Published on 3rd May 2017 | By Chris Walker

After a disappointing start to April and a slight knock back, results have since started to pick up and my confidence is back!

Since my last post, I have done two kermesses. For those of you not familiar with Kermesse racing, here’s a quick explanation:

‘A Kermesse is the most common form of racing In Belgium, very similar to a circuit race in the UK. Laps of 4-16km and a total length of 100-120km. Typically Kermesses attract over 100 riders with good prize money to be had. Often prizes up to 20th/30th position.

The races always go from the gun, so it’s important to be warmed up and in race mode as the first hour is generally the hardest part of the race. It’s after the first hour that riders tire and it’s crucial to be up front ready to follow the inevitable moves and to get into the break away. 

Many of the racers in these kermesses are either past professionals or full time amateur racers who are good enough to be pro, but prefer to race the amateur level.’

Kermesse (1/2) – Herne

Herne was 15 laps of an 8km circuit. The course used two main roads joined by 3-4km of narrower roads. There was a horrendous bottleneck coming off the second main road. A sharp turn onto a narrow climb of about 10% caused complete stoppages in the peloton every lap. Not helped by a block headwind along the road leading into the bottleneck. This made it harder to get to the front, you had to come out of the line of riders and produce a lot more power to fight the headwind with no drafting assistance! Unfortunately for many of the laps I was heavily caught up in the effects of this bottleneck.

A group of 4 riders got away, opening a small gap on the wide road into the headwind and using the bottleneck to their advantage. They stayed away from the second lap until the end, impressive riding!

The peloton rode a good tempo but never really went hard enough to cause splits or close upon the breakaway riders. As a result coming to a bunch sprint in which I was 58th.

Kermesse (2/2) – Meigem

Meigem was a strange one!

Recently I have started training a lot more on my time trial bike in preparation for a Commonwealth Games qualifying event and the Island Games in June. I think a combination of training on both bikes was responsible for some abnormal sensations during this race.

I constantly felt I was on the verge of cramping, not a nice feeling!! This heavily impacted how I could race. Rather than riding aggressively I now had to ride conservatively to ensure I didn’t lock up and that I finished the race. I kept looking down at the Garmin and the k’s were ticking by incredibly slowly,  similar to that feeling you get during a long effort on the indoor trainer!

Strong winds and lots of surges really made it a struggle! With just two laps to go, I was sure I was done (Game over)! Last man on the road and swinging a couple of bike lengths behind the rider in front. I took a caffeine gel, which saved the day! I was able to close the gap and move up through the peloton a little during the final lap to finish 36th. Not too disappointing given the circumstances.

Unfortunately no pictures from either of these races. However I have updated the photo tab on the website with all the latest photos I can find. Take a look here.