The second part of the “kerstperiode” is complete. If I’m totally honest, it’s not been one to remember. It started with the World Cup in Zolder, where I got a great start, only to be hit with a wrestling move on the first corner by one of my fellow racers. This took me from 3rd to 16th and in thick traffic and just looking to just make the most of a frustrating situation. My legs weren’t great so I ended up 13th and not massively chuffed.

Helen - Zolder - Bart Raeymaekers 4The next day it’s on to the Superprestige in Diegem. Traditionally freezing cold and raced in Twilight, it was odd to have a warm sunny day. Looking to make up for the day before I actually rode a good race in conditions that are far from what I look forward to. Ellen van Loy took the win in unstoppable fashion, and I was very much part of the battle for 2nd. Sanne Cant and I battled it out the complete race behind Ellen, but a slip in the sand on the last lap meant not only did Sanne escape for 2nd, but Eva Lechner caught me in the sprint for the 3rd. No podium and a little polish taken off an otherwise solid performance.

Now my love of mud is well documented. I come alive as a racer when the conditions are bad. But with the dry period we are experiencing in Belgium, at the same time my homeland of the UK is underwater with floods, I’m not exactly loving the fast, road like conditions. In more than 10 years of racing the 3rd race of this block, Loenhout, has never been a dry race. We’ve had snow, hail, rain, ice and the thickest of mud, in temperatures as low as -10 degrees C, but yesterday it was just fast fast fast. For me that’s grim grim grim.

Helen - Zolder - Bart Raeymaekers 6But I set about my task, made the lead group of 4, proceeded to crash hard on a road transition, smashing myself and bicycle, and limped home to 8th. I’m also currently sitting in 3rd overall so that adds a nice target for the last 2 rounds of the BPost series. There are lots of positives to take from the block of racing, but lots more to get right as we head into January and what could be the most open World Championships of my career.