Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Photo Time

The top two photos are from the World Cup in Zolder....and I have some more good stories because yesterday was pretty sweet. Mario from Cycling-Pics got some awesome race photos. First off I have to tell you how much the Belgies are starting to love me....not sure why but the secret password to get in the parking area for the teams was Matter. Our driver Josef was practicing saying my name as we approached the race course. I wasn't too sure why, but then when we pulled up he rolled down the window said my name and Wha - La a parking's that for making an impression.Then after a few warm up laps getting ready for call ups the photographer went from Nys to Boom to me....he was looking at my bike for a while and I thought he was just admiring the Trek XO2 (they love Trek over here). Then he said to me, "You Matter?" I nodded and he motioned to take off my sunglasses and said "foto." Yeah I'm Big Time in Belgium! Now I just need to hang on for two more races. My roomy is sick and hacking up a lung so I hope I can hang on for 2 more races.Here are some photos from Diegem and Loenhout.

The first two photos are from Diegem...the 3rd photo is from a local WI race??? The next couple are from Loenhout and I'm not sure on that last photo. I thinks its a mountain biker catching some air who doesn't know how to pin on a number???My cyclingnews diary made headlines yesterday. Tomorrow is the GVA in Baal. Here is the link to watch it live. Once again we race at 15:00, which is 8am CST, but before you do that check out Stybar clearing the double in this highlight video.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

GVA Azencross Loenhout

Another one in the books and this was more my style....full speed ahead grit your teath, with some really technical icy corners. I finished 3:00 minutes down on the winner Stybar. 39th Place. It was crazy out there today. Lots of elbows and tight racing action. I could almost hear my Superfans back home. I almost had to take the father in-laws advice on the first lap after some swiss dude put me into the boards. I managed to stay up though and he checked out pretty fast. If you missed the live feed you can check out the last lap here. I had a pretty good start considering my call up. I knew this was the kind of race where the start means everything as the straightaway were short with ice around every corner.

I settled into a group early on with Wells and 3 or 4 other guys. Midway through the race some riders came up and our group splintered and I was sure to be in the front half. The tires and wheels were awesome today. I think I was running 20 psi...I managed to doink the rim at least 10 times per lap, but no flat tires. The low tire pressure allowed me to take the icy corners faster the the guys in my group, but still be recovering from the full out sprint each time down the start finish. The whoops section was a little mistake and you were done for. The last lap with Sybar and Nys going head to head in the whoops was crazy...its hard to tell from the video, but those things are steep and deep.

Tomorrow is another rest day followed by another GVA in Baal (Nys's hometown)Thurs and then Sint Nikklaus on Fri.

I wonder if Rosco was watching the race?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Rest Day

Blogging is another way to pass the time here in Izegem. Along with watching cyclocross race videos and checking e-mails over and over. The important stuff like eating, riding, massage, and eating again takes priority, but then the long afternoons arrive and it's constant battles over internet bandwidth. With all 20 of us surfing the net at the same time it is key to make sure you log on first. Each rider at camp has also been doing daily diaries for my diary should be popping up soon. Tomorrow is the 3rd of 5 races on the EuroCross Camp schedule. The Azencross at is the link to watch the race live. The race is at 15:00pm EuroST which is 8:00am CST The race is the part of the GVA series. Here in Belgium they have two race series. Super Prestige and The GVA similar to how we have the NACT and the USGP. Mario from promised the pics would be up tonight! Hopefully I can do a photo dump soon. Until then you'll have to be content with Troy doing his impression of Nancy Kerrigan. It looks like the Americans did good in Middelkerke today!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Super Prestige - Diegem

Another Euro Cross race in the books. I'm pumped that so many people back home were able to watch the live feed from the link. Hopefully tomorrow we will have the DVD and I can watch it myself. If I would have known all of my Superfans were watching I would have sat on Nys' wheel for a while! Maybe Tuesday in Loenhout...

Anyway the race in Diegem was by far one of the coolest cross races I have ever done. Tons of Superfans, Old ladies hanging out of there third story windows to get a peak at their national heros, a huge beer tent w/ Radio Donna pumpin, hot lines through alleys, cobblestone climbs, and much much more. It almost reminded me of a Cactus Cup FatBoy Crit from back in the day.

I finished 34th and once again didn't get lapped. This continues to impress the Belgian contingent, but I wasn't happy with the result. I suffered on the long climb and was overly cautious on the icy corners. I rode just behind a group of 6 or 7 guys for a long time and couldn't close the gap. Then I did the last 5 laps solo.

We arrived a little late to the race and most of my preride was by myself. In true amateur style I didn't preride 1/3 of the course...there was a right turn just past the start finish, but during the preride there were so many spectators that I completely missed it....needless to say I was a little sketched out on the first lap when all the sudden we banged a right and dropped 20 ft down a wooden plank followed by a 90 degreee right in cat litter. Oh well...

The course was pretty technical and tight except for the start/finish and the paved climb. It was -3 celsius and the grassy corners were pure ice. Some of the paved corners, especially the white paint, were really slippery.

So far so good with the tire selection. I hope it stays cold and frozen because I really have no mud tires. Haven't needed the new Bell Volt yet. The Radars with the clear lens were perfect for racing under the lights. The XO's have been flawless.

Overall I am having a great time and feel really lucky to be here. Thanks to Geoff Proctor at EuroCrossCamp and Gear Grinder for all the encouragement and support. Rumors are that pics will be posted tonight!

Juggling Act

This morning was pure chaos followed by a little peace and quiet....

Life at the camp can be a little chaotic at time. We have 9 Juniors, 6 U23's and 3 Elites. Each of which have 2 bikes and some have multiple wheelsets. 2 Mechanins, 2-3 Drivers/Pit Crew, Els the cook, and 2 Soigneurs. With this many people in the house at the same time all trying to do the same things it gets a little overwhelming. Lucky for the Elites the Jr's usually leave pretty early in the morning followed closely by the U23's, which leaves us with a little time for peace and quiet(even thought the constant euro techno is still blazing in the background).

Today we race the Super Prestige in Deigem, however the race doesn't start until 5:30pm and is held under the lights. So we have a little extra time this morning to pack the bags, clean the bomb that went off in the kitchen from the mass exodus, this morning and get ready for another hour of pain.

For those of you not going to todays Packers-Lions game (one day after the fifteenth anniversary of the Lambeau Leap) you can try this link to watch the race live. Again we go off at 17:30pm EST (euro standard time) which is 7 hourse ahead of WI in the CST Zone.

Two or three days ago I heard a bummer rumor going around about seems the Belgians know everything about cyclocross 3 days sooner than everyone is a kick in the stomach for US Cyclocross...we'll see what happens.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I love rest days....sleeping in, eating, then back to bed to surf the net. A quick ride to loosen up the legs and a stop by the coffe shop for some pastries and espresso. I have been looking for photos all morning with no luck. When they do show I think they will be here. I did find this video on you tube. The start was a little jacked as the left side didn't push at all due to the camera man still being in the course as the start light went green??? Not Pro. Tomorrow we race the Deigem GVA under the lights! A 5:30pm start in the dark will be cold for sure, but I'm ready to head out and bump elbows again! This afternoon it will be a trip to the local chocolatiera for some X-mas presents for the lucky folks back home.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Zolder World Cup

Well I made it.....did my first World Cup Cross race earlier today and finished 46th on the lead lap less than 5 minutes down on winner Thijs Al. I'll start from the beginning....

A good pasta dinner thursday night followed by a trip to The Wall (a huge vending machine built into the side of the brick buildings where you can buy just about anything) for some peanut M & M's, and a night of tossing and turning being nervous, excited, scared, and pumped all at the same time.

Race day started with an 8:30am wakeup some eggs, toast, and cereal followed by some sandwich making, doubling checking the race bag and a 2:00 hour drive to Zolder!

On the drive to Zolder we got some free advice from Noel a former Jr World Champ and multiple stage winner of the Vuelta. Vans of old Belgian guys were constantly craning their necks at us to get a peak of what US superstarts where in the team car.

The Formula One race course made for a huge venue, with the team areas already set up we were swept in like superstarts. The jumbo TV's were set up and the course was ready to rock.

We hit the warming van for a quick swap into the thermal skinsuit (it was 0 celsius with a headwind down the start straight) and 3 laps on the course. The course was lightning fast. With multiple steep drops and the same number of insanely steep climbs one requiring you to dismount and run.

After the warm up it was a quick stop by the UCI tent to get the transponders and check in on the womens race via the jumbo screen, then back to the warming van for some food and a final warm up on the trainers.

There were a ton of people snapping photos of the was like being at a Packer game with all the fans tailgaiting, but we, the bike racers, were the main attraction.

Before I knew it I was on the start line and rolling. I was called up 51st out of 70riders. I had a descent start down the 500meter pavement start and took the first line to the left on the inside. The next right I was pushed to the outside into the barriers and forced to dismount. As I mounted the bike I took a quick glance under the right shoulder to see that I was in last place!

On the first technical sand section I picked a hot line and passed 10 - 15 riders. The next steep climb some dude crashed in front of me and his bars were tangled in my front wheel. 10 guys passed me back. The rest of the race went by like a blur. Battles on every corner and lots of suffering.

The fans weren't as crazy as I had hoped, but I think I need to be in the top 10 for the fans to care. They don't want to cheer for the American a half lap behind there superheros.

This thing is getting a little lengthy with not a lot of cool pictures so I'll cut it here. Hopefully tomorrow I will find some photos, get some rest, do some laundry, and then pack the bags again for Sundays race.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone back home! I hope everyone has a great day with their family and friends. Last night we celebrated with a nice Christmas dinner, a visit from Santa, and of course Christmas Vacation w/ Belgian Subtitles! 24 hours until Zolder!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Canals & Cobbles

Today was the first real day of training. Shriver and I wanted to bust out a few efforts. So it was back to the canals. It is pretty much the only place you can go hard for an extended period of time without running into a dead end or a city. So we did 2 x 10 min efforts to try to open up the legs. It hurt, but I'd rather have it hurt now than lap 1 of the race.

After the ride it was over to the hills to see the famous climbs of the classics. When you watch the races on TV it looks easy....not so steep and the cobbles look smooth, but in reality thet are covered in cow crap, bumpy, and really steep. Check it out for yourself.

After checking out the climbs it was off to another musuem, except this one was all bike racing stuff. It was a musuem dedicated to the Tour of Flanders. The had bikes to simulate the climbs, the cobbles, and the speed of the riders. The had photos, memorabilia, gifts, and even the bikes of Bettini and Boonen. Less than 48 hours until my first Euro Cross race experience!

I wonder what Rosco is doing in all that snow back home?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


After a 2:30 hour ride, a few times getting lost, and a little lunch it was off to Brugge.....we didn't see Dr. Evil's father??? It was about a 30 minute train ride from Izegem to Brugge which cost 6e. Definately worth the price of admission. It is a beautiful place. Too bad I was with Wells and Shriver! I think I would have been better off with Andrea...maybe next time.First things first...straight to the street vendor with the Belgian Waffle makers man those things are good...I'm going to do my best to score one of those things and steal a recipe.Next up it was the museums. I'm not one for the natural history or science museums though....(insert picture of Friet Museum that blogger will not load)After checking out the museum it was off to De Pub for the real deal. I have only had about 1 beer in my life, but I really needed something to wash down the Friets. I had the Leffe Christmas beer. Mmmm Mmmm good to the last drop.After checking out the canals and doing a little Christmas shopping it was time for some dessert. Rick Steve's of Seattle WA recommended a great little Chocolatier called Dumon. The chocolates were out of this world good. As the Christmas lights were turning on we slowly made our way back to the middle of town to check out the ice rink and Christmas Tree. Then it was back camp....we are getting close to the all important 48 hour mark where race preparations need to become priority over tourist destinations.Tomorrow is time to open up the legs and start some serious mental preparation!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Izegem Belgium!

Today was the first full day in Izegem....I had a good first night of sleep and after tonight I should be dialed with the new sleep schedule. I had some Mueslix and Yogurt for breakfast and then read a book and waited for my gear and bikes. The bikes arrived in good working order and they were built up and ready to rock by 12:30pm and soon after I was on the bike and riding the canals. It was pretty much the only place I could ride without getting lost as most of the guys were gone riding before my bikes arrived. I spun out the legs for an hour and felt pretty good. Then I decided to go check out town and got lost immediately. As we speak one of the Juniors has been missing for 3+ hours! After finding my way back to the house it was time for my first Euro massage. A 60+ year old Belgian guy who didn't speak much if any English. Legs are feeling tip top and it'll be good to get things opened up tomorrow with some efforts. A little bread and some more yogurt for lunch and dinner is in an hour. Then some more relaxation. I'll be on the start line before I know it....

Next up waffles, chocolate, and a day trip to Bruge?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Travel Time

I made it.....After 24 hours of being on hold with Continental Airlines I was able to change from a Tuesday arrival to a Monday arrival to a Sunday arrival. However this entailed a departure from Ohare instead of Milwaukee. Luckily Andrea's sister Carrie was flying into Milwaukee so Saturday after a very short version of the breakfast ride I was on the way to General Mitchell. I said my goodbyes and watched Andrea's dad almost drive off without her, then it was a shuttle to Ohare.

7:35 Pm Departure was On-Time but the snow was falling fast. We boarded the plane at about 8pm and then sat there for 3 hours while the cargo door was being worked on along with the reverse thrusters? We landed in Amsterdam with just enough time to make it through customs and catch the next flight to Brussels. The bikes however did not have enough time. So here I am in Izegem in the bunk beds trading war stories of our travel times. The bikes are hopefully arriving between 8am and Noon tomorrow. I think my sleep schedule is a little messed up so this first update is going to be a quicky.

The first race on the schedule is the WORLD CUP in Zolder.....

Friday, December 19, 2008

My bags are packed!

Clean bikes, New Bar Tape, New Cables & Housing, New Chains, New Brake Pads, and New DA Crankset and 46 T ring on the white Trek XO2, packed and ready to rock!

Spare Chains, Cables & Housing, Tires w/ glue, Pads, Der. Hangers, Pedals, Cleats, Fenders, Bottle Cage, Footbed Warmers, Water Bottles, and Frame pump packed and ready to rock!

Garmin + Charger, Ipod + Charger, Phone + Charger, Laptop + Charger w/ a brand new Skype account, Microphone & Headset, Camera & battery Charger, Passport, 08 & 09 UCI License, Checkbook, Wallet, Flight Info, Belgium Phone numbers & lodging info, and Belgian Knee Warmers all packed and ready to rock!

4 Skinsuits, 2 Helmets(one new Bell VOLT w/visor!), 2 pairs of Shoes, 2 pairs of Oakley Radars, rain jacket, thermal jacket, wind jacket, wind vest, 2 bibs, thermal l/s jersey, l/s jersey, ss jersey, base layers, skins for the flight, leg warmers, knee warmers, 4 pairs gloves, 2 pairs shoe covers, cycling hat, thermal cycling hat, ear warmers and a plethora of socks all packed and ready to rock!

Now I just have to wait for a flight. The 12 plus inches of snow got the better of Milwaukee & flight 2866. As far as I know the flights out of Newark are still heading over to Belgium, but I'm going to have to wait until Sunday. I was on the phone non-stop this morning trying to re-book but Sunday was the next best option.

It's a little tough on the mental game only because I thought I was done training for the year. Now it's back to the trainer for another 2 days. Andrea was happy I am home for another two days! Back to the phone for one last attempt at a Saturday departure...Next update from Belgium? More Thanks to Marko & Meghan and Gordy & Diane for EuroCrossCamp donations! ps. got a little lovin' here, here, and here!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mission Accomplished

3 Days until Belgium! Eurocross Camp is gonna rule! Still time to make a couple donations / christmas presents if you would so kindly be oblidged!

Training in Eagle River was perfect......40 and rain is going to be like paradise in Belgium compared to the -30 degree windschills of E.R. If doing intervals in these cutoff denim's in bone chilling temps doesn't make me tough I don't know what will....
Next update from Belgium!!!!
More huge THANKS to those who have donated.....Wally Kunstman & Tim Gabrielse, Mike Chris & Elicia Hildebrand, Brian Krajnik, Ty & Christine Czarnecki, Skyler Reeves, Kim & Brian Eppen, Lisa Downey, Karl Shult, Keith Wolf, Tom Torrance, Wayne Kyker, Brian Conant, Kevin & Spring Clegg, Dave Firer, Amy Dykema, and Doug E Fresh Swanson.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Trainer Time

Saturday 1.5 hours w/ Overgeared Intervals 3 *10 - Trainer

Sunday 1 hour Spin Class w. the Spinmaster & lottsa NFL
Monday .5 hour recovery - Trainer & Massage

Tuesday .5 hour run at 8:30 pm in 10" of fresh snow(wearing my winter boots)....7 100meter uphill sprints rocky theme in my head (I think Sven Nys was in bed)

Wed 2 hours w/ 20 minutes of Tempo - Trainer

This weekend....secret training in Eagle River!!!!

Belgium in 8 days!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Cross Camp

With temp's in the middle teens all my training and preparation for Belgium has been indoors. You won't beleive it but I have done more training this week than I have in the past 6 weeks. I guess the motivation is pretty high. I have been extremely busy trying to get things in order. Passports, UCI licenses, waivers, plane tickets, etc. It has been slow at work so the extra time at home to relax and get stuff done has been key. I'm looking forward to a weekend of hard training, with no race and no travel. I have been prepping the bikes w/ new cables & housing, chains, bearings, etc. 2 weeks to go...

Thanks to those who have donated so far: Mom & Dad, Mark Cole, Bruce Leblanc, Dan Dittrich, Claire Cannon, Rob Boldt, Ned Purtell, & Jim Michler. I don't think I would be able to pull it off without the added support.

I also received a donation of X Series 1800 DT Swiss 26" Centerlock Disc mtb wheels to be auctioned....all proceeds go towards Euro Cross Camp! Also check out these other items on ebay and make a bid soon! Until next time I'll be on the trainer...
ps -still need to get rid of my Fuel and a 19" Superfly too...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Slip Slidin' Away

Jingle Cross Day 2 was a classic.....

Snow, Ice, Rain, Wind, and Mud

I really didn't want to leave the posh accomadations of the Marriot. We dined at a great local pizza joint and then watched Zero Traction Saturday night. Sunday morning was some strong coffee from the hotel along with a killer $3 Egg Muffin that Jesse discovered. 2nd breakfast was some carmelized banana walnut pancakes...mmmm

Then it was time to suit up....I rode two laps on the course changed wheels and tire pressure to find the best combo that I had to work with.....

I started on the red XO2 with Bontrager 34c's...I thought they would work a little better, but I was going nowhere fast on the first lap....I changed bikes and instantly a world of difference on the skinnier 32c tufo tires.

Right away I was cornering better and started to chase down Marko. Troy was having some bike problems and we changed positions a few times in the middle if the race. As Troy passed me the final time was closing in on Marko...

By then the brake pads were going going gone, and with 2 to go I crashed at the bottom of the Krumpet descent. I got cold and wet and the body shut down....the last lap was survival mode with thoughts of getting warm asap...

The hot showeres were a life saver...Thanks to Meehan and the rest of the Jingle Cross crew for a great race...Thanks to VeloGRRL for the awesome action photos, and Thanks to all my sponsors who make it happen week after week...

It was a brutal drive home in the heart of the snowstorm all the way home to 10" of fresh powder in Sheb. it's time to let the body heal up and get ready for Belgium!!!

I wonder how many more time I'll look like this in 2008?