Sunday, March 13, 2011
I didn't realize that today's Kermis was the same one I had raced exactly one year before where my handlebars came loose forcing an early end. I thought for sure I would do well this time let alone finish.
We lucked out with the weather, by the start it was approaching 60 degrees when standing in the sun with no wind. Nothing unusual but enough wind to make a difference in the race thats for sure. The course was pretty simple, just one giant loop with a couple of turns. Only one turn mattered the most in terms of positioning before the wind, turning from a tailwind section, left onto the finishing straight which stretched out for about 3 kilometers. It was this stretch where we engaged in what we call, gutter wars. Only the front ten riders or so form an echelon and the rest of the pack is doomed to suffer fighting for a smidgen of draft from the rider in front by riding as far over on the road as possible, in a single file. Many times, this involves following blindly and narrowly missing spectators and drivers who have parked their cars on the side of the road. Sometimes, spectators get a little more then they bargained for, seeing a single file line of charging riders at 50 km/hr causes them to second guess their choice of location to view the race. They quickly move out of the way but sometimes there are close calls, and hopefully it won't involve you.
About 20 k into the race I could feel the contents of my stomach begin to turn. I ate my pre-race pasta over 3 hours before the start of the race like I was supposed to, but it was the pasta sauce that was doing me in. I thought I was going to puke twenty times over. It got to the point where I lost my focus and soon I was losing positioning in the pack, especially for those important turns. There were a couple of PWS Eissen riders who were doing some real damage, along with some other known strong riders, so the pace was very high.We maxed out at 65 kph at one point, which is 40 mph for those not in europe heh. That's pretty quick considering the race is entirely flat.
Still, what can I say, I had no excuse. I saw the final break go up the road and I foresaw it happen. The two PWS riders went to the front, as that important turn approached, and they split the group in the cross wind. This happens in every Belgian race. It splits in the cross wind and if you aren't in the right place at the right time, you might as well stop peddling, turn around, and go home because the race is now up the road.
So, this time around I couldn't blame the handlebars but my poor decision to eat a food I don't usually eat before a race. Next weekend it's back to sweet potatoes and pancakes.