It's been an awesome trip but today didn't continue the upward trajectory from yesterday's result at Heerlen. Oostmalle was quite different - twisty and mtb-y, with a lot of sand. I felt confident at practice but at race pace things just didn't click. Sanne Cant won, followed by Niki Harris, Loes Sels 3rd (she came in behind me yesterday in 7th), Ellen Van Loy then Helen Wyman. I was a fair way down the field - not what I was hoping for but a good lesson in the breadth of skills required to be a complete CX rider.
Today wasn't my day but I'm leaving Belgium with a heap of new skills, new friends and a heap of motivation for the next 12 months. Thank you to Christian & Hilde from Hof Ter Kammen -my new home away from home - Dirk & Leslie for all their help at races and everything in between, Maurice the masseur, Bruce my skills training partner, and all the rad people who have made my stay so enjoyable. And a special thank you to the Supercoach, who flew in to watch my last race and always has my back, no matter how crazy my ideas are.
Thank you everyone for your encouraging words and support from afar. Racing here is challenging- I'm always out of my depth, my body is covered in bruises (I mean COVERED) and each race is an exercise in resilience and humility. You don't have to tell me how big the job is to be competitive at this level - I'm well aware - but in two days' time I'll be back in the office and this whole caper will be another world away again, replaced by heels, power suits and early morning ergos, and I'll be dreaming of the next time I can come back and do it all again.
I'm lucky to be able to do what I love, both at work and on the bike, but it's only possible with a great team around me. So as always, thank you to all the A-team - you know who you are - and to Rapha, Focus, health.com.au, Swiss Eye, FMB, SRAM, Kask, Perfect Pilates.
*Photo by Jong de Jong