Canadian Cyclist


January 26/05 5:48 am - Report from Europe: Getting There!, `Cross races, Prep for World's

Posted by Editoress on 01/26/05

World Cyclocross Trip 2005

Part One: “Lowered Expectations”
by Normon Thibault

Everyone knows that getting onto a plane to leave on a trip is one of the biggest battles. When you are traveling with 3 people, 3 bikes, 5 sets of wheels, 3 HUGE gear bags…..well we all knew it was not going to be easy. Surprisingly it was not as hard as we thought as we arrived to our beloved YVR after making a trip on the 7:45 Duke point to Tswassen, traveling out to White Rock to pick up my dad who would be taking care of our training partner, Marty, and our house, popping in to Helly Hansen to say “hi” and pick up some Fall 2005 Prototype jackets to block out the elements in Europe and then onto the Airport. Our travel agent had booked us highly anticipated upgrades with our Air Canada certificates but checking in at the Air Canada counter for the flight operated by Lufthansa (in small print) we were informed that our certificates would be invalid and we would all be in “economy”. This was the start of the theme of the first part of our trip; ”Lowered Expectations”.

We soon found the second supporting event for the theme when Corey was denied entrance into the Air Canada Lounge with his special certificate, again because it was an Air Canada flight (in small print…operated by Lufthansa).

Returning to Europe one year later to race cross has been on the forefront of my mind since we left 50 weeks ago. It has gotten under my skin and I can not say that I have gone a week without thinking about it. Our trip would be a little different this year with Corey and I planning on doing 2 races back to back on the first weekend (Mol, Belgium Masters World Championships then a Masters race in Wiljrik, Belgium). Wendy also had two races planned “to warm up her legs”. The first one a UCI race in Heerlen, Netherlands and then the second one a World Cup (that isn’t a world cup except for elite men?...screwy UCI) in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. IF we timed everything well Wendy would be able to catch the end of our race on the Saturday and Corey and I would be able to work the pits for Wendy on Sunday. It was going to be tight!

Also different would be the number of Canadians over here. Last year it was just Wendy, Samantha racing worlds with Corey, Ewan and Myself doing support, managing, coaches, mechanics, drivers and planners. This year there has been a number of Canadians over racing cross through the winter. Peter Toth came over with his family for a “vacation” and to race the Masters Worlds. David Coughlin, Benoit Simard, Bruno Lafontaine, have been here since December. David is still here (somewhere). Racing local races and then worlds are Greg Reain and Peter Morse. Joining Wendy on the girls team is Tara Ross and Samantha will be returning just before worlds. Also another SOMEONE (a junior) will be here to race Worlds. The crew is also larger, with every one of them paying their own way to help out, myself and Corey with 5 others and a mechanic. Managing us all will be Kris Westwood from CCA.

Part 2: First Races

by Wendy Simms
After I dropped the boys off for their race in Mol and left Corey puking in the parking lot (his stomach didn’t like the order of his breakfast: chocolate-meat & cheese-pastries-egg) I had to find my way to Heerlen. Anyone who knows me is aware that I am navigationally challenged and perpetually 5mins late. Mapquest directions said the drive would take me 1hour and I had 55mins to get to registration. Of course I was late for registration (after surprisingly few wrong turns) but I shouldn’t have worried so much because no one really cared about the women’s race…..I got my number and put my spare wheels in the pit. Easy to locate as it was the only single set of wheels in the pit-everyone else had at least one spare bike and I am pretty sure a few people were laughing at me as I left.

Thirteen girls lined up at the start-not a lot but I heard Sabine Spitz called to the line (bronze medal at the Olympics this summer), Marianne Vos from NED and I recognized at least one other face from 2004 Worlds. Fellow Canadian Tara Ross was there and Barb Howe from the US. I had a rockstar start, first or second off the line-way too fast for someone who hasn’t raced for 2 months. I fell in behind a girl from the Netherlands and we had a small gap on the pavement. I thought I would settle in but then we hit the mud. The mud here was thick and slick. One of the volunteers was bragging about how it had a special kind of clay that is only found here and in China. I couldn’t seem to go anywhere in it. I was grinding through the bog but the other girls were moving faster and moving past me. The course was mostly mud with a few pavement sections in between. There was three run-ups one right after another with the last one having monster steps that were hard for even me who feels like a giant female cyclist at 5’10. In my own pain I had time to feel sorry for Tara who is shorter. I started to think I should have done more running….I got dropped almost immediately and was riding on my own for awhile. A couple of girls passed me and I tried to stay on their wheel but I couldn’t match them in the mud. I would catch and even pass them on the paved sections but eventually dropped off their radar on the last lap. The crowd would just look at me as I passed them. I got a few (drunken?) cheers on the last run up from some Belgians (who I thanked) but other than that just hundreds of eyes watching you suffer. The Euros are fanatic about their winners and I wasn’t one of them. I wanted to be put out of my misery but then I flatted right after the pit. I didn’t want to trash Norm’s Reynolds Stratos wheels so I had to run the longest 400m of my life. At least I got a few sympathy cheers at the finishing stretch. 9th place out of 13 girls, 5+ mins behind the leader Sabine Spitz, a stupidly fast start, doubts about my mud skills and screaming legs – I was pretty bummed. That is until they gave me my 50 euro appearance fee and 20 euro prize money and then I started to look at it as the race to get all the crap out of my system. Lots to think about while I was trying to find my way back to Mol……….late as per usual….

by Corey

Yes, I believe Norm got it right with lowered expectations. I was excited about being back in Europe but nervous about racing after missing the last half of the cyclocross season due to injury. Our season is too short to start with. It doesn’t matter, I just love being part of this trip. It was cool racing the Mol course because it didn’t change much from last year. A good way to reference past experiences. As Wendy said my stomach wasn’t reacting well to something, I think eating a boiled egg after a huge pastery filled with custard and topped with chocolate is a very bad idea. Oh well, Norm had a good race. By the way Mol is sand, sand and sand!

Norm’s Race Report
When you have a race that you don’t do so well at it sometimes burns inside of you. Such is the burn that I have felt since my first race at the world c-x champs last year. I have thought about that race almost every day. It has motivated me to do tough workouts. To get out there and train when you would rather be sitting on the couch. Even double workouts on Christmas day.

Sometimes factors that effect the race are totally out of your control….

5 minutes before the start of my race in Mol, after warming up with no problems for 1 hour, my bike started to skip gears on the rear cassette. I checked the derailleur adjustment and played with the barrel adjuster but I could not fix it. I would just have to live with it skipping. (I later found out that the free hub body was unthreading from the hub and that is why nothing would work).

The second factor that was out of our control was at the roll up. They have a good system where they pick a “random” number and then call up from there. The random number they drew was 21. I was number 15 and Corey was 20. SO I was 5th from last of 44 starters and Corey was dead last. In some races this would not matter so much but in this race the first selection is made 300 meters in at a 100 meter DEEP sand section followed by beach, more sand, single track, and more sand before your first passing area.

Like almost all c-x races the race started at warp factor 5. The next 40 minutes were a blur of clunking gears, blurry vision, sand, NO cheers (with the exception of from Peter) and an average HR of 181 and a max of 194. I was totally pumped to not get passed by anyone in my age group during the whole race but was passed by 2 guys in the lower age group with 2 laps to go and then everyone finishes on the finishing lap of the leaders…in this case the lower age group. I was really happy to not get lapped by anyone in my group but was bummed to again not finish all the laps. Wendy found us as we were washing the bikes having missed our race. We had a quick chat with Peter and I grabbed the results on the way back to the van. I was in shock as I ended up in the exact same finishing spot as last year; 26th despite all the training, experience and effort. Better performance….same result….hence the finishing touch on part 1 of our trip; “Lowered Expectations”.

Onto Hoogerhide and day 2 of racing.

Results from our races can be found HERE
Using the pull down menu to locate each race.

Thanks to Frontrunners in Nanaimo, Brodie Bikes and HELLY HANSEN for your help and support.


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