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An American Champ Abroad: The First Weeks in Belgium

Saturday was a race in Den Bosch, Holland. It was a non-series race. I had very dull legs, but I fought on. I’m trying something different with my training to see if it makes a difference throughout the season. In other words, I expected this bad feeling, but it’s never fun when you’re in the moment. At the end of the race, Amy’s family was there and gave me the hug of someone you’ve known and loved for 100 years. They’re amazing. They had been yelling their asses off for me the whole hour. It was truly inspiring, and I won’t soon forget it. At least I was ABLE to suffer. I was HERE to do it.

The next day was the first BPost Trophee in Ronse, Belgium. It’s a brutal course to start with, but Sunday’s weather made it even more, well, special. It was raining so hard you could barely see, and the wind was strong enough that it knocked poor Pearl over (the other two kids were at a sleepover at friends). There was another memorial that day and we didn’t/don’t want them to find out about this, because it’s inexplicable to kids that age with a dad that’s a cyclist. That, and the last time a cyclist died and they knew about it, it was less than good.

So anyway, I decided the warmest guy was going to win and did my best to be that guy. The course was a complete mess, and I think at some point during the last half of lap One and the first half of Lap Two, trying to get to the pit, my derailleur hanger bent. This caused the next problem: I shifted into my spokes three times, meaning that I had to get off three times. Finally, I made it to the pit to switch bikes, but I had definitely lost plenty of time in the race. I did my best, and I kept picking people off as they got tired or cold, but by the end, I was 17th. One more lap and I might have puked, but I might have caught a good four or five more people, too. Tough call, but I think I’m glad it was over. I was on the hunt till the bitter end. I got lots of TV time in the beginning and at the end, because I was just behind, then with, then just ahead of Kevin Pauwels. Again, the Dombroskis were out there cheering me on in the driving wind and rain. I was in awe. I still am.

So, I’m hopeful for the upcoming races. I definitely did the best job I’ve ever done while training over the summer. I only missed one week due to my shoulder. I did everything I could do, and my family did everything that they could to support me over the six months in America. So, let’s hope it pays off. This week is Aardooie on Thursday (my daughter’s 9th birthday), and then the first World Cup—a really tough one, in Valkenburg, Holland on Sunday.

Read more by Jonathan Page, in An American Champ Abroad
Living and Racing in Belgium