8 March 2006

The first race (sort of).

On Sunday we had a couple of the girls racing in a local race, much like a club race you will all be familiar with. A nice little 7km circuit just over the border in Belgium, total distance 77km. We still had the girls bikes from the camp in Portugal, so we were just there to drop them off and provide a little support. Think both Sandra and Suzanne VonVane (our youngest rider) just wanted to give their legs a bit of a blast to see if they were race ready.

Suzanne (the other one) almost ready to start.

The day started pretty sweet, warm with nice clear skies, but within seconds from the start it started snowing. Like one minute clear and the moment the race organiser started mumbling stuff in the microphone, the snow started, pretty crazy, almost like our Auckland weather, one minute fine, the other minute shit. It didn't seem to phase anyone, they just put their heads down and were off.
We walked around some of the course to keep ourselves warm and to have a look at a few corners. By the time we had walked a few kms there was all four seasons thrown at us, snow, rain, sun, wind, it was great, I was very excited as usual, with all the snow variants. Wet, dry, fluffy etc, and knowing how hard riding in this stuff was, the girls just put their foots down and continued. They make them tough in this part of the world, in fact I was surprised more didn'’t pull out of the race, as we were freezing with about 20 layers on, under big jackets, or maybe it'’s just me been soft, I mean acclimatising to what'’s left of the winter.

Great day for a race.

The first break.

The Girls did well, SVV was in a break of four for half of the race, and Sandra stayed with another break of twenty for the other half. They were both pretty happy with their form, and still had smiles on their faces when they finished. But there were some pretty cold and dirty girls afterwards, and the bikes, what a mess.

That church again, just love the trees guarding it.

The team house is about to reach full capacity this weekend with our first major race of the year (with UCI points). Think we have 6 Girls staying with us, and the other two racing are local enough. I have spent the week, cleaning and organising the house in preparation for the onslaught (house work and me are not the best of friends normally). I turned what looked like a house your grandparents may have lived in, to a modern, funky house that the Girls can feel at home in. It gets real hard sometimes, living in Hotels, out of suitcases for most of the year, and it'’s real nice to have somewhere else in the world to call your other home. I did the best with all the donated furniture and goodies from everyone, sorry grandma, but the kids are taking over. I also picked up a pile of photos last night for the walls (thanks again Emile), just to give it the 'Team House' touch. A cool selection of some of my pics from last year and this year to make some cool montages on the walls. Should be good to see the looks on the girls faces as they enter the house, as they all know I have been working at it all week. We also have the team photo shoot on Monday, so we have a few more of the girls arriving for that. I just hope there is a more modern makeup artist this year, so the girls don't look as thought they just stepped out of the eighties with their buffed hair and bad makeup (sorry girls, but the truth hurts sometimes).

I stole a preview off www.cyclingnews.com , for the race on Sunday, but too many crazy names for me to spell unfortunately.

Omloop Het Volk for women

The first Omloop Het Volk (UCI 1.2) for women will be ridden this Sunday, March 12, between the Belgian towns of Deerlijk and Deinze. Despite its name, the parcours will be completely different to the men's Het Volk that was won by Philippe Gilbert just over a week ago. The total distance is 91 km, consisting of 46 km between Deerlijk and Deinze, then three 15 km finishing circuits. There are four climbs in the first half: Waregemseweg (km 18 and 32), Nokereberg (km 23), and Brugstraat (km 34), and one cobbled section: Herlegemstraat (km 29).

23 teams are expected to take part, making for a big field. Anita Valen (@Work Cycling Team), Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel and Susanne Ljungskog (Buitenpoort-Flexpoint), and Suzanne de Goede (AA-Drink) are the main favourites. Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel will serve as race ambassador, to try to lift the low profile of women's racing in Flanders.

Leontien, if you have not heard of her before, is a bit of a Dutch icon in Women's racing, think she was World champ, National champ and Olyimpic winner, but will find out more for you later. Two of our girls are in the favourites, which is nice, and we have a strong team so should be interesting. My picks are Mirjam 1st and Susanne L 2nd, hey might as well have Linda in third place as well. Got to have faith in your own team.
Righto, must get out of bed now, still trying to get rid of the flu, not bird flu I hope. No snow outside, which is a good start to the day, and its not raining yet, ye ha.

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