CHRISTINE VARDAROS is the popular Belgian-based American racer who is also well-known as a mean cookie-maker. Christine's end of season Cookie Party at the Sluitingsprijs in Oostmalle is now an institution on the Belgian pro circuit.
A regular World Cup racer, Christine has 'fallen foul' of a new UCI ruling this week that will mean she misses out on the Valkenburg World Cup. We'll have more detail on the impact of the new ruling, which was intended to increase participation not restrict it, on Cyclocrossrider later this week. Here Christine tells us her six favourite 'cross courses. photos: ©kramon
Koppenbergcross (BEL) // Getting to ride up the infamous Koppenberg cobbles, followed by a gnarly descent that can even claim the best of bike handlers as its victims – all in front of a crowd lined five-deep in some spots – is pretty fabulous. What more can a gal ask for… we even get our own “therapeutic" mudbath by the end.
The course can send you flying over the bars, landing like an ostrich with your head buried in the sand
Koksijde World Cup (BEL) // With much of the course covered in deep sand, it's hard not to feel like a little kid as you slide about the dunes. And if you're really lucky, the course can send you flying over the bars, landing like an ostrich with your head buried in the sand if you hit one of the many ditches neatly concealed by the sand.
Christine racing a World Cup at Koksijde in 2012.
Valkenburg World Cup (NED) // When this course is wet and muddy or frozen it can be one of the most challenging events ever. The climbs can be so difficult and some you can barely make to the top on foot. As for the descents, they can become a two-wheeled form of Russian roulette.
Namur World Cup (BEL) // I was already hooked on this race well before it became a World Cup. It was more like a mountain bike race back then with crazy steep, long and treacherous, singletrack descents where you just had to pray to the gods that you'd make it to the bottom in one piece. Cyclocross brakes really weren't enough to even slow you down against terrain like that back then. Nowadays, the course includes only three super short steep descents that still manage to instill fear in most racers - some refuse to ride them down, opting to go on foot.
...So scary steep and technical that they've caused cyclists to pack their bikes and head home
Zolder World Cup (BEL) // Depending on weather conditions, this course can range from super fast through to impossible to ride. No matter what mother nature has in mind though the riders can count on a nice singletrack section in the woods followed by two drop-offs that are so scary steep and technical that they've caused cyclists to pack their bikes and head home after their attempts to pre-ride it.
Overijse - Vlaamse Druivencross (BEL) // This “local" race, close to my Belgian home, is a real classic and with good reason! From beginning to end, the riders are seriously challenged by the course terrain. Whether it be the never-ending, steep, leg burner climbs, the greasy switchback singletracks, the mini sand sections, or the perpetually wet cobbles, the course keeps both riders and spectators thoroughly entertained every second along the way.