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Za Trip: Friday January 18th - Tick tick tick tick tick....

Place: Zilvermeer (near Mol) Belgium

Zaterdag! Zaterdag Zaterdag! T-minus 24 hours until go time, monster truck, er ah, 'cross fans! We pre-rode the course op het strand (on the beach) today. Yum. Another AWESOME course, if not super short. All the details coming up below.

We packed up the Vito with all the bikes, tires, etc and got to Zilvermeer in about 45 minutes on an overcast morning. There were tons of people out from ALL sorts of places: France, Great Britain, Slovakia, Canada, The Netherlands, Belgium....and of course the good 'ol U.S. of A. Great to meet you, our Kansas City and Idaho brethren!

We parked, suited up and made our way from the parking lot to the beach. We dropped off our extra stuff at the Materiaal Post (the pits) and I dialed in the FMB's to try out. I documented the course fairly well below but I'll give you a couple of sound bytes about it:

  • Sandy: Duh, but it is ever present not only on the beach but features itself in the woods, in the corners and ultimately presents its own challenges outside of just riding through it, running over it. Tire pressure ,tire pressure, tire pressure. Find the balance grasshopper.
  • Technical: This course reminds be a lot of Schriek Grootlo in that is is well suited for riders who like to power out of the corners on very tight turns. Out side of the sand features, it has plenty of run ups (2) that are technical in nature in themselves and S turns and 180s everywhere. No barriers on the course but plenty of other features make it challenging and fun.
  • Short: This mo fo is very short. In 85-90% effort trials, the lap times where between 6:40 and 6:50 minutes. This means one of two things: The course designers messed up (nope) or the course designers have it dialed and know that the sand will be the attrition spot that will likely accordion the group lap after lap (yup).
  • Start position will be EVERYTHING: When is it not in 'cross but seriously, this course will demand it as the recovery sections will be reserved for just that. In no way am I setting myself up here 'just in case' but ANYONE will say (including all the various nationalities I spoke to today) that start position will be everything tomorrow. If you're on the back, well, it'll be a tour of the beach.
To be more precise, the course lays out like this:
  1. Start on pavement for 300 meters
  2. Bang SHARP left into a 50 meter slightly down hill sand slog
  3. Hard left turn on sand for along-the-beach (harder packed sand) for 175 meters
  4. Into the woods for tight S turns
  5. Past the pits...
  6. Up and over the first log run up...
  7. More wooded S turns
  8. Around an S an apex into a small bump of a hill and there is a sheer drop off directly into sand. IMHO, it's gonna be WAY faster to run...
  9. More wooded S turns into 2nd log run up
  10. More woods, S turns and past the pits again, onto pavement
  11. Past start finish.
Total time should be about 6:40 per lap for those on top of it.

So, let me 'show' you the beginning of the course at least with the magic of YouTube. Sorry I only got the beginning of the course because I crashed filming this mid way through and gunked up my camera! HA! I need a film crew....

The start...

Into the sand....

The 50 meter initial slog...

Some choose to ride...some run...

From the sand, into the woods...

Some action through the S's....

OK, now that you get a sense for what the course is like in video, here are some stills for you in sequential order of the course...

On your marks, get set...BANG!

Off the long beach from section there is another deeper bog. This one hurts.

The first entry side of the pits.

The first run up...

...and decent down.

The peat is present here as well. It's all about the tire pressure.
Awesome view from above of entry (on the left side) of the sand trap in the woods...
The sand trap from the racer's view...

The second run up with an arguably better decent on the other side.
Typical example of the course profile when in the woods.

The second entry side to the pits before the pavement again

The finish line and grand stands.

Could you imagine...

And there you have it folks! The course. We've already got the bikes clean and dialed for tomorrow. I am sticking with my Dugasts tomorrow as the course is perfect for them and they are exactly what I want and frankly am used to. The FMB's were great (I like the 34's and the traditional pattern was almost as good as the Rhinos) but I want to go super light weight with my FSA 488's tomorrow.

Oh, one last thing: Our house owner is tight with the Doping Control leader and I've put in a petition to get tested so I can blog that sheeit! HA! I hope the Nutella doesn't trigger anything. Stay tuned...

Wish us luck! Tick tick tick tick....

Living the dream. You will too in exactly 364 days. Write it down....


Photo credits: Brandon "Are you za Dubba?" Dwight

Reader Comments (11)

You continue to make a strong case for a January vacation in the Low Countries. 8-)

Best of luck in the starting grid lottery. Wherever you start, throw down from start to finish!

We're rooting for you.


January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Greg....can i just say that your blog updates are FREAKIN AMAZING! it really makes us folks back home feel like we're part of your journey. I love the course recon movies and well documented!

good luck this weekend! give em hell!!
oh, and we expect to see some more snot pictures...belgian style :)


January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterzach

Greg- Love your updates! Give 'em some elbow for me on the start. Be aggressive and don't ever stop fighting for one more spot! Good luck tomorrow. Can't wait to hear about it.

Drink one of those yellow topped, 7 euro beers when you are done (if you have not already :)


January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous


Thanks for taking us along with the dream. Its been a real treat following your prep and shenanigans leading up to the race. Go like hell and good luck.


January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Have been reading your blog all season and the accounts from the motherland have me frothing at the mouth for some euroracing in the future. Good luck tomorrow. When you are done make sure you can say you left it all on the course!


January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

DOOD! We've got to chat before the race tomorrow. What age group are you in? I'm in the 14:00 group. 1973 - 1969.

I'll need some help filming for the eurotodcast!

If all else fails - see you in the beer tent afterwards...

January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCTodd

My peeps!
Thanks much for all the support. I'll be doing the same for you guys and gals when you make the trip. As Jacob says, all and then some will be left on teh course.

CTodd, I'm in that class too! Find me when we get there.


January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

go fast...rdie smart...stay smooth

January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

That was so cool thanks for the detailed info/Blog fotos etc!!!! Kick it in your race! One handed video shots amazing! I'm thinking of going next year and this really is a motivator! I'll have to loan you my helmet cam rig. check it out at scjimbo on youtube. Hup Hup Hup!


January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJimbo

It's show time!
Pin it my bombin' Belgie brotha!


January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

A couple friends and I are planning on going to Masters Worlds next year and I have been looking for quality info about the race for awhile now. Thanks for the great info. Good luck tomorrow!


January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNathan

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