June 5, 2011 (Gooik, Belgium) – Our second UCI race on our Euro trip took place in Gooik, Belgium, and was a definite improvement from our experience in Holland. Featuring the trademarks of the Flanders region, cobbles and steep climbs, it proved to be selective based more on fitness than purely the survival of the best positioned riders. This suited my teammates.
Over the course of the finishing circuit Marianne Vos demonstrated her superior cycling prowess by breaking away solo. Surviving bucket loads of attacks and the searing sun that relentlessly depleted our hydration to dangerous levels, Claire [Thomas] and I rolled in with the main chase group, with Jess [Hannah] finishing just off the back.
After 132 grueling kilometers the initial group of 130 saw 61 finishers including three out of our five team members. More importantly though, it installed confidence in the BC crew here that despite the gap of inexperience we still have to overcome, our European counterparts are human too, and except perhaps for Vos, invincibility is not a standard attribute.
Nothing for it but to jump right back on another start line today, in Begijnendijk, before driving to Holland tomorrow for our next UCI race on Sunday. It’s true what they say about racing in Europe; you either love it or you don’t. Personally, I find myself in middle ground where, although not a fan of getting pushed and shoved around, I am fully appreciative of the benefits that this style of racing has to offer, and therefore, I am reveling in the experience and looking forward to emerging as a stronger and more capable rider.
As such I would like to extend a truly sincere thank you to all of the sponsors and supporters who are enabling this opportunity. Through your help my teammates and I are the fortunate recipients of invaluable experience and are making great headway towards accomplishing our respective goals in this sport!