Archive for January, 2009

Roubaix World Cup

Posted: 19 January 2009 in Uncategorized
So we left Tielt-Winge fairly early in order to get down to Roubaix (2 hr Drive) in the afternoon and have first dibs on the course.  We rode the course and got to check out the pretty wicked and legendary Roubaix Track (where the Paris-Roubaix ends in) and it was actually in some pretty rough shape.  Nothing anyone at home would want to ride a track race on, seriously.  Now imagine tearing down the side of it on the bank going as fast as you can with 23 lbs in your treaded tires that are 32mm wide and there’s 60 guys around you!  It was a pretty fun race I do have to say!!!! 
The course Started and finished on the track and on the opposite side of the finish, we headed out onto a gravel section that went around the track for a bit before dropping into a fairly muddy/gravelly section that was rolly a bit and then up a grass hill before zigzagging around on the grassy knoll i’m going to call it.  It then proceeded to drop down (on a bit of a cambre) to the ground level on a VERY sweet and DEEP muddy hill (which was rideable the day before, but during the race EVERYONE ran that one).  It then went up a set of MASSIVE stairs, they were so large that I had to take 2 steps on one stair before lifting one leg up to the next and then repeating it but basically as slow as a human body can attempt to climb a set of stairs (this became super challenging to do it at race pace too!)  then onto the grass again before dropping down the sketchiest decent that i’ve EVER imagined in a cross race. It was cool and don’t get me wrong I was able to ride it in the race (one of about 5 who actually thought they’d risk the opportunity to show the crowd their skills).  Everyone was cheering and hopeing that you’d ride it but if you didn’t they were pretty upset!  then it went through a bit of a mud slog before emptying out onto the road for a ways.  Then you dropped into the mud section that was so greasy it was hard to stay upright and then through the pits.  The course then ran, after another short road section into some long drag stretches in the field before doing some short up and down along a cambre (which were pretty challenging and everyone was running in the race because it was so muddy!)  Then you went through a sand pit before emptying out onto a running track that proceeded to become a swamp (aside from a 20cm section on the inside) before getting to a set of the highest double barriers ever.  I actually needed to do the Bart Wellens style traunt for those ones or my bike would actually hit them every time.  Then it went through another sand bit before the pits and then emptied back out onto the track!  (It’s a long explanation but the course was pretty much the most trickey and technically challenging World Cup that i’ve ever done and I wanted to describe it as best possible!)
Roubaix World Cup:
So I actually figured that there would be a lot of guys from slow to fast racing this one, but no, they were basically all fast.  Or at least all had more UCI points than I did.  I was pretty much the 2nd last call up and was easily on the last row of guys (probably 7th or 8th).  The gun rang and I immediately jumped to the high line on the track in order to keep out of the chaos on the bottom.  I put in a bit of a push on the track and actually managed to pass a whole lot of people who were starting to get worried on the bottom.  The first lap was some pretty intense chaos and at one point Parbo (danish Dude) picked up his bike over his head and started to squeeze his way through the crowd of racers.  I managed to stay roughly out of trouble and upright on the first lap and my first bit push to pass guys didn’t start until I hit up the second decent (the crazy sketchy one) where I decided to grab my balls and hope for the best.  I rode it pretty fast and there was a super nice rut that had formed which was easily rideable if you knew what you were doing and I would say that I passed 3 guys who were running the hill at the time, and another one right after turning the corner as he was getting back on his bike. (that was the Japanese National Champ by the way)  I ended up doing pretty well and riding with a few guys who would typically get a bit of a gap on the flat drags but i’d be able to make it up in the technical sections and then seal the deal on the decent!  I rode the decent every lap until one time a dude who was running it in front of me tripped up at the bottom and bailed which meant that I went right into him on my bike.  I decided that it probably wasn’t the best to keep riding it as guys were starting to run in the rut that we were riding making the rut at the bottom swerve and it wasn’t that much fun (so I actually had to run it for the last couple laps) I managed to hold off the inevitable until their second last lap.  Which was pretty good concidering the VERY short laps and mud bog terrain! 
Oh ya, the first 3 laps I was riding near Jeremy Powers (who looked like he wasn’t having a good day) and managed to pass him on the first decent after he stepped in the mud and his shoe popped off.  Literally, his shoe came right off his foot!  When I passed he was actually trying to pry it out of the ground!
And I managed to get my best ever World Cup finish (I think) with a 44th place in the Elite mens!  But that’s all for now!
Schooler signing off!  Next race:  Milan World Cup!
So myself and Andre Sutton decided that it’s been a while since we’ve been racing, so we wanted to hit up the A race in Otegem, about 1.5 hrs drive away.  We showed up and the mens race was basically the only race of the day so hardly anyone was there in the morning.  Took us a while of walking around to find the sign on and it wasn’t going to be open for another 2 hrs or so.  Man were we early!!!  After a while we sorted it out and pre-rode the course.  It was a fairly simple course with not all that much for technical wise.  A bunch of road sections downhill, uphill, with a bunch of zigzagging in an open field with (get this) my first set of Belgian barriers!!!!!  It was a pretty small course and had a couple woops in it too, so it made it pretty fun. Also, this one had 2 single entry pits in the course which split up the pit alot.  All in all I think the fast guys were probably doing sub 6 minute laps. 
They actually managed to get my start place correct this time so i’m starting to get noticed!!  Hahaha, I was actually 3rd row this time with over 30 guys in the race.  The start was pretty fast and on a very long paved unhill section before it turned down a cobbled back alley before an off cambre section and around a grassy soccer pitch.  (in the pre-riding of the course, I managed to get my bars tangled around the tape on the side and hit the post which flipped me over the bars and onto the ground HARD.  I felt like crap after that and really was worried about my leg being in the shape it was in.  It hurt bad and I was worried it would affect my race.  Oh well I just kept warming up and hopefully it would go away)  Anyways about half way through the firsst lap I looked behind me and there was one other dude, with Andre tagging along shortly behind him.  We were the last couple guys in the race!  I didn’t want that, so I started to work my way back up!  I found another group in front of me and rode with them for a while after picking off one of them at a time.  These guys would take the corners soooooo slow and then gun it on the open flats enough that i’d almost get dropped everytime.  I really needed to start getting in front of them as I felt I was WAY faster in the corners.  After a few laps I managed to make another small group and there were guys coming and going in the groups so I really had no idea where I was in the large skeem of things but I didn’t care I just kept hammering!  I managed to be on my own for the 3rd quarter of the race i’d say after getting dropped by a couple of team mates.  One guy managed to catch up to me, and as it was 3 laps to go, I told myself that I WAS GOING TO BEAT THAT GUY ACROSS THE LINE!  I wanted to do this in order to boost the fitness and push myself a bunch.  Worls is just around the corner and this was a good training session to get prepared for it.  So I rode in front of him for a lap, then he passed me for a lap, before I managed to get in front on the big uphill road section.  I was able to drop him before by throwing in an attack on the last bit of the road and then taking the corners good in the field, so I did the same thing on the last lap and that’s what really did it.  I think he might have given up, because he was no where to be seen after I threw down my spicey attack! 
I managed to come accross the line in 23rd position overall and 11st out of the "Non-Contract" guys.  I was about 3/4’s of a lap down I would say from the leaders which is pretty good concidering the very fast lap times and short loops.  It’s really good for the confidence now, so i’m looking forward to the World Cups to Come!!!!
Next race:  World Cup Roubaix!  Look for loads of mud to be flung in this one!!!!

Tervuren C2 Race

Posted: 4 January 2009 in Uncategorized
So this one should might be short.  It was a pretty cool course today, and was basically half snowing on the course which made it quite a bit sketchy during the mens race.  The track was VERY fast although had a few pretty cool technical sections along with a sand section to slow you up a bit and make some of the corners a bit hairy!  Starting off you had the start stretch then a turn onto a long uphill (felt very slow) grass section, that was frozen, then turned onto some road/gravel sections that turned through this treed area in a square like pattern.  Then dropped into some quick turns before making it down into the very fast pits.  The pits were the coolest set up i’ve seen because they basically had their own area with almost stadium viewing from each side it seemed like.  Then up onto some grass and gravel again which was a bit turner but mostly had frozen tracks in it.  Some dude crashed there on the first lap and looked like he really messed himself up!  Then down into some more turney stuff with some deep more moist tracks in the ground before heading back onto the fast flat grass.  after a quick jog it headed into the pretty hard packed sand section that had a 90 Deg turn at the end.  The up into the cool section that was up and down winding through this little valley on the side of a hill.  It was cool and MTB’ey.  Then into the pit again before heading to the start finish.
Tervuren C2
So I got a pretty good call up this time and they actually honored it this time so I was called up in the middle of the third row.  There were quite a few people racing that day, and it’s a cool feeling to be in the mix sometimes.  Got a really good start and off the bat it was looking pretty good.  I was in a pretty strong group near the end of the lap and then on the tail end of the second lap, some dude crashed in front of me that I couldn’t avoid so I was hung up a bit before heading back out.  I was pretty choked because the strong group I was with had left me in the dust, or shall I say the cold.  So I started to dig back again.  I had a really tough time with the sand pit every time, I really needed to take it a bit more chill and sort out my technique a bit, because I was really starting to loose valuable time every lap in the sand.  I was pretty strong with the MTBey stuff, and felt pretty fast on the flat drags, but the climbs and the sand were starting to get to me.  After a fw laps of tailing VERY close to my previous group I started to head rearwards.  I managed to ride with another couple guys for quite a while but found it hard to do the techincal stuff as they’d slow me up a bit, or I’d choose a bad line when riding behind them.  It was some pretty good training though for actually being able to battle with guys or ride a cross race in groups, because it’s rare that you get to do that when the conditions aren’t so fast.   Niels Albert won today and was leading at one point by like 1 minute.  I came very close to getting lapped today, but managed to hold him off on the very last lap!  I’m starting to get good at being the last (non lapped) rider!!!
Oh well, it’s a step in the right direction right!!!!  Now time for some much needed break from racing!  Next race, not till Monday the 12th!!!!

Luxemburg C2 Hotel Threeland

Posted: 1 January 2009 in Uncategorized
So I told myself as a new years resolution (not that I do those all the time, it was just a general rule for me in 09) that I wasn’t going to do any MTB racing this year and Focus the efforts on the road for H and R Block.  Obviously I didn’t know what the very first race in 09 was holding in store for me.  We got down to Luxemburg around 11:00am and had loads of time before the race actually got started and even before the race was fully put together for that matter.  There was a pretty decent turn out for spectators compared to what I imagined, although it is the 60 some anniversary of this race, so I’d hope that people would be keen on it.
I decided to pre-ride the course before the Women started their race, and was definately only going to do it once.  The course probably had at least a 300m Vertical change at least!!!!  and that’s in a cross race!  The starting stretch was on an uphill road that went for 750m or so, and then after a steep stair section jumped right into some frozen muddy single track and then back up to a super steep climb back on the road.  I thought it was steep even with my road gearing on!  Then it dropped back into the bushes for a bit (still going uphill of course) and then onto a false flat gravel road.  Then another Even steeper loose gravel/muddy climb out of that!!!!!  Which then tailed off into one of the Knarliest cross course decents that I have ever witnessed!  Or at least raced for that matter!!!  It was basically single track that ran over and around roots, stumps, trees, with a bit of frozen ground still remaining.  It was super fast and insanely cool!  Although I have to admit, for the most part, I was crapping my pants most laps.  Then it dropped into a pretty cool (basically single track trail through the trees at the bottom of the decent and then into an open greasy field (where the pits were) and then down onto the beginning of the mumma jumma road climb again!!  — AND REPEAT—  (like 10 times over!)
Hotel Threeland Cross
So I managed to get myself a last place call up once again, and I’m not going to sit around andd wait for them to call my name anymore, I’ve decided that I’m going to take the non-Canadian initiative and tell them where I start (at least tell them that I have UCI points anyways) because racing from the back kinda sucks sometimes.  Anyways, After seeing and Knowing that the start was ALL UPHILL I decided to just take it chill going to the first stairs/corner.  So After half way up the road climb I looked back and noticed that I was 2nd from the last person.  It wasn’t all that enticing.  Anyways, after the MASSIVE log jam on the first stairs, I jumped back on the bike and started to pass people.  I must have managed to pass loads of people because I WAS last at one point.  I began to work my way up the whole time, and after about 4 laps I got to a group that I knew was around my speed and I began to roll with them.  Tried to attack them once but on a course of this magnitude you really have to watch your efforts closely so you know that you don’t blow up.  With about 7 minutes of climbing and i’m sure 2 minutes of decending, you can kinda catch my drift.  Also, we came to the race with no pit crew (as it was a fair bit of a drive to this one) so I threw my second bike in the pits and hoped that my one bike could last at least half the race.  Well about 4 laps in, or more, I decided it was time to change and I went to change bikes.  Some dude saw me trying to grab my other bike and immediately jumped in and helped out.  After the next time by, he yelled something (in a different language and pointed at the bike) so I gave him the thumbs up and kept on racing!  About 2 laps later, I came back to the pits and he had the other one, freshly cleaned off and waiting for me to change with it!.  Man are the Luxemburgians pretty nice!!!  Anyways, so I was dropped from the big group I was in near the end and managed to pick one of them off though, and finished just behind Derrick St. John.  (probably abour 45 seconds or so).  It was a pretty good result though considering, and i’m looking foreward to many more faster races to come!
Tervuren on Sunday!
Peace out, Schooler style!!!!!  🙂