2 years and 3 days ago…exactly…my Dugast rubber was tearing through this most epic of courses in Bakel, The Netherlands. It was epic and would go down in the annals as the most brilliant course I’d ever been on. This still holds true to this day. I literally dream about that course and want to make it a goal to get back again next year.
As the boys were getting ready to depart for the trip, I told them that while “the big show” is Mol, the race I KNEW they’d fall in love with what was in store for them in Bakel. It offers everything we’re good at with respect to our core group of buds here in Colorado: Flowy singletrack, top-end bike handling, highly technical cornering, etc).
And so it came to pass as you’ll see that the boys had an amazing day. Our good friend Edwin Raats stole the top-step bouquet from a hard charging Brandon (2nd) and Pete (3rd) with the other ‘Za Trip’ boys pulling in prijs geld as well. I think it is extremely safe to say that Edwin is determined not to wear his Dutch National Master’s Champion kit next season, but the dark blue Master’s WK kit instead.
I’ll let the guy’s pictures and words tell the rest of the story about Bakel today…but of ALL the races these guys are doing on this year’s ‘Za Trip’ program, Bakel I’m sure will leave a strong pull to come back like it has for me.
Pete's video check in...
Dubba interviews Brian, Michael and Ward...
Michael Robson is our notorious ringleader of our pre-season Wednesday AM road/dirt training rides. It's on these rides where he shows us some of the tricks he learned in the 90's racing Kermesse's like slowing everyone down 'cause people are dropped' (read: he's recovering for his late stage attack in the same gutter...every week). But it's his post ride reports we actually long for and here is a typical example as he recounts his race in Bakel. He writes about everything, except for the Dwarfs, Rainbows and Unicorns it appears he saw as well today...
"If you are a rabid crosser there is the race you dream of. That perfect race with the perfect course, perfect conditions, perfect weather, perfect flow. We did that race today and it was, well, perfect. From the moist loamy earth to the gorgeous Dutch women, Bakel, Holland was better than your dreamiest dreams. We arrived under a sky of pillowy clouds to a nicely balanced course of woods, grass, sand and a little pavement. all of it tacky and blazing fast. Cruising through registration the next step was to get dressed for a pre-ride and within half a lap it was apparent that were were on to something special. Keller had said" Ahh Bakel,.. Robson you will love Bakel", and he was right. WB and I pre-rode together and at one point I looked back at him, his ridiculous grin told me we were on the same, blissful page. This was going to be good.
As seems to be the case here we got the obligatory crappy call up, but we did get call ups and were distributed throughout the last two rows of a 45 man field. Pete, Dubba and I got great starts, weaving through the pack and moving up in the first few corners. On the first trip through the woods I was right in the middle of enjoying the delicate wiles of a particularly fecund section of forest when I was rudely interrupted by Dubba barking at me from behind. "Robson, pass where you can". The audacity. Anyway, it was time to get to work. I pulled Dubba up through the stragglers until we were in the lead group, passing left and right, Pete was already there. I was able to stay with Pete and Dubba for the first couple of laps and then settled into a giddy rhythm of bermed roller-coaster trails and lovely manicured grass. Meanwhile further back WB and Brian's start was later likened to 'pushing a tennis ball through a garden hose' but in short order they were on a rampage, with three to go I started seeing them. WB was chasing hard but I was holding him off. He had gapped Brian just as we turned a hairpin and Brian was screaming at me "I'm coming for you Robson!!". Then I made a small mistake in the woods and WB was suddenly behind me. He passed me before the cursed sand run-up but I stayed on his wheel plotting my revenge. It wasn't to be, Ward saw my move and was ready so as we swung into the o-so-short final straight I couldn't make enough ground and my wonderful friend beat me in for 7th. Earlier Edwin Raats had snuck away for the win leaving Pete and Dubba to duke it out for second. Dubba dug in for the no. 2 spot with Pete hot on his heels.
On that day with those conditions that was the funnest course I have seen. Some might say it's not technical enough, others that it is too easy, not enough mud or heavy grass but I'm safe in the knowledge that Bakel was a truly euphoric day of cyclocross.
Its now late at nght and I just took an Ambien, shit's getting nutty.
Some digital celluloid to punctuate the day…
Post race interview to the spectators with Brandon and Pete. Questions and answers in English and Dutch. This guys was great. He knew both Pete and I were cyclocross national champions and were ex-Pro mountain bikers.
On the podium, complete with podium girls and a bouquet: Edwin Raats was too strong today. On the right is the winner of the other older category, which started in the same group.
Every corner was bermed out like this. The course was a blast.
This race brought to you by Rabobank, naturally.
The pits are incredibly PRO. Right down to the flags reminding you you are NOT in Belgium.
It would not be a cross course in the Netherlands with out flat grass. Notice the family on the bike path in the background. Every road in the country is paralleled by a bike path. And, there are people riding "Dutch City Bikes" everywhere, and not because it looks hip and cool. It's a way of life.
Dopers Suck is strong across the pond (as is the white sex, naturally)
Michael Robson was in the money today!
We knew Pete Webber was good for something.
Ward 7th, Brian 9th and Robson 8th. Strong work boys!