World Cup in Houffalize......one word...ouch. They changed the course from the past couple of years, cutting out a few fun sections and adding more climbing, steeeeeeep climbing. It ended up being a great spectator course because thhe course looped back on itself a couple times and your could stand in one spot and see a lot. The start.......30% grade road climb (part of the Liege-Bastonge - Liege road race) was still the same as previous years, and off the gun it's max power and hr for a km to the top. I was call up number 64, outta about 120 women...awesome turnout....so my main goal was to make up as many positions as possible before the bottle necked singletrack.
You expend so much energy fighting for each spot....squeeze through an opening on the right only to be pinched out and pushed back....squeeze through an opening on the left and then get pinched out...grrrrrr. I find near the top of the climb, the road kicks up even steeper and girls start blowing here and that's the best place to grab a couple gears and hammer out as much as possible. A little wobbly at the top as we turn into the singletrack, surrounded by lots of other wobbly riders still trying to go as fast as we can ...haha. Up and over a small rise and all I see is bodies going down left and right...haha...the course had been soooo incredibly and uncharacteristically for Belgium hot and dry all week, so no one was expecting how much the start loop would degrade from the rain. Taking it a little slower and picking my way through the bodies I think I make up 10 spots right there :)
Throughout the race I find myself slowly moving up, battling with the same 2 riders, trading back and forth up the climbs and through the technical sections. Everytime we lap through the cobbled finish line I find myself distracted by the smell of sausage and fries.....mmmmmm (though not mmmmmm while breathing so hard).
Going into the final lap I was told I was in 29th, only 30 seconds out of the top 25. The final lap I find myself fading......yikes....I am able to hold off the girls behind for the first half of the last lap, but as we start into the second last climb I get swarmed by 5 girls...grrrrr...I grab a gear and stand to try to grab a wheel......yup, nope, not going to happen :( nothing left in the tank....but a quick glance over my shoulder shows another group of 3 girls right behind me. Climbing up the last steep climb I feel every muscle in my legs twinging...the kind of feeling just before a good cramp......as I crest the top of the climb I breath a small sigh of relief, but grab a couple gears....no time to rest here. About a km out, there is a goofy left turn off of pavement, a drop off over a curb into the final decent......I think I get a little excited here and almost blow the corner......skidding sideways on the damp pavement, I actually think my rear wheel was leading.
Somehow I manage to keep the rubber side down and finish in 34th :) my best ride and placing at Houffalize....yippeee. Although I was really hoping for top 20 (that's my world cup goals for the year) I'm really happy with how I road and how the race went.....this course isn't suited to any of me strengths....I mean, long steep climbs aren't really the best aspect for the biggest rider in the race...hehe.
MMMMMMMMM, post race crepe with nutella........this is what I've been dreaming about all year......haha, it's really the only reason I go race in Houffalize.
Hahaha, it's funny how I always manage to incorporate food into my blog......mmmmmm, nothing like the cherry pastry of some sort (I really gotta learn more french) from the bakery down the street.
Oh ya, this is the best photo I could find to show just how crooked out house was....every wall and floor was slanted in a different direction.....but it was cheeeeeeap!!!!!.
Long trip home, missed my connector in Chicago........our plane was an hour late landing, we got stuck in the plane for an hour (the sky walk was jammed so something), and customs....wow, couple hours there...of course I'm going to miss my plane. And I do have to say, airport people in Chicago aren't very nice :( never flying through that airport again if I can avoid it!!!! One thing after another kept happening on the way home, grabbed the wrong bike box in Van (ya, that was smart) and missed the last flight from Van to Vic (5 mins..grrrrr...and way too late for the last ferry for the night). So needless to say, I spent the night on the Van airport floor, 7 hours of either kinda sleeping and wandering around pushing my bike box....ya, not super fun.
Made it home to Vic on the first flight tuesday morning!!!!!! After a wicked breaky with Regan, the first thing I did was grab my training bike and BOB trailer for a trip to the Red Barn market...I love that place. Haha, that was another adventure too....waited out the first hail storm at the market drinking a coffee (over an inch of hail covered my trailer), and the second hail storm on the side of the trail under a tree....haha...it's a character builder!!!!!
That's brings me just about up to date. I've been getting back into the swing of training, and Laura at Serious Coffee has been great and I've been working some shifts there (early morning training ride, stretch, eat, work till 9).......plus side, drink coffee and frufru drinks to my hearts content while at work :)