February 4/04 10:03 am - World Cyclo-cross Championships: Final Race report
Posted by Editoress on 02/4/04
World Cyclo-cross Championships 2004 Race Report. Post Race Report and the Last Report
By Normon Thibault, Wendy Simms and Corey Piket
Cyclo-Cross; the fastest growing sport in Canada.
And in her 7th Cyclo-cross race of her life.......
Death or Glory
That is what Norm said to me as I left for the start of my first ever Cyclocross World Championships. But my race went something like "attempted glory-slow painful death and partial re-incarnation" I will try to explain.....Both Samantha and I started on the back row because we didn't have very many UCI points.
Norm, Corey and I had talked strategy and we agreed that I should start hard and try to get my butt as far up as possible in the 400m asphalt so I didn't get caught up in the pack. I knew most racers were taking the first turn wide so I practiced going tight. I imagined the start in my head over andover (actually in my head the rest of the pack crashed on the first corner and I held them off for the rest of the race..) I guess I should have done a little imagery on what my plan was after that opening sprint because I had a wicked start and managed to place myself about 5th after that first corner ("partial glory").
I took the turn tight as planned but found myself on some uneven ground so a few girls passed me-no problem. I had a great spot going into the first muddy uphill and was able to ride it when I knew a lot of girls back in the pack would have to run it. The crowd was going CRAZY!! They were screaming go Canada, Wendy, Surly. They were pinned up right against the barriers. I passed Norm & Corey in the pits and they were screaming at me because I was in 9th. I was sucking wind but trying to hang on.
And then....girls started picking me off because I had nothing left. I was even useless on the technical stuff which was supposed to be my best part. Just too fried to hold it together-I should remind you that this is about 5min into the race ("slow death"). My legs felt like lead. I got to the end of the lap and saw the girls riding what was supposed to be barriers-apparently they had taken them out for the women's race.......The first pack of girls was by me. The second and third laps weren't much better. I passed backwards through the chase group and more. I just couldn't hold onto anyones wheel. I tripped up a step, I got pinned against one of the barriers by a skinny girl from GB, I was in my granny gear way too much-it was quite pathetic.
The fans still cheered but now I could hear the sympathy in their cheers. By the fourth lap I was racing on my own and started riding again. I coasted less, I started standing on the flats, I could feel my legs. I wasn't making up much ground but at least I wasn't dead ("partial re-incarnation"). I even had the energy to fight off a couple attacks at the end of the race.
In the end I was 26th place almost 7mins back from the leader. I should have been happy but I was pretty disappointed. I wanted to do so well to prove Canada should be giving cyclocross more attention, I wanted to well for all the people that helped me get here, I wanted to do well because I had trained more than ever in my life. But I guess that will have to wait for next year........because I already have BIG plans. Cyclocross...the fastest growing sport in Canada and I already have a head start.
I really want to thank everyone that helped make this trip happen. Frontrunners and Malaspina University-College for fundraising a big chunk of the trip. Thanks to my sponsors Surly, Helly Hansen, eNVy, tufo, Frontrunners and Steed Cycles, my friends, family and colleagues for their support, Sean at CCA and my coach Houshang Amiri from Pacific Sport. But special thanks to Norm and Corey for helping me have one of the greatest trips of my life. I couldn't have done it without them and I wouldn't have wanted to. We are already planning next year.....
I can't finish this report without mentioning what Ewan calls "trainspotters". Trainspotters are European super fans. These super fans mill around the team areas and get autographs and stickers and badges. Apparently racers here have professional "cards" with a photo. The fans carry photo albums around with pictures of the riders and when they see a rider that they have a picture of they pull out their photo album and pull out the picture to get a signature. ALSO IF by chance they ask for a picture of a rider and the rider does not have any or is out of them the super fans pull out self addressed and stamped envelopes so that the rider can send them one when they get more....awesome!
They don't really care if you were first or last. It was good for the ego.
Ewan made up Samantha a few cards which went fairly rapidly. Wendy was making due with everything that she could find. Helly Hansen stickers, eNVy stickers, Canada flag stickers, her race number and even her socks.
After all the races were over a group of Spanish boys were cruising around trading their uniforms. Samantha, Corey and Wendy got into a HUGE trading fair with them. It was going fine until Corey started pulling out cash....then things turned to hell for the trading advantage. They had some sweet windstopper jackets to trade but the Canadian team tyvek type (crappy) parachute jackets just did not compare and they laughed at us. I mean they laughed at the jackets that the team had to wear.
Corey's Strange Stuff
Some times things happen that you have been told might happen but when they do you just can not believe it. Such is the case with our experience with the UCI official for Canada.
We were told by a friend that has raced for Canada at C-X worlds before we left that because the UCI holds meetings at the c-x world champs there would be a representative from Canada at all the UCI meetings but not to expect the person to come over and introduce themselves to us or to say hi to the only 5 people there from Canada or even to congratulate Wendy and Samantha for their races. We could not believe that this could be true but all weekend we did not see the Can. UCI person anywhere let alone down in the team area.
Wendy, Corey and I ended up in the VIP stands for the last lap of the Men's Elite race (where else would we be but in the VIP stands??). We were chatting and a lady next to us said bye to someone in English and we noted that she was wearing a UCI jacket.
I asked her if she was the Canadian representative, I had already seen the flag on her pass, she said yes and I swung my arms toward Norm and Wendy and said we're the Canadian team. I didn't mean to exclude Samantha but I was happy to see another Canadian. The UCI woman was the first Canadian we had met on this trip (the reason I call her the UCI woman was she never introduced herself).
I told her Wendy raced the women's race, nothing... no "way to go", nothing. Then I say "We need to get more Canadians over for the World Championships", we do have some strong male riders. She then replies "Well more Americans anyway". I took it to mean more North Americans but still said "No, more Canadians". I then fished for a comment toward funding but got no response.
She wasn't rude but she wasn't exactly friendly and I couldn't believe she didn't say anything to Wendy. Oh well, she started to talk to another person and then left. It sort of leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you can first see the way the UCI members are treated and then see the way the riders struggle to get by. I won't even go into the difference between our hotel and theirs. Let's just say that their Hotel had a Castle on the "grounds".
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...we came together as a people, a nation. Wait a minute this trip rocked! Considering the cyclocross bikes were bought just to be winter bikes. We have witnessed some f**king amazing races, met some super cool people and seen some classic European towns. Some tips for Canadians thinking about traveling to Europe:
France is closed on Wednesday.
All of Europe is closed between 12:00-1:00.
Weigh your apples at the florist counter.
Memorize your pin code for the bank machine if you use a word, the are no letters on the pad. This wasn't my problem and I won't mention names.
Bring lots of Canadian shwag to trade or give to people who help you out [Norm brought maple
It's way too late at night for this, please excuse this last report (1:00am Monday). I have already been drunk twice today. 1st on Belgium beer and 2nd on French Wine. The Belgians stormed into the pits with a convoy of trucks and riders and won gold in three out of four races. 1-2-3 in men's elite race. We are proud of Wendy and Samantha but the rest of Canada has to step up. The races in the U.S. are cool, lots of racers but here there are lots of racers with triple the amount of fans. Thanks to Norm and Wendy for bringing me along, and to Melissa for keeping things running at home. Say it with me: Cyclocross is the fastest growing sport in Canada!
One more note about the race organization. Really the race was awesome and the whole thing was run without a hitch what so ever. They had an army of people working on this thing. BUT it is really strange to walk by the UCI VIP tent (heated) and see huge banquets and tables set out so that any UCI or VIP can eat at any time they want with flowers on their table and then not even 100 meters away all the teams were in their portables with no heat, no lights and no electricity.....where is the love?
If you want to see pictures from our trip we will try to post a little slide show on frontrunners.ca under "Nanaimo" and "Race Reports" a little while after we get home.
Also I think Ewan is going to post some of his professional photos on his web site which is www.ewannicholson.ca
All photos are posted in Canadian Cyclist Daily News
Thanks to Don Moffat for posting these reports on the Frontrunners site and to Canadian Cyclist for posting them on their site.
Thanks to: ewan nicholson photography inc for posting these reports for us as we have had no access to the "World Wide Web".
Lastly if you EVER have the chance to go to a world championships for cyclo-cross take it. It is an experience not to be missed. We have had a truly amazing trip.
Why in Quebec stop signs say "arête" and stop signs in France say "stop"?
See you guys soon.