We catch up with Vitus Bikes / Chain Reaction Cycles rider David Montgomery (Monty) as he spends a few dirty weekends in Belgium racing Cyclocross. Can the Irish National Champion mix it with the World’s Elite on their home turf? Monty reports back in this second installment
One week into Belgium. 4 races done. Some craic!
Body was pretty battered after Ardooie, but at this early stage of the season the aim is just to get lots of racing done, so we set off to a local race on Saturday in Bredene (I’m told right beside Belgium’s only nude beach). Unfortunately all we found was fairly brutal course, through a caravan park so lots of slippy wet tarmac and rutted grassy mounds.
I started at the back of the grid but was able to move up quite quickly as it was a good wide start. Sitting in the top 15 first lap, with all the field still together so there was no rush. Some time in lap two I punctured the rear, so it was a pretty cautious ride round on the flat to get to the pits and get Vitus Bike #2 going. Got back into it, but pretty far back at this stage, expecting to get pulled out any time. Not long after, I punctured the 2nd bike. You couldn’t write it! Typically it all happened just after the pits so it took me forever to get round again and hopefully hop on a repaired bike #1. Thankfully I had Wim Ollivier in the pits and I was able to get the race finished. 22nd in the end, not the best day out but all part of the learning curve!
I managed to get both wheels sealed up overnight, and there was another race fairly nearby on Sunday, so sure why not!
At Zingem it was a pretty cool course if you managed to stay out of the cow crap. Mostly through fields with some technical stuff through the woods; a little too dry for my mud tyres, but you can’t have it all… well, unless you’re Belgian, masters racers rolling up in big camper vans with 10 sets of wheels! How the other half race!. It’s a tighter start in Zingem so harder to move up, but I was going fairly well and got into the top 15 within a lap. Moved around a little bit, then punctured (front, both rear the day before!) just before the last lap, so lost a few places. Ended up 16th, and took a fine 12 euros of fresh Belgian prize money home.
Next up it was Nacht Van Woerden UCI race in the Netherlands on Tuesday, which Donal O’Brien had invited me to. Myself and Martine set off on Monday afternoon, with Donal putting us up for the night. A friendlier, more hospitable guy you couldn’t find, thanks so much for all your help! The race didn’t start til 2040h, so it was pretty crazy trying to get ready for it in darkness. Most of the course was well lit, but there were certainly a few places where you just headed into the night and hoped for the best. This didn’t work out so well for a lot of people on the first lap, with about 5 crashes in 6 or 7 minutes. Got a bit held up behind those, but didn’t hit the deck myself so feeling stoked so far! Was sitting in top 20 after first lap but then started going backwards. Unfortunately not much I could do; my back was pretty broken after racing hard two days at the weekend so there wasn’t much power to be found. Kept her upright, no mmechanical problems and home in 27th with some Van Der Haar fella taking the win. Not so bad, but a really cool event with massive crowds out, definitely a race I’d love to do again!
Thanks again to Martine Verfaillie, Hanne Wulleart, Wim Ollivier and Donal O’Brien for everything! Such amazing kind people, appreciate your help so much! I’ve a few easy days now to recover a bit. Then it’s off to bury my head in the sand at Zonhoven Superprestige at the weekend. (Ed. Report to come)
Til next time,