Monday, September 28, 2009

What are American Cyclocross Racers Worth?

Belgium has it all figured out - based on their criteria of course!  The Belgians run a very popular Fantasy Cyclocross game called Gouden Cross (Golden Cross) where you choose your fantasy team, then watch how they do throughout the season. 

When putting your Fantasy Team together, you choose nine riders while staying below the team budget of 200 million euros.  The charts provided show the value, in millions, of each rider. 

But before you choose a full American squad, be forewarned.  There is a caveat;  the only races that count for the game are European events like World Cups, GVA Trofee, Superprestige and a few others like Overijse, Scheldecross, Niel Jaarmarktcross and Sint-Michelsgestel.

Jonas and i are submitting our teams this week.  One team costs 7€, btw.  If you want to try your luck, go to .

AND if you want to PLAY FOR FREE, go to CYCLOCROSS Magazine's Fantasy Cyclocross.
If you play CYCLOCROSS mag's version, you may just win a super cool belgian prize that was just donated by one of the TOP racers. Keep your eyes on CYCLOCROSS Mag's site for the announcement.

I also registered my team on CX Mag.  Of course i chose myself as one of the racers!  You gotta believe in yourself!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sneak Preview of the Team Blog

It isnt nearly done yet, but feel free to check it out. All comments are both welcome and appreciated!
CLICK HERE to reach

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Team Zannata-Champion System gets first BIG-TIME Press

Daily Peloton was the first to publish our Team's Inaugural Press Release.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Training Cyclo-Cross Race Complete

It was with a handful of girls and a swarm of u-19 junior boys. You know you're in Belgium when even the ten year olds are decked out in full team kits down to the matching bikes, clipless pedals, and race faces. It is really something special to see.

The race served many purposes for me. I got to remember (offscreen) what it is like to race cross. What i now remember most is that it really beats you up! You dont even have to fall of your bike and you return with bruises and pains that you have no idea how they were aquired. Bugger!

Among a few other things, I also remember now that my shifters only allow for three upshifts at a time. I was coming off my road bike where i can shift straight from the smallest sprocket to the biggest in one move, so imagine my dismay when i figured out i can only change three gears at a time - in the middle of a super steep climb. After a few mid-hill runs, i finally adjusted.

But overall it was a success. It was the first time offroad with my new bike so I was able to see how it handled under pressure - my guess is that it handled it a bit better than I. haha. I was pretty nervous before the start, wondering what it was going to be like. And now i know.

It was also the first time wearing the new team kit with new bike in public. I forgot how much fun it is to be fancy and new! I got a bunch of looks, questions and some even stopped to take photos of me and the bike. As goofy as it sounds, it made me feel special. I am so incredibly thankful for that.

Here are some photos from the race so you can check it out for yourself. Photos were taken by Francois Buyssens.

My next race is yet another training one with the boys this saturday. Then the following friday i am off for Treviso, Italy. The first round of the World Cup Series. After the race, Jonas and i plan to spend an extra two days in Venice to unwind. I dont know if i look more forward to the race or to our post-race activities!

As always, thanks for reading!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009


With cyclocross just around the corner, it is time to pick your fantasy team. CYCLOCROSS Magazine has an online game where you choose your ideal team from a list of riders. If you choose well, you can win BIG PRIZES - in addition to bragging rights of course! There are some Belgians registered as well. Think you know the riders better than they do? PROVE IT!!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First ride on the Zannata Z45 Cross Bikes

After staring at that one photo i had of the new cross bike, I finally got to ride the real thing today. Talk about getting you in the mood for cross season! The bike feels solid, responsive and most importantly it looks good on me.

Tomorrow the Champion team clothes come...again. Hopefully they will be the ones intended for me this time. A few days ago i got teammate Veerle Ingels clothes by accident. I figured it out when i opened the box and pulled out what looked like barbie doll clothing. They were so tiny i couldnt even try them on to see if there was any way i could swing it. Oh, to be as small as i could wear the clothes right away!

After Jonas and I get the clothes, we are heading over to the mobile home store to order an awning for the travel van - one of my priorities. Being able to stay dry at the races is such a luxury! Two weeks ago we got one of Jonas' priorities - cruise control.

Last Sunday our 6 hr MTB relay race went really well! We were 2nd place mixed team and i personally won a year's supply of Persil brand clothing detergent for being the fastest girl - or was it the girl who traveled the farthest to be there, all the way from America! We weren't paying attention to what they were saying until we heard something about an american woman. oops. Either way, that was super cool! Our team sported the stylish Vanderkitten jerseys as i didnt have my new team clothing yet.

The next two weekends are local races then it is off to Treviso, Italy for the first round of the World Cup. Afterwards we are going to Venice for a couple of days to be tourists - on bikes so we can still get in the training rides since the following weekend is GVA's Citadel van Namen. I am writing an article on the event for CYCLOCROSS Magazine at some point soon so keep an eye on it!

On a side note, I want to wish Bart Wellens a speedy recovery. I just heard on the radio that he has a chronic fatigue type of virus. That sucks. He said that means no races, no training, no nothing for him. And he just told the press recently that this is the best preparation he's ever done for cross season.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My second to last road race completed

Yesterday i did a criterium in West Flanders called Avond van Zonnebeke. I normally wouldnt travel a whopping 1 1/2 hours in a car just for a local road race (yes, we are spoiled in belgium), but it was a crit - my favorite of all road races. It was 40 rounds of 1.75km. And bonus was the slight rise every lap.

The first 30 or so rounds went well. I felt fresh and even briefly showed my face in the wind a couple of times. But then I hit a wall. I dont know if it was the heat or maybe i went too deep in my cyclocross workouts lately but it surely didnt feel good. Thanks to the mini climb i was able to relax a little every lap and stay on with the peloton for the sprint, although my sprint was more like slow motion. I got out of the saddle and went through the physical motions of a sprint but my actual speed was more that of a cyclotourist.
It was the tiniest field of the years with only 25ish starters. I finished 18th - yes, only 18 finished the race. I won a total of €22.50; €12.10 start money and €10 prize money. Did you hear that two days ago Contador won a criterium here in Belgium? He was paid €50,000 start money. I doubt even Marianne Vos gets close to a fraction of that from any race organizer. And she has a much better finishing salute - possibly the best of all bike racers. It is so animated it can bring tears of emotion to the unsuspecting.

The real superstar of the day was a british gal who basically motorpaced us the whole time mainly well over 40kph, except for the climb where she lowered the pace to the mid 30's. Then she whipped us all in the sprint. I heard she is World Champion on the track. If you see her, she even LOOKS fast - long and thin like a greyhound. Unreal.

After the race, Jonas and I met up with Krist for a drink. I had my usual Ice Tea. Then i tried a Bellevue Kriek beer - it is a girly cherry beer that is usually more sweet than alcoholic. Bellevue was just the opposite so after two sips - one to try and one to confirm - it was over.

Next race is this Sunday. It is a 6-hour MTB relay race with jonas, ronny, kris (jonas' sister's husband) and me. I will be the one with the cross bike. Theoretically my cross bikes and clothing arrive this week so i may get to test them out in the race.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What Does Gordel Mean?

Usually it means belt. But one day a year here in belgium, it means chaos on wheels. Today is the day. Bikes everywhere, many thousands of them. In fact, the whole of Brussels is closed down and closed off to cars on this one day. It is the day where "real" cyclists, alter their normal training routes to avoid the Gordel Tours.

Today i did my training ride with Jonas and Ronny. Since i got to pick the first part of our ride so i could tailor it for my specific workout, I choose a Gordel route (but in the opposite direction - i'm not THAT massochistic!) We dont have Gordel rides in America of this magnitude so it's a spectacle to me, something not to be missed. It was great! The riders served as a sort of moving film. Some riders had oversized balloons tailgating their bikes. Others brought their whole family - I am still amazed how one woman put all four kids on her bike. And the power she must need to propel that bike forward! I think my favorite was the old woman with her dog in the handlebar basket. She must have been about 85 years old but in true belgian fashion she was hauling ass on her 40kg town bike with barely 30psi (little over 2 bar) in the tires.

After my efforts were over, i handed over the route-choosing to Jonas, who immediately took us off the Gordel route. Party over. But thanks to Jonas' inattention, Ronny shortly took command and we were BACK on the Gordel route. Just out of curiousity, i finally asked Ronny why he would choose to ride along the cyclotourist parade route. His hand motion of drinking said it all - FEED ZONE! On all the Belgian tours, there are feed zones every few kilometers. Sure enough, five minutes later we were enjoying drinks courtesy of Gordel. Clearly, Ronny has a zwarte gordel (black belt) in seeking out the one benefit of the Gordel ride for non-gordel riders.

Tomorrow is an evening criterium, Avond van Zonnebeke. Afterwards, we are having a drink with our friend Krist at a cafe. Considering there is at least one cafe in every belgian town (NO MATTER how small that town is) i bet we will have no problems finding one. In fact, race registrations here in Belgium are usually held in cafes - yep, smoke and all.

And after this race, all focus is on CROSS!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

2009-10 Cyclocross Season Calendar (almost) Finalized

Wanna know where i will be the next months?
Here is my tentative list. Changes will probably be made, but the bulk of the events will remain the same.
Hopefully you can come out and see me at one or more of the events!

13 Sep: 6 Uren van Kortenberg - BEL
26 Sep: Stabroek - BEL
4 Oct: Treviso World Cup - ITA
10 Oct: GVA Trofee CX Int'l Namur – BEL
20 Oct: Nacht Van Woerden - NED
25 Oct: GVA Trofee Koppenbergcross - BEL
8 Nov: Nommay World Cup - FRA
15 Nov: Superprstige Cyclocross Gavere - BEL
21 Nov: Int Döhlauer Crossrennen - Döhlau bei Hof - GER
22 Nov: Karl-Wagner-Preis Int – Strullendorf - GER
28 Nov: Koksijde World Cup - BEL
6 Dec: Frankfurter Rad-Cross - Frankfurt a/Main - GER
13 Dec: US National Champs - Bend, OR - USA
18 Dec: Scheldecross - Antwerpen - BEL
20 Dec: Kalmthout World Cup - BEL
22 Dec: GP Montferland - Zeddam - NED
26 Dec: Heusden-Zolder World Cup - BEL
29 Dec: GVA Trofee Azencross - Loenhout - BEL
1 Jan: GP Hotel Threeland - Pètange - LUX
3 Jan: Vlaamse Witloof Veldrit - Tervuren - BEL
13 Jan: Int. Centrumcross van Surhuisterveen - NED
16 Jan: Int CX Huijbergen - NED
17 Jan: Roubaix World Cup - FRA
24 Jan: Hoogerheide World Cup - NED
31 Jan: World Championships - Tabor - CZE
6 Feb: GVA Trofee Krawaten Cross - Lille - BEL
20 Feb: Lebekke - BEL
21 Feb: GVA Trofee Int'l Sluitingprijs Oostmalle - BEL

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wanna hear about my NEW Cyclocross Team?

Yep, I have a new cyclo-cross team! It is a small one with two elite riders, me and Belgian powerhouse Veerle Ingels. Our sponsors are Zannata, Garage Van Ermen and Champion System. And i couldn't be any happier!

The bikes and clothing are set to arrive next week so you will have to settle for photos of photos for the moment. As you can tell, we will easily be the best looking team in the peloton! The World Champ stripes are in tribute to Roland Liboton who worked with Zannata boss Johan Moeyersons (pictured with his bike) on the cyclocross frame. The clothing design came from David at Garage Van Ermen who is always Mr. Fashionable so naturally the clothing reflects his style.

Now that the bulk of the team stuff is handled, i am busy with getting everything else in order. I'm always amazed by how many little tasks are necessary just to race my bike.

Regarding the fitness, I have been doing the work - training hard, eating well but you never quite know what to expect until the first cross races. If the few road races i've done so far is any indication, it is theoretically coming along. I have felt pretty solid during the races. My wheels and tires, however, have fallen apart. In only a handful of races i managed to go through two new tires, two Mavic Ksyerium SL wheels, and three flats in total. A few more intervals, hard workouts, training races and i should hopefully be ready to go for cross season!

Next weekend is my first offroad test. I am competing in 6 hours of Kortenberg, a mountain bike relay race with three others; jonas, Kris (jonas' sister's husband), and Ronny. Of course i will be on the cross bike.

The following day i am racing my last road event. After that it is two more training cross races with the junior men and off to Treviso, Italy for the first World Cup on October 4th. Oddly enough, i am already nervous and excited for this race! I also love road trips so that always adds to the excitement.

Until next update...thanks for reading!