Archive for February, 2014

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!