Norm and I figured out that this is my 5th trip to Europe in just over a year. My carbon footprint must be approaching sasquatch size. Sorry Earth. Do my cloth bags at the grocery store make up for a few minutes of those flights?? What about when I sneer at people driving their big SUVs when I am on my scooter??
The trip over was pretty smooth. It could have been brutal as we sat down right next to a newborn. Uh oh. The girl flanking the other side of mom & newborn politely cooed before she asked "Does she cry much?" When the answer came that this was their first flight, the chick was out of there SO fast. But mom & newborn moved to the back of the plane 30mins into the flight to find a row of seats to themselves so we had quiet and some extra elbow room in our bulkhead row.
We are staying with the Swift Racing team in Tielt Winge outside of Brussels. I have raced CX with Helen Wyman for a few years and she and her husband, Stefan, have helped out many a "moose" as they call us Canadians. It is a pretty global house as our first dinner we had 2 Brits, 2 Kiwis, an Auzzie, 1 Irish gal, 2 Moose and an Amuricuhn. We spend a lot of time making fun of each other as we are all speaking English but you sure as hell can't tell it most of the time.
It was absolutely freezing the first day we went out for a ride. Cold, wet, dreary. I was worried I didn't pack enough winter clothes. It was even freezing inside the house. I tried to crank the heater in our room but it wasn't even on. We asked the girls (all wearing 3-4 layers, toques and hoods) why the hell the heat wasn't on and they said someone screwed with the central heating so Stefan turned it off until the culprit came forward. Norm took one for the team and said it was him. But he was busted as the night it happened we weren't even in europe. Dammit! Everyone knows my biggest fears in life are starving to death and freezing to death! Eventually someone admitted to knowing who did it and the heat came back on. Stefan is going to be one badass dad someday. I pity their kids.
Houffalize World Cup
I felt great all week. I seemed to get over the jet lag pretty quickly this trip and my legs felt really good. We went to Houffalize Friday and felt the buzz of the first world cup race of an Olympic year. The course was wet and slick in a couple of sections but there was so much road that I stuck with my Cross Mark tires. My new Kula Supreme was climbing great, my legs felt rested, my head was strong and I was seeing my lucky #22 absolutely everywhere so I thought "bring it on".
My pre-race confidence was worth shit
Unfortunately all the good vibes did not pan out into a good race. I woke up Sunday morning and my legs didn't feel so snappy anymore. But I ignored it and went about warm up. My call up was #39 on the 5th row, but with a loooooong 20% grade climb out of the gates there was time to move up before the singletrack. I wanted to be there early because a lot of the girls could not ride it. Everyone obviously had the same idea as the pace off the gun was fierce. I hammered up the climb and moved up to the low 20s. I thought it was worth it (and I thought I was being conservative) because I got through the singletrack with only one girl in front of me holding up the line as she ran the descent. But I could not seem to recover from the start. My legs felt like cinder blocks and my breathing did not settle down. It was going to be a long race so I had to back off a bit for fear of blowing up. I got into a steady pace but it wasn't fast enough to catch people. I had to spin the climbs and in a world cup race steady just doesn't cut it. I ended up 26th. 5th Canadian. Not the result I was looking for.... But hopefully it was just one of those days when you don't have the legs and you can't explain why. Damn the complex physiology of the human body.
China eventually dropped me. Must have been the drag of the baggy jersey
So 26th is a long way from my goal of top 12 which is what I need to be on Canada's Olympic short list. I also told myself no chocolate and baked goods unless I get a top 12. Now THAT was just stupid......especially since I just discovered that my favourite Belgian pastry boat is sold in the bakery 500m from our place in Tielt Winge. Crap!
Thanks to the euro Kona crew for all the support. Thanks to euro Rock Shox who fixed my fork and had it running perfectly for the race. Thanks to Helly Hansen for keeping warm when the heat is off. Thanks to euro Norm for being here with me. He will write some updates soon.