Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Just as i was getting out of bed to grab my slippers, book and head downstairs to look at a calendar for some solace, one of Jones' eyes popped open with a simultaneous puckering of the lips in anticipation of his morning kiss. Instead he was handed an impromptu game of "20 Questions". "Is it race day today? What day is it? what date is it? Are you sure i raced yesterday? But i was talking to my coach while having coffee. Oh, HE was having coffee in California. Are you sure we dont have to leave for Luxembourg right now? Why am i so confused?"
I had this same confusion when traveling with pro teams. But at least when traveling with them it was almost always race day when you awoke. It was confusing sometimes to awake in a strange bed, in a strange room with a strange person.
It is race day tomorrow so I am ok...this time.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I just got back from Azencross in Antwerp, Belgium today and it was not too good for me. But i have two more tries in the next days for a better result. There is a race in Luxemburg January 1st and another "hometown" race January 4th in Tervuren. I love when the race is close enough where i can ride my bike to it. Have backpack will travel...
I'd also like to give a shoutout to my fan club who screamed their heads of at me today in their thick belgian accents! You all made me feel special, like I was a rockstar.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
After racing in yet another World Cup (in Zolder, Belgium) yesterday, i was a little tired today and did very little writing. By tomorrow i should have my race report from this last race submitted to Cyclocross Magazine.
I did, however, take time today to thoroughly relax with lots of couch play and left the house briefly to run some errands and buy myself a holiday gift or seven.
First stop was to my favorite cheap supermarket called Aldi. They sell rotating staple items like pasta, tomato sauce, coffee, wine, bras, bike trainers, wedding dresses, and boxed wine.
Next was to my favorite store in all of Belgium. It is a thrift store called Spit. I go there for set items like pocketable backpacks that i use for shopping when on the bike, fun winter hats, funky tees, outdated bike jerseys, and exotic dishware. I got lucky with three hats and two backpacks, each 80 cents but jonas scored more than I. He found a stylish chocolate pudding-colored short sleeve button-down that'll go perfect with his Levis. His other winner was a pale blue insulated vest - both 4€. And lastly I found him a scrunchable backpack he can use to carry his meals into work when takes the scooter.
As Jonas waited on the checkout line, I ran over to their book section. I never checked it out before since i assumed they were all in dutch. But to my surprise, there was a whole English section. By the time i settled on some books, peeled my eyes away from the rest, and ran over to checkout, Jonas was already checked out. Since the line was too long to wait again, the moment was gone. I will have to read my remaining two books real slowly to drag them out until I go back to Spit again.
Thanks for reading and hope your holiday season is going well!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Aside from birthdays, I am not normally much of a holiday person but i do take a moment during the holiday season to sit down and think about everything i am thankful for. It always seems to cheer me up so i can come closer to matching the giddy spirits surrounding me at this time of year.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I also got a new book today - YIPPEE!! It is Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I think they just made a movie about it. Normally I dont read blockbusters but my friend Karen gave me a book called New Moon on her last trip here. There arent many places to buy english books so i read it, only to find out that it is the second book of a four-book series. Shoot. Now i have to read the first book (Twilight) to get the answers to assumptions made in the second book, and also must find out how it all ends. Luckily, there is a British shop down the block so I ordered the rest of the books.
Well, i gotta get to my book now. My next post should be by monday or tuesday. Fingers crossed that i will have good results to write about - or at least good stories!
Have a great weekend!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Next we played with his new Tacx indoor trainer. It's that high tech one where you hook it up to your computer so you can ride famous events like Tour de France and Tour of Flanders. It was too cool. They use real footage of the course, complete with cheering folks taking photos. I can easily see myself sitting on the trainer for hours without noticing the time. My ass may notice though.
Jonas and I sat with Jan, his parents and their friends. Since most at the table didn't speak english, i was "forced" to conduct and follow all conversations in flemish. I am happy to report that i passed. The only word that snagged me was "afraid."
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Last Sunday I raced at Frankfurter Rad-Cross in Frankfurt, Germany. Even with its UCI ranking, an event so far from Belgium should theoretically produce a low-key turnout, but instead I lined up alongside superstars like Hanka Kupfernagel, Pavla Havlikova, Sanne Van Passen, Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn, Helen Wyman, Gabby Day, and Marianne Vos. Yep, child prodigy herself – before reaching twenty years of age she had already earned World titles on the road, cross and track. After her recent addition of Olympic champ on the track, she took a break from competition. It was her first cross race of the season.
As Vos was parked next to us (and Hanka), we caught up a little before starting our warm-ups. She confided that she was actually nervous about the race. It is always nice to remember that even the top athletes get nervous like the rest of us.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Marin mountain biking: Blind ambition - Visually impaired racer McMullen makes his mark
McMullen can't. He is blind. But you would never guess it from his chosen passion of downhill mountain-bike racing.
A former extreme skier, McMullen lost his sight to diabetes in 1994 at the age of 32. His two double-organ (kidney and pancreas) transplants may have cured his diabetes but his sight remained impaired.
"If you cover one eye with your hand and you take a toilet paper roll over the other eye, put saran wrap over the top and smear Vaseline over it, that is my vision," McMullen said.
McMullen has no vision in his left eye and 20/1,200 in the right. He has no fear either, which is why the Redding resident is featured in the documentary film, "The Way Bobby Sees It," which will be shown at the Lark Theater in Larkspur on Thursday night.
How does McMullen do it? In open areas, he can make out shadows but, in the trees, he can't see a thing. So McMullen relies on human guides such as Chris Schierholtz of Mill Valley
"The guide tries his best to protect Bobby but it can be a mentally exhausting job," said Schierholtz, who works at Marin-based Wilderness Trail Bikes, which sponsors McMullen's racing.
"In a recent trip up Mt. Tam, I took him all the way down Railroad Grade at Mach speed, even managing to avoid a lady with four dogs on leashes sprawled across the trail, navigating him through Mill Valley traffic.
"Just when I think I got him down safely, he walks right into the garage door at the office. I forgot to tell him it was partly down. When you get down the hill, you are so mentally exhausted that you forget you're in charge of him, even off the bike."
In other words, even with all precautions and solid support in place, there will always be accidents. Some worse than others. Sometimes they are too numerous - and painful - for McMullen to track his injuries and fractures.
"Seven fingers, multiple wrists, collarbone, ribs and foot É I couldn't begin to count," he said.
Yet McMullen is adamant that the tradeoff is well worth it.
"My passion just happens to be on the bike," he said. "The benefits outweigh any consequences - the people and the experiences are great."
It helps McMullen that there always has been an element of danger in his life. His passion for extreme sports did not happen after he lost his sight. McMullen used to ski about 150 days out of the year. When he wasn't on skis, he took up riding mountain bikes as a favor to his girlfriend. After McMullen's sight faded, he didn't quit skiing but rather took it to the next level of Paralympic ski racing. Ten years and over thirty broken bones later, McMullen traded in the skis for a downhill mountain bike which he races 25 events per year.
That helped him hook up with Schierholtz at WTB. Schierholtz has served as a guide for McMullen about seven times.
"I am grateful to have him in my life as a racer and a friend. When he comes in the office, everyone gives him a big hug," Schierholtz said. "As much as he relies on others, he is a very independent person, while humble and thankful. He has a cane he uses once in a while but prefers not to use it so he isn't obviously visually impaired."
It was McMullen's dream one day to ride up - and down - Mt. Tam and Schierholtz helped him attain it.
"He is in your hands and he's yelling at you to go faster and you're already going really fast. It's scary," Schierholtz said. "We hit speeds of 20-25 mph. We're cooking and he wants to go faster. If everything is feeling right, we do go faster. It is inspiring."
It's not easy either. McMullen's immune system isn't the best so, Schierholtz said, "a simple cold can crush him."
So could a big tree if McMullen were to take a wrong turn. He wears extra padding and a full face helmet.
"He falls all the time and gets back up and he's gone," Schierholtz said. "Just imagine falling and not knowing where you are going to hit the ground. Just imagine trying to reach a hand out.
"In the (documentary) film, the camera shows what he sees, a blurry mess."
Fortunately Schierholtz and his other guides can sort out any twists, turns or obstacles in McMullen's path. When he is out and about or racing, McMullen rides a few feet behind his guide, who sends a steady stream of directives back to McMullen such as "bump, bump, bump, up, up."
In turn, McMullen keeps his guide abreast of his status by responding with remarks like "I'm on, yes" or "I'm off."
McMullen also relies on sound - namely the rattling of his guide's bike - to keep him upright. If he hears the chain slapping against the frame, he can expect bumpy terrain. Or if he hears no sound, his guide is probably airborne so he knows to prepare for a jump.
In addition to using words and sound to get the job done, McMullen constantly works on becoming a better bike racer through feel. Since he cannot learn by watching others ride, he periodically enlists some of his professional downhilling friends to describe a proper riding technique such as navigating an incredibly steep rock bed while situating their bodies in correct position for that maneuver so McMullen can run his hands over their bodies to feel what it must look like.
"I live a risky life. If they would have said before the transplant that I couldn't ride my bike, I would have refused the organs. I like to think that the transplant has allowed me to live the life I have chosen," McMullen said. "Transplants don't last and I will inevitably have to face these challenges again. I am living life to its fullest because that's who I am and what I have always done."
So McMullen doesn't need to see Mt. Tam to appreciate it. He senses it. When McMullen completes a ride down Mt. Tam - or any other trail or race course - his reaction is pretty much always the same.
"I give it a WOO-HOO!" McMullen said, smiling. "It's the second-best feeling in life. We can't talk about the first-best feeling in a PG-rated paper."
Christine Vardaros is an accomplished professional cyclist from Mill Valley. She is also writes for VegNews and Cyclocross magazines. Contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at http://christinevardaros.blogspot.com
ON THE BIG SCREEN
Bobby McMullen will appear at the screening of the 60-minute documentary film "The Way Bobby Sees It" at the Lark Theater in Larkspur on Thursday at 8 p.m.
- Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 at the door.
- Info: call (510) 653-2453 or log onto www.norcalmtb.org
Friday, December 5, 2008
Luc is also one of the organizers of GVA (Gazet Van Antwerpen) Cyclocross Series, with particular emphasis on the infamous Koppenbergcross. On a side note, the scoop is that Belgian National Coach Rudy De Bie just gave his women racers permission to compete in Koppenbergcross next year (the day before European Championships). This means there may be a Koppenbergcross category again for women next year! Yippee! It is by far my favorite course in Belgium.
Last month, Koppenbergcross had a steady stream of 700,000 Flemish viewers on TV, with the highest volume reaching 827,000 towards the end. Maybe the two-man last lap battle between Sven Nys and Lars Boom pulled that extra 127,000 to a TV to witness the outcome. That is about one in six residents living in the Flemish section of Begium tuning into the race.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
At the advice of their manager, the Sunweb-Projob team took yesterday off from racing so they could be fresh for today’s event sponsored by their team. It definitely helped since Klaas Vantornout and teammate Sven Vanthourenhout got 2nd and 4th place respectively. Hard man Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner ) took the win after he shook Klaas off his wheel midway through the race. Bart Wellens (Fidea) rounded out the podium in 3rd.
‘Rider of the Day’ awards go to:
Bart Wellens – for his spectacular ride from 20th position due to a poor start to a podium spot.
Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) – for his strong ride from 21st (on Bart’s wheel) to an impressive 12th place.
Sven Nys – for winning the race with only one shake of the hands for warmth!
From the first lap, Sven and Klaas took the lead with two Sunweb-Projobs leading the chase.
Going into the third lap, Sven and Klaas built their lead to almost 30 seconds. With five rounds left, the leading duo’s lead dropped slightly 20 seconds partly due to the perceived bickering between Klaas and Sven regarding who should be riding in front on the pavement sections. Maybe they were waiting for their teammates? Doubtful since they mainly all ride for themselves. Sven V’s attack on the chase group also helped to minimize the gap to the leaders. His effort eventually managed to pull Fideas Bart and Erwin Vervecken out of the chase group.
The wind and snow has really picked up during the race changing the good lines every lap.
With three rounds left, Nys accelerated and dropped Klaas. Thirty seconds behind was Wellens, Sven V and Vervecken. As soon as the leading duo split, Sven was gone – gapping Klaas by nearly 15 seconds in a two minute period.
By now, the sky has turned dark and the temperature was quickly dropping. I bet the icy-cold water under their tires didn’t help the situation much. Thankfully most were fully legged, covered ears and some sporting hats with bills to keep the snow out of their eyes.
The course had been completely covered in snow where these guys couldn’t even see any lines - good or bad. By the time Klaas would come through a section on the course, Sven's tire line was already gone. Some seemed to be affected by the ‘inclement’ weather while others like Sven didn’t seem to notice.
Coming across the pavement with two laps to go, Sven V slapped his hands against his hips in an effort to warm them up. A bit behind him was a line of guys riding the pavement section all shaking their hands in unison.
The mud was now so thick that Sven seemed to be pushing the bike forward mainly with his arms for most of the course. As the race went on, the increased number of near-catastrophes, especially in the turns, was proof of how dangerous the course had become.
Going into the last round at 51:41 Sven crossed the line with a 30 second gap on Klaas. Having shaken Sven V off his wheel, Wellens puts in a last ditch effort to bridge to Klaas 15 seconds up the road.
Sven crossed the line with hands raised, while Klaas and Bart crossed the line with hands shaking.
In the finish line tent, the first thing Sven did was put his hands in a bucket of warm water.
It was painful to watch the racers suffer after they crossed the finish line. Even though I expected the racers to be suffering badly from the tough weather, I was in pain watching them. It was only one hour before their race that I, too, was doing the hand shake.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Saturday, 22 November 3pm - Belgium time
As seen on Belgian TV
The rib fracture gives him the most pain.
He had to lie flat in bed for one more week, but then next Sunday he can start with aqua jogging - the only form of exercise he can do.
If everything goes well, he can go outside in four weeks at earliest. They don't know when he can compete. But when he does, he won't be in the shape he left the racing.
Sven Nys also had a few words to say about Niels. He said he contacted him a few times for moral support since this is an important time of the season to miss. He then added that it is always nice when Niels is there since it adds more tension.
In an atypical style, Bart Wellens (Fidea) gets the hole shot. But after a couple of minutes, he drops back to the chasing group while Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner ), Thijs Al (Be-One Team) and Kevin Pauwels (Fidea) continued at the front. Shortly after, in a thick mud section lasting only about 20 seconds Nys picks up the pace and puts 5 seconds on the rest. Only Pauwels and Zdenek Stybar (Fidea) are able to bridge up to Nys.
After the first round, Nys and Pauwels are alone in front by a few seconds. Ten minutes later, Wellens seems to have gotten his second wind and broke away from the chase group with Stybar on his wheel. Once they get within striking range, Stybar jumps over Wellens and onto the wheels of Nys and Pauwels.
For the next few minutes, the three of them (Nys, Pauwels and Stybar) lead the race with Wellens yo-yo’ing behind.
OH NO! Nys and Stybar are wrapped around the course ribbon! While Stybar quickly remounts, Nys' bike is stuck and he can’t get it free. Finally a supporter comes over to help. The two Fideas – Wellens and Pauwels – take advantage and quickly gain valuable seconds over the other chasers. Behind them is a group of about ten chasers hovering 10 seconds back. It takes Nys a few minutes but he is finally on the tail end of the group going into the third lap with 4 laps to go. He is in 12th place - 22 seconds behind the Fideas.
Wellens is using his amazing running skills to keep the pressure on at the front. Nys is slowly moving up from the back of the group while his teammate Rob Peeters (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner ) pushes the pace at the front.
Nearing the end of the third lap, Peeters is in third position, 11 seconds behind Wellens and Pauwels, and five seconds ahead of the chase group of nine.
Going into lap 4 (3 laps to go), Nys has already moved up to 5th. Peeters trails the Fideas by six seconds. Richard Groenendaal (AA Drink) is next to cross the finish at 15 seconds behind the leaders, and Nys is behind him at 20 seconds with a group of riders strung out on his wheel. A moment later, Nys puts a gap on the group with a nice acceleration in the mud.
In front, Pauwels attacked Wellens and got a few seconds between them. It didn’t last long though thanks to Pauwels’ semi-endo while getting of his bike, giving Wellens, and eventually Peeters a chance to get back on. Meanwhile, Nys is trying to get by Groenendaal for fourth position who is putting up a good elbow fight.
Nys finally passes Groenendaal through deep mud while groenendaal chooses the parallel smooth grassy supposedly faster path. Very impressive. Instantly Nys was gone! He appears to be gliding over thick deep mud and sand!
Amazingly two minutes after he left Groenendaal he closed the 15 second gap to the leaders. The lead group going into lap 5, with two to go, is now Wellens, Peeters, Pauwels, and Nys. They have 15 seconds on the chasing group of 8.
Wellens is repeatedly attacking the group now to put Nys in difficulty since he is in 4th position. And it worked but not in the way he probably intended. Nys tripped over his own bike when his front wheel hit Pauwels' while running in a tight turn.
These guys are now completely covered in Mud. I guess the hail and snow is the least of their concerns at the moment. Just as I am screaming at the TV for Nys to pass Pauwels who is being gapped by Wellens and Peeters, he does it. My screaming worked!
They are really riding at their limits because they are all slipping out in all the muddy turns - every single one! The pressure is surely on. I wonder what Wellens is thinking as he gives a glance backwards on a long muddy stretch only to see Nys expediently closing the gap.
The group of four are now passing a flurry of lapped riders. Nys just passed Peeters in a sand section and is flying towards Wellens!!!
Uh-OH! Nys just came into view in 4th position. What happened? OH NO - a FLAT TIRE!!! He still has another ½ kilometer to the pit. They pass the start line with one lap to go and Nys is already 14 seconds behind. Bad timing to flat. That flat really cost him the race…or maybe not.
Rob Peeters just ran into the course banner on a slick deep mud descent and the Fideas are gone. Worst yet, Peeters is almost run into from behind by a lapped rider.
My guess is that Wellens will win, Pauwels second and Peeters third. But this is a real (echt in dutch) cross race so anything can happen. Nys is running, and running, and running. He is still riding on the flat for some sections though.
Pauwels just crashed again at the same section as a few laps ago.
Nys just got new bike at the same moment the chase group reached him. If he rides all out, he can still manage a 4th.
Thanks to Wellens’ repeated accelerations, the gap between Wellens, Pauwels and Peeters is many seconds. Wellens is on fire, riding like a man with a real mission. While many seconds behind, Nys again is working on shaking the chase group off his wheel. And he is doing it. Gerben De Knegt (Rabobank), Bart Aernouts (Rabobank), two Fideas and Groenendaal desperately try to keep on Nys’ wheel but he seems to have shaken them all.
For all those who wrote Wellens off earlier in the season, this is his answer directly from his legs.
Splattered in mud from helmet to shoes, Wellens gives a heavy sigh of relief as he wipes the mud chunks off his jersey and crosses the line, helmet slightly tipped and hands raised high.
Pauwels 2nd, Peeters 3rd, Erwin Vervecken (Fidea) outsprints Nys for 4th, Nys 5th.
Bart Aernouts 6th
Gerben de Knegt 7th
Petr Dlask (Fidea) 8th
Richard Groenendaal 9th
Wilant van Gils (Pro Cycling Team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida) 10th
Zdenek Stybar 11th
Radomir Simunek (Palmans-Cras) 12th
Friday, November 21, 2008
The next days are supposed to be even worse, hovering at the 3°C mark during the day. We are even expecting snow. I have only seen snow twice in all the time i've spent here.
The last days Jonas has been threatening to switch his pump toiletries to spray can style, take them all outside and go ape-shit in an effort to help bring a bit of global warming our way. Sure, it's not politically correct but it's a nice thought nonetheless.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
They talked about his recent win at Gavere, asking him if it was a fluke where he replied that winning it five times in a row disqualifies it as an accident.
Of all the topics discussed, there was one that shouldn't have surprised me, but did. The interviewer asked Sven if he was nervous about not winning since November 1st.
This question proves just how quickly the Belgian fans are to judge. Before Sven got his answer out, I said to Jonas - "But he just won a race last weekend at Vlaamse Houtlandcross in Eernegem." I expected Sven to respond with that but instead he told the interviewer that there is only one weekend between Novermber 1st and now. That is hardly enough time to cause concern.
In hindsight, i now realize that Sven would have looked silly to have mentioned that win last week since it was not one of the blockbuster events like a Superprestige, GVA or World Cup. And i suspect they would have called him on this.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that the press, media and fans were writing Bart Wellens off only for him to come back with a heroic Pijnacker World Cup followed by a strong 2nd place in Gavere Superprestige. Maybe next time they will all listen to him when he says not to count him out yet.
Another pleasant surprise of last weekend was Erwin Vervecken - another cyclist who has not been treated kindly by onlookers. Watching him cross the line for 4th at Gavere was wonderful.
I wrote a personal update on my race that is now posted on CXmagazine.com . It will give you a better picture of how I scored my top 10 finish at Gavere Superprestige. Yippee!
(Photo taken by Krist Vanmelle)
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
And not all flowers are easily digested.
On another note, Niels Albert was quoted today as saying that road racing is easy. They dont have to deal with mud or dirt. With nicely pumped up tired and good condition, anyone can make it to paris in the tour de france. But you cant win it without good products.
I'd say those are fighting words. haha.
He went on to say that most of the cyclocross peloton is clean. That you dont need drugs to ride only one hour at your maximum.
As for me, the flu is finally gone. Only a couple of remnants remain - slight cough and stuffy/runny nose.
This weekend is Gavere Superprestige and i have never been more excited to race this season than i am for this event. I don't really have an explanation for it, other than I am simply feeling ready to suffer to the fullest of my ability. I look forward to the burn in my lungs and the throbbing of my legs. My goal Sunday is to ride so hard that I pass out just after I cross the finish line.
Jonas just set up my stationary trainer with a super duper mackdaddy trainer gizmo that measures watts, cadence, heart rate, speed and a bunch of other stuff. It has definitely added a bit of entertainment to my indoor riding. I havent figured out yet how to work the "average" and "max" buttons yet which is proving to be a real challenge, especially when i try to record numbers in the middle of hard efforts.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
But luckily (or rather unluckily in some cases) the worst of the flu fell on weekdays, leaving me with deluded ambitions of racing well on the weekends.
Two weeks ago, i raced in Germany - Magstadt and Lorsch.
The first race was a rather unpleasant experience. It would have felt worse if i were fully awake for it. To get to the race on time, we had to leave at 4am for the 6-hour trek. I spent most of the drive in and out of consciousness, possibly not the best way to start a race. When i keep this in mind, i am thankful for my 8th place finish!
Afterwards, we drove 1.5 hours directly to our hotel in Lorsch. After two hours of washing the mud out of all my clothes, shoes, helmet, orifices, the rest of the evening was focused completely on recovery. I rested, ate, drank, ate, rested, rode the trainer, stretched, rested, drank and slept.
The next morning was spent doing exactly the same. I was determined to make something of the weekend.
As I waited patiently for my callup to the starting line, I realized that I would have no idea when i am called. They do it by numbers, not names. So if it doesnt sound like english, dutch (not deutsch), french, or spanish I am screwed. And screwed i almost was if it wasnt for a couple of gals next to me who nudged me forward after my number was called. Good thing "one minute" sounds similar to dutch so i knew how much time before the gun. This was especially important considering there was no gun fire. The guy tried two times but couldnt get it to pop.
He finally gave us the nod to go without him and off i went. Down the extended false flat straightaway I went, with the whole field in tow. Yep, i got the whole shot - oops, that too thanks to Ahrens. The lead lasted only a few minutes since i didnt know the course. Every time i tried to pre-ride the course, the course patrol kicked me off. By the second lap I was pushed back to 6th position. But once i knew the course, i picked up the pace and got back to 3rd position. I wish i had a camera to capture the look on Jonas' face when i turned the corner into his sight in 3rd. He was surprised. Heck, i was surprised. By the last lap, I had put about 40 seconds on 4th place and even got within ten seconds to 2nd place.
After the race, one of the girls asked me "What happened to you today?" That was a good feeling since it was only a day ago that many of these same girls kicked my butt and now they are minutes behind. I guess it is true that (most) anything can happen in a day. Even though the race was not a high profile one, it felt good to be on the podium again.
By Sunday night, the flu fully kicked in. The next days until Saturday were spent exclusively on the couch and in the bed. On saturday, we drove up to Pijnacker, Holland to pre-ride the World Cup course. I was feeling slightly better saturday I figured I'd give it a go. At least I'd be fully rested. The course was slightly muddy which was good for me since the flu usually sucks power right out of your legs. The next morning was a completely different situation. It went from slightly muddy to slightly dry.
My callup was right next to Katie Compton. When the gun sounded, she moved forward while I moved back and out of the field. Last place. It was even worse in the muddy, grassy sections where I was only strong enough to push a "nieuwelingen" (newbie or AKA granny) gear, making the gaps bigger and bigger. I only managed to pass a few racers before the finish.
Now i am back on the couch. I will be turning in an update to CXmagazine.com shortly so keep an eye out for it if you want to read hopefully a more entertaining version of my travels. There will also be an interview of Helen Wyman up there shortly.
Thanks for reading!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
But to our pleasant surprise, we found a fully groomed string of trails - complete with wood barriers for jumping. It was a cyclo-cross rider's fantasy. After doing a few loops, about ten more cyclo-cross riders showed up. They were the belgian beloften (under-23) and junior team. As we continued to finish our workout with them, I pulled up to a forced dismount only to realize the legendary 3-time ('98, '99, 02) World Champ Mario De Clercq was watching me. It's not too often that a cross rider has such a prestigious cheering section during a training ride in the local woods. Naturally i took extra care to execute my dismount perfectly. If it wasnt hard enough to pull this feat off, try doing it while having thoughts of how you learned how to ride a cross bike properly by repeatedly watching videos of him. Many years ago, when Coach Elmo first taught me how to ride a cross bike, he supplied me with a stack of cross videos so i could see what it looks like in a race. De Clercq was the winner in most of them. I will always remember the stoic bordering on sad look on his face as he stood atop the podium.
After our workout was done, we ran into Belgian CX National Coach Rudy De Bie, who was in charge of the workout. We found out how the course became groomed - he came early to the woods before work and before the sun came out and manually swept the whole course! What dedication to the kids. I was thrilled that i could benefit from it as well. I am very thankful that he has given me an open invitation to train with the kids any time. Rudy - see you next week!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
As always, thanks for reading!