"Not ME" were the first two words when i clicked on the subject header of the email from Jan - aka J-Rocket! Two weeks ago, Jan raced in the Elite category at a Flanders Cup mountain bike event that took place a few towns from where I live. (Note the difference in his appearance from the beginning of the race to the end! haha!) Against a strong field of Elite riders, he placed somewhere around 20th, which i found impressive - especially considering he has a real job that requires he spends most his time on his feet.
Most of his competitors are "professionals", meaning that they do not have to hold a traditional job to pay the rent; maybe they are lucky enough to get paid for it, live at home with mommy and daddy, have a gainfully employed girlfriend/wife (think Cat. 2 male road racers in USA), or are a trustefarian (forgive my misspelling, clearly i am not one of those!)
The email Jan sent to me with the "mtb champion" title was regarding this Sunday's Belgian National Championships. The way the categories here in Belgium are broken down, you either race Elite, cyclotourist or Masters. Along with most racers, Jan has no real category to call his own. If he races the Elites, guys like Philip MEirhaeghe will lap the merde out of him, and if he races with cyclotourists, it discredits all the hard work and dedication he puts into training; his exquisitely low body fat will be wasted. AND if he loses against guys with picnic baskets and camelbacks, his ego could be crushed - he IS only a guy, you know!
In USA, mountain bike racers have multiple categories to choose from: beginner, sport, expert, semi-pro, and pro. AND each of these categories (excluding semi-pro and pro) is further broken down by age. If Jan raced in USA, he would most likely be categorized as an Expert 25-29.
Well...he chose to line up with Meirhaeghe - a brave guy indeed, especially considering he prerode the course yesterday and reported back that it is very heavy (challenging terrain)!
Veel Succes Jan en pas op!