Houffalize was my first MTB experience ever, a decade ago. It wasn't during the Roc d'ardenne because that race did not exists 10 years ago. But the trails and the atmosphere around that place are still the same.
No matter the weather conditions, it's always a very tough race because of 'so few flat'... Over the years they added some more technical climbs and descents which makes it an even more challenging one.
We arrived Saturday around noon when it was still dry and sunny 🌞. After a high carb lunch we hit the expo and visited our partners Canyon, Overtims and Jaap from Endura. Followed by our accreditation and UCI license check.
|Houfalize World Cup track in the back.|
Around 5:00 PM ,accompanied by the Canyon crew, we rode a part of the start and finish of the marathon.
Sunday morning we woke up around 5:30 AM which is like the middle of the night...
At the same time our alarm went of, raindrops started falling on our camper roof... 😖
|Warming up in bus shelter|
At 8:00 I went to the start and the Canyon Crew was present, pretty much the only spectators for the womens' start. Only 14 ladies we were, not much but once again very high level.
|Almost 60000 spectators at the start... NOT!!! 😆|
|Last call for the start|
|Line up 5' prior to the start|
Before I started Peter repeated like always:
- Don't crash 💀
- Keep your bike in one piece ☝
- Use your brains 👽
Sounds all very logic but when you race your hart out a little mistake can have huge consequence. Like always we start with a steep tarmac climb of 1K... The startgun apparently scared some of the ladies. Like a missile they purged away. I decided not to join them in this kamikaze game.
Next to former Dutch national champ I topped up in 9th position. My plan was to ride my own race and take back rider by rider.
It worked... Usually the first male riders, who start 45 minutes later, start passing me around 30K's in the race. But not this year... I was almost half way when the first couple of riders overtook me. At that time I just left behind a young British rider that was fast in technical parts, but a little too crazy in the descents. Her downhill skills resulted in a crash.
The second part of the race I was able to get myself into 6th position. When I reached Sara Van Peer the only other Belgian competitor, I know I was still riding strong.
But the last 10K's are the hardest and when some male riders tried to get us and got stuck between the two Sara's, I lost contact. I didn't have enough energy left to ride back to here wheel so I finished at that same 6th spot.
|Before the shower 🙈|
|After the shower 💦|
Great, because top 10 was the goal! And 6th is my best result ever in this race. My good result was rewarded with a lot of UCI points 👍 I'm on the first page now in some sweet company 😀
Peter started an hour later, and so we met again after the race near the finish. I was 3' faster on the distance then my baby. But he was smiling so once again we're all glad with our result and lucky we did not get hurt.
The mechanics from Canyon were busy cleaning our bikes so we could shower and recover fast.
So after our showers we help to clean up the Canyon paddock!
|Cleaning up before the storm|
At the finish we were told one of our good friends Bram Saeys had a very bad crash during which he got perforated by a 40cm tree branch in the stomach, penetrating his belly and missing his spine by a few centimeters. What we call a bad day at the office.
We wish him a very good and fast recovery from he's injury's! We hope to see him back on his bike soon.
Makes us think about the dangers of our sport, and makes all results a little less important.
Our next goal is the 3 days UCI XCS S1 in La Roche from 10-12 May.