The Japanese soigneur knew a family who have a house right next to the course, meaning we could stay warm indoors right up until race start. This was particularly handy given the temperature was -3 and snow had been falling all night.
|Signing autographs for Lance|
Compared to the slog through the mud of last year, the snow hardened up most of the ground to make for relatively fast racing, with just a few slippery corners and patches of thick mud. The snow on the ground and the sun in the sky made for picturesque racing.
The course is pretty flat, with the main features being a few roll overs, and probably the nicest set of stairs I've climbed in a cross race. The structure flexes when you step on it, giving back a bit of momentum to propel you up the next step. I doubt this was done on purpose, but it made climbing them a whole lot easier.
I was off to my usual slow start, but managed to pick off a few positions to settle into 30th place. The cold air seems to trigger my asthma over here, but thankfully there weren't any troubles during the race. I was lapped by Klaas Vantornout with 2 laps to go, however I was told the commissaires made a mistake and ended up giving us an extra lap, meaning I should have been only 1 lap down. I'm pretty happy with the result and it was a fun day out on the bike.
We were able to shower and clean back at Ranjit's friends house, where they had brought a bunch of friends over and continued drinking after the race, which was entertaining, as most of them were fairly frothed and very keen to have photos with both Ayako and myself.
Champion Systems have provided me with a full wardrobe full of custom cycling gear to race, train and warm up in. It's pretty damn cool when I think about it, I've got my very own unique cycling kit, with all my personal sponsors on it!
I've got a standard skinsuit, fleece lined skinsuit (a godsend over here), neoprene water and wind resistant jacket, thermoshield jacket, and plenty of jerseys and knicks. They've even whipped up some custom zip off leg warmers, which everyone uses over here, you keep them on until a minute to go before the start. I'm exceptionally grateful for their support, I look a whole lot more professional than last year when I was racing in either a jersey and knicks (no go for CX) or a track skinsuit, which left me freezing cold!
|New gear, with two Belgian "jongens" who joined me for a training ride. Easy to see why Belgium is so good at cyclocross! These two absolutely fly!|