It’s been a pretty crazy last month of the season.  Coming off of the infection I had over Christmas I took a bunch of time off to ensure I was healthy, so when I got back to training, I knew I would be fully healthy and ready to give it a good final push to the finish line, so to speak.  I had a few good weeks of normal training with some finally good numbers in the intervals, so I knew I would be ready for the last few races which would require a bit of travel to get to.  Little did I know the medical issues were far from over…

Nommay, France      then      Hoogerheide, Netherlands      then        Tabor, Czech Republic.

Nommay I rode really steady and technically well.  I think I only bobbled once and rode a really clean race passing lots of guys within the hour and finishing steadily on the lead lap.  It is always a really heavy and hard course in Nommay as we race in deep grassed mud fields.  You can’t ever do more than one lap without fear of busting off a derailleur due to mud clogging.  It was really good prep for me also because I seemed to at one point or another been steadily racing the entire French U23 team the whole day, I’d ride with one guy till I dropped him and caught the next guy, then drop him and onto the next.  I’m pretty sure I rode with at least 3 or 4 of them before loosing the final sprint to the last guy I caught up to to finish 20th.

Nommay Maurice Kloetzlen

Nommay Photo Courtesy: Maurice Kloetzlen

Onto Hoogerheide with a short flight to Brussels from home, some frienemy time with Marky Mark and right into more mud.  Started off ok and finished really strong.  Had one problem midway through after catching a rut awkwardly and it shot me head on into the metal fencing.  I ended up breaking a shifter in 2 and only realized later that my Garmin also popped off my arm never to be seen again :(…  This sport is rough on the body and the wallet.  No holds barred.  Got back up and after battling with my good buddy Parbo most the race, I was left to struggle home solo and was pulled way too soon for my liking.

Hoogerheide Photo Courtesy: Danny Zelck

Hoogerheide Photo Courtesy: Danny Zelck

Finally onto Worlds!!!

After I got home from Hoogerheide, I developed a full on runny nose for almost the whole week, so I knew something was up with me, but really just didn’t know what…  So I said oh well, and pushed through it, because I only had one weekend left and it was the big one, Worlds!

I was starting to actually get excited about this project even though Worlds is typically a high stress project, this year given my knowledge of how the project was going to be run ahead of time and my trust in the staff, finally, it made for a really seamless weekend of bike racing, fun even!  The team was able to pitch in for a custom skinsuit with Focus logos on it so it’s the first year I felt like I was really being taken care of on a professional level.  I had the national team organizing things behind the scenes and the Focus CX Team and Roman making sure the bikes were working top notch.

Worlds Start Photo Courtesy: Tom Prenen

Worlds Start Photo Courtesy: Tom Prenen

The weather all week was below freezing at night and would barely get into the plus temperatures during the day, just enough to create a peanut buttery like mud on top of a frozen glass like ground.  Conditions so adverse that the average cyclocrosser was not having fun.  I was loving it.  So tricky that it was VERY beneficial to spend as much time on the course ahead of time as possible.  I was able to learn from some of the more seasoned vets by watching which ways to take corners faster and which ones to use the sling from the fence or just go with it and ride the rut.  By the time race day came around I was ready.  So ready I had some time to take a few photos with my skinsuit on and my super awesome Icelandic hand knit sweater Emily just finished for me before leaving…  Or maybe not.  I figured there would be enough time, but as I got it on and headed out the bus, Roman reminded me how much time I had left and warned me to head to the start.  No time for photos?  Ok, I’ll ride there with the sweater then!  I got some funny looks and after the conversation I had with Thijs Al at the bowling lane at the after party, I thought it was even more funny… “On live Dutch TV” he said,  “Wearing a Sweater!”

Worlds and the Icelandic Sweater Photo: Shelley

Worlds and the Icelandic Sweater Photo: Shelley

So my start left a bit to be desired.  I know I start slow, but this was quite exceptional.  I was almost on the back row to begin with, and from watching the coverage of the race, obviously chose the wrong side to line up on.  Also given the crash of the Americans which happened just after the first corner on the same side of the track that I was on, I was really close to the back of the pack by the first couple corners.  It took me a while, but I settled in to a grove quite well and after almost being taken down on one of the short up/down sections, the rest seemed to be smooth sailing.  I was riding really well and for the first half of the race didn’t fumble or crash at all.  I was riding pretty steady and picking guys off left right and centre.

Worlds Photo Courtesy: Tom Prenen

Worlds Photo Courtesy: Tom Prenen

I only started to have a few troubles with about 3 laps to go when I started noticing that my rear wheel might be going a bit flat.  At the time I headed by the pits, I wasn’t really sure , but after I skipped the pits and headed onto the pavement, I realized for sure I was delusional thinking a small flat would easily last until the next pits.  By the time I headed off the road section, it was full on flat.  That’s when Zach MacDonald rode by me and I was left hobbling my way to the pits.  After that half lap a lot of umpf was taken out of my legs, which took at least another half lap to get back into a good rhythm.  Sure enough after at least 1:05 of racing, they pulled me on the last lap after knowing full well that I would have easily made it through the finish line before MVDP came around the corner.  Oh well, dems da rules, right?  Little did I know, I cracked the top 40 for the first time ever in a finish at either a World Cup or World Championships, and for the first time ever was in the real points at Worlds after finishing 36th!!!

Worlds Photo Courtesy: Pedal Mag

Worlds Photo Courtesy: Pedal Mag

After I got home from Tabor, is when I knew it could possibly be something to do with the initial infection I had in my leg.  I headed back to the doctor and came home with another (this time full week’s worth of) round of antibiotics.  This time a different kind and a much higher dose.  It was rough for the first few days of it, but I’m almost good as new now.  Thankfully I won’t be racing for a while now, so it will give me plenty of time to restart the body and get fully healthy for real this time…

A big shout out to everyone who has made it possible this year, including my wonderful wife and main sponsor without a logo, Emily.

Next up?  !Will Pro Cycling Team preparations!!!  and a well deserved break from the bike(s)!!!!!

Wow, that must have been the weirdest Christmas period I’ve ever experienced.  With ups and downs, change of plans and friends, sideways rain and snow, it was one to tell to the grand kids.

I started off by heading out to Belgium in prep for the Namur World Cup race.  Emily had planned to stay at home this year and not join me in Belgium mostly based on the fact that it’s Belgium and she’s not a big fan.  I would then stay in Belgium between Namur and Zolder 5 days later (with Christmas in the middle) to decrease the amount of travel I’d have to do and the fact that I can always stay with my Belgian rental parents Luc and Ingrid.  So I made it to Namur and this year I remembered to put my contacts in before the race, so off the bat I’m doing better than last year.

Namur Photo: Paul Sweeck

Namur Photo: Paul Sweeck

The course was a bit interesting though given that it was the driest conditions I’ve seen it in since it’s inception (normally it’s just raining buckets down for the race) and to be honest the fact that the mud was more sticky than usual made it even harder to race than normal.  The downhills are just as knarly though and this course has so many rocky sections interspersed with mud fields that I always struggle to find the right tire pressure.  I ended up flatting on two occasions, once on the back wheel, once on the front, on top of the very many crashes I had during the race.  One of the downhills I was riding so bad as each time I tried to ride the rut at the bottom I’d end up hitting the rut but being off balance from sliding into another rut just before it, so I ended up having a couple pretty spectacular crashes on the same corner and every time I’d come by after the first big crash the crowd would cheer louder.  It made it pretty hard to concentrate on what I was doing wrong at the time, but hindsight is always 20/20.  Finished up a pretty dismal 48th, but enough for a few UCI points. Little did I know the troubles my first crash would cause.

Famous Namur off cambre Photo courtesy: Tom Prenen

Famous Namur off cambre
Photo courtesy: Tom Prenen

So after a few days in Mechelen with Mark McConnell and co. we were off to Zolder for the next big go.  I felt ok and actually was pretty confident with my lines and pressures in the pre-ride, but once the race really got started, my body had other plans.

Zolder  Photo: Tom Prenen

Zolder Photo: Tom Prenen

I had a really good start on top of the fact that the field was down a bit in numbers for this World Cup which meant I was riding pretty steady in the top 40.  After a few laps though I started to ride like crap, crashed a few times, rode some bad lines here, missed a pedal there, and after a bit I couldn’t even hold the pace of riders I’d normally be ahead of.  After getting pulled way to early, and knowing where I should be riding, I was pretty choked, and headed straight for the showers, only to find out no one knew where they were.

Zolder  Photo: Tom Prenen

Zolder Photo: Tom Prenen

Based on the fact that my leg was now re-opened for a second time, and I really needed to clean it as soon as possible, I headed back to the team bus and my team mate gave me a bucket of water to clean off my leg with.  Only problem was, once I started pouring it on my leg to clean out the wound, I noticed it’s somewhat foul smell.  Yep, I was trying to clean out an open and dirty wound with brake cleaner.  After this, I was pretty bummed on the whole Belgian experience for this year, on top of being away from Emily for Christmas, and really just needed to head home to sort out what the issue was, so I decided not to race again over the Kerstperiod until I figured out what the issue was and why I was riding like shit.  A massive thanks goes out to Bob for helping the team out in the Pits during the U23 race, and Susan, Kayla, Ryan, Kristine, and Michael for coming out from Colorado and cheering me on!  It was pretty cool to spend some time with them catching up in Ghent a couple days before.

Bob helped out the U23's in the pits in Zolder

Bob helped out the U23’s in the pits in Zolder

So after Zolder I stayed with my German friend Uli in a cabin he rented in a massive campground near Mol for a couple days while Uli finished his last couple races.  I was able to help him out in the pits for Bredene which was a really cool experience, but after that race, which Uli cut open his chin in (requiring at least a few stitches to patch back up) on our way back to the cabin I started to feel not so good and we thought it was best to head to the hospital to at least get my leg checked out.  Sure enough, it was infected.  I’m pretty glad I didn’t wait till getting back to Germany to go in and get checked because a) I was able to keep my leg, and b) that night and the following morning were the worst I felt and my leg was already looking like it was getting much worse.  So off to the Apoteke to get my drugs and I was on a course of Antibiotics for the next 5 or so days.  I didn’t need to ride my bike much anyways right?

Next up:  Leudelange, Luxemburg C2 Jan 18.

I headed down to Freiburg on the weekend with Emily to meet up with the team and I would attend the last EKZ Cross Tour C1 UCI Race in Eschenbach and Emily was off to a super secret not so secret underground cross race in Freiburg known as the FUQRS.  She had fun, but I guess it was a bit muddy.

In Switzerland, I was super stoked because for the first time since the last time I got to spend time with Mike Kluge 8 years ago in Aigle, he came to the race with us, and I got to soak up some of that years of cross knowledge and experience.  Good thing I did too because the course was a bit of a douzie!  The majority of the course was what I would consider standard Euro style racing with some deep sticky mud sections interspersed with some fast on the pavement sections and gravel sections with quite a few bridges and flyovers going over streams and pedestrian walkways.  Then half way through the lap you went up a MASSIVE road climb, then shot straight down an obscene off cambre steep grassy (which turned to slick mud) hill, and straight back into the forest for a couple birmed corners before coming back out onto the standard Euro flat part.  A few photos below:

I couldn’t find any photos with me in them, I seemed to be the grey man last weekend…  Photos taken from the EKZ Cross Tour website.

Right off the gun I had a really great start from what I normally end up having, given that the start straight was VERY short, and there was a bad crash on one side which I was able to avoid, I managed to hold my position really well and the first couple corners came up super quick.  For the first couple laps I was riding with one of our strong U23 riders Lukas, so we were really able to push each other for the first few laps until the pace I was setting came too much for him, or I think I just rode the technical bits a bit better, and I lost him in the race-fog.  I was riding really well for the first 4 or 5 laps and then I got a bit too confident I think and took a really bad line into the off-cambre downhill and crashed even before it got really knarly.  I had major help from Mike Kluge when pre-riding the course ahead of time, so he gave some really great advice on how to ride it properly.  The most important thing to do was use NO brakes.  Which is kinda scary when you see the photos above, but it’s true and the laps I was the most cautious were the ones I ended up crashing on.  Towards the end with all the crashes and everything, I ended up loosing a bit of time in the lap times, but pulled it home for my best result of the series in 21st.  Not a bad race in such a strong international field and given how many of the guys who race in Switzerland are all World Cup racing MTB Pros.

Mad props and thanks to Mike Kluge for all the advice.

Next up:  Namur World Cup and the Kerstperiode in Belgium!

Because the Milton Keynes World Cup wasn’t running a U23 and Junior race, the team decided last week was a great time to head to some warmer weather, so we flew out for over a week to Mallorca.  It’s at times like this that I feel like a full fledged pro.  I’ve had some motivational troubles at home in the last while, so it was really great to get out of the house and get back to putting some good miles on the bike.

Typical small town in Mallorca

Typical small town in Mallorca

The weather was really nice when we first got there, but quickly turned to raining and about 15 deg’s.  I got a pretty good week of riding in with the crew and banged out some pretty hard core intervals with Felix.  It was really cool not only to get some good riding in, but to be out of the house and off grid with no internet, no phone, and only focusing on cycling, eating, and sleeping.

The team in serious training mode.

The team in serious training mode.

Once we arrived back home, it was straight into a double header of Deutschland Cup races.  First one was in Queidersbach near where Felix lives, so it was kinda like a home race for him.  Very MTB’y course with some good elevation gain (for a cx course, wich is still not a lot) and some good slick corners, plus a really cool massive fly over.  The organizers did a pretty good job of running this one as they are hoping to get the German National champs in the near future.

Saint Salvador, view from the top

Saint Salvador, view from the top

Once again, because I have so few Deutschland Cup points, I was basically starting on the back row.  Lucky for me, it was a really physically demanding course and I was ready for the challenge.  I worked my way up as much as I could, and was running very similar lap times to the leaders after I finally worked my way through the riffraff.  With maybe 3 laps to go I hit one of the downhill sections which were super choppy, and ended up feeling my bars slip a bit down which left me a bit awkward on the bike for the last few laps but because I was SO close to the podium at this race, I decided not to pit and instead do EVERYTHING in my power to try and chase the podium.  I came within almost 10 seconds on the last lap, but it wasn’t meant to be, I had to settle for 4th.  It wasn’t all that bad though, Felix took home the win on Saturday and Sunday!

Rollin out!

Rollin out!

Sunday was another DL Cup race in Bensheim and the course was very typical CX with lots of off cambre, barriers, and lots of short up and downs.  I finally got a better call up which put me on the second row, but I still had a really bad start, so I ended up in the usual position of chasing through guys I am normally a bit faster than.  I really just started getting warmed up in this one and after about 3 laps, when running the fairly tall barriers, I clipped my foot on the last one, it spun me around, and I landed with a smack right on the back of my head, hitting my helmet hard on the ground and breaking it.  I decided to finish the race would have been a bad idea at the time, so I called it quits, and DNF’d.  It’s rare that I walk away from races without giving it EVERYTHING I have to finish, but after hitting your head, there are some pretty important steps that need to happen in my opinion.  One of them being to take it easy and ensure that you don’t have a concussion.  Regardless, it’s never good to finish a race when you don’t know how bad a head injury is, always best to air on the side of caution.

Felix and I at the house.

Felix and I at the house.

Next up, The Last EKZ Tour race in Switzerland this weekend in Eschenbach!

Wick Werks Chainrings!

Posted: 12 December 2014 in Uncategorized

I am super stoked to be announcing that I am currently sponsored by the latest and greatest chainrings in cyclocross, Wick Werks Chainrings!

https://wickwerks.com/

WickWerks Chainrings for Sram Exogram Crankset, I run a 34/44.

WickWerks Chainrings for Sram Exogram Crankset, I run a 34/44.

I got in touch with these guys just before Nationals and they sent me out some rings right away!  I am really stoked to work with tech savy guys who are so keen on cycling and cyclocross, these guys fit right into the mix!  They are one of VERY few companies who are currently making after market chain rings for all the latest and greatest crankset bolt pattern designs like the Shimano 4 bolt and the Sram Exogram rings (which I’m running this year).  Their website is so detailed, you won’t even need to phone them up, because all the information is right there!  Very happy with their performance so far, and looking forward to the notoriously muddy race conditions during the Kerstperiode in Belgium this Christmas!

WickWerks chainrings on my Focus CX Team Mares CX Frame

WickWerks chainrings on my Focus CX Team Mares CX Frame

There are many reasons why I hop the barriers, in these conditions I have better traction on the bike than off it.  And it’s faster!  Started at the back and pulled myself back to 5th in the latest Deutschland Cup CX race in Magstadt!

Video  —  Posted: 17 November 2014 in Uncategorized

Better late than never right?  Well, it’s pretty hard to write a blog post about something that didn’t go according to your expectations.  Now that I’m back in Germany and slowly getting back to my regular routine, I finally have some time to reflect on what seemed like a whirlwind of a trip home.  Even though it was over a month long…

Because CX Nationals is always one of the most important weekends for me, I wanted to come in ahead of time to get acclimatized and fully over the jet lag before heading to Winnipeg.  So I flew in about 3 weeks in advance and it just so happened that the Rochester weekend was going on the first weekend after arriving.  It was some fun racing with an ‘ever getting faster’ American field even though my results weren’t exactly up to snuff, I felt that showing up was still important because of the points on the line.  At least I was able to practice my Cody Kaiser hopping skills.

Rochester UCI Weekend Photo: Dave McElwaine

Rochester UCI Weekend Photo: Dave McElwaine

Then to top it off with a full on DQ on the Sunday’s race because I took one to many steps in the pit without a bike left me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, and only to tell me that after the race just added to the embarrassment.  Oh well, it’s all training for Nats right?

Onto the last weekend of racing before Nats finishing it off with a bit of a more fun/less serious race with the O-Cup in Niagara Falls.  I was able to T-up with an old cycling friend of mine Nick Friesen to head to this race, and it ended up being a fun one!  Again with dry conditions the competition was pretty fierce right off the bat and even though I tried a few times to up the pace, I just couldn’t shake the two younger NCCP riders, Will and Ben.

O-Cup Niagara Photo: Jeremy Allen

O-Cup Niagara Photo: Jeremy Allen

Then after a crash of my own accord, followed by a very lovely turned disastrous encounter with a cool looking German Shepherd after a spectator scared the crap out of him, I was again on my ass picking my  bike up off the ground.  Apparently the young guns decided to wait for me after what happened, even though I wish they didn’t, which was very nice of them, but this is CX racing, and according to the fitness I thought I had, they needed all the help they could get.  Sure enough, I was on them pretty quick and with no time at all I was back at the pointy end of the race taking advantage of the way they were excessively running one section.

O-Cup Niagara Photo: Jeremy Allen

O-Cup Niagara Photo: Jeremy Allen

I rode it like the veteran teaching the kids a lesson.  And I’m pretty sure they learned a few things from it.  Will was on some pretty good form and even followed that weekend up with a second place finish in the U23 at Nationals, nice one!

Nationals:

Onto the big event.  With the organizers doing such a good job and the venue being pretty hard to compete with, I knew this one would go down in the history books as setting the bar really darn high, and they definitely did so.  I was even loving the course with all the technical bits in it, and changes of terrain so often it was a real treat to race it and a real CX course to boot!  Unfortunately I must have been a bit absent minded when it came to tire selection because thinking that file treads ahead of time were the tire of choice, came down to not being the right decision.  I ended up slipping out on the first real off camber section of the race which put me pretty far back, then following it up with another slip out on the same spot just a few laps later basically ended my hopes of being on the top step.  Not only that, but using the tires that I did meant that I was a bit sloppy and it gave me the feeling of riding on ice when I went over some of the gravel sections.  None of which were a concern when pre-riding the course at speed.  Oh well, another one for the knowledge of learning book. At least they got some good photos…

CX Nats Run up Photo: Stirl and Rae

CX Nats Run up Photo: Stirl and Rae

I also love when nats is towards the end of October or early in November because then I get to wear the poppy!  Anyways, I ended up charging hard from behind in the end the day in 4th, but far away from the podium still.

CX Nats Sand Pit Photo: Stirl and Rae

CX Nats Sand Pit Photo: Stirl and Rae

On Sunday I was extra motivated to somehow salvage a result after travelling all this way.  I swapped out the Clement LAS file treads for my favourite tread the MXP, and the whole day went so much better.  It didn’t take me long to kind of end up just off the back of the leading group, which sometimes I prefer, so I can ride things at my own pace instead of the pace of someone else’s.  But the whole day I was riding much better and with about 4 laps to go I finally made contact with the leaders but only for a quick second before riding the sand section like crap and being thrown back again once more.  Finally on the last lap I made a really big surge to catch the leaders and at the top of the sand pit area, I was finally on their wheels.  Only to have to loose the sprint handily because I was so gassed.  All in all, I salvaged a podium, and my dignity in the Can CX world.

Nationals Day 2 Photo: Peter Kraiker

Nationals Day 2 Photo: Peter Kraiker

Again, a really big thanks goes out to the organizing crew and volunteers with the CX Winnipeg 2014 this year, It really does set the bar quite high…

Nationals Day 2 Podium UCI C2

Nationals Day 2 Podium UCI C2

Don’t those lightweights look good on the podium like that!
Next up, European Champs C1 and C2 weekend!

Last weekend I headed south to meet up with the team and officially start the cx season with the whole team and man did we kick it off to a good start.  We headed to Oberammergau in the South of Bavaria to attend a local race put on by the family of one of our U23 riders.  The course was looking good, along with the scenery, and I wasn’t complaining at all!

 

Oberammergau View

Oberammergau View

Took a bit of a detour to get to the course, and on this maiden ride I really felt like I was a part of something big.  This team means business this year!

First Ride with Team

First Ride with Team

Oberammergau

Oberammergau

This got a bit dark early where we were so to keep warm we just rode the course a few more times.  Onto race day:

Because this was a local race and we were headed to Switzerland or a C1 on the next day of the weekend we figured it would be best to take it a bit easier on the Saturday and just use it as a bit of a tuner upper for Sunday.  Wasn’t really sure of the level of riders that would show up to this thing, but after the first half lap we pretty much figured it out.  We were by far the cream of the crop that made their way down to this and it ended up being a bit of a team time trial for the majority of the race.  It was really cool though because I got to see the lines that my team mates took and they got to see the lines that I would take so there was definitely a bit of learning going on.  One thing I’m finding out quick is that there is a very large difference between the North American way and how the Euros do things.  Anyways, we still had lots of fun with the crowds and I managed to hop the barriers every lap, so it’s really good practice for that!

Team Time Trialing

Team Time Trialing

Towards the end of the race, the U23 rider Lukas ended up pulling away from myself and Felix to clinch the win just one day after designing and building the course himself!  Reminds me of a race I used to do this at back home that normally runs in September…  Anyways, it was really cool to earn my first European podium flowers!

Podium Sweep

Podium Sweep

We then quickly headed straight down to Switzerland for the C1 on Sunday.  Thought I was fully on track for my warm up, then quickly realized that the race was at 3:30 and not 3 like I thought, so I ended up getting a bit of a longer warm up in that day.

EKZ Cross Tour Dielsdorf

EKZ Cross Tour Dielsdorf

It must have worked though because I had a really great start, and really loved the truly North American style dry course with lots of turns.  For the first time I felt like I was on form so far this year and it was a bit of a bummer to have rolled my tub with about 3 laps to go.  The laps were pretty short so it didn’t take much time to get to the pits and change bikes, but it kinda took the umpf out of my legs and I eventually hobbled in to the finish still without getting lapped thankfully.  It was a great finish to the first part of the European CX season as on Monday I flew back to Canada to start the CX Nationals campaign.  Big thanks goes out to the incredible Roman for all the hard work he did this weekend and ahead of time getting all the bikes and wheels ready to go for the first big outting as a full team.

Team Manager/Mechanic  Roman

Team Manager/Mechanic
Roman

Next up:  Rochester, Ellison Park CX!

The CX Season is officially here!  I headed down to Switzerland for my first taste at the big leagues this season and my first race with the new team “Focus CX Team”.  Took the train down to Freiburg to met up with Hanka Kupfernagel who was also planning on racing and as we share the same support crew, we all usually travel to the races together.  Unbeknownst to me, all but one of my team mates had either cancelled their trip at the last moment or had issues preventing them from racing.  Hanka had a pretty scary crash a few days before and was having some tail bone issues so she thought it best not to damage it further given that it’s this early in the season…  So regardless, I pushed on and really wanted to test my legs out on the first CX race of the year.  Albeit a very hard one at that.  The course was basically a MTB’ers course with lots of climbing every lap, one section with a few wicked berms to hit at high speed, not to mention and incredibly bumpy and rough course.   If I raced it with a MTB I would have chosen the fully!  It had everything, including some pretty high barriers mid-way up one of the big climbs, some man made stairs, and lots of skill testing corners.  It’s like I threw myself into the deep end to kick off the season.  I mean Vegas is a big deal, and getting stronger every year with more and more Euros showing up to race them, but the rest of the guys, and all the crazy fast U23 riders apparently start their seasons off is Switzerland!!!

Personalized Numbers!

Personalized Numbers!

Also, Because Hanka wasn’t able to race, she decided to help me out in the pits giving me feeds and taking photos etc…  I’ve never had a World Champion work the pits for me before :)  We had lots of fun!

The Race:  The start went not so great after the guy in front of me kept running into the rider in front of him, so I was left riding Very easy until I was clear to get around him, and eventually I was able to get clear.  The first few laps were just about trying not to blow up.  I lost a few spots and in traffic decided not to hop the barriers on the first lap.  From the second lap onward it was just a matter of riding with a good group and picking off guys who obviously don’t know how to pace themselves in the first CX race of the season…

Extremely bumpy course.

Extremely bumpy course.

I wasn’t able to get the new bikes built up yet due to the fact that I don’t have them yet, so I was rocking the good old trusty Norco Threshold for the season opener, just needed a little bit of good ol’ lovin to get it race ready.  Lots of new bearings that’s for sure!  So I was able to pull back a few guys especially with my skills of being able to bunny hop the barriers, and being the only one to do it it came with a significant advantage of being able to ride the rest of the hill after them with a bit of speed.  I don’t know why but hopping them didn’t seem to draw that much attention, probably because I was towards the back anyways, but I’m glad I practiced with Uli (my new training partner) a few times ahead of this race because I went into it with lots of confidence and was able to hop them every lap when I wanted to…

IMG_0264

The dreadful stair set.

I’m pretty happy with the way the race went even though it’s the beginning of the season.  I changed quite a few things this year with the move to MTB’s in the summer and not racing as much in general, so I really wasn’t sure of the form heading into it, but it gives me a bit of confidence after the first race knowing I didn’t get lapped and most of the World Cup winning riders were in attendance and it was a fairly short lap to begin with.  Anyways, the prep is going well, and I’m stoked about the new team.  Can’t wait to meet the rest of my team mates!!!!

Next up: Not sure, Maybe the next Swiss race in the EKZ tour or a local one in Munich next weekend.  Maybe I’ll be able to debut the new bikes and wheels!  It might take me some time to get used to cantilevers again…

Check out the Video Hanka made from the race!

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10154561444150720&l=1321300012704941341

I haven’t been that good at keeping this thing up to date this summer. I normally like to write a blog after every race, but I guess I just haven’t been taking enough photos lately.  A blog always has to have photos.  So I guess I’ll just give you a bit of an update with some random photos of Germany then…

Sweet statue to look at on the way to sign in!

Sweet statue to look at on the way to sign in!

Freiburg XCO TälerCup

Last weekend I headed down to Freiburg with my new training partner Uli.  He is actually one of the MTB coaches for Baden-Württemburg and like myself is a cyclocross rider.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with this race, but I guess I can say that with almost every race I do here, because I really don’t know anyone and or know much about who is fast yet.  In the past weeks I’ve got a bit of a surge of energy and motivation after realizing how close we are to cyclocross nationals.  It still feels like summer here as well as this being the first year not with Team H&R BLOCK so my season clock is so messed up it almost feels like April…  Anyways, the course in Freiburg was really cool.  Climbs weren’t too steep and or too long, but they had some really cool fast and fun downhills too.  I’m sure Kabush would say it was granny in a wheel chair accessible, but it really suited my style of MTB riding.  Off the start, for the first MTB race since I got here, I was able to hang with the lead riders which was kind of a big shock.  This also gave me a bit of extra motivation to ride a bit harder I think.  After a half of a lap or so the leading three guys took off and I was relegated to the chase group of about 4.  I did what I could to try and not get dropped while still allowing myself to pace for the full hour and a bit.  After the second lap, I had basically rode the rest of the group off my wheel and sealed the deal on the downhill.  But the bummer part about MTBing is that for the rest of the race I was in no mans land.  Didn’t know if I was getting faster or slower, so I did my best to keep it a fast pace and hammer hard.  Finished up 4th behind a couple regulars to the podium and some guy named Milatz?  Yeah, he is the former European Champ in the XCO.  I guess I was just on form that day?  Finally a race to write home about!

Loose Translation:  Those who burn Burn Books also Burn People... Erie...

Loose Translation: Those who burn Burn Books also Burn People… Erie…

Neustadt Marathon

The race I did on Sunday was a 56km typical bike marathon in Southern Germany.  Just on the edge of the Black Forest, the start was in town and the rest was spent in the forest.  This one was particularly cool because the trails were not like normal Marathons, but more like an XCO track.  Soo much single track it was awesome and an obscene amount of rock boulders blocking the middle of the most knarly downhills.  I even had to get off once or twice…   Soo cool, and finally the legs felt good in a marathon as I was continuously dangling off the back of the group I was in (which was racing for 9th) on the climbs and would easily chase back on when it started to go downhill or flat even the slightest bit.  All was going well until about 10km’s from the finish when I noticed my rear tire going SUPER low and sloshing around.  So I stopped to put some air in it with my CO2 and got going again, but it only lasted like a minute before I had to stop again and this time replace it with a proper tube.  Trouble is that the tube I grabbed from home was only a 26″ tube and I am riding 29″ wheels.  Well thanks to the Norco boys for showing me this trick because with careful stretching, I made it fit, used up my last CO2 (which probably gave me about 16psi) and headed for home.  Given that my rear tire wasn’t at the pressure I wanted it at and the fact that I was expecting my tire to blow out at any time, I was being a bit cautious.  Until my legs came around and the terrain got a bit less hairy when I stared drafting off a guy going at a good pace for what I could handle.  By now we were a ways behind, but I hate passing up a good sprint for the line, so I lead it out on the downhill and given that I reconned the last 3 km’s I knew what I was in for.  Technical back alley racing at it’s finest!  Only problem is that I fully expected to go straight into the finish line, when in reality we needed to do a 4 corner crit around the church before coming through the finish line.  NOT the way it was layed out in the morning, but oh well, slammed on the brakes and slowed down just enough to make the first corner.  By this time as I didn’t expect this, I was pretty gassed and the guy behind me came sprinting by me only to misread the sign and take a wrong turn when I rolled easily across the line for 23rd place.  Just a few (I mean 10 or 15) minutes behind where I realistically should have been.  Bummer, but what can you do.

 

Next up, my post summer season break where I’ll be wrenching for the Trans Schwartzwald Stage race!  then it’s almost CX Time!!!!!