I arrived in Belgium at 8:30am CET. I was tired and stressed from being stuck in a tube with a bunch of sick people for 8 hours. I just wanted to get my bags and leave but I guess that just isn't how it was meant to be. I grabbed my luggage and wheel box at the baggage claim and waited anxiously for my bike box to arrive... it never did. I can't describe the feeling of dread a cyclist gets when he or she finds out their bikes are missing... After speaking to the airport officials I was informed that my bikes were still in the USA and would be flown over the following morning. Realizing there was nothing more to do, I went through security and into the pickup area of the Brussels airport. Maxx Chance -one of the other juniors on the National Team- was waiting for me and soon David Lombardo (another Junior) and Marc Gullickson (the MTB and CX program director for USAC) arrived. We drove to USA Cycling's house in the Netherlands and got settled in. Thanks to Tom Segers I was able to get my bikes the next day.
Once race day came around on Sunday, I was a little nervous. But excited! I had pre rode the course Saturday. It was very hard, hilly, and technical.
For this one race, my UCI points from nationals last year would count so I had a second row start. In Europe instead of counting down till the start, there is a light. at any time it can flash from green to yellow. It's a very nerve racking and intense way to start... and all the more nerve racking for me this time. As I start, the rider next to me swerves and his pedal jams into my spokes, stopping me just when I desperately need to be going! When I hit the first corner, I was dead last out of 64 people.
The rest of the race was a game of catch up. I wasn't really feeling fast, so most of the ground I made up was in the technical sections, of which there were plenty. It was a game of put your head down and go. I crossed the line 32nd place, a disappointing four and a half minutes behind the winner. Maxx took 27th and David 35th.
Later I enjoyed some great rides, and got to visit my 5th country, Germany!
Big thanks to Patricia for the excellent photo, Tom for all the help,
HED Cycling, Apex Physical Therapy, Challenge tires, Enzo's Cycling Products, Lazer Helmets, Cuore of Switzerland, the Thirsty Pagan, the Skihut, Intelligentsia Coffee, Focus Bikes, and my newest sponsor, Honey Stinger!