Dwars Doors de Westhoek was the race Team Canada did on Sunday. This race was combine of 5 pro teams, 2 National Team (yeah Canada) and about 14 club teams for a total for 141 racers. This is the largest group that I have ridden in to date. I didn’t find that there are much of a problem riding in this group besides the fact that if you aren’t continuously moving up you will get shot out the back. This was one of the technical road races that I have done; it had about a million corners in the first lap with was about 50-60km long. When the girls were taking the corners everyone would be slamming on their breaks creating one big yo-yo motion. At more the one point in the race I was sliding kind of sideways with the breaks almost locked up to avoid the girls in first. Remarkably there wasn’t that many crashes in the race and most happened towards the end of it. I was never in a crash nor did I see any, I was told about the crashes in the end from some of the Canadian girls that went down.
The roads were very narrow I found, they were like paved dirt roads, there are only about enough room for four girls to ride beside each other and then there would be no room to get by. In other words it was tight.
There are five King of the Mountains in the race all which were in the first 35km of the race. They weren’t very long but some did have a max grade of 13%, I got dropped on the first hill which they all powered up. Me and a group of girls chased to get back on and caught on by the time we hit the fourth hill.
Once we finished the one big loop we started on a small 10km loop which we had to do 7 times. Part of that loop consisted of, not cobbles but these bricks that are damn close to cobbles. I forget what the words in is French. There are about 2.km of these ‘bricks’ along the start and finish line and feed zone. I have no idea guys can do a whole race on them; I would just get shake to bits and fall off my bike – two km of them was enough for me.
This race was one of the hardest things I have done. I don’t think I have ever hurt that much in a race before. My heart rate at one point in the race hit 199bpm – Now I know a lot of people would say that that’s not that high for my age, but I have never, ever seen numbers that high for my heart rate. I highest HR that I have seen in the past was 193 and that was in a VO2 max and a time trail. My first reaction when I saw those numbers was ‘oh my god I’m gonna die’.
It was quite hot out and along with the distance and speed I was really starting to suffer after about 80km’. I ended up finishing with the main pack and placed 76th. Only 91 people got classified at the end of the race, that means that the 50 people either didn’t finish, got pulled or where 5% behind the winners time.
I was so glad when the race was finished and couldn't wait to get off the 'Bricks'. The Bricks that the bikes are on in the picture above is like the stuff we had to ride on but worst. This race was really an eye opener to the racing in Europe and it shows me that I can handle it. I may not be the fast or the strongest but I can suffer it out and mentally not crack till after the race.
We are off tomorrow morning at 6 am to France for a stage race, Tour Feminin en Limousin. There will be one time trial and 3 road races. The courses are very hilly and it is most likely going to be super hot down there. It’s going to be a hard couple of days
Cheers for now.