Letters From Abroad – A Bad Day in the Ardennes

Editor’s Note: Peter Horn is an American racing with the Geox-Fuji Test Team, the amateur development team of Geox-TMC. As Geox-Fuji Test Team’s captain, he’s looking to lead the team to victories in Belgium and around Europe, and help break the team’s riders into the Professional ranks.

11 April 2011 – Oostkamp, Belgium

Hopefully this Saturday was one of my worst days of the season. I’m getting into top form but there are those days when nothing works. You don’t have the power to make the race and it feels like you’re riding with a flat tire all day. And then those days become mentally even harder than they are physically. But you just have to forget about it and go race the next day. That’s what I did this weekend.

Our race was the Two Days of the Gaverstreek, a two-day stage race in the Flemish Ardennes. I was 7th there last year and had high hopes for the race this season. But the first day is always the most decisive in that race, and it just didn’t work for me that day. I finished in the second peloton, a few minutes down on the leader. Disappointing, for sure, but it was only more motivation for the next day.

On Sunday we were aggressive from the start. After 20 kilometers of attacks, Kalle Sandell, one of my Swedish teammates, initiated the break of the day. He went away with ten others and got caught about 15 kilometers from the finish. I tried several times in the hills to form a chase group that would hopefully help me bridge the gap and allow me to attack again from the lead group. But the leader had help from other teams and the race was locked down. When Kalle’s break was caught, I attacked with one other rider with 10 kilometers to go. However the sprinters’ teams shut down my move and kept it together for the finish.

In the end, the race didn’t go as I had hoped. But there’s not much to do about it except move on and go fight the next day with a fresh mind and stronger body. That’s what my team and I did Sunday and it was a good experience to build upon for the upcoming races.

I’m glad the second day was better than the first. It means I have a good engine and, at least to a certain point, racing makes me faster rather than tired. And maybe it’s only a superstition, but I think there is a certain number of really bad days each season. I’m glad to already have one of those days behind me. Now I take two days off the bike to be totally fresh and ready for next weekend’s race, Zellik-Galmaarden. In Zellik (UCI 1.2, Top-Comp), we go over the Muur of Geraardsbergen twice, the Congoberg five times and the Bosberg six times. It’s not everyday you get to race on a course like that.

With that, I’ll keep it shorter and sweeter this week and get going on my rest day. I have to do some laundry this morning and then I’ll visit Gent in the afternoon. Now just the Song of the Week: “Under Arrest” by Danzel. It’s a terrible song, and a worse music video. I saw it on TV last year a few times and I hate it. But it happened to be playing on the loudspeaker before the start of the race yesterday. Danzel’s idiotic voice was stuck in my head for every bit of stage two. Fitting for a rough weekend of racing.

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