Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Ranks and Placards

Creative Commons License

Search Page Section
« Za Trip: Sunday January 20th - Lived the dream | Main | Za WK for old men, in the books! »

Za Trip: Saturday January 19th - The Suitcase of Courage , Opened and Emptied!

Place: Zilvermeer Strand, Belgium -

Ladies and gents: She's in the books. The UCI Master's World Championships age group 1968-1973. I will say this before I dive into the gory details: I left every single solitary ounce of myself out there on the sand, pavement and single-track today. It is done.

So let's get to the day, shall we? We rolled out of Blauberg at 11AM for our 45 minute drive to Zilvermeer. We passed Dubba on the way as he's getting his training on today. All those 'nice' days we had caught up with us today with pissing sideways rain and windier than a mo fo out there.

We get to Zilvermeer and look out out the course...
It's gonna be brutal today. We proceed to inschriving (registration) and it is like a well oiled watch. You walk up, fill out a form, show them your UCI license and they take care of the rest. Oh, and they all speak perfect English.
While there, I was able to meet with Phillipe (did not get last name, but the gentleman in the middle below in the pic) who is the MAN. He literally runs the show. We chatted and he is an incredibly great guy who was as excited for us to be there as we were. Thanks Phillipe!

I finished up and grabbed my numbers for the back and arms. I got Bo Jackson'd today. Sweet.
So, let me tell you a bit about the atmosphere. In the summer, you could see how this place must go off with a bunch of pasty white dudes with banana hammocks hanging with their kids and tanned brides. it's a full on beach play land in the middle of nowhere. Today, only the hearty, not afraid of sideways rain and fashion faux pas with a set of Wellingtons on came out to line the Visa tape of the course. There was cheesy 80-'s re-mixed music blaring (e.g. I could NOT get Hall and Oates out of my head...STILL can't: "I can't go for that. Nooo, no can do.") and lots of cross fanatics from EVERY place in the EU. Sick. So many languages it was incredible. I spoke more German today than I have in 10 years.

Dubba was our FULL ON mechanic, soigneur, name it today. Brandon, thank you my brother. I tapped into so much of your calmness and advice this week. I am indebted. Dubba dialed us in on our pits, spare bikes, etc and came to the start with all the other North Americans (thanks Dave, Tom, Henry, Gannon and Kathy....and CONGRATS KATHY ON YOUR WIN TODAY! Sweet! American's rocking the dark blue and stripes. So g.d. good).

OK, stay on topic, Greg. So KP and I were able to pre-ride about 3 laps between races. The course had changed significantly in my opinion within the woods...the sand being exactly the same as we rode it yesterday. What changed were the berms and more importantly specific drop offs and the like within the woods. This was significant enough to keep you on the bike in some sections versus running them or taking totally different lines we trialled yesterday. So net net it was great to get at-speed laps on before our race.

We kitted up and headed to the start. Everybody is circling and then the UCI officials head down to us with their clipboards and watches. "TWEEEEEEEEEEET!" Whistle blows and the racers flood up to him. He starts announcing names and numbers in the language of the racer! Sweet. 1, 2, 3, 4 people called up. Then "No. 34, Gregory Keller, U-S-A." Holy shit. I GOT IT! I got the front row call up. I shit you not I had dreamed it two nights ago and today it materialized! I let out a gutteral sort of shout and Dubba gets me back in the game. Focus grasshoppah! It gets better. "No. 35, Kurt Perham U-S-A." What the??? YES! KP got called up next. This was TOTALLY odd as they were calling TOTALLY random numbers a la Bingo. 1, 22, 46, 51, 7, get the picture. The fact they had two numerically sequenced numbers was mad.

I must be in the front row...

KP, gets called up RIGHT after me. Yeah beeatches! See what 10 Euros will get you??

The eventual winner finishing his pre-race 'relief'. Watch those white Sidi's Ludovic!

In our midst today were ALL the big big guns. German master's national champ. 2 or 3 previous multi-time world master champions...the list as we were told by a local was fairly mad. I will do some research and maybe do a post on some of these guys. Lined up directly behind KP was the winner of our Schriek Grootlo race last week, Bert Vervecken. Sicko...but cool guy.

"1 minute gentlemen!"...then the 30 second count down. I am gonna f-ing drill this mo fo. Taro is in my head saying: "GK, don't win the hole shot. Save it hombre." but there are exactly 52 other dudes back there who want to tear my legs off. I can feel my tire being bumped in that empty silent space between the 15 seconds and 5 seconds to go eternity. Then I remember: Look Up, man. I looked up at the sky and smiled. Smiled and closed my eyes once I knew I realized where I was and where I'd been and what sacrifices have been made by more, WAY more, than just me to be here.

TWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!" 'Cross fans, we are OFF!! Check this sheeit out caught by Dubba "Graham Watson you've got nothing on me" Dwight.

Your fearless blogger won himself the hole shot to the beach with Bert and I plowing through the sand. I followed his wheel through the wooded section past the pits and on through the woods itself. 5 guys came past and I hung on to that group until I was absolutely cross eyed. I was drilling the lines, nailing the run ups all PRO like but the BPM's were in the 180's.


We get to the pavement and the last guy on the train LITERALLY waves me in. Sort of like a "hang in here in this group" gesture. I put my wheel like 2 cm's from his and these guys get it in the 46 x 11' click click click....down their chains go to the 11. Almost like the sound of a hammer on a revolver being cocked back before it is released to hit the primer on the bullet that will launch into my head.

I follow this group of 5 about 10 seconds back from Bert onto the beach again. One guy bobbles and forces me to and dismount. "whoosh whoosh whoosh". Belgies flying past. Like 3, maybe 5. Frieght trains. Back in the woods and we're rolling. I am so loaded but doing everything I can to dig ever deeper and spin fast. More dudes bridge, drop me. I stay on for dear life. My eyes are crossed and I am starting to lose composure. Lines are taken not the way I want, power is lost on the flats. I need to collect myself.

I sat on this guys wheel for a 1/2 lap. German national champion. Holy crap. Smooth, powerful. He floated. I learned some things I want to try out next season based upon riding at the front for the time I could.

KP bridges up after a great effort from a first lap crash. He works with me and we trap a British guy. We work our way through the pavement and KP uses some savvy and launches an attack. I literally soft pedal and block. My British homie knows he's got to work so he comes to the front and drills it. I am starting to feel better and comfortably stay in his wake.
KP on the way to his 24th.

The race then is attrition. I swear to you I am drilling it as deeply as I ever have in my life. I am saying to myself: "Dude this is the master's f-ing worlds. Go f-ing faster". On the pavement I literally ran out of gears in my 42 x 12. The whole bike was a mess of sand. All the gears worked miraculously but I did consider changing bikes, The problem was that the racing was SO TIGHT with dudes around, I did not want to risk losing spots. No one was changing. It was just WAY too fast.

2 laps to go. I know I am in the 20's. And I STILL can not believe I am in a cluster of dudes. People are shouting at them in every language. I am being yelled at by every language. F-ing crazy.


Klang klang klang klang! Laatste Ronde. I'm in the woods and I can here it. a 1/2 lap down on the leaders. I guess I can't complain. I am literally closing my eyes in the woods to eek out more power. I am drilling sections and am so inexplicably loaded in the legs...but I am still rolling. I am way smoother now and decide to attack in the woods. I drop one guys and another follows. He comes past me, I wait, then attack him past the pits on to the pavement. This is exactly when that happened:

On my tail...

We come out to the pavement and I am looking over my shoulder. He's on me. We go on a full bore drag strip sprint for our places! It is mad! No concessions!! We come across the line in a throw and apparently I took it (I thought I did not) in 28th place. 28th fricken place earned in a full on I'm gonna gouge your eyes out sprint!

Post race. Ludovic's white sex. I TOLD You it's the shoes, Money.

Ludovic Dubau, 1st, Edwin Raats, 2nd and Bert Vervecken 3rd.

And of course, our 'certificate of participation'. They take this sheeit seriously!

Folks: It's in the books. AM I stoked? Absolutely. Could I have ridden any harder. Absolutely not. Taro had me at the absolute fittest I could be. I rode my heart out and left nothing in reserve. I raced as smartly as I possibly could have. Could I have ridden smoother? Absolutely. You have NO IDEA how gifted and experienced my competition was today.....and frankly during my experience here.

I am so tired as I write this. We made a dinner at home and I downed some Leffe Browns. Dubba handed me chocolate with a smile. Hard earned.

Living the dream folks. One more to go tomorrow. Wish us luck.


Reader Comments (22)

Is there such a thing as 'cross blue balls? I think that's what I've got.

Great job racing and reporting!

Thank you!

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Great job you guys. Don't forget though, one more to go. :-)

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHerbert

Thanks for making this season the best ever Greg. You and the rest of the Boulder/CO crew deserve some serious praise for the grace, class and humility shown out there all year (along with some serious ass kicking!).

Enjoy the rest of your time in Belgium. You are the man!

Dave Towle

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Dude, well done...your posts and pictures this week have pulled me through my self pitty season. Next year we must go again...Your descriptions of the places, people and racing have brough back a flood of memories for me. thank you. You've done the yanks proud. Have a beer for me and know you've pulled many fellow crossers through the winter here in the states.

Have a safe return.

Snowed under in Steamboat!

Jon Cariveau

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercx daddy

This is your other half writing from your desk top at home wishing you a happy birthday! I don't think it could get any better? Cheers my love. Get 'er done and get home to us.


January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Awesome Job Greg !!!!
Thanks for the write ups!
You killed it!
Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you!

I knew you could do it, ever since I saw the size of your .... cowbell at states...

Dave K. (one of the Blue Sky boyz)

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTurkey Dave

G - I've been following your exploits all season from up here in chilly Calgary. So stoked to read about your race, and even more stoked to see the shot of your front row call-up complete with the Pimp white taped Rock Lobster. I wrote earlier about how that rig is The Shit. Love it!!!!!

Congrats on what looks to me like an awesome ride dude. If you ever get an inkling to try out the UCI races here in Alberta be sure to drop me a line.

cheers | noel.

cheers | n.

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered Commenternoel.

Great reports!
Like reading it.

Didn't go to the worlds this year, although it's just approx. a 2 ~ 2.5 hours drive for me. I've been in Mol 2 or 3 times. That's enough for a while. Perhaps later again.
Hope to see you again in NL another time.
Good luck for the rest of your stay, enjoy it and a save trip back.

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHarrieH

I was on the edge of my seat reading your race report Keller... way to rip it man!
I've got a massively sprained ankle that's gonna keep me off the bike for a while, and reading this today was great medicine. :)
I think my heart rate kicked up 10bpm on your last lap! Way to fight to the death in the sprint... Best of luck to you and Brandon with the rest of the trip.
Safe Travels.
Dan Farrell
Blue Sky Velo

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

F%&#ing AWESOME!!!!! Thanks for letting us into your world Greg, it's a better place with homies like you!

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Hello my little brother--am I allowed to say how incredible I feel that I am your big sister and I get to read about this incredible thing you do? Oh are you going to celebrate the big day? I can't wait to talk to you!

lots of love,

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Thanks for bringing us along for the ride, minus the sand in the drivetrain and lactic acid in the legs. Cherish the moment.

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWheels

Yo G-

Way to go and cheers to a complete season! From the Poorman 20:20s to Worlds in Belgium...strong work my brother:)


January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Keller ....I mean Grasshopper,

You are the f'n man. Had no doubt you would throw down all the way to the finish. The best part is that you actually took a second right before the start to soak in the adventure. Have loved the updates. Giver hell tomorrow.

January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBolivar

Great job, that's some fine racin' you did there. Thanks for the great reports and sharing the dream.

January 20, 2008 | Unregistered Commentererikv

hell yeah!
strong ride, man

January 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRocco

F-ing awesome dude! A front row start for you and Kurt must have been icing on the cake. Thanks for taking us on your adventure. Enjoy the beer now! Can't wait to hear some tails from the trip later.

Great ride-


January 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I don't race or ride anymore but I really enjoyed reading your cross adventure!!! I felt like I was there with you minus the pain!!
Thanks for reporting and letting us join in your adventure!!!
I used to ride cross and road with Osmond Bakker many years ago!!

January 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterOld Canadian Guy




Way to live the dream!

January 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

hey greg - its philippe marien, he is the man. Chief Commissaire Giro di Italia 2008...

January 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjoscelin

hey Greg,
That german champ who you kept compagnie for 1/2 lap.
he's not a german, that is Wim Janssen, Belgium champ, and winner of the gold in Mol last year.
He's also a great roadracer.


January 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin


What's up my brother? Holy crap, I hope I didn't insult Wim! HA! I didn't realize that was him! I probably should have spoke with him a bit and then woudl have known, but talking is hard to do when the man is making you suffer!

If I did not say it enough while in Belgium, it was FANTASTIC meeting, racing and spending time with you and the TEAM RAATS crew. Great people and I hope you guys make the trip to Cross Vegas. Just don't get arrested when you're there...HA!

Stay in touch man.


January 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>