping pulls as they blew up. Our gap went up to almost a minute (the biggest gap of the day) but we were caught again near the end of that second lap. I was baffled, simply baffled beyond regular bafflment.
I attacked off and on for the next four laps until I decided to sit in for a spell. Splits came and went and we seemed destined for a field sprint, but of course that didn’t happen because that never happens here. Eight lucky guys got away on the last lap when we weren’t even going that hard and their gap shot up pretty quickly. Despite a hard chase effort with like 10K to go by one of the teams that had missed out, they stuck it by like five seconds. The last two kilometers (really the entire last lap) in the field were super sketchy. I almost had a good position for the slightly uphill sprint but 300 meters before the last corner I didn’t take the necessary risk to squeeze and muscle may way through to the outside, chop thirty guys, and avoid getting swarmed. I was just about to do this but got beaten by two other guys and had to slam my brakes on to avoid their back wheels. I just finished in the pack. On a bright note my form is coming back after all that time being sick and I’m feeling stronger each race. I have 11 more races until I leave on October 11th. Maybe one of those will be the one. Hopefully my off season in August will give me some freshness that others are lacking.