Only a little sick

17May08

Despite a sore throat and a cough for a couple of days I have remained illness free for my entire time in Belgium. This is surprising considering I usually get sick just because someone who walked past someone with a cold walked past me. However, my good luck with health came to an end last Friday night as I succumbed to the stomach bug that has knocked out the majority of my team and apparently a number of other riders.

The bug put me and three other riders out of Sunday’s race and meant that we could only field a team of four. Only three of them were healthy, with Chris taking one for the team and racing while sick. Sunday was incredibly frustrating sitting watching a race you should be doing. No matter how bad you feel whenever you are on the sidelines you always think of how much you would be attacking everyone and it not even hurting you.

The bug was still there come the Profonde van Fryslan in northern Holland but I didn’t want to miss another race. By this stage our team was down to only three healthy members yet we still fielded a team of seven riders.

Highroad, Quickstep, Silence-Lotto, just to do a bit of name dropping, were all present and had named strong teams. I was expecting a very hard race and was hoping my guts would hold together. I was in a state of shock when we started the neutral section. For once the neutral was slow, relaxed and calm. No one was chopping each other and there were no crashes. It seems that the real pros have two speeds: Flat out and slow with very little in between. I found out what flat out was when the race started: 65km/hr.

Once we hit the first cross wind section I was feeling okay but was let down by being near the back of the pack. The pack was single file and people were dropping like flies everywhere. Echelons began to form and I found myself in the third and last echelon. After pulling a few turns in it I had no strength left to fight my way back into the line and was dropped.

At least the sun was out

My experience with racing against Tour de France stage winners and former Paris-Roubaix champions was only 60km. However, I learnt a lot about how to ride a bike from it and hopefully when I am healthy my lessons will last a little longer.

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