Friday, March 9, 2012

Big Boys Don't Cry at Drenste 8

As I'm writing this blog, 10cc's "I'm not in love" is playing in the background. It's appropriate for two reasons.

I'm in Holland in a little town called Schoonoord, which is not pronounced Shoe-Nord, I found out. There are at least 3 to 4 guttural sounds before you even get to the first "n."
Our home in Schoonoord

Lazy Tuesdays in Schoonoord with Stiffy, my hot Specialized bike 
Anyway, it seems that they like to play American/English music from the 80's and 90's wherever you go. In fact the Dutch's smash hit (according to my Dutch director) was "Radar Love," by Golden Earring. My friend, Tyler, from high school used to lift weights to that song. He was a massive fellow with a shaved head, but I digress. But yeah, last night as we sat comatose after our first race, we silently ate dinner to "Tootsie Roll" (To the left, to the right, now slide, baby, slide.)

The other reason the 10cc song is appropriate is because it contains a whispering reminder that "Big boys don't cry." Luckily, I didn't cry yesterday after my first European race. I just exclaimed "F my life" repeatedly. Here is a preview of the race so you can get a better idea of what I'm talking about.

Yes, I realize that this is a chance of a lifetime and I am in Europe racing my bike, but when you're in the peleton with 180 angry girls (well, they sound angry!) slamming on your brakes, literally every 45 to 50 seconds for 140k (I said "k" instead of miles! Progress.), your inner cheerleader quickly transforms from being badass like those chicks in that movie, Bring It On, into the bee girl in that Blind Melon video. Here is a visual in case you don't know what I'm talking about.
We started the race already to go and then about 13k into the race, we experienced the first traffic jam when we all had to squeeze into a one-car width lane (like the width of an electric car). I toppled very slowly over a wobbly backwheel and then quickly got up but that was my ticket to the back of the pack. And from there my life was hell. I would try to move up on the secret cobble "HOV" lane or on the grass or through the middle or wherever, but the peleton is structured such as there is a "washing machine" effect in the front and then a wall and then the stragglers. And well, my balls are just growing in so I couldn't break through. The group kept breaking up with the crosswinds, with the main peleton echeloning and the back of the group in a straight line, praying someone would guard their right side and here I come time trialing to the main group as people are getting spit out. Thank god for my fitness because this happened over and over and over again. Just to give you an idea of how hard I made the race for myself, you can check out the ride on Strava. My director said in her Dutch accent, "When I saw you, I thought if there was a time trial today, you'd place in the top 3." My takeaway--in a fake time trial with fake riders, I would have been on the fake podium! Well, alright! That's progress!

No, no. I'm not really down on myself. Seriously, it's a new day and yesterday doesn't seem as daunting. It reminds me of my first NRC race, Nature Valley--that's a hell of a one to throw yourself into as your first go. Well, the same thing for this race. I survived. I'm happy. 140k, 180 riders, first experience with crosswinds and cobbles. And here I am blogging.

By the way, in Europe if you are more than 5 minutes back or something, they act like you don't exist and don't even give you a DNF. And they don't have corner marshalls or cars telling you where to go. You're on your own. Luckily, my group wasn't 5 back because my sense of direction is HORRIBLE. That's where a Garmin 800 would come in handy because I'm not going to internationally roam on my phone. I was warned against that $900 phone bill. Oh and I think a finisher's foil cape like they give out at marathons is mandatory if you make it on the results. Maybe a medal. I like presents.

It would be even better than my bell, which my director made me take off. She calls it a "ting ting." She said everyone will laugh at you. I said, "I know, that's the point." But all jokes aside, ultimately, I need her to keep me classy, and she'll make a professional out of me yet--she is amazing and it would take an amazing person to put the class in Wheeler because well, it's tough logistically: Wheeclasser?

Ok. I have to go do a recovery ride. And now the cafe is now playing Abba and I can only take so much.


  1. Now that's a race report. Here's hoping I get to read some more.

  2. Good to see you have it in perspective Jen. Racing there is something entirely new and different...takes time to learn.