The start was crazy. As I was taking my leg-warmers off at the start, I heard my name paged to report to the start/finish area to sign in. I knew nothing about it - when have you ever had to sign-in at the start/finish for a cross race? Apparently, I missed some sort of rider presentation. I had been off searching desperately for a porta-john. They do not make that easy here. I missed most of my warm-up time weaving through massive crowds of people on my bike looking for the plastic thrones. Eureka - right next to the open outdoor public urinals. (Well, there's at least one thing about Belgium I won't miss.)
Fast forward to 1:30 pm. We were staged, I was bare-legged, the official gave the "une minute," and then said, "Wait for the light." Huh? Light? A few seconds later, everyone jumped. Then I noticed the traffic light ahead above the road. Green. Aah. That light.
It was another crazy start on a very long stretch of road into a right hand turn. I didn't have a good start, mostly because my legs had no jump. There was an enormous mud field that probably nobody rode, even the amazing Hanka. It was a long slog of a run for me through deep mud and up a fly-over. I could barely run up the ramp due to fatigue. The whoop-dee-do section was at the end of the lap, and would have been much more fun if I could have taken it with more speed!
Check out the men's leaders through that section:
I rode around hoping not to get lapped. I thought about pulling out, but I just wanted to get to the bumps again to see if I could ride them faster! It's hard to end my season at the bottom of a long slide in my performance, but I know it's all about the experience for me and I have a lot of racing ahead in my career. It was absolutely worth coming here to Belgium, even though I didn't perform my best. I hope to return next year with my 'A game.' I love it here, the country is beautiful, the racing is intense.
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Here is my favorite picture I took today. Bart! If only the light were better - the sun is so low at almost 4 pm.
It's hard to explain how many people were at this race!
I have one more full day here. I may do the Begijnendijk ride for the experience, otherwise certainly I could do without riding tomorrow! Maybe Sven will be there... I heard he joined the ride the other day several kilometers after it passed our house.