Cyclo-Cross Nationals Cessange (LUX), 12.01.14

Cyclo-Cross Nationals Cessange (LUX), 12.01.14

Dreams do come true.

So this was it, the day that had been on my mind for a very long time now... Unfortunately, we were only 4 riders to take the start: Christine Majerus (who would, without major mechanic incident, win the race), my mom, Chloé Delli Zotti (a young rider from Schifflange) and me. The absence of luxembourgish female riders in cyclo-cross still remains a mystery to me, it is a hard discipline and not everyones cup of tea, but just as Christine said in an interview, it's an excellent preparation for the road season (for those who prefer the road to cyclo-cross). It allows riders to stay active during the cold winter months and become more technical on the bike. At least, we were four, because for the past 2 years, only 3 women started on Nationals (a bit my fault too, I had exams for Uni, so I couldn't come).  

Anyway, the weather was kind of miserable on the day, cold, foggy and humid. The lap was more muddy than I'd ever seen it (and believe me, I've seen it loads during the years that I trained there) which made it very physical indeed. There was hardly any spot where you could recover, hardly any time when you weren't pedaling. I had a mediocre start, I slipped past my pedal and had to give it a 110% to come back into my moms wheel.

I managed to keep the wheels for a little while longer, stayed not so far away from her for another lap, but as it went on, I grew more and more tired. Also, I stupidly refused to switch bikes, after having done so in Diegem and really felt the difference between my old aluminium Alan and my new carbon Guerciotti. In the end however, it might have cost me more time not changing than it would have if I would've done a lap on the old bike: the mud got into my gears and they started messing up, which resulted in, you guessed it, lost time. 
But you learn from your mistakes, I hope I'll think of it next time I'm not sure if I should switch or not. 

Also, during the race, they decided to make us race 40 minutes instead of the 30 announced. I didn't fully realize this until the beginners (whom I had caught back a few) were taken out of the race in front of me and I had to go on for one more lap. It didn't bother me really, I was all alone on the lap all of a sudden and really tried to appreciate the last pedal strokes of the season. I finished with more backlog (9 minutes on winner Christine Majerus and 4 on my mom) than I wanted to, but I didn't care, I'd done what I came for, gave it my all and even if I'm not the best, nor will I ever be, I still think I deserved that bronze medal just a tiny bit. 

True, if there had been more and stronger riders, I probably wouldn't have been on the podium but there weren't. It's easier to stand by, watch and comment afterwards, than to do it yourself.  Being able to stand there on that podium with my mom in the middle of a foggy forest in January, in front of my dad and brother and a big old crowd, hearing the national anthem played not only for the winner but for us too, is something I'm truly grateful for. I'm proud of my mom and all she has accomplished, and I was very proud to stand next to two champions, one professional and one amateur, doing what they do best. I'm very well aware that I'll never be a champion myself, but we can't all be. But every single one of us counts, from the first, to the third, to the last. Why do people make us feel worthless by telling us that it was "too easy" or that we are "not good enough"? Shouldn't they take the bikes and try beating us instead of saying nasty stuff? Just look at Chloé: she had the courage to line up with us and to struggle along as well as she could. She deserves the same respect we all do. This is sport, it's a competition, but noone in it should ever feel worthless or like a failure! The lap was the same for everyone and everyone gave it all they could. Bravo to her and to every single rider who took the start! Congratulations on another title to Christine Majerus (Dames), Christian Helmig (Elites), Ken Muller (Juniors) and Massimo Morabito (U23). Congrats also to the new beginners champion Felix Schreiber.

I also have to thank all the people who cheered for us all over the lap, it helped so much having people support you. Thank you also to one couple who made my day by saying these few lines while I was running up the stairs:
Woman: "Allez Jong!" ("Come on boy!")
Man: "Mee daat ass en Meedchen!!" ("But it's a girl!!")
Woman: "Oh mai Gott pardon!" ("Oh my God, sorry!")

Ah cyclo-cross and its supporters, you're the best. Big thanks to Lori (for all the massages she gave to my mom and I when our legs hurt), to Fränz (my BBF, best brother forever, who even cheered for me when I was all alone in my last lap), to Josselin (for getting me back on the bike when all I wanted to do was quit) and to my dad (for always believing in me, sometimes maybe even a bit too much). Most of all thank you to my mom for waiting all these years to step on the podium with me. Oh and grazie mille to Alessandro Guerciotti and my parents for the wonderful bike! Finally thank you everyone I haven't mentionned personnally, everyone who helped me, believed in me, encouraged me, you know who you are: Thank you so much, it means the world to me!!

Well this is it then, I still can't believe it but cyclo-cross season 2013-2014 has come to an end. It was the biggest season I've ever done and I think it is safe to say, I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. So many things have happened from September 2013 to January 2014, good things and bad things alike, but I can't wait for cyclo-cross season 2014-2015 to come along! Until then, may the road rise with you!