After winning Round 3 of the Wallonie Cup last weekend- where the organisers, athletes and spectators had been so kind, I committed to racing Round 4 in Cuesmes, just 100km from home. I had spent the whole week so excited about exploring another part of Belgium and secretly wanted to get some more cool action shots from the awesome photographers that seem to attend every race! Thanks guys and girls :) So after a morning rollers session watching the Cairns MTB World Cup on redbull.tv (a great way to gain motivation) I sat down to look at specifics for the day ahead, and read that the race was actually on yesterday!
|Anything goes in the Honda CRV! Shower when I'm dead…|
Photo courtesy 'selfie'
Shit. I had a thought that I might be able to make it to the Koga Cup in time, but I was too late for that as well. I sat around for two hours feeling like a ripe old idiot until Jarrod said that it's unlike my 'school teacher ways' to get the date wrong and that I should re-check it. Sure enough, the race started at 12:30pm… I looked at my watch- 10:45am. Well I've never moved so fast! I got dressed while Jarrod threw my bike into the Honda CRV and as I ran downstairs he asked me what the address was. My response- 'no idea, I couldn't find it on the net'.
I departed for Cuesmes, knowing I was at least headed in the right direction. Mum rang me from Australia in an attempt to direct me when I got to town, and with the help of a few local MTB'ers on a weekend cruise I found the event centre. They accepted a late entry for 'the Australian' and asked if I had my number plate, which I told them I had left at home. Truth be told I had signed it last week at Bastogne and given it to a guy who owns a bike shop in France for his 'wall of shame'. Ten euro later was lesson learnt lol
|I was in for a tough day at the office|
Photo courtesy Danny Zelck
So I rolled to the start while stuffing some food down my throat and straight into a cross country race. Firstly, it's not great practice to race a 120km UCI road race the day before a MTB race. And when you do, and you don't warm up, your legs won't want to join the party. In fact my head, heart and legs forgot to have the conversation where they discuss the pros and cons of such an idea and realise that it's stupid. But without stupidity, I wouldn't have been able to race such an awesome little track. It had the steepest of climbs which aren't my speciality, but was balanced out with some fast descents plus a few drops and jumps that I managed to tackle.
|I even got air a few times…|
Photo courtesy Ludo van der Put
For the first time in a long time I nailed the start and was happy to slide into second. I didn't know the course and I was happy to discover it for the first time on someone else's wheel. We had five laps to complete of a smoother yet more technical track than last week that would go down as my favourite so far in Europe. After 3 mins we started to climb up steady fire road and by the top I found myself keeping pace with Belgian MTB Champion Githa Michiels. Around the next corner was a short pinch and much to my dismay these types of climbs weren't 'one offs', the course was riddled with them. On the profile they were like sharp knives stabbing me in the back.
It did flatten out, but then after just 6 minutes I met my nemesis of the day. It was a near-on 3 minute climb that started off at 15% and maxed out at 25% and it seemed relentless. It started off a drag around some wooden stairs and gradually got steeper as the climb went on. I battled to the corner where it flattened out, and then looked ahead to see spectators grouped on rocks at the top. It hurt my neck to arch it that high, so you can imagine how it felt to try and ride. By the time I reached the final pinch through some loose dirt my legs were screaming and I had to resort to walking. Shame on me. Githa had climbed it like an animal, as had the girl behind which now saw me back in third.
|This is another climb on the circuit that I only rode 2 of 5 times!|
Photo courtesy Ludo van der Put
Things got worse for a while. I went the wrong way at some broken bunting and fell to fourth. And then washed out on a corner and slip down into a gully which saw me finish the first lap in fifth. The lead Master rider, who had started 2minutes behind, called 'track' to pass me at the 15 minute mark! I began to settle in and calm down and finally started to claw my way back. Up to fourth, then third, and eventually second. Then up another steep climb an U23 male rider knocked by handlebars and I had to walk again..back to third. When I finally got a clean run I rode into a comfortable second. I was descending well- loving being back behind the wheel of such a deadly machine, and lost all interest in trying to catch the leader, she was long gone.
|Three podiums from three starts! #dirtwiggler|
Photo courtesy Filip Francois
I went through some tough mental battles on the final lap to get over those pinches. I resorted to all sorts of things including using tress to propel myself up the hill. I only walked the once, up my nemesis. To my surprise, my lap times still only varied by 23 seconds. A miracle considering how I felt. But it was another great race to add to the palmares and puts me one step closer in my preparations for my first MTB World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic- one of my last selection races for the Commonwealth Games this year in Glasgow. But my next challenge is the Elsy Jacobs Tour in Luxembourg next weekend with Wiggle Honda. On the road again..
Results: Via Cuesmes B
Garmin Edge 510: Via Strava