So as our Canadian luck would have it (which there wasn’t much of to begin with) ran out hard core on our trip to Holland to race in a matter of days. As a few of you might know from reading a status or two on my facebook, every day we raced we put our life in our hand, or maybe just our body and bikes but still, point made!
We arrive after a longish drive across the vast European country side, it was really only 4 hours but who’s counting? We were glad to get out of the van and car to stretch are legs and were dying to get some food. After we got our race numbers we headed to find our “vacation house/ camping house”. After staying in France and seeing what they call camping (a back woods shed) I’m wasn’t too prepared for what we got. Our house was a modern two story condo style place, with leather furniture and mini flat screen TV. A full mini kitchen and when you got up stairs there was 11 beds! It really wasn't that big, I know you are thinking wow, 11 beds! If it had been a North American standard that would have been huge; In Europe that means bunk bed stacked three high with no wiggle room, fun times when you hit your head, arm or foot on the wall, guard rail or oddly place light….
Later that night we had supper put on by the race organizers, which was tasty by buffet standards. It was the ordinary pre race food that you would find at races, pasta, salad, veggies, some kind of meat or fish. Breakfast was very western European, with bread, cheese, ham, and more bread, different kind of bread and a variety of dried crunchy bread… oh and pasta and tomatoes sauce again.
The first stage was a 110km race that had two big loops of something like 46km’s and two small loops of 7km. Racing in Holland is very different from racing anywhere else because there is no hills, its dead pan flat. I’m not talking about Saskatchewan flat; that you can see you dog run away for 3 days. I’m mean like you can see your dog run away till he dies - in reality I mean no elevation what so ever. It is like someone took a rolling pin to the ground and said ‘hey I wonder if we can make this place even windier, oh look we just did’. This place has the wind of a jet engine, deep dish wheels are a big no no. I wish I had known that before…. Anywho the race started off with a bang, and the sound of carbon scrapping the ground. The sound happened three maybe four more times, actually lets be realist here it happened like nine or ten times to be truthful. The Canadians as our luck would have it didn’t manage to miss all the crashed nor be in front of them either. One of was girls went down later in the race in a big crash and broke she bike but she managed to come out with only a bit of road rash and bruises.
I ended up behind many of the crashes and crash-ies, having to unclip or off road it a bit and chase like a mad man or women (I’m not picky in which is used) back up to the bunch that was lucky enough to be in front of the crash. I off roaded it a couple times in the ditch to move up to the front of the pack because I was getting tired of the middle and not being able to move. But in doing so the European girls don’t like that a foreigner or maybe just a Canadian is in front of them. I got yelled at a couple times to move but I didn’t move so I got shoved a couple in the butt to move, oh well it wasn’t like I was going anywhere.
A few of the Canadian girls had great spots in the front of the pack and moved like champs to get up there, me, I’m still a bit more timid and still getting my feet wet on the whole cross wind, crazy packs, and narrow roads thing. I ended up getting a flat tire also in the race and burned a whole book of matches to catch back up. I caught back up and promptly got dropped - caught back on then a crash happened and I got caught behind it in usually fashion and had to chase with a bunch of girls to get back on. I ended up finishing in the third group I think placing 114th, yeah for me. No please don’t… I need to work on staying with the front of the group, I have a long way to go but I’m hoping in a couple years and more racing here under my belt I won’t have to be at the back because I’m a bit too nervous to take chances to move up. Two of the other girls on the team finished in the top 40 I think and the one positioning herself well within reach of the young rider’s jersey, sitting in 4th spot in line. The race was over in less than three hours, 2 hours and 50 minutes.
The second stage was a short road race of 80km that rolled along a 5 loop course through narrow towns and blinding open cross wind roads along a lake. We rolled up to the starting line 20 minutes early, wasn’t earlier enough to get a good spot on the line though, there was only about 120 other girls in front of us waiting. We were already at the back and the race hadn’t started yet. In the first two km there was 6 or 7 turned where the neural start pace went from 40km an hour to almost a painful half track stand around the corners. Moving up was not going to be an option for me this time. There was only two crashed this race maybe three. One of the girls went down in the crash but bounced back up like a champ and finished the race and placed very well (after the race we had thought that she broke her ribs, but luckily it was just a bad bruise). I got dropped on some nasty cross wind guttering and ended up in the second group. This group was chasing to get back on the peloton. We were down to 20 second off the back, one of the Canadian girls that was with me in the group made a bold move with a couple others to chase back on. I cracked because I didn’t eat or drink anything in the race and didn’t finished well.
Third stage I will make this short…We got to the start line 40 minutes a head of time and we still were not in the very front. Two crashed in the first 1km, Canada had one girl in it, she broke where collarbone and is now on her way home to get surgery. Another mashed her face up and broke teeth from the USA. I got dropped hard and so did almost half the pack in the first 10 km. But a couple American girls on the national team and an HTC rider hauled ass and dropped half of us that where hanging on for dear life in the gutter. My race ended here, before the first feed zone at 26km sad isn’t it…. A few of us rolled on the front, then the cops told the commissionaires to pull all 40 of us cause they didn’t wasn’t to hold up traffic every though we were not time cut yet.
There was only one lone Canadian left in the race for the fourth stage the next day which she did amazingly well.
Now we are all ready to race again; we are heading back to wonderful Holland for another five days. We will tough it out, we picked ourselves up and brushed it off and are ready for round two.
Yup that’s how we roll