A train, plane and automobile travel day and I found myself in Holland this past weekend. I have never been there before, and a 3 km swim, 110 km bike and 30 km run seemed as good a reason as any to visit. It is funny, I often have an image of what a place might look like before I go, and it was the same in this case. When I arrived in the village of Stein, just across the river from Belgium it looked different than I imagined. But then again it always does.
I stayed with a wonderful host family, only about 400 meters from the race finish. The race also started at 8:30 am, which was a treat, since often longer races start at 7 am. It almost didn’t feel like a race, but a sleep in.
The main goal for this race was to go and work hard, and get racing. Overall, as often is the case there were things that went well, and things that I could improve on, nothing surprising there. The swim was fine, perhaps not my best tactical swim, but got done. The bike was pretty unique. Four laps of about 27 km each, with more than 31 turns each lap. And I am talking about sharp corners, through narrow roads in the village. I thought I was riding ok, until another girl flew by me and proceeded to show me that I was riding like a granny, rather than like a speed racer.
I guess Magnus McAvoy ( yes the bike has a longer name this time) prefers the longer straighter stretches of road.
But each lap I was faster, taking better lines and carrying better speed through each turn. The run had almost as many turns as the bike, and was all through the village, which made the time fly by. It was a very close race, as 4 of us were all within a few minutes, and all under the previous course record. Second place was all I could muster up on this day, but know that the experience made me stronger and wiser for the next race.
The only disappointment was that I did not get a pair of wooden shoes, nor ride by any windmills or fields of tulips. But perhaps it just means I will have to return to Holland in the future.