I’m learning the hard way how humbling this area is. This morning I had eaten at this café with Mike Midlarsky. Mike is a bike racer from the States on the Garmin Development team. He has done all the NRC Crits for many years and is someone who is very competitive at some of the highest ends of American cycling. Eating with him changed my perspective. There are definitely bigger fish in the sea. We talked about his latest kermis past Sunday. In this pro Kermis 180 professional riders started the race. Only 16 finished. After chatting with him for a while I noticed how humble he is. While talking with him he never made me feel inferior or anything like that. Cocky people just don’t last here.
After the café with Mike I rode back home to get ready for tonight’s race at 17:30. We road to the race today (only 15km away). The kermis today was an 18 lap course and 106km long total. The course was mostly narrow, flat, open to the wind, with a cobbled finish stretch. Once there I registered for the race and took my dandy old time to get ready. I took a little too much time and rushed to find the start line which was a little off the course. I got there 5 minutes before the race and did not get a superb starting spot. I started at least 70th back. After starting we immediately started hulling. I mean fast. I was able to move up to top 30 within the first 2 miles in the turns and felt like I was starting to get in a good spot. 5 seconds later there is a tight right hand turn with an Island in the middle of the road. I got squeezed out and went left around it. Within a few seconds I lost 40 spots. The race never slowed down. There was no peloton but only a line. Being so far back was horrible. I never dealt with such a horrible accordion affect. We would go into some of these turns at 30mph, slow down to 10mph and then sprint up to 35mph. The biggest downhill in today’s course was 1% and we hit 40mph going down it. Being that far back the accordion affect took its toll on me. Lap after lap everything I had was chiseled away. I popped 40 minutes into the race. Today’s race was the hardest race I have done in my life. I don’t have any excuses for being dropped. No matter what I say it doesn’t change the past. 140 starters and 50 finishers today. I was one of the droppies. I was pack fodder. All I could try to do was survive and I don’t like that one bit. I can say one thing for certain. I am not going to dick around at the start line in Europe.