I was really looking forward to the Hasselt round of the Bpost Trofee. The course was situated in a park in Hasselt and while it lacked lung-bursting climbs and daring descents, it is a fun course with a few great course-side features, like the swimming pool or bmx park.
It was also a nice that the organisers mixed up the course a bit and it was slightly different, compared to last year’s. As was walking along the course, I saw someone pedalling the wrong way on the course, then turned around and started pedal hard to gain momentum. I didn’t really understand why, but a few minutes later it became obvious.
The ditch. The organisers decided to dig a foot deep and roughly three feet wide ditch about a mile into the course. I bumped into Sporza’s Renaat Schotte there and he explained that they [the organisers] wanted to spice things up a bit, hence the pit. Then earlier this week, Rob Peeters visited the course and he suggested/demanded it to be wider. The organisers duly obliged, which summoned the anger of a few other riders. All I can say that it was a great spectacle and it didn’t pose much problem to the majority of the riders.
After posting the obstacle on Instagram, it was given many names, ‘collarbone alley’, ‘reverse barrier’, ‘tiger pit’ and ‘hopit’ were the best ones. Someone also pointed out that at least this obstacle cannot be stolen. What did he mean?
Well, the other interesting story Renaat shared with me was the story of the tree logs. One of the emblematic features of the course are two logs that act as an obstacle on the course. These tree logs were simply stolen on Tuesday and the organisers had to replace it. I guess the above mentioned ‘inverse barriers’ were more theft-proof.
While it was a great race, there were two things that caused me grief today. Murphy’s law states that whichever tool/lens/battery/etc. you leave in the car/out of reach, that exact tool/lens/battery/etc. will be vital during the day. For some reason, that is unknown to me I had left the 17-40 wide angle lens in the car and reaching the ‘tiger pit’ I realised that I needed that lens specifically do take the photo I had in mind. Except that it wasn’t in none of the pouches of my vest. It was in the car. To add insult to the injury, this was probably the only race where the press parking was a 10 minute walk away from the press centre, making it even trickier to retrieve it.
The other thing were the marshals. Most of the time there is mutual respect. They allow us to do our jobs and we stop when they ask us to stop and behave nicely. Most photographers have been doing this for a few decades so we all know where we can stand without interfering with the race. However, today we were ‘greeted’ by a legion of angry and unhelpful marshals, who moved us off-course consistently and sometimes aggressively. It made our lives unnecessarily more difficult and and less productive.
All in all, it was a great day and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow race at Asper-Gavere, one of my favourite courses!