All photos by Joe Sales
Having suffered from an unusually large amount of snow in January our national championships were postponed until this weekend. In some ways it was a good thing as it was more about holding a peak from worlds rather than racing in the middle of a hard training block. I also had the penultimate round of the Gazet Van Antwerp in Lille, Belgium the day before.
Not wanting to miss out on either race as both are important in different ways I just handed the itinerary to my logistics manager, who is also my mechanic, 2nd soigneur and husband, who sorted it all out. Just one of the many reasons I married him.
So on Saturday we set off in crystal clear blue skies to Lille, near Antwerp. By the time we got there, it was cold and misty….very Belgian. I had completely forgotten how fun the course was, with lots of sand sections and trails in the woods. It was Reza Hormes birthday and so the entire field sang what I can only think is a strange Dutch version of happy birthday led by Daphny Van Den Brand on the start line, very surreal. A few of the girls had hoped that I wouldn’t turn up which would improve everyone’s place in the overall, as I was informed by the organisers who were somewhat surprised I was there. No more surprised than one of the Belgium riders who asked me if I knew the championships were on that weekend.
Straight after the race Stef and Jurgen did the bikes and I went to find the showers so we could keep to the schedule and by 2.30pm (45 mins after I finished) we were back on the road. By 8pm we were in our hotel room in Birmingham watching some lottery game show on TV. If I could hire my husband out as a logistics manager I would make millions.
A lot of people had told us that the course for nationals was pretty simple with some drags and not very muddy. They were right. After a few laps on it in the morning I pretty much had it dialled in. The race went better than planned and I managed to get a safe gap early on and gradually increased it. Poor Gabby had a blow out after only 800 metres making her ride even more impressive as she got back to just 10 metres from 2nd place.
It’s always nice to go back to nationals to catch up with people you only tend to see once a year like my hero of cyclo-cross Louise Robinson, old GB mechanic Geoff, and riders from clubs I started racing in. Plus it’s good to win in front of my mum and dad and parents in law, keeping me in the good books for another year.
The strange thing about only seeing people a couple of times a year is that they seem to be moving through new stages of their lives and we seem to be staying still. Not that that is a bad thing as I’m sure everyone would love to be stuck living the life of a 20 year old and I wouldn’t swap it for the world right now. But it’s pretty bazaar when you see people like Clare Gross and Katy Middlehurst who were my competitors 5 years ago, happily married with children and dogs. It just reminds me that life has a million pathways and every single one works for someone.
Anyway my final race is Oostmalle on the 21st February and I am looking forward to a nice break before I start training for some early season mountain bike races here in Belgium. I have a new completely white skin-suits sent over by Kona for the last races of the season so am currently looking for a clothes cleaning product sponsor if anyone knows of one so I will always look white on the start line ha ha.
Lots of training ahead, plus I’m planning on compiling a few top 10’s of my reflections on this season. I have to keep myself occupied some how.
Thanks for Jurgen, and Kona–FSA for making this latest and special victory possible.
Orange Crush and out