Hofstade World Cup in the books. Wow! It was great fun. The courses that we have done so far here in Belgium are much more to my liking than most of the courses I do in the US. Drop ins, chutes, twisty corners, slippery mud, and today sand, sand, sand. They are so different from the high speed, high power courses of the US that I am use to doing and normally don't enjoy that much. If I could actually go fast it would be even better, but I've been giving it my best at the races and have been feeling really well about my results.
You might think this is obvious, and I guess it is, but when 20,000 fans are screaming for Sven Nys as he passes you at twice your speed, it's pretty courageous to pull back onto the course and try and finish the next section before another group comes up, and the last thing I want is to be on tv taking someone out in the sand, so I pulled it. Not next time.
This race is something special. With the two huge sections of sand, people standing in the water with their rubber boots on to get a better view, two of the biggest megatron tv's I've ever seen and waffle and frituur stands everywhere, it was almost like being at a circus or fair and not a bike race. I stopped on course while warming up to let some air out and instantly had a group of Belgies standing there and asking if I was American and from where, and checking out the American bike parts like my "Reetchy" stem and "Zeep" wheels. All very friendly though and after getting the pressure dialed they all said good luck and pushed me off onto the course.
It really is amazing to be at a race with 20,000 paying fans to watch us race. It makes me feel like what I am doing really is worthwhile and not a waste of time and money. On the other side though, for the top guys this really is not just about fun and games, but about the money. On a day like today, the top guys like Sven will make maybe between 3000-8,000 euro in start and prize money and that is probably a pay cut as the the World Cups have mandatory start money which is much less than the negotiated start money he can get at smaller races. I've heard it takes about 5,000 euros to get Sven to start your race. For me, I'm just happy to be there and taking part in this special sport and riding my bike - kinda fast.