A weekend of two halves started in Antwerp with a sandy race that forms part of the important  series. Right on the side of the Schelde canal this race isn’t something that normally gets put in the box of my ideal skill set but having ridden the course a few times in training, I actually really liked it. It was fun; not too punishing which was good with the hardest of World Cups the following day. So I set off in pretty confident mood, avoided any first lap chaos and set about hitting the front midrace.

It look a few ‘manoeuvres’ to get there that I’d describe as do or die, as I made new lines in the sand to pass groups and then go into a head to head battle with the worlds best sand rider Sanne Cant. She’s so smooth in the sand it’s kind of annoying, but her skills push us all to new levels.

Helen - AntwerpTo be leading going into the last lap of seven was pretty pleasing, and I knew it would be a battle to the final sand stretches. Sadly, even with that knowledge firmly in my frontal lobe, I didn’t make it happen. I finished 2nd, only a handful of seconds behind Sanne. Super happy with the performance and my 4th podium in as many weeks, it looked like game on for Sunday.

With bikes clean and camper packed we headed to Namen. This brutal event on the side of a hill was surprisingly dry. There was still the traditional scoot-shoot adverse camber, and climbs and drops every few yards to make it feel like you were seconds away from a chest explosion, but the drier conditions gave a few extra moments of recovery.

I started well, got into the front 3, then on putting my bike to the ground at the top of a steep descent I think I jammed my chain (Still not totally sure what I did), which meant I couldn’t move forward, leading to a move that looked more like a circus act than cycling as life preservation took over my immediate thought process.

Having recovered from that, the race had gone. 30 seconds down, frustrated and making errors by putting myself under pressure, I chilled out and made the best of the day I could. 8th place was below my expectations, but proves you can always learn something from a race.

Onto the next events and a busy Christmas. Until then.