I had my first euro race on Saturday - a 78km kermesse in Belgium. It was fun and I didn't get dropped, and we won beer, which made it a good day all round. Actually, it was a lot more fun than I'd anticipated. I made all the girls afterwards pose for a picture so I could prove to everyone back home that I wasn't just drinking beer and discovering spiritualism on some big adventure overseas. (Although I'd be lying if I said I didn't drop a prayer or two before race start.) What made it a top day for me was how well the girls looked out for me and and talked me through the whole race. They've all been racing overseas a lot longer than I have and have been so generous with sharing their experience. It's a big learning curve but that day just made me feel wow, it's going to be AWESOME.
Regulation 5.4.1 of the Belgian Cycling Federation race rules states that race sign on must take place in a pub and that all spectators must be able to blow at least 0.09 by race end
The next day we raced the GP de Beauraing, which also happened to be the regional championship of Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium. It was the equivalent of a state championship in oz. The race was 10 laps of a 9km circuit... which actually turned out to be 9 laps when they rang the bell one lap too early, but no one was complaining. It was a tricky little course that reminded us a lot of the Australian road nationals course - a climb followed by a tight narrow descent. I lost both my bidons on some potholes in the first 2 laps and there was no feeding until the 7th lap. For the weight weenies out there (you know who you are), yes this represented a significant weight advantage when going uphill in the first part of each subsequent lap. For my part, I was quite grateful when Beth, the AIS soigneur, handed me a bidon on the 7th lap which managed to stay in the cage where I had put it.
But the best part of the GP de Beauraing was that Spratty won it. It was an amazing solo effort that saw her break away in the first third of the race (at about the point where I was chomping stem and getting yelled at in Flemish), then ride her breakaway companion off her wheel on a bike that she later discovered had its front skewer undone. Her victory salute (the Kangaroo) was pure gold and if I can track down a photo I'll post it here. Then Kirsty won the bunch sprint for 3rd. So it was a good day for team AIS.
Supercoach Dave McPartland talks race tactics
We are here in Leuven, Belgium, until Sat.Our next race is on Fri night, then on Sat we pack up and head to France for a 2-day tour on Sun/ Mon. Then back to Italy for a gelati refuel.
Above left: Race faces ON!
Above right: We painted the cars so that we knew which ones were ours
Above left: Varese by moonlight
Above right: Pizza night in Varese
Ok, that's enough from me for now. Ride happy.