Waaslandcross Sint-Niklaas

It’s definitely a learning curve. I’ve heard so many people say it but to know you just have to experience it. Cyclocross is big here, and sure all of us who race are used to the common schedule of a race day, but when you throw a language and culture barrier in between things become jumbled. I’m lucky to travel to the races with Christian from Hof ter Kammen and a great community here to help me with all of that. If I didn’t have someone to help me with these things, I don’t think that I would be able to make it past sign in.

Flemish for where you sign in to get your number before the race.

Christian’s van and trailer. Inside the trailer we had a generator, pressure washer, tools, and water.

The lake we raced next to. It was sunny in the morning and overcast/ rainy during our race. The course extends far to the right in the photo off into the distance.

Start grid on bricks.

My race machine. Hed Stinger 3’s for control in the sand, Challenge Grifo tires at 22.5/24psi, and Molten Speed Wax on the chain for a sand free drivetrain the whole day.

Waaslandcross was my second race so far while I’ve been here in Belgium, and I was really excited to race a course that wasn’t 90% climbing. The course for the weekend featured sand, but basing it off of the race video from 2015 it appeared to be manageable for me. In fact, I was very excited and figured it would be a great course for my strengths. One thing that I didn’t take note of though, is that 2015 was a much wetter race featuring some mud and a packed down beach section. This year was dry with a lot more sand, and I was deep in it for quite an experience.

Warming up with some locals. Meusen, Vantourenhout, and a few others.

Endless sand

Since this trip has been all about learning, thats what I’m going to highlight. Overall the race went fairly smoothly, but I learned so much along the way. At the end of the race I ended up in 20th, just one spot behind the last pulled rider in the race, and I was stoked. The goal of still finishing on the lead lap is floating above my head like a rain cloud right now, but I’m planning for that to pass soon, and I know what I need to do. I think the most important thing is the feeling after the race, even if you’re pulled, to never get discouraged and keep going learning to get better, faster, stronger. (I think thats from a song I once heard)

Christian working hard on getting my bikes nice and clean post race. It’s amazing to have a mechanic at the races.

Things I learned yesterday (some of these are from my social post):

  • Tire pressure: Forget what you know, go lower
  • Always wave to my mom, friends, and family on camera
  • The people at races are nice
  • Don’t get cold post race
  • I look good in a pink shiny wool scarf from a Sweeck supporter
  • Fans are dedicated to their riders
  • Don’t put warm up pants and jacket underneath fence only accessible from the course
  • Learn how to make ride/ run ups look easy
  • Momentum is everything
  • Don’t fall down while on camera
  • Practice riding seemingly impossible ride ups
  • The impossible is possible
  • Momentum is everything
  • Loosen up pedals before a sand race
  • If you ride up the hill, there is no use getting off, resulting in no potential for falling over
  • Loosen up pedals before sand race
  • Momentum is everything
  • Ride sand, save time and energy
  • Ride sand, drop others, make up places
  • Ride sand then run later
  • I’m pretty good at running
  • I’m not fast enough at running
  • Don’t stop pedaling while riding sand
  • Don’t worry too much about riding sand ruts
  • Ride sand first, hit sand ruts later
  • Big wooden course posts don’t move (I tried, unintentionally)
  • Fans on the sidelines do move (Oops)
  • Don’t lose the front group
  • Do everything to stay on the front group
  • If your legs are screaming, go harder to stay on the front group
  • If the front group is gone, look behind
  • If you’re alone, don’t stop trying to catch front group
  • Having a mechanic saves time
  • Having a mechanic saves energy
  • I always need to have a full time mechanic
  • Who wants to be my full time mechanic next year?
  • Recapping what I learned is hard, there is too much to absorb
  • I can’t stop wanting to race
  • I won’t stop learning
  • I won’t quit
  • Patience and rest

‘Til the next adventure and race day which will either be Jaarmarktcross in Niel on Friday, Gavere on Sunday, or both! Until then check out the replay of the race here, I’m the big guy in red. Also, be sure to check out my sponsors that make this all happen.

Thanks for reading!

-E

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