Although I had a feeling it was not the best idea, I got dragged into a race after coming back from Mallorca by Stan and Tijl… Of course I was curious if I can finally manage to survive a real Flemish koers, because one and a half years ago I already failed once miserably, although I was in an incomparably worse shape back then… Now after months of hard training and a week on Mallorca, with much more experience on the road bike, I was relatively optimistic, so I set the goal of finishing the race for myself, hoping that it was within reach. Tijl drove me to the start in Hoeleden, I was very nervous, but I still felt OK. Then the other competitors started to arrive, mostly with really fancy (expensive, light, and aerodynamic) bikes, some of them came with small teams, so I felt a bit worried and afraid of the competition… Still, I did some good warm up, tried out with Tijl how to take a bottle from his hands while riding with 40 km/h, and then went to the start line, still relatively optimistic, looking forward to one and a half hour of suffering, but hoping that I can finish the race with the main group, without being dropped.
The first lap is always a bit slower, behind the race director’s car, so speed and heart rate-vise it was OK, although I did not feel very good about all the crazy breaking in front of me. Things can get a bit tense when you are surrounded with a 100 other bikers from every side… Then after the first lap, hell broke loose… On the long flat we had a speed constantly above 50 km/h (there was a sleigh tailwind), which was still OK (as for me a heart rate of 180 is still fine, I can take that for more than one and a half hours), but then near the end of the lap, when we got sidewind on a slight uphill section, and the peloton got stretched out into a one biker wide long line, then I could not follow anymore, it was just too much. I was dropped after two laps. But I was far not the first to be dropped. And still, I managed to go another two laps before I was taken out from the race by the director. It could have been much further, if the guys I caught up with would have been more cooperative… But anyway, being dropped from the main group in a criterium race always means it is over. It is just impossible to catch up. Here is the GPS-log of the race.
I was pissed. I was pissed because I really wanted to finish, and even though I felt strong, and I was in a good shape, with a very good fitness level, I did not manage to follow. Ok, I did not do too much interval training this year, but with this much training, I felt very disappointed to drop out like this. And I kind of lost motivation too, I did not feel that I would want to just train more and more and come back next time, I just felt like I do not want this crap anymore. And by crap I mean the racing, not the biking :) I biked home after the race with Stan (who at the end did not participate in the race, although that might have been good for me), which felt good, but I felt hurt inside. It was not physical pain, but mental…
Towards the end of may I still did some proper training, I had a seasonal best (or personal best if you look only at rides without aero wheels) on my standard Leuven-Mechelen-Leuven route, but then I really felt burned out. I need to take a small break, stay off the bike for a while, so by the time I have my cycling holiday on Gran Canaria (starting on the last days of August) I can build up my form again, and enjoy riding again as much as I did in the first 5 months of 2012. I am already at 5130 kilometres this year anyway :)