European Championships, Namur

The continental championships were this past weekend. Finley races for Finland so we planned on staying the extra few days after Koppenberg for her junior women’s race on Saturday. Another iconic course and one of the most technical courses in Belgium.

Wednesday was of course a well-deserved recovery day, and we did a recovery ride and coffee at Cafe Mundo in Sittard. Then it was time to focus on Namur.

We drive down to Namur, the capital of Wallonie, on Thursday to check out the course and get familiar with the layout. Namur is a big, super cool, old city and the race is at the most interesting place and setting. On Citadel by the castles, and of course on top of a big hill.

It’s dry and a slightly different variation on the course from last year’s World Cup, which I did with EuroCross Academy in December. Well-planned and balanced, but very technical. You can only imagine what will happen if it rains. Three flyovers, two run-ups, several steep drops, and then of course the famous off-camber. Everything is ridable and seems relatively easy compared to what I remember from last year.

We do four laps and have it pretty dialed. We go back on Friday for me to race the masters race. Now it’s raining, and yes very slick and sticky mud. Finley gets two more laps in and a totally different experience. Also very valuable maybe for tomorrow, or the future.

Saturday we’re back again. Now we have Geoff Proctor from ECA and Noah from Cyclocross Social with us, and Finland is providing mechanical support via Cyclocross Custom with Dennis. Rain has stopped and the course is more tacky and very manageable compared to yesterday. We do two laps again and Finley gains a lot of confidence and really knows this course well by now, which is critical to be able to race at full capacity.

The pit is on top and center near the amphitheater. We are ready to battle.

Noah takes Finley down to the start. A long drag on cobbles up to dirt, rocks and finally to a small bridge. Also one of the most difficult starts. Then over a flyover and down a rocky/rooty descent. Plenty of rocks, gravel, and curbs. Finley comes around to the first pit in 14th place. A super start and amazing beginning to an epic race. Down the big drop onto another huge flyover and to the off-cambers. This is the most technical part and then going back up is the physical part. Short laps and not much recovery; you have to stay super focused the whole time.

Still in 18th place halfway into the race. Finley loses a few more spots as the race goes on, but rides well. Even with a flat near the pit she holds her position 28th-30th. Bike change every lap and she finishes with a smile. Another qualifying ride and rider for the World Championships on our team FinKraft.

Super happy to be able give her this opportunity along the other races she did with our boys in Tabor, Maasmechelen and Koppenberg.

Thanks again for reading and your continued support. Our riders are making us really proud and they are getting these life-changing experiences as top athletes and human beings no doubt.