Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Return to Belgium

It's no secret that my last trip to Belgium had it share of ups and downs; a big up being our kermesse win and a big down being the cumulative injuries, sickness, and just wanting to be home. So when I got the invite from the national team to stay at the u23 house in Izegem for three weeks, it wasn't a quick or easy decision. I could stay home, get ready for school and an upcoming surgery to remove the metal from my leg, race my home race the GMSR and generally enjoy the last of Vermont's summer; or risk my hide and general self-esteem while taking another shot at euro-style racing. Well, as you can tell from the title of this post, I decided to make the trek across the atlantic and give it another try. The flight was uneventful, no bikes or luggage were lost, and I was picked up in the airport by National Team director Ben Sharp. After putting my bike together and going for a quick ride, I spent the rest of the day trying to stay awake until 9PM to help with the jet-lag. My fellow national team-mates arrived later in the day.

The next morning we went for another ride into Kortrijk to stretch out the legs before our afternoon kermesse race. The kermesse was about as standard as they get, short, dead flat laps, with lots of wind. We started the race knowing that the day after some serious travel time we were far from %100, but we might as well give it our best shot. After registering in the typical smelly, smoke-filled bar, we started off at standard belgian full-speed. Then things relaxed and the game of trying to pick the best breakaway to get in began. Since I didn't really know who any of the fast guys were, I just followed a ton of attacks. Enthusiasm got the better of me and I found myself off the front on way too many occasions early on. After many breakaways and counter-attacks, we had a group of a dozen or so coming into the last few laps. The legs started telling me that they weren't really happy with the situation at hand, and this wasn't a great thing to be doing the day after transatlantic travel. Anyway's I ran out of gas about ten km from the end of the 120km race and missed the final break. I suffered to the finish for tenth place and road home with the rest of the team.

Our next race is on sunday in Roselaare, until then I'm going to be getting lost on remote Belgian roads and enjoying waffles!

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