I finally made it to Germany and had a very relaxing off season.  The few times that I was required to go for a bike ride just blew my mind.  My backyard is basically the Schönbuch Forest. Which is a large forested area similar to the Black Forest, and large enough that I can do a 4 hr ride in the forest and not have to deal with any car traffic, it’s great!  It’s mostly all double track gravel roads, so I’ve been spending a whole lot of time on my cyclocross bike.  One of the major differences in terms of training out here that is different from Edmonton is all the climbing.  Switchback gravel climbs up the ying yang!  I’ve been doing my best to learn and speak as much German as possible, but the overwhelming new words and phrases are sometimes hard to manage with.  Lucky, but not good for my German language progression, is the fact that when I try to speak German to locals, they sense the bad accent and immediately switch to English.  My incredibly talented wife is having the other issue because when she picks up languages, she picks them up with a flawless accent, so locals look at her funny when she asks them if they understand English in near perfect German.  But we have been attending German classes twice a week which is what I need and it’s a bit too slow for Emily but it was important that we would be able to do them together.  On the other hand, my role here aside from training like a professional cyclist is to do all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning around the house, or the house-husband.

A typical weekday of shopping with the new German Steed.

A typical weekday of shopping with the new German Steed.

I’ve been getting pretty good at it and am getting really good at sourcing really cheap things that we need around the house and for my training needs.  For example, last week I found a lady on E-bay-Kleinanzeigen (which is basically the Germany Kijiji) for a weigh scale I needed who was in Stuttgart (40km’s away) so I made one of my training days go long and headed up to see if I could find her house.  Thankfully I have a GPS directions app on my phone that tells me where to go otherwise I would have definitely been lost in the forest and small towns.  It’s pretty hard to navigate around here over long distances because of all the hills and all the small towns look so similar.  Anyways, all that and the weight scale only cost me 2 Euro.  Totally worth the trip.

Sunday is a fun day to head out adventuring because it’s the one day per week that people have nothing to do.  Literally all the food shops are closed and most family’s head out doing family things, so I see a lot of smiling family’s out on the trails.  Today I figured I’d head out in the other direction on my ride and head towards the Schwabische Alb.  I found the coolest looking tower thing on the top of the nearest mountain and headed straight for it.  With a few detours, I eventually found it (along with some very rare single track)…

Threshold View of Schwabische Alb

Schwabische Alb View back to Tübingen.

The riding here has been phenomenal, and I can’t wait until my rides get up to 4 hrs in length because it would open my reach to some very cool options in the distance.  For right now I’ve been keeping most of my rides close by Tübingen in order to keep the expenses to a minimum, but on the rare occasion I’ve head out on a bit of a travelling adventure.  A few weeks ago Emily and I headed out in search of snow and found Davos.  Very cool place to be skiing that’s for sure!  I can’t imagine what the downhill skiing must be like there!

Emily and I skiing (Langlaufen) in Davos-Klosters.

Emily and I skiing (Langlaufen) in Davos-Klosters.

Speaking of that photo, I’m definitely going to have trouble regulating my chocolate intake in Germany here.  Emily took me to the Ritter Sport factory in Waldenbuch (about an hr ride away) last weekend and we rode away with probably 4 kg’s of chocolate in our bag.  In order to keep the intake to a minimum, we have implemented a 4 square per day rule for me and Emily hid the chocolate somewhere in the apartment so I can’t find it and randomly chow down on a whole bar… or two…

In team news, I have been able to hook up with a local MTB team for the summer so I’ll be doing a mix of marathon races with some Olympic races thrown in for good measure as I try to do my best job at transitioning from roadie-CXer to MTB-CXer.  Check out the website!  http://www.haico-racing.de/  Haider’s shop is very cool.  I have a feeling I’ll enjoy this summer!

 

Ok, so first off, thanks to all those who cheered me up after last weekends, lets call it, debacle.  I’m better now, seriously!  My sanity was never in doubt, I just needed some nice words of encouragement and a bit more familiar things going on to straighten my head out.  Well I got it and Belgium didn’t disappoint.

Don’t ever ride your bike into cars.  Just don’t do it.  It sounds like it might be fun, but it’s not.  That’s all I have to say about that.  Luckily my bike is in tacked and the lady driving the car didn’t freak out that much.  6 Euro’s later and it’s settled.  The scrape on my knee will take a few weeks to go away, but my ego and confidence was hardest hit.  It’s really hard to figure out the rules of the road here in Belgium, but that’s what it’s like living in a foreign place, you learn fast!  That was my Tuesday.

Lille C1 – First B Post Series Race

After worlds I wasn’t too keen on sticking around Belgium for another week, but I weighed the pros and cons and I’m glad I chose to stay because even though I’m really burnt out from the long season and in need of a rest, I really had a lot of fun this weekend which is hard to do when your getting your head kicked in by these super fast Euros all the time.

The course in Lille was really cool, lots of open straights where you just need to power so if your not feeling super hot, it’s not the greatest, but we basically rode up and down a sandy beach around a lake.  The bummer about this course is that it’s like racing in heaps of fresh snow, which means single track.  When your basically at the back of the pack to begin with, you just have to kinda wait till the dust settles, then hammer your ass off for as long as you can stay alive and ride a flawless race.  I really liked the course and learned some new things, was also able to bunny hop the barriers every lap which I doubt many guys were doing.  I also came out of it with a new supporters group who were cheering for me near the barriers.  They’ve promised to come next year with a Go Schooler Go Banner!   I’ll hold them to it!

Racing on the Beach

Racing on the Beach

Hoogstraten C1 – Superprestige Series Race

I’m super pumped to have shown up to this one.  It too was a bit of a mud fest but not as bad as the B Race I did in Waregem this year.  At least this course was more riding than it was running. The majority of it was on grass, which understandably turns into mud when cyclocross riders chew it up, but the cool thing about this course was that it wasn’t all deep shitty mud.  Some of it was almost mud mud, some was deep rutted mud, but the reason why I liked the course was because the type of mud changed based on where you were on the course.  They even decided just because the course was too easy that they needed to throw a man made, easily 60m, sandpit in for good measure.  Just because once the bikes come out of the wet mud, they are definitely lacking in the sand department and need to make more grinding noises.  Plus the bikes usually come in around 16 lbs or so and that’s not heavy enough, they need to be like 20 at least before you have to pick it up and run with it again right?   Ok I’ll stop now, Photo break:

MudFest: AKA just another Belgian Race

MudFest: AKA just another Belgian Race

The race got off to a fast start and as we went off the tarmac and onto the first section of deep rutted mud I right away was thrown to the right and ran into this guy beside me.  I hit him, and my momentum pushed him into the fence.  I was amazed that I didn’t go down either, but I really felt bad for the guy as it looked like he crashed hard.  But that’s cyclocross, some dude did that to me at Worlds and sometimes you just can’t avoid it.  There was also a really cool section in the course where the barely ridable mud turned into barely mud then a random ditch a few meters away from some actually quite high barriers.  Normally I try to hop them but as I came up on this in the pre-ride I wasn’t quite sure it would be doable based on the ditch right in front of it.  Anyways, as I was walking back to get another go at it, Rob Peeters goes and straight up bunny hops the ditch (my main concern) so I figured it was all ridable.  I hopped them (somewhat sloppy) and the rest was history.  I like it when I can hop them and no one else does.  Gives me pride in what I do.

Verging on deep-rutted and peanut buttery mud with a bit of sloppy wet mud thrown in for good measure.

Verging on deep-rutted and peanut buttery mud with a bit of sloppy wet mud thrown in for good measure.

Oh well, finished off the season with a couple races a couple laps down, but I had fun this weekend and gives me motivation going into the off season and a year of more unknowns.

Next up, my life starts in Germany!  4 hrs of sleep and a bit of driving on the docket for tomorrow.  Looking forward to seeing Emily again!

It’s pretty hard to get used to racing in the mud EVERY race you attend here in Belgium, but that’s just the way it goes.  You need practice in the mud?  Spend more time in Belgium.  This weekend was the World Championships.  And I was representing Team Canada for the 4th time in my cycling career.  It’s a special feeling to put on the maple leaf and wear it proudly, especially when there are so many people there to cheer you on.  I know it’s only one race, but when you have a bad race at the world champs, it’s hard to take as an athlete.  You spend so much time making the selection and doing well to get here, but what’s the next step from Worlds?  Obviously to win would be nice, but there’s no life or death feeling I get when I show up to Nationals and have to make it on the podium or I can’t race Worlds.  I’ve had a lot of people tell me how good it is to just be racing at Worlds, but as an athlete, your always looking for more.  Why are Canadians at the back of the pack?  What will it take for us to shine on the international scale?  What will it take for me to shine?  What’s the answer? I don’t know.  Maybe I should spend more time with Geoff Kabush to find out.

Worlds weekend is always stressful.  Regardless of how prepared you are or not it’s a big deal.  Each country sends their top riders pitting the best against the best.  There is no other higher level event than that.  I was hoping that with my connections here in Belgium, I’d have no better preparation leading into Belgium and all was set up pretty well or at least I thought.  At least I was all smiles before the race:

Signing autographs for fans

Signing autographs for fans

You never know what can happen, but when the stripes are on the line, people tend to get a bit aggressive. I started quite well on the road and all was fine until riding through the first mud pit when a rider who was running around a crash just pushed me off into the barrier forcing me off my bike and to start running.  You can find the video of this on Facebook.  Shortly after this I managed to somehow get T-boned by a French rider from behind.  The first photo on this site shows the aftermath.  http://www.wkhoogerheide2014.com/HoogerheideEN/goto56.aspx

I ended up tangled in his bike and felt like throwing it into the crowd.  Anyways, when I righted, I noticed that my rear shifter was broken in half rendering my bike a two speed (both gears being utterly unusable)

If you look close enough you can see how messed up the shifter is.

If you look close enough you can see how messed up the shifter is.

After changing the bike I tried everything I could to chase back but it was a rather large deficit to come back from.  I lost it mentally and after endoing a couple times in some ruts later in the race I was totally out of it.  I felt like a fish flailing around without water.  Eventually I got pulled with 3 laps to go.  It’s hard to accept that sometimes you just have to roll with the punches, but I guess it’s also how you deal with them.  This years worlds I dealt with things poorly and am feeling the effects of a really long season.  All learning experiences that are worked out with a new coach, but also a change of life events.  I’ve dealt with a lot this year, so I’m happy to come out of it with the great results I have earned.

Worlds 1

Next up:  Lille and Hoogstraten.  The last 2 races before the much needed off season!

This one is a little late, but I’ve been… ummm…  busy?

Actually quite the opposite. I’m bored out of my mind, and trying not to eat too much food is proving challenging.  I came down with a throat sickness thinggy after the flight over and the first couple World Cups so I’ve been a bit under the weather.  Good thing is that Emily came over for Christmas which was good to have some sort of visit as it’s been a while.  She went home over a week ago now and I’ve been slowly getting back to some sort of a healthy state and consistent training.  The days are still short, but the longest ride I have been doing is no more than a few hours so it’s easy to get the training in when you don’t have to go to work for 8 hrs a day, but I’ve been spending too much time watching movies on Project Free TV.  When I get to Germany I’m going to have to set a limit to one movie a day or this could get out of hand…

So onto the racing:  Waregem, My first ever Belgian B race.

I was still getting over the sickness and didn’t have the logistics planned out to attend the Rome World Cup so I figured I’d hit up one of the local B races in Belgium instead to see how the health issues have affected me and get some hard riding in the legs.  Why I didn’t just get back in the car and drive home after pre-riding the course is beyond me, maybe I’m stupid, maybe I just like to suffer, maybe I just enjoy the feeling of mud being squished into every part of my body, who knows.  Regardless, I stayed and raced it anyways.  The course was the most insane I’ve ever ridden (nope, not ridden, taken part in), not in a good way, not in a knarly/fun sort of way, only in a ‘this is stupid’/’why am I doing this’ sort of way.  It was about 300m’s of pavement, followed by some zigzags, followed by another 100m’s of pavement followed by what can only be described as shit for the rest of the lap.

The very small amount of ridable pavement on the course.

The very small amount of ridable pavement on the course.

Some of it was ridable, but I was going so slow I might have been better off running, then the other half was so muddy/boggy that you had to run, and the mud was at least 1 ft deep in the good sections.

The expression on my face says it all.

The expression on my face says it all.

Not to mention every time you stepped down your foot got stuck so every step you took was like taking a gigantic leap half way up everest.  Or at least that’s what it felt like anyways.  Oh yeah, and the best part:  The first lap both in training and the race, the first steps that I took in the foot deep mud were after a small step down in gradient so I had some speed going into it and the force of my body weight plus the super deep mud ensured that there was a vacuum that immediately sucked all the remaining air out of my shoes and replaced them with mud.  Yes, this mud went right through the double socks I had on, and filled every remaining void I had left in the shoes.  Try running for half an hour as hard as you can with a bike on your back with feet that weight like 20 lbs each in the sand and let me know how you feel the next day.  Needless to say I was a little bit sore.

All in all, at least the announcer was announcing my name every lap after he found out I was from Canada.  And thanks to the wonderful man who picked up my jacket at the start line and brought it to me at the finish line.  I didn’t have anyone to take my clothes, so that was a nice gesture!  Also a big thanks to Luc, my helper in the pits who did an awesome job of keeping the bikes clean and functioning all race.  After the race he looked worse off than I did in the ‘covered with mud’ department.

I might do another B race in West Flanders, all depends on if I want to ride/run through farmers fields against Belgians who do it on a weekly basis again.  But right now, I’m not sure, maybe I’ll mull it over for a summer first.  But happy at least to come in the top 20.  Wasn’t sure what to expect…  At least I felt good on the riding sections…

Next up, Otegem C2.  Aka (according to me) Belgian Nationals Revenge on Monday!

Side Note:  Best of luck to all my friends racing their respective national championships this weekend.  Lucky me, I don’t even have to race and I get free UCI points this weekend :)

I’ve officially been in Belgium now for a couple weeks and it’s been a rocky road to start things off.  The first race in St. Niklaas was not that good as a few days after arriving here I came down with a sore throat that turned into a whole lot of phlegm that I ended up coughing up.  Still, I probably had not too bad of a race as I feel my general fitness getting better from last year.  They did make us ride WAY more of the sand this year which meant that I had to do a lot of running.  I need to keep practicing riding in the sand, particularly when there is a 90 Deg turn into the sand pit, because I feel like an amateur sometimes out here…  The field was a bit stronger though which made it a much faster race in general.

St. Niklaas C2 a

Since I’ve been away from my wife for a while, it was pretty great to finally be in the same house together let alone the same country!  Emily took an all night train ride into Belgium from Tuebingen just to visit with me for Christmas.  So we took some time to ourselves and went shopping, avoiding all the things that seemed odd…

Belgian Trap

 

And sent out a Merry Christmas Belgie gram to the social media universe…

Merry Christmas in Belgium

 

Now, onto some World Cup action:  Namur.  This time I remembered my contacts, and it definitely made a difference as I think this years version of the race was actually much harder than it has been in the past just based on the fact that it was still muddy as hell, but not as wet making the mud sticky and Edmonton style heavy clay.  Very rough on the bikes, and after dealing with traffic on the first lap, eventually got into a groove to move up many spots and battle heavily for the top 50 bringing me in with some points and some well received prize money! Not to mention a favourite World Cup photo!

Namur World Cup Tom Prenen

 

Onto a couple days of rest and I was prepped for the Zolder World Cup.  It is one of my favorite courses normally, and this year it was super fast with a very small amount of sandy mud!  I tried again to have a flawless start, but some of the other riders at the back of the pack were starting to be a bit aggressive forcing me off the bike a few times and just generally not working well in a group but instead disrupting the chase.  Because that’s what we’re all doing at the back of the pack, chasing!  Oh well, found an ok group to ride with if they would stop chopping me after doing the majority of the work on the road then get dropped with 2 to go.  I’m very happy to have finished on the lead lap as I had done a few years ago, but this time in the top 50 and oh so close to a top 40 spot.  43rd and my best ever World Cup finish.  Can’t wait till the next one!

What a beautiful day to top off a Boxing day World Cup Cyclocross race!

Zolder World Cup 1

 

Next up: Baal C2 with GP Sven Nys!   Check out my Race Calendar Page for my next up and coming races!

 

As I sit here on the cramped plane ride over the Atlantic Ocean, headed into a sea of unknowns, I can’t help but think of all the various things that I have ability to do without having to head to work for 8 hrs a day 5 days a week. My plan: To become a professional Cyclist, or more specifically, a pro cyclocrosser.

You see, this is the beginning of my 2 year European journey. A journey that 3 years ago I never expected would even be a possibility and I owe all of it to one cold day in Edmonton 2.5 years ago at the Strathcona Wilderness Park (a popular park outside Edmonton, AB, Canada where cross country skiers enjoy the freshly groomed daily trails and cyclists train in the ‘off-season’. This is where I met my wife, Emily Lynes. She was in Edmonton completing her PHD at the University of Alberta, an avid cross country skier from Ottawa, was out skiing with her uncle. I had seen her out before, but never been introduced. Little did I know that our paths had crossed many times before at various sporting events, and bike races. She asked me out skiing on facebook, as she didn’t have a car and needed someone to drive her, and just over 2 years later, I asked her to marry me.

Proposal March 2013Answer March 2013

Where to go from here?

What would be the most mutually beneficial place to move for a young professional couple looking to gain experience in their respective careers; Myself splitting my time between my engineering career in the oil and gas industry as a piping designer, and the other half and main focus to an ever growing semi-pro cycling career and Emily researching in Cell Biology and wanting to specialize into the Neurology field?

Europe! Where else?

There are many reasons why we settled on Europe:

* Great opportunity for Emily to find a well paying Post-Doctoral job.

* Cost of living relative to income is much more manageable on one income.

* Give us one last Europe trip before we settle down and start a family.

* Would allow me to, for the first time in my cycling career, focus my attention to cycling as a profession without the need for a full time job to keep afloat and see where it can take me.

The later point being what I was most excited about. After we decided this, all other options were off the table, and the hunt for a job began. Took a while, but Emily found a post-doc in Tuebingen, Germany at the Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases. Then, the real planning started.

Where are we going to live, how do we get visas, what paperwork do we need, how do I learn German, etc…

Before this, the only second language I had any encounter with was French. Growing up in Canada, it’s mandatory to take French as a second language for a certain portion of your grade schooling. It was ok with teaching me some of the words, grammar, got me familiar with understanding the occasional sentence, but I had no clue how to actually converse with someone. After a gracious package came from a new friend in a similar situation with the move to Germany, I had the Pimsleur method of teaching ‘books on tape’ and off I went trying to learn everything I could. Unfortunately, I was still working, racing, and training at the time so the first lesson sunk in and the rest were postponed until a later date. I’m beginning to find that taking these lessons are good, but the easiest way to learn the language (from what I’ve been told anyways), is being in the country struggling through the words with a native speaker correcting you along the way. And from what I hear, the Germans will always correct you.

Now, to get back on track with the cycling part:

I am a cyclocrosser from Canada. I started racing in 2006 after I graduated from college and had my first summer off of full time Army work since I graduated High School. I got into the sport late as I was 21 at the time and with my sporting experience in downhill skiing, cycling as a hobby, and other various sports, I took to it quite quickly. My first race was in May on the road bike, and by the fall I had discovered cyclocross. Using old worn out parts from my road bike and a new cross frame, I was ready to race my first National Championships where I came 2nd as an Espoir (U-23) and made the selection to go to Worlds. At worlds I had my worst race ever, but from then on I was hooked. I proceeded to make the National Team again in my first year as an Elite and the following year after that. Given the state of cyclocross in Canada and with it not being an Olympic event, I had to pay for everything myself, and thankfully I had enough income to do so with my engineering job. Although I had to take some time off during the global recession in 2008/2009, I eventually returned after focusing on the road season with Team H&R BLOCK for a couple years in the lead up to the World Championships in Louisville, KY only to dislocate my shoulder in a training crash while in Belgium.

Finally I can Bunny Hop Barriers!  Only took me the entire 2010 season!

Finally I can Bunny Hop Barriers! Only took me the entire 2010 season!

Now I’m headed across the pond again to spend the winter cyclocross season in Belgium with the eventual move to Germany happening after the World Championships in Hoogerheide, NL in February.

* What will I do in Germany? Ride my bike and keep house for Emily.

* Who will I ride for in Germany? I don’t know yet, I think that might end up sorting itself out.

* What will I do in the summer time when I’m not racing cyclocross? I may race MTB’s, road, travel a bit, whatever will keep me fit and allow me to enjoy the culture and surroundings.

* What are my goals while I’m there?

o Learn German

o Experience the German/European culture

o Get to a point where I no longer have to spend money to race my bike (ie: become a professional cyclist)

With my latest results at the National Championships (2nd only to Geoff Kabush), I think I’m headed in the right direction…

Canadian National Cyclocross Championships 2013

Canadian National Cyclocross Championships 2013

Next up: The Belgian Holy week of cyclocross starting with GP De Ster in St. Niklaas

Up until last weekend the coldest conditions I’ve ever raced cyclocross in was about -5C with a -10C wind chill. This had to have been the last time that Nationals was in Edmonton when it was super cold on the first day and actually snowed on the second day. When I finished the race, after the entire race of not feeling my hands, they thawed out pretty quick and this is the first time I experienced the pain attributed to this ‘thaw’.

Last weekend in Bend was shaping up to be a douzie. Weather called for somewhere around a high of -17C and there was supposed to be a small scuff of snow to fall on Friday. In actual fact it snowed at least a foot and knowing that we race at 3:30pm and well after the high of the day, I wasn’t looking forward to it.

Now the major issued with the snow is mostly the fact that the 3m wide course quickly turns into a 1 ft or less wide trail. If you ride outside the line, your only going backwards. The course was night and day different from the year before though and it was a very welcome change for me. On the start I didn’t have a great one so ended up somewhere in the high teens I’d say going into the first corner although with Logan Owen going down in the first corner I was able to ride around him and gain a couple of spots right off the bat.

Realistically though I just had to hold tight and not mess up. I think I stayed in the same position for almost 3/4′s of the race as it was so hard to pass guys in the snow. I managed in the last couple laps to gain a couple of spots with riders going backwards and Jeremy Durrin somehow magically crashing on the uphill only to lose one of them to a way faster running Carl Decker just to lose the sprint to him and Cody Kaiser. It was so cold out there and I obviously wasn’t wearing the proper gloves because I got the major thaw again. This time WAY worse and they were numb for almost a week afterwards. Not good as this means I got a bit of frost bite. Oh well, not a bad finish considering I wanted to stop MANY times and go grab some heavier gloves from the car…

Earning our keep at the Sorlie Host House

Next up:  The move to Belgium and St. Niklaas C2 Event!

In terms of the cyclocross atmosphere in North America, last weekend was just another weekend.  In terms of Canadian Cyclocross, it was the most important weekend of the year, the Canadian National Cyclocross Championships.  As so many roadies and Mountain Bikers take their off seasons to rest and re-coupe to prepare for next season fresh, it’s just when the cyclists who live for adverse conditions, party atmosphere, and a whole lot of cowbell come out to play.

I pride myself on doing everything in my power to show up to the Canadian National Champs in top form, and this year I didn’t disappoint.  For the first time yet so far I made it one step closer to the coveted Maple leaf jersey getting second on the day, finishing only behind one of the greatest legends in the sport Geoff Kabush.  Not to say it’s not possible in the future, because I will get there.  After all, I promised my Dad I’d win him a jersey one day!

Photo: Rob Jones

Photo: Rob Jones

The weekend:

Nationals played out pretty well for me even though I had a very bad start and managed to skip my foot off the pedal.  Due to the fact that we started in a drenched grass field, things were a little different from what I am usually used to on the road starts.  Although I kinda knew something was feeling good because even though I had a bad start, after the second corner I had already worked my way up to 5th.  The guys were really digging deep in the beginning, but I kept it in check and knew it would be a hard slog the whole hour.  After a lap or two McNeely overshot a corner and I heard him say something about having no brakes.  You see, the issue when it’s raining with disc brakes, is that you burn through pads.  Add sand and mud into the mix, and you burn through them even faster.  Luckily the race is only an hour and I was able to switch bikes to even out the load on the pads, but at the end of the race I had nothing left.  The thing I learned last year though, is that it’s hydraulics or nothing.  Hydraulics end up self-adjusting so in situations like this you keep your braking performance in check. Shortly after that Mike Garrigan went backwards very quickly as well and then I was finally on Geoff’s wheel.

Playing in the Mud - Rob Jones

Playing in the Mud – Rob Jones

Unfortunately, the crafty Kabush played with me a bit and shortly proceeded to take off after a sloppy ride on my part through the sand.  I did everything I could to keep him in sight until the last couple laps when I started to get really tired and kept trying to ride things when I should have switched to running.  Geoff was able to put in some good time at the end to extend the lead to one minute over me and I finished a minute ahead of his team mates Cam and Derek who were team time trialing behind.

Sand Everywhere - Rob Jones

Sand Everywhere – Rob Jones

One of the advantages over Geoff which gained some time was that I could bunny hop the barriers.  In this situation it helped a lot as you could then easily ride the following hill without issues.  Geoff was doing it pretty smooth though so the advantage was quite minimal.  Short video below:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10202598415944293&set=vb.1313785107&type=2&theater

The day was a success.  Albeit a super muddy/sandy one.  I needed to come on the podium to make it into the Worlds selection pool, and I did just that.  I also needed to show the National Team that I can ride with the best of them, so put another check mark there!  Getting excited about wearing the maple leaf again!

BC Grand Prix:

The race on Sunday was another mud and sandy fest with this time the course being more slick and worn in than it was for Nationals.   It didn’t rain as much, so the braking issue wasn’t so much of a problem.   It also played out very much the same with the exception of Evan McNeely feeling much better and having a great day.  Geoff took off and was never to be seen again, and Mike Van Den Ham was riding really well, at least in the first half of the race.  As Mike went back, McNeely and I began an epic battle with him being very smooth and consistent and me catching him, the crashing, catching him, then getting caught in the tape and taken down, catching him and trying to pass him while bunny hopping the barriers, then having to deal with him walking to take the line away and crashing again.  It definitely wasn’t a flawless race, but my more experienced legs were able to distance him in the end to take the second silver medal of the weekend.  A very sloppy second that’s for sure.

Next up:  Deschutes Brewery Cup C1 in Bend OR.  And it’s supposed to be a cold one!

 

So the big journey has begun. The next chapter in my life started on Monday. For those who don’t know yet, I’ll be living in Germany for the next 2 years. My wife got a research position (post-doc) in Tuebingen and I’m going there to support her and continue the awesomeness of racing my bike without a full time job. Sounds cool right? It will be a first for me…

The frantic packing was quite typically Schooler. I left most things until after I finished my last day of work on Thursday which only gave me Friday and the weekend to get everything all worked out. With a wedding thrown in the mix, my time was limited and with about 3 hrs pre-flight, the rest of the contents of my room were thrown into the bike bag with my bike.

I really lucked out with timing in Vancouver as I have yet to do a training ride in the rain. Great prep for Nationals coming up. Managed to spend some time with the Norco boys at the PoCo Headquarters building up my second bike early in the week and after a couple learning experiences that have to do with hydraulic brakes, a quick phone call to the guru, and he was here to save the day and a lot of frustration. A big shout out to Colin with Formula Canada Inc. for the very appreciated visit.

The Last VCXC Race of the Season:

Rocked out to Aldergrove for the last cross race in the lower mainland and was going to use it as great prep leading into Nationals. Keep in mind that this is the first BC race of the year for me that I’ve been able to race the Kevin’s who have been killing it lately in BC. At first I thought they were just messing with me and wanting me to do all the work, but after a couple laps, I figured it was time to put them to the test and see what it was all about. With a very bumpy, short, and fun course on tap, it meant lots of passing, crazy fast descents, and a few muddy but fun corners. Guthrie was the first to kick things into gear, so I figured I’d try and put some pressure on the pedals and it wasn’t long before I had a gap and decided from there to keep the foot to the floor.

Credit: Doug Brons

Credit: Doug Brons


A big thanks goes out to the organizers and Volunteers this weekend!

Next up, Canadian National Champs in South Surrey!

To follow it live from home, check it out here:

http://cyclingmagazine.ca/sections/news/live-coverage-2013-canadian-cyclocross-championships/

The last couple weeks have been pretty crazy. Did my last day of work today for quite a while. Going to take the weekend to pack, then it’s off on the big journey. That’s right: Germany for 2 years with my wonderful wife! But only after Vancouver, and Belgium for cyclocross of course :)

AB provincials went down without a hitch. Well, that’s what I like to say anyways even though it was far from hitchless. Riding during the week wasn’t feeling too hot so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Although coming into the rest of the AB races, I wasn’t all that worried. Until the half way mark when I hadn’t dropped Dustin Andrews yet. I heard rumours that he was riding lots, but didn’t really see it shine in the rest of the races I did, so I figured it would just be another normal day with me hangin out until I decided to put the hammer down and drop everyone. After a few laps of giving it my real honest try, he was still on my wheel and I couldn’t shake him. I knew it would be a nail biter and I was getting nervous. Dustin is known for his sprint, me for my… AB leadouts for Kris Dahl? Definitely not the same thing. On the last lap I again put the hammer down, but not too much that I blew. I tried everything to stay in control although as expected, Dustin came around me with almost 300m’s to go. Into the last corner, I threw the hail Mary pass and cut on the inside of the corner (there were two lines around a tree and I took the inside on this one only) and it gave me the slight advantage on the last corner. With the most awkward sprint happening (hoods, small ring, ugly) I somehow managed to hold him off for a wicked photo finish I’ll never forget!
Provincials 2013 Photo Finish
The next day was pretty epic again with the first snowfall in Edmonton coming to stay
AB Provincial Champs 1 Robb M

Last weekend was a bit different. I figured I’d head out to BC to get some more wicked racing in the legs and test out the BC field. At BC provincial champs, which only a hand full of top guys showed up to. Never the less, it was an awesome couple events as always organized by non other than the Cross on the Rocks guru Norm Thibault.

The first day was an absolute mud fest. Had fun duking it out with Tyler Trace, although my hopping ability gave me the slight edge on this one. I’m under playing the slight…
SONY DSC
Lets just say the bike was getting heavier as the day went on and it was proving to be harder and harder to hop the barriers as time went on but it was great practice for all the mud riding!
My Little Pony CX Race Nanaimo Mud
The second day was also pretty cool with the BC signature section of single track showing up again it was a bit of a blast with lots of sand (until I snagged my hip on a volleyball net in the sand pit) but the race unfortunately was me off the front all day. Kind of a bummer that the faster BC guys weren’t able to attend. Oh well, it’s a clean sweep for me!

And a huge thanks to the whole Island family that was able to come out and cheer me on! I ride faster when family is cheering that’s for sure!

Now to get everything in line and pack all that I can fit into 2 bike bags and a carry on for 2 years in Germany… It’s going to get interesting. NATIONALS IN 15 DAYS!!!! Getting excited!