For a little reconnaissance, they signed up for Kermiscross Ardooie with the likes of cross future and current Stars / legends.. Page, Wellens, Albert, Vervecken...
Sarah sent us an update on the event that sounds crazy fun:
We're resting at home now after a very muddy race this afternoon! The course was mostly flat and wound through a grass field - they basically just removed the cows (leaving some fresh evidence behind). The mud was clay and peanut butter consistency, it rained hard all night and then the sun came out, turning the mud into a sticky, heavy mess. Riding through the lap - after the pavement start, a long stretch of deep, slow mud and grass that coated the wheels, a few ups and downs that required some running, then through a drier section where the hay would collect on top of the mud and grass, then finally some gravel with puddles to ride through in hopes of maybe seeing some tread on the tires again before the double barriers (taller than Pilarcitos barriers), then into the sand pit made just for the race, to be sure the bike did not stay clean - it had to be very heavy for the run up the stairs. Finally, there was a section of whoopty-do's and hairpin turns that would have been really fun on a fast course, but in the mud it was better to run the whole stretch.
Matt and I both raced, the big story is that Matt was somehow entered in the Elite event with the entire who's who of cross! Matt said his start was super fast, and he could smell the rubber burning as everyone slowed abruptly for the first corner. He was able to hang in for 30 minutes before he got lapped and pulled - he definitely held his own considering he was thrown to the wolves, there were plenty of riders who were pulled before him. He raced long enough to earn a placing, ending up 46th! Check the link to see the impessive list of racers, past and present World Champions. Somehow the officials decided I should race with Masters As 30-40 age group, which worked out pretty well. I always had a group to ride with. One of the racers commented to me that the conditions were not normal - it was much tougher than most Belgian races. I was about 1/3 a lap away from finishing when the mud, grass, and small rodents I had collected in my drivetrain caused a problem - my derailleur hanger bent, the derailleur went into the wheel and was torn to shreds. I did not finish, but I was the first woman who ever raced Kermiscross in Ardooie, Belgium. The race organizer thanked me for coming and bought me a drink (I had hot chocolate).
This was a small, weekday event, and yet there were huge crowds of fans, several beer stands, fresh grilled brats, admission to spectate, local television, and of course, the beer tents. The media took pictures of Matt and I before our starts, and the fans called us by name. I heard "do it faster, Sarah!" and Matt heard "kick them in the ass, Matt Jordan!"
It was a really fun day for both of us, definitely tough on the legs pushing through all the mud. Tomorrow we rest, then Saturday we both race, and Sunday is the World Cup.
Pictures will be downloaded soon, we'll send them along.