Canadian Cyclist


January 24/04 12:45 pm - Report from Belgium

Posted by Editoress on 01/24/04

Wendy Simms, Norm Thibault and Corey ? are racing `cross in Europe. Wendy in preparation for the World Championships on January 31 and February 1st in Pont-Chateau, France. Norm and Corey rode today's Master's World Championships in Zilvermeer, Belgium.

The trio have been sending reports of their adventures - on and off the bikes. Below is today's acount.

JANUARY 24th. 1st Race Day: World Masters C-X Championships

Poor Cory. The people at Air Canada in Paris are useless. His bike was in Paris on Thursday morning (supposedly....) and was to be couriered out to our hotel in Belgium arriving Sat afternoon at our hotel-too late for his big race but at least he would have it. Friday night the story changes-couriers dont work weekends and it wont be shipped out until Monday arriving who knows when.......

He went to the local bike shop in Hoogstraten this morning and talked to our new buddy Frank (the owner) who said he would help us out if we were in a bind. Frank arranged to borrow his friends CX bike and set it up for Cory so he could race-all he wanted to do was race in Belgium at the Masters World Championships. Is that so wrong?

Meanwhile I was pre-riding the superprestige course in 1C rain freezing my butt off trying to learn how to ride sand. It seemed wierd that no one else was around but some local kids said the whole town awould be out this afternoon to check out the course. I guess Belgians take it easy Sat mornings. The course wasnt quite set up but the word of the day will be SAND. I guess I will be doing a lot of running.....

I headed home and ran into Corey and Norm coming back from the bike shop. I guess the cold, lack of food and sleep hit me because I just about blacked out and had to take the meat wagon home and get helped up the stairs...not good. After I ate I was better and we packed up for Mol. Picked up the VITUS bike for Cory and headed to the race course.

When we got there it was pretty amazing to see the 50-60 year olds ripping it up on the course. Some of them were FAST! Others were taking it easy in their old school jean Carerra jerseys. The sign-on was a room filled with smoke and one part of the course had so many smokers you could smell it even outside. The 40-50 year olds were next and the start was chaos!! A crazy 400m road sprint right into the corner that opened into two 100 m deep sand sections. The first few guys rode it but then the crashes started. The backlog started right away. Next was Cory and Norms race so I will pass it off to him.....

But first a few NOTES from both Wendy and Norm:
Frituur shops are everywhere. Belgian fries are on the menu Sunday night after my race-apparently they come with mayo and a few other sauces.

Belgian people have pretty decent English and have been really helpful and nice Apparently they play pool with 3 balls and no pockets????????????

Big church in the center of every town at the center of "the RING". No matter how hard we try we just cant roll our RRRRRRRRs like the Belgians must be genetic Belgium chocolate is SUPERIOR! (but of course I would NEVER eat any prior to competition.....ya right).

Someone asked me for directions while I was riding this morning. When they figured out that I did not speak Flemmish she burned away disgusted.

E-mailing you guys back home is equivalent of smoking about 20 cigarrettes.....we are all developing smokers coughs. Not many dogs here....we miss Marty.

Norm's Report
I thought that 13 hours of sleep on Thursday night was going to get me back on track. Went to bed at 11:00 on Friday night for a good night sleep. At 3:00AM I was wide awake and could not fall back a sleep. At 5:00 I pulled the iPOD out and started listening to music.....waiting for Wendy and Cory to wake up......

The race. First of all the guy who won our category was a Belgium guy with a HUGE gut in a skinsuit. He SCHOOLED us. It was crazy to watch him ride SO fast. AND I did get to watch him as he lapped me on my 6th lap of 7.

BUT first of all let me tell you the start was psyco! I started on the second line and by the first sand section I looked back and was 2nd to last. I am usually a good starter. Wendy's back up Surly (Black Stealth) rode well on the course but I was just getting bogged down in the sand each lap. I was able to pick off a few guys but did not have my usual getting stronger type of ride. It was totally cool to think half way through the race that back in October Wendy, Cory or myself did not even have cyclocross bikes nor had we ever done a race before and now we were all in Belgium getting murdered by the gods of the sport (some with beer guts). That thought made me smile...then I lost control of my bike again....MUST concentrate.

I ended up finishing 25th with my body hurting like a mo fo. Ribs were smashed the day before crashing on pre-ride and now they hurt with every 2nd hand smokers/post race cough. A little bummed to finish a lap down so I finished my last un-official lap solo as they were ripping down the course. Still did not get the sand section!

CorEy's Report (Wendy and Norm screwed CorEy out of his "e" on the last reports)

What a morning, Wendy went out in the nastiest weather for a ride while Norm and I went to search for a bike for me to race. Wendy had offered me her Pink Surly but after seeing the course the day before I was afraid of destroying it. Way too much sand!!

We have found the coolest bike store in Belgium behind a guy's houseand the nicest guys. When we were having troubles finding a room they were going to put us up. We did find a hotel but I was back to beg for a loaner bike. After a few phone calls Frank, the owner found me one. He raced off right away to get it and have it ready in just over an hour. Why is it, it always seems like you have lots of time before a race and then you're on the start line without your number and not quite as warmed up as you would like to be?

The start went well even though I was totally dreading it. A hundred metres, 90 degree turn and then more sand than Waikiki. I should of listen to Frank at the bike store and changed the tires but how bad could they be? Very bad! I was sliding out on most corners and wasting energy, which was at a premium. One hour a week of training doesn't cut it in Belgium.


After trying to get back on and totally suffering, especially after the sand run, the sandy popper and then a straight of way lined with Belgium fans smoking like chimmneys, I was done. Lungs filled with smoke, I was lapped by some of the 30-35's and dry heaving at the top of the run up on the third lap. Race over and very disappointed.

Norm had a bad start but finished well. I met some really cool Americans from SantaCruz and some friendly Dutch guys. I can't wait Wendy's Super Prestige race tomorrow and of course next year's Masters World Champs. See ya from Corey.


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