Prior to the start the Japanese crew of Keiichi Tsujiura generously let me use their tent and heated van to stay warm and get a proper warm up down before the race. Keiichi is 9 time Japanese national champion, and a very friendly guy.
|Keiichi and Tom|
Prior to the race, people were coming up and asking for photos and supporter cards. I'll have to get some made up, just for a laugh. There was even a family from Melbourne, who's son is a cyclist. Nice to hear some Aussie accents cheering me on out on the course!
Tom and Jooeri were my mechanics for the day, and did a stellar job fixing, cleaning and handing up the bike. Roeland had all access, and Rose had my jacket before the start, making sure I dont get sick! These guys rock. Considering none of them have done this kind of thing before, they are meticulous, and make sure I'm properly prepared and ready to roll. Seriously, this would all be impossible without them, I cannot thank them enough.
I was the last rider called up, and the atmosphere was incredible. About 10,00 fans around the course, and the start was on bitumen race car track. I floated a few meters off the back, and waited for the inevitable pile up to move up into about 45th out of ~65 starters. It didnt take long for the riders to pick me off, and I made my way round the course without too many dramas, just riding my own race.
Second lap and people started to realise I was an Aussie, especially when I had a spill on an uphill shoot, where there were fans packed leaning over the fence. As I fell there was a few ooohh's, but I got back up and revved up the crowd with a big grin on my face. They went mental. For every lap afterwards they would go ballistic when I came past. Such an awesome feeling! The same happened down a descent, and again I'd rev them up.
Up the run up they'd chant "Skippy, Skippy!" My mouth was either gaping for air, or had a grin from ear to ear the entire time. It was awesome, words cannot explain it.
I got 4 laps in before they pulled me, about 35 mins in. I finished in 57th, with one finisher behind me and 4 DNF's. I wasnt excpecting much better than that, I simply want to improve with every race. The result doesnt matter anyway, the fact is I had a ball, and ticked off one more thing from my bucket list.
No rest for the wicked, tomorrow is the GVA Trophee in Loenhout! Hopefully I can last a little longer. As close to 40 mins as possible would be ideal.
PLEASE NOTE: I generally try to avoid putting up pics without the photographers consent, but this is a special occaision. The photographers signatures are in the pics. If you dont want your pic up here, let me know and I'll take it down.
My new title photo is from a guy who sent it to me on facebook. He's got a great set of CX pics on flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/krisclaeye/sets/72157627970015052/
The pics without signatures were taken by Rose. Thanks Rose!