Posted by Editoress on 12/10/10
This November, Canadian 'cross racer Shaun Adamson decided to try his hand at cyclo-cross in the home of the sport: Belgium. His first race was the extremely difficult Koksijde World Cup (November 27th), and he has been racing ever since. Shaun sent us a report on his experiences to date:
Koksijde was tough!! Why do I keep picking the hardest races to do?!? Just pre-riding the course on Friday wasn't easy. We were driving in to the course on what seemed like a beautiful, sunny day, until we got almost to the course and the clouds got darker and the snow started falling. As we rode the course, it started hailing, so I cut my inspection at two laps, washed my bike, got some warm clothes on, and got the heck out of there!
The conditions for the race on Saturday were actually pretty good, just cold. I got to check out the course a few more times and it was still hard. There was lots of sand, lots of running, lots of remounting in the sand, lots of steep little hills that I was about two pedal strokes from making, and one tough mud section.
I started at the back - 1 UCI point might get you on the front row of a B race, but not at a World Cup. I almost like it though, because I was able to make up a whole bunch of spots at the beginning, running around people in the bottlenecks. I was having fun, feeling like I was riding pretty well. I was riding lots of the sand, but the mud section was really killing me. I just kept trying to stay on the gas, accelerating hard out of all the corners and just going as hard as I could. Unfortunately, I only got to race three laps before I was pulled with the 80% rule. Report, results and photos
Shaun at Koksijde
It was a little bit tough to get motivated to go to this B race after doing the World Cup the day before, but it was only 30 minutes away, so off we went. It was cold, but not raining. My arm hurt really bad, I had developed some tendinitis for some reason and getting dressed was incredibly painful. I think if I hadn't already paid my money, I wouldn't have started. But I took some ibuprofen and went on my way. It didn't actually hurt so bad when I was actually riding.
The course was pretty simple. A nice single track section through the trees, a muddy run-up, some road, a HUGE muddy slog run (we figured at least 100m) through ankle-deep mud followed by another steep muddy run-up. Then there was lots of rutted, slippery switchbacks in a cornfield ... typical Vlaamse Cyclo-cross Cup race. There were 86 guys on the start line today! Crazy!
I got called up to the front row again and had a good start down the really long road. I went into the first corner and muddy running section in about 15th. I was happy with that. I held my own on the run and the next road section, but slipped on the first cornfield switchback and lost a bunch of spots. From then I basically rode in the same place. I lost a few spots in the first half, but started picking guys off in the last half of the race. The best part of today was actually getting to race for 60 minutes! I really felt myself come around after 30 minutes or so, I felt like I actually got to push myself. I rolled in 32nd. Not too bad. Happy with how I rode, but still room for improvement.
Thanks again to Hans et al. for all your support! You are awesome and I couldn't do it without you! Results
It's becoming a theme that I don't really want to race in the mornings and I don't like it. But when Gregg told me that nobody was holding a gun to my head, it hit me why I'm in Belgium: that I'm in Belgium, and that I'm going to race my bike in Belgium! Why else would I be spending all this money and move away from my friends and family?!? It was cold and blowing snow, but nothing that training in Edmonton winters hasn't prepared me for!
If the course in Drongen was straight forward, then I don't even know how to describe this one. Simply course tape switchbacking through frozen, snowy, cornfields, a couple short road sections, and only one tiny short run. The simplicity of the course certainly didn't detract from its difficulty, however.
I didn't have Hans there today, as he was at home in the Netherlands and I really noticed that I didn't have that person there to help me. Luckily, I didn't need to pit, and I got some nice people to at least take my bike and wheels down there for me. At the start I didn't have anyone to give my clothes to, so I was asking some random guy and as I was doing that, the commissaire told me to give them to him. I think all those guys are getting to know me and like me ... "The Canadian."
I had a good start, sitting just on the back of the lead group for the first lap. The gaps weren't opening super fast with the tight, icy switchbacks, but they would eventually. I settled in to a battle with a couple guys for most of the race. I was riding one section better than the guy just in front of me and on the second last lap I pushed it just a little bit harder and slipped on some ice; I lost him and the guy behind me came around. I went as hard as I could on the last lap to try and bring them both back, but couldn't quite do it. I came in 21st, just out of the money again... Results
I am definitely becoming more and more Belgian, as this race was only an hour and a half away, practically a home course in North America, but I was complaining about having to drive so far to a race ... There were no other options, so off I went. The rain had washed away most of the snow, but who knows what the course would look like. It was a lot of single track through the forest with a sandy base, roots and stumps sticking out, and slippery mud. I have to admit I was a little sketched out. As I went for my second warmup lap, turning the screws just a little bit I found myself out of control and through the tape on one descent. On the next descent I had a bit too much speed again and went down, awkwardly twisting and/or hitting my right knee. It took me a minute to get up and a few more to catch my breath. After riding around easy for a bit to see if I was going to be able to ride, the pain continued. I couldn't put any pressure on the pedals and it really hurt to stand up and pedal hard, so I opted to return my number and just head home. I couldn't even make anything of the day, as it was Sunday and everything was closed. So three hours of driving and maybe 30 minutes of riding was all I did on that Sunday.
My knee is quite a bit better now and I've actually been able to get some good training in this week. I am doing what I can do be ready for the Christmas races, including the Kalmthout and Zolder World Cups. I'm hoping for some solid rides and to make everybody at home proud. Thanks to my sponsors, family, and friends for all the incredible support! I certainly wouldn't be here without you!
Team & Coaching: Cycle-Smart
Bikes: Van Dessel
Clothing: Verge Sport
Thanks for all your support!
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