This afternoon Jonas and i headed over to the nearby woods for some cyclo-cross training. We expected that we'd have to do a little bit of searching and guessing where the trails are since we're in full fall season with everything completely covered in a thick layer of leaves.
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!