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As we headed to the January 18 World Cup in Roubaix, France, I was excited to race again after 10 days of good weather and training rides in Spain. The race has a great atmosphere at one of the most special cycling venues in Europe.
Warming up, I was excited. The course featured two really steep descents, which 95 percent of the racers ran down after seeing many riders smash their faces into the wet ground. One guy even snapped his fork off! These sections were taken out altogether for the women’s race.
I decided against riding the descents after watching Bart Wellens and Co. joke about going down on their asses and ghost riding their bikes down. I didn’t need a season-ender with only two weeks left to race.
My start wasn’t amazing. I got boxed up into the first set of chicanes, which gave the front-runners a little head start. This can’t happen if you expect to have a good ride at a World Cup. Somewhere around lap three I was getting ready to run down the first of the two steep descents and the suction of the mud, combined with something I hit while dismounting, unlocked my right shoe’s buckle and off it came. Yeah. Gone. I was standing there, stunned. I’ve broken shoes from putting spikes in the front and having them bend too much. I’ve ripped off parts in crashes and lost cleats. But having a shoe disappear in the French mud was a once-in-a-career mishap.
Once I snapped out of it, I heard someone shouting, “Chausser! Chausser!” (Put on your shoe!) When the adrenaline is rushing and the heart is thumping it’s hard to make decisions, and I found myself wondering what to do. I couldn’t see the black shoe in the black mud, and it was looking like a rough day. I hate getting my ass kicked, but I hate dropping out too. Finally, with the help of some spectators, I found the shoe, ratcheted it back on, and took off.
When I told the story to a friend he asked why I didn’t walk off the course right then and there. After I got pulled with a couple laps to go I was thinking the same thing. But the words of my mom, beat into me as a junior, resonated through my head as they always do. So I put my head down and kept it movin’ regardless if an early departure was inevitable or not.
So that was done, in the books. Now I move on. I’ll be skipping Sunday’s World Cup to avoid the travel legs, logistical nightmares and stress associated with getting to Milan, Italy. Instead, I’ll shift my focus to the KasteelCross in Zonnebeke, Belgium, using it as a warm-up for worlds in two weeks.
Yesterday I went to the train station in Teilt to pick up the man who makes everything happen — Stu Thorne, director for Cyclocrossworld.com-Cannondale and also the owner of Cyclocrossworld.com, which is slammed with its gigantic “world championship sale.” I’m lucky to have Stu here considering everything he has going on. He’s giving my bikes the MTV makeover for one last time before worlds. Fresh Gore-Tex cables and sleeves, fi’zi:k bar tape, Swiss Stop pads and some ultra-exclusive, even-further-improved prototype SRAM chains.
That’s how the last week went down. Next week I hope to report back with some better results and news from the KasteelCross.
I also put together another iTunes mix for all the music fans out there. Some new, some old Euro pop tunes.
Enjoy, and thanks for reading.