May 13, 2018
Josh Copley @CyclingCopley
Starters: 168 riders
Distance: 72 miles
Course: Lumpy, not hilly, with concrete slabbed road surface (aka ‘the Headset killer’)
Goma is our sister team out in Belgium. This was their event and it was great to meet up with what is a very established and successful team.
This was my first foreign ‘there and back in a day’ race. Inevitably an early start. I rose early to make the hour and half trip to team manager, Jason’s house for 8am. We made fast progress to the Euro tunnel with time to spare. Everyone was in the team van this week (rather than the convoy we had to Holland) so it made for a good atmosphere. We got to Lieder, Belgium for 1:30pm with the race starting at 3:00pm. That bit done! I had got up at 5.50am.
It was strange to sign on, warm up, and hear the pre-race organisers without understanding a single word. I got one the Goma lads to fill me in. Three pieces of information was what I really needed - 6-7km per lap, 15 laps, lumpy course.
This was to be my first race back after my crash in Holland. I was on my old black canyon that my great back-up team of Paul and Neil had managed to get working only 4 days earlier. I should be back on a team bike in a few weeks.
As the race started I was reminded again of the continental flavour. Its full gas or then sprinting out of a corner, a little bit in between but nothing easier. I was initially nervous about the close quarters of racing given my Dutch incident but after the first corner I was fine.
I was pretty active throughout the race trying to stay at the front, chasing moves and trying to stay off the front. I had been encouraged by to just get in the mix but enjoy this next new experience. It was fierce. I did miss the main moves of the race which I was pretty disappointed about, but I was active in trying to bring it back. And this was really the pattern and rhythm of the race for me. Great fun, high adrenalin racing and learned buckets more about continental racing.
I finished the race in 66th after 2:40hr. I was pleased with this and felt I had done myself proud. As for my body and its data! - average heart rate of 170bpm and normalized power of 315 watts.
It was a hot race for me with a temperature of 25C.
I was throwing as many bottles over my head and onto my back as I was drinking them. I also found it hard to eat anything as there was simply no let-up in the racing.
At the end I was exhausted but I had finished. I got a chance to speak with Hans (the Goma manager) who told me that it often takes 3-5 tries before most people make it round one of these so this helped my confidence and with my own assessment of my day.
The rest of the team also picked up some great experiences for our future development.
All in all it was good to make the trip and gain the experience and build some more comradery in the team. I was also able to catch up with Sam Henning and George Clark (my buddies from Calpe back in Jan/Feb) who I hadn’t seen for a while since they moved out to Belgium in March.
I’ve got the Bournemouth Wheelers two day event this weekend, really looking forward to getting into stage racing again and a bit of time trialling.