It was a fabulous weekend of racing on the coast of Belgium. As one of the last hit outs before Rio where a large number of the athletes would be taking part, it was great to see where my training is at. We had the largest contingent of trike riders in both the Men and Women T2. 21 Men and 8 Women, so it is great to see the categories growing!
The weekend started off with the Time Trial on Friday. The course was used for both the TT and the Road Race, was very flat, very technical at the start and very windy! I can’t stress enough about the technical and the wind. It was an 8.35km course that had 14 turns in it and most of them in the first couple of km’s! During the TT the wind was a tail wind for 2.3km straight out by the airport and then we turned around and had 2.3km into a full on head wind. At one point my fastest speed was just over 42km/hr on the way out and could only sit on 25km/hr coming back! With 2 laps it was not a nice thing to think we had to do it all over again after that 1st lap!
But in the end I ended up winning the TT by 2:01 minutes, over Jill Walsh (USA) and Jana Majunke (GER).
Saturday we woke up to a bit nicer day and when I walked outside found the wind had subsided a bit. How wrong was I, it had just changed direction!!! And what an amazing race the Road Race was.
The T2 Men and Women were to start together and usually when this happens they call up the World Champions first, World Cup point leaders etc and then the rest of the field and with 29 trikes on a technical, narrow street course I worried that it was going to be carnage. But problems occurred from before the start!
When we were all waiting to sign on the commissaires didn’t have a sign on list for the T2 Women, so sent all the men to the start line. At that point some of the coaches and I were very vocal about getting us to the start. So they wrote our numbers down, we signed and they sent us after the guys. With about 2 min to go we got to the start line, albeit behind the guys. So the Hannah Dines (GBR),Jill Walsh (USA) and I tried to squeeze up the side. Then we were off.
At the very first corner a new Greek guy completely lost control, cut in front of me, hit the barrier and flipped. I slammed my brakes on but ended up hitting him (luckily I didn’t come off) and ran over his front wheel. In actual fact I think I got stuck on it. A few “shit, shit, shit’s” later and I extracted myself off his trike and was now completely at the back of the pack. I couldn’t even see any of the other girls. So off I went in search!
I finally started passing some of the slower women, then I caught up to Hannah and then I could see Jana Manjunke (GER) ahead but not Jill until a number of corners later. By the time we came to the end of the technical part I could see Jill and was able to get on to her back wheel, with Jana behind me. The guys eventually dropped us and then one guy came up beside us and we jumped on his back wheels and that was the way it stayed for the first 2 laps. He wasn’t really happy with that and kept trying to get rid of us, but we were going nowhere!
Into the 3 and final lap I was still behind Jill and on the 3rd corner the male rider on the front hit the barrier and Jill hit him and flipped, she had no where to go. At that point I thought “GO” and took off and decided I had to Time Trial the last lap. I think that was when I hit my max of 497 watts! At the turn around I saw Jana probably 500 meters behind me and Jill a little further back than that. So I dug deep and continued on. Today there was no tail or head wind but a cross wind through the whole course! So no respite at all. I then turned right on to the finishing straight and just tried to hammer it. Jill was able to catch Jana and was 1:05 behind me at the line with Jana 4 seconds behind her.
It was probably the most exciting race I have ever been in but I’m not sure my old body can handle that much excitement!!! I am a bit tired now.
With presentations to go we all headed to the area and I must say the gifts they give you here in Belgium is lovely and may not make it home….Belgium chocolate! I promise Russ I will try to keep a box for you!
We leave Belgium tomorrow to head to Austria for the Upper Austria Tour where I will have 3 more races but with a much smaller field, although I will get to race with the men… always good training!