Monday, December 24, 2012

The first race: Namur, Belgium

After being in Belgium for a couple of days, it was time to race. At five 'o clock, eight bleary juniors stumbled from their beds and began the process of preparing for the first race. For some of them, like me, it was the biggest race yet. I had packed everything the night before, so I started by making breakfast for my self and trying to get my head wrapped around the fact I was going to race against a world level competitive field on arguably the hardest cross course on the circuit.

Three hours later, we walk out of the car having arrived at the course. It's on top of a huge hill in the middle of town, the site of a old fort. Everything is sloped, especially the windy road that brought us to the top. My state of mind turns from a surreal, anxious anticipation to a sort of frantic, hyperactive state of overdrive. Things run through my mind at high speed. Gotta get my bib, do I have my passport? Don't lose the passport. Get your number. Find somebody to pin you number! Quickly, it's time to ride! Get your bike. Dial the pressure. Find some to to ride with. Get on the course. No one is taking care of you now, there is no room for error.

It's just now getting light now at 8:30 in Belgium. I race at ten, so it's time to ride the course. I know this course has a lot of hills and a lot of drops, but I am unprepared for the sheer audacity of its blatant brutality of it. You start up a cobbled climb about a minute and a half long and shift into a down hill/technical section. You go past the pits, then drop off the edge of the world. Then you do it again. And again. And again. With a nasty off camber and the mother of all run ups. I opt to ride my HED Ardenne wheels with Challenge Limus tires. The aluminum braking surface was braking much better and the wheels were solid enough to take hits from the numerous rocks on the course and the tires were the highest traction I had. They hooked up perfect!

I will admit, I was scared for the start of the race. The course was insane, but the real thing was I didn't know what to expect... I didn't know how fast everyone was going down the hills, or up them. I was pretty nervous when I lined up, the last out of thirty to be called up.

The start was going ok until I tried to pass some one up the gutter. It was cobbled and wet so my real wheel skidded. I was dead last up the first hill. I raced hard though and despite losing four spots, finished 11th. Logan and Curtis had great races with first and second place! Congrats to them and thanks to Geoff, Jim, Dave, and all the other Eurocamp staff.

There is a ton of awesome pictures of the race by Tom at:

Tom Robertson Photos of Namur HERE

1 comment:

  1. Good story Josey, you are living and experiencing the rigors of bike racing at the highest level. Way to ride yourself back into the race and learn from your experiences.

    The risk / reward factor is always there. It is how you deal with it that will make one successful. Jeff always disliked the starts at the national and international races...they were always crazy, elbow to elbow and insanely fast. That's racing.

    Good Luck and Happy New Year.