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Za Trip: Sunday January 13th - Orange has always been my favorite color

Place: Bakel, The Netherlands

It has occurred to me today that, if the entire world were composed of people with the sensibilities, personalities and friendliness of the Dutch, we’d probably not be flying airplanes into each other’s buildings. Yeah we’d have to say our G’s like static through a large microphone, but we’d be happier as a race.

Life in Orange just seems….happy.

Today my friends, Cyclocross Bakel, sponsored by Rabobank (of course).

Let me say this:

This was, bar none, the most beautiful course I have EVER blessed a set of tires on in a decade or more of crossing. I’ll get to that in a second and all the day’s events in a moment.

The trip from Blauberg, Belgium to Bakel, The Netherlands is about an hour and 20 minutes. It was epically scenic (tres European)….and yes, we spotted windmills…

On a beautifully partly cloudy to clear day (about 50 degrees) we bombed through these tiny cities to get to Bakel. You literally string a trip in Europe by going through the meticulously marked signs…from City to City all the way from one country to another…Blauberg, Herselt, Geel, Meijer, Bakel…it all links together in such a simple and clearly marked way, it’s mad. The US will NEVER get this. I digress.

So, we get to Bakel and drive into the tiny and beautiful village. We hear the sound of the race on the speakers careening off buildings and in the trees, but can’t find the race! We see a group of kids bombing down the street on ‘cross bikes and flag one down.

Me: “Do you speak English?”

Boy: “Nee.”

Me: “Uh, Veldrijden parcours?”

Boy: “Ah! “(points down the cobbled street).

So we find it 100 meters away and pull in and it is a FESTIVAL. From the first look-see, like 2 x times the size of the race yesterday. We park literally ON the course tape on the grass and look up and see:

A Euro disco flyover, beeatches!

This course is gonna be sick. Right near the flyover is a set of speed barriers as well….all on manicured grass.

The registration was similar to yesterday but infinitely more friendly (not that yesterday was unfriendly….so maybe ‘warm’ is the right word.) I hand over my UCI license and 5 Euro and they keep the license, register me (I see 40+ registrations and get No. 42!...d’oh!) and get my number plate. Today the Masters class are are only aged 40+ so KP and I race as “Amateur”. This not like the B’s in the US. It’s stacked. An ‘age group’ Master’s World Champ is there (probably about my age or maybe a bit younger) as is the Dutch Amateur National Champion:

Yes, note the white sex shoes and gloves on Masters Champ

The Dutch champ is a clearly young fast kid looking for glory and contracts in his future. Oh and a BUNCH of juniors just like said Dutch National Champ who are SO PRO it is mind boggling. Oh, and they’re all 6’2 Lars Boom types with 42” femurs.

We wait for the juniors to finish and bomb the course to warm up.


  • Long paved start/finish with mad bus for race officiating (the ‘Jury Bus’)
  • Tight, twisty, tacky densely forested single-track
  • Long grass straightways with a double sided pit (see my pic below)
  • The aforementioned features like the flyover and the barriers
  • Mad sand run up:

We line up and they call up the first 10 people, then 20 people, then 30 people….all ‘in the points' in this Dutch Series, and at the very end he says “Und dee reste!” and a remaining 15 or so flood in, US style. I weasel a wheel as far up as I can but KP and are back of the bus today.

Whistle blows and it is a HARD start. Like a sprint at the end of a race. I finagle my way up to the 20’s in the straightaway with a hard punch and then we are into a grass field where we do a 180 and com back towards the start finish before a hard left apex diving us into the woods.

We twist and turn and comb the single-track until it opens up into a large decent downhill towards a full-on beach sand hill. We have to navigate that downhill at speed and it apexes to the right directly back up the sand (seated POWER needed). Then, more single-track occurs once out of the sand eventually flipping and bringing you BACK towards the beach where they send you UP it on an epic, leg sapping run up! You crest the run up (see Brandon's video below) and remount and dive back into single track eventually spilling you out of the woods, up and over the fly-over, the speed barriers and finally back up the start finish straightaway.

On the second lap, Kurt is on a good day...

...and bridges to me again. He drops it into the 11t and says c’mon! On my wheel! and leverages his time trialing to bring us back to the top guys…but that sapped a LOT from me.

The Dutch announcer was great…LITERALLY in the woods with a wireless mic announcing the leaders (e.g. top 20) and says Kurt’s name and then mine at the end. I’m like, crap! We’re in the top 20! So we continue to punch it and battle. KP gets a good turn and is off alone at about 10 seconds. I am battling with these 2 dudes who won’t get off my wheel (also know as smart bike racers). I attack and one comes with and the other pops. The guy who follows sits on me and tries on the laatste ronde to attack through a corner and f’s up by bobbling. He bridges back and sits on me again. I can’t shake him and he beats me on the run up (which is usually my strength) and was enough to stay away from me.

Kurt: 16th, Wheel Sucker Dutchman 17th, Me: 18th.

And for the second day in the row, we’re in the money! HA! KP and I scored 5 Euros! HA! Oh, AND got our 5 Euros back for returning the number plate. FREE RACE!

I met up with the Black Market crew as well as some other San Franciscans from the Roaring Mouse team….RIGHT by my old house. They are sitting with Harrie and his bud and I come to find out Harrie is the proprietor of Spooky Carbon brakes:

Coolest guy and pleaded for us to come to the World Cup next weekend to meet Richard Groenendaal…my man!

Dubba was up next in a stacked Elite’s field with a Sun Web Projob guy Kenny (see his own website here) with the greatest top tube sticker:

…and the friendliest pit crew we worked next to the whole race. The coolest guys who speak perfect English and core ‘crossers....

Kenny had a great race starting from DFL due to a mechanical to take 9th. Crazy power:

Dubba turned himself inside out but rode way more ‘heads up’ and straight faced today. Clearly on a better day…but in an extremely tougher and larger field.

Lap after lap he battled with local hard men and pulled in a beautifully earned 18th.

The Japanese National Champion Keiichi Tsujiura took second.

We packed up and drive back and came across a great restaurant were we piled in Tapas and had some Leffe Buin. Yum. Well earned. Now home, we are winding down and I am about to call home (for the 2nd time today to hear the voices of my beautiful family).

So that is it folks! Race No. 2 in the books and I am completely satisfied. Great course, I did my best and battled back through more than half the field of fast guys.

Coming up this week:

-A visit to Amsterdam

-A ride to local Abby breweries

-The Vermarc Clothing 2008 sponsor party….including Quick Step, Sun Job….and more.

More photos from today can be found here on my PhotoBucket site.

Living the dream folks. You will DO THIS next year….


Well, I guess I have to win now...

...or they'll never know just exactly how much of a chump this guy really is! I am sitting here FLOORED by what my co-workers assembled for me and I'll never forget it. This week is our company's annual kick off. It's the first one in 10 years I have not attended to help rally the troops. To set the stage for you when you watch the YouTube, in all honestly, I've got me some big ass hair. OK, I admit it. The entire company got their hair on for me in support of this whole crazy adventure I'm on. Beeatches.

My Embarcadero people (and Shana and Greg D, I know you were behind this!!): I love you and thank you. Now seriously realize, I am a hack....HA! But I'll take down a Belgie or two for ya while throwing down hard! They'll never take me alive!

I truly am the luckiest man in the world.

An encapsulation of the season....

So, as I prepare for my remaining four races, I was reflecting on the season at large. The specific goals I initially set for myself were not 'met' per se, but I am still happy. Racing against some of the best racers in the country over 35 years old and making the race with them is not only an honor but a rush.

Lots changed this year in terms of how I raced and how I prepared for the season. After 10 years of 'crossing, you STILL learn things about yourself and the game. Amazing. Having Taro in my corner helped immeasurably to provide me another lens into what my strengths, but more importantly, my weaknesses are. Training "less" in terms of volume but very focused on quality training ranging between 6-10 hours a week through power metering also was new to me this year and paid dividends. Way more important than being a watt-weenie though was resting. I never rested before! I would going inexplicably hard week after week in seasons past until December where I would feel like a shell of a person. I felt totally different this year and the suffering was different. I felt really fresh at CO States as an example. Overall, I felt lighter on the bike, quicker in terms of leg speed, my running game was infinitely better with running training 3 x per week on average and I could feel exactly what I needed to tune each race as my body was saying things to me and I was taught to listen to it. All this in contrast to season's past being cross eyed each race praying I come across the line in a good place and looking forward to the last race of the season by mid November. This year I felt more in control and had motivation for more and more (generally speaking! Read some of my earlier race report rants and you may disagree).

What I was not in control of though was my shit luck! Ha! Tires, tires and more tires were my nemesis this year. Rolled Dugasts, failed never seemed to end and each race it seemed was a Ground Hog day of feeling really good and confident, pushing the pace initially, tire implosion of some variant...then play catch up the rest of the race.

My team mate Chris V captured this all on film in Gunnison and demonstrates what is a fantastic encapsulation of the shite.

The race begins with me feeling on fire. I want to hurt guys early on.

I create the split I want with a team mate. Sweet.

I start to hear noises in my rear wheel and at the end of this clip, I drop my head to see whatup.

More of the same per above. I am looking down and trying to figure out WTF is going on. I then roll RIGHT BY the pits and past my spare bike. Smart, man. Smart.

Voila. I am gone. Wheel implosion about 10 seconds before you see Karl, Chris and Ward come through the barriers.

I'm back! But who's bike am I on?

I drop of that bike and CV and Brady Kappius help me with a change to my back up Rock Lobster. The chase from last place is on.

Catch one...move on...catch another...move on. The pick off game is in effect.

And so it went like that for many races for me this season. I'm definitely not crying a river here but would love to have seen how I could have done without so much drama! Fun as hell though and the guys I get to race with every weekend are filled with za class.

I got some revenge in the Opens later that day with a good start...

And a consistent job through out the day after putting it all out playing catch up earlier in the 35 Opens....

So there we go. Wish me luck for no more drama in these last four races but rather technically clean races with rubber stuck firmly to carbon.

Thanks Chris for sending me the vids!

Shark's teeth...

Mmmm. Indoor training.

Honestly 'cross fans, after yesterday's sufferfest on the Poorest man, I could not envision getting all my crap on again to brave the sub arctic temps raging here at the moment. Although the day ended up getting 'balmy' to about 34 degrees, I needed to focus today on the workout how the body is feeling....and not the weather surrounding me. I've got enough of that and will have even more in the Motherland in January. And so, I finished my 2nd to last block Rally Sport. Home to the fittest soccer moms in the country and less-than 4% body fat tri-psychos....who honestly scare the living bejesus out of me. Today required a deep simulation of a course I would normally do on the road....e.g. a Fruit Loops of the indoors. What I needed was deep sustained power with peppered with high thresholds and tempo mixed in to bridge a flat land speed work out with that of being mired in the mud....or sand. When going through the shark's-teeth like profile I created for myself today, I was envisioning the sandy beach on Mol and what I think it's gonna take to get through it, lap after lap. In my best PowerPoint, this is how I would break down what was going on:
About minute 60 I am certifiably cross eyed. I start thinking of the past 365 days this year. I start thinking that I am so blessed to do this...but will in all sincerity not see this level of focus for a long time to come. I'm not 'PRO'. I can;t believe what people who call cycling their jobs have to do day in and out...and I've mapped something like this, this year...of course beau coups % points below the average PRO requires. The family and most things in my eco-system just will not sustain it again next year. But for on. I think of how happy I am with having been able to pick a point in the distance....put an indelible 'X' on it and not waver from it. That X is Belgium for me, and nothing has been able to blow it up. Nothing could have. What I thought of in that 60th minute today is how I long for my boys to do something like this when they come of age. I could give a crap if they did it on a bike, in a pair of hiking shoes, with a paintbrush and easel...whatever. It's about the journey not the destination....and frankly the destination is sort of irrelevant. It's the journey showing you, you CAN do something if you are committed. I said as much to my wife today as she caught in a moment of hallucination at Rally.

What are you going to do next year, folks? Go to Belgium? Get more proactive about calling your mom and dad? Get involved with your kids school more? Try and upgrade from your current category? Eat better? Laugh more? Work less?

Live better.
Live fuller.
Live more creatively.
Live with blood in your veins, not vinegar.

God, the journey. Sick. Write it down/pin it up/look at it every day. It'll happen.

Seriously, what's yours going to be?

Have fun 'cross fans.

Trebon's Head-on Collision

Holy crap. This is an unbelievable youtube capturing the moment Ryan and Steve hit head on. It is NOT what I expected. In fact, pretty fricking horrific. Frankly, I can not for the life of me figure out which side is 'correct' as so many dudes are weaving through and over that tape.

What the?

So I got my new doses of the motherland from Josef and I am watching the 2007 Jaarmarktcross and Bart and Lars are throwing down.....hard. It's a mud fest and both these guys are known mudders. Lars gets a gap on Bart and is coming through the start finish with 2 to go.

Then he starts slapping himself silly.

I'm like....WHAT THE? I rewind that shit and sure enough, homie starts slapping himself in the face. Ha! What a retard. Bart takes him in the end anyways but is this supposed to be his motivator?

What is Cyclocross?

This video by CTodd will either help our evangelism of the sport' sgrowth when we shop it to parks and rec people and the like, or ban it due to it being a sport of a bunch of crazy people. HA!

Either way, I love you CTodd. This is gdamn hilarious.

On the Cross

Ripped from Rocco. This is from the SM 3's. Opp, check you out, boy!

Best thing about this vid is Chris Cross.

Boulder Redline and Boulder Cup Videos!

I was able to rip these from Furious (thanks man!!). It will give you a great sense of teh racing, field sizes....and on Saturday the WIND!

Men's 35 + Opens

Mens Open/Elite

The Wed Morning Cross World Championships...2007 No. 10

West and weewaxashun today! I spun down on my single speed to hang with friends and just shoot photos of the Wednesday Cross Crew at the 'world championships'. I am still hurting and just taking care of myself these days so I did not participate and just shot pics and had fun. Clearly there were lots of people resting this week so while a big crowd, many of the antagonists were AWOL. Paco and JHK threw down and I was able to film a bit which was fun. Paco inexplicably scorched on a 39 x 16 single speed Primus Mootry cross bike this past weekend at the UCI races and did so again today! I watched carefully and it is amazing how he can use that gear (arguably a small one) so effectively against folks who have 2 x 10 speeds! Amazing.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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