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Jan Wiejak

So, my Sinsei, Joe Ball....the man partly responsible for making me 'cross crazy long ago...sent me a note off line to my post below related to Jan Wiejak. Fascinating history! Joe, hope ya don't mind!:


I checked the link on Jan's name as I wanted to see what was out there in internet-land on him. I noticed that the results for 1988 are not correct as that was the first year Jan won the Men's title. I was present in Plymouth, MA to witness the race and the opening of a rather large can of whoop ass!! I had thought I had sufficiently blocked this memory but it as all coming back to me. I am not sure if I ever told you this story. I am shivering as I write this . . .

A snow storm blew in the night before the races and dumped 6 inches of snow and ice on what would have been a great course. It super cold and windy. I did not finish the junior race as a stump I did not see under 6 inches of snow took me down and "taco'ed" my front wheel. I was trying to pass a lapped rider while three of us were trying to catch Jonas Carney, McCormick and Julich. OK, I am back . . . .

Jan had only came to the US in the summer of 1988 as he defected from Poland. He and his wife and child spent something like 8 weeks in a refugee camp in Italy (I think) while my coach was trying to get him asylum in the US, so he had just gotten his green card. I mention this because we had not received approval from USCF (USA Cycling back then) until about 5 or 10 minutes before the start of the men's race!! We were there a day or two before to prepare and see the course and he was all warmed up and waiting on the line for the start but did not know if he was going to be allowed. I remember us seeing the official walking over with Jan's license and all his paper work and saying, "I just got the final word . . . . . he can race!!" So we are so psyched and then I realize , shit he actually has to race in this stuff . . . .hey, great news Jan, good luck . . . . He nods not really paying attention . . . no matter, he does not understand what I just said anyway.

The race blasts off in typical fashion and about five guys including Jan are out front as the they come through the first lap. This is how the race goes and by 4 to go I think there was only 2 or 3 guys with Jan. I am not sure of the guys he was with, but I must have been Myrah, Paul Curly and McCormick maybe. With 3 to go Jan is trying to make a move. We are around the start/finish where you can see about 3/4 of the lap. Jan ups the pace and then attacks going in to the technical section (where the stump took me out) and they are out of our sight. It is like the black-out time in the Apollo 13 movie and we don't know what's going on and then we see Jan come into sight as he hits the final stretch and he is flying with a good gap on the guys. He comes by the start/finish the can of whoop ass is fully open and he no longer holding the hammer (as in he dropped it big time). He just keeps the pace and rides two more flawless laps to win by what I remember as 30 - 45 seconds, but could be more or less as it was 18 years ago. :)

I thought you might enjoy my trip down memory lane.

Joe, I guess this just proves we're old. This is some old school stuff!

Photos by: Jonathan S. McElvery

Reader Comments (1)

That is a classic venue, great place to race a cross bike. I haven't been there since 2000 but the course is burned in my mind. Thanks for that!

July 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTim

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