After spending two weeks training in Spain, Kerry, my dad, and I headed back to Belgium. (We practically had to drag my dad away; his new routine was going for a run in the morning and then sitting outside in the sun drinking wine that was cheaper than water in the afternoon). That weekend I was only racing on Saturday because I was not racing the World Cup Sunday in Hoogerheide. So, on Saturday, we loaded up and drove to Zonnebeke. It was raining that morning, so I was excited about the possibility of a muddy race. Pre riding the course revealed it was fairly muddy and slick. The race began and I actually had a pretty good start! Also, the course had become way muddier than when I prerode. This was good for me because I generally prefer muddy, power races and my legs felt so good! I had my best result in Belgium, finishing 16th! Later on in the day, after Kerry’s race, I got to meet another beagle! The beagle this time was Dieter Vanthourenhout’s. He brought him to the race just so I could meet him! This beagle was huge compared to Sherman, about twice the size. After I was done petting the beagle and giving it kisses, we headed back to the Chainstay.
I didn’t race the World Cup the next day and then Wednesday we flew to Denmark to cheer Kerry on at Worlds. My mom and aunt came over to spectate with my dad and I as well. We toured Copenhagen on Friday and then spent Saturday and Sunday spectating. I also rode to the venue both days and it was lovely; curving back little roads that also went right by the coast at times.
We flew back to Belgium on Monday and I was excited to race Wednesday since I felt so great at Zonnebeke. The race was in Maldegem and had a ton of tricky sand sections. I enjoyed preriding the course and was ready to race. I had even prerode some of the course behind Sanne Cante and made it on Belgian TV creeping around following another rider who was following her. The race began and on the first lap I hopped back on my bike and my seat flew down. I felt like I was riding a clown bike and must have looked ridiculous. I practically had to do an entire lap until I got to the pits. I changed bikes and moved up many places but then ended up hopelessly in no man’s land. I still finished on the lead lap but was not thrilled with my result.
The following weekend I had two races left in Lille and Hoogstraten. Saturday in Lille was fairly flat and fast with a lot of turns and some sand but pretty dry. I did not have a good start and moved up some but it just wasn’t a great race for me either physically or mentally. However, I was ready to leave everything I had left out there the next day for my last race in Belgium.
It rained Saturday night and continued drizzling Sunday. I rode the course and was very excited about the mud and the amount of off camber, technical sections. I was determined to have a good start and be reasonably aggressive. I had a decent start for me and tried to keep moving up. I felt like I raced much better this day and was happy to finish the season off with a better race. I was about midpack in a field of 60 racers and finished on a lead lap!
Monday and Tuesday my dad, Kerry, and I went sight-seeing in Amsterdam. We were originally supposed to go home on Wednesday but the Brussels airport went on a 24 hour strike. So instead we headed home Thursday which wasn’t really a problem except it meant one more day without our beagle. I am so excited to see Sherman; Kerry and I have missed him so much. I have always been so surprised when people ask me for Sherman’s rider cards over in Belgium. He is practically famous! (definitely more famous than Dieter’s beagle or Thibau Nys’ beagle). I packed a lot of the Belgian essentials to take back home; chocolate, Stroop waffles, and pearl sugar. I plan on perfecting liege waffles and need the pearl sugar to do so.
I would like to thank the Amy D Foundation and all of the supporters of the foundation. This entire season has been wonderful, and Europe topped it off! It would never have been possible without all of you. I am really fortunate to get to “live the dream” racing the sport I love so much full time. I am so excited for next year; already planning what I want to do the same and differently, with new ideas on how to improve. I have really enjoyed racing in Belgium and I think what I have learned will help me so much racing back in the US next year. I also hope to come back to Belgium to race. I understand now how and why Amy D moved to Belgium. Everyone is just so passionate about the sport and I just never can get over how big cyclocross is over here. The energy and excitement is contagious!
Photo cred: katsu tanda
Next up for me on the calendar, is a dessert festival in 2 weeks where I’ll be a vendor. Once I get home it will be time for me to start baking! (good thing I won’t be riding for a week or so)