Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Countdown's On

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Don't forget to get your B-Matter Supporter T @ Gear-Grinder.COM

As the race approaches I am realizing the long race season will be over very shortly. It is kind of weird to have so much hype and energy in the air and by 4:00pm Sunday Hoogerheide will be back to a ghost town and the race season will be over. I am doing my best to take in every single second! The Jr's are headed to the race and the U-23's will follow shortly. I think some of the Jr's have a legit shot at making a podium! We are going to sneak on the course for our last preview in between races. I was hoping to watch the Jr's and U-23's on TV, but I don't think it will happen.

We just finished another fine dutch breakfast....Pasta and what else....Ham & Cheese!


















I scored myself a sweet blaze/Dutch Orange Worlds hat! It should go great in Eagle River where I hope to get to get some skiing in before the snow melts when I get back to the States.

Our Belgian support crew didn't like the blaze Orange. I think the rivalry between the Belgies and the Dutch is twice as much as OSU vs U of M.

So far the only links for watching the race are at http://www.cycling.tv/ and http://www.universalsports.com/
I think they are going to have some coverage at http://www.cxmagazine.com/, but I'm not sure if it will be video.

That's all....wish me luck. I'm going to need it to do this for a full hour. This just in....I think I found the free link broadcasted from Sporza in Flemish The Real Deal.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hoogerheide!

We left Izegem this morning and headed north across the border to Hoogerheide! The vibe here is amazing. Lots of guys riding the course, the entire city covered in UCI rainbow stripes, and the Dutch people are loving every minute of it....
















Luckily we are staying away from the scene because it could get pretty contagious and a lot of energy could be wasted. That energy will be much needed come Sunday. So we are shacked up at Hotel Klooster Van Rilland about 12k from the race course.


















So today we rode from the hotel to do a few laps. We signed a few autographs and then took to the course. The course is a sweet loop with a really long cobblestone uphill start. We take a hard left onto the course and do some bumpy grass sections. There are a few good drops and some greasy 180 back uphill corners. It looks like there will be 3 huge jumbotron TV's for the spectators who are not lucky enough to get a front row spot. The course is divided into two sections an upper section and a lower. Most of the ground is hard and frozen. As the weekend goes on and some thawing occurs it could get pretty nasty.

The video below is just a short clip of who I am putting my money on for Worlds!
video
Motor Pacing on the pre-ride.....killer!
















A couple more days and I'll be right here(just a few rows back)!
Thanks again to all who have helped me on this journey. Thanks to my sponsors Gear Grinder, Hyundai, Blue, TRP, Crank Bros & Oakley! Don't forget to score your Gear Grinder Worlds Schwag!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Story Time

After Euro Cross Camp everyone was dying to know about the crazy fan base in Europe. They wanted to know what it was like to race in front of 30,000 drunk belgies. Unfortunately I had to tell them it wasn't as crazy as you think. In Belgium the fans only cheer for one rider. After their rider goes by it is back to smoking and drinking. Similar to how we in the US love one Nascar driver. Stickers on our cars, ornaments in our front lawns, and 90% of our clothing with our guys name/number plastered on the back. I'd be willing to bet if I went into a Rabbobank I would see Sven or Lars, just like we see #20, #3, or #48. So all in all it was a little quiet racing in front of 30,000 spectators and quite frankly I would rather race in front of US cross fans any day!

So the fine folks at Gear Grinder put their heads together and came up with a sweet idea.....

The Does Matter Supporter T-Shirt
! Designed by fellow racer Tom Bender.

You can order you T-Shirt today and maybe even have it at your front door for Sundays mornings race! All proceeds go towards paying off the balance of my EuroCross Camp and the costs of the Worlds trip.

The shirt has a little taste of US culture too. Take note of the Pittsburgh Steelers color theme and the Steelers star marking Hoogerheide on the map of Holland!

Feb 1st is going to be a great day for sports fans around the world! So make sure you are ringing your cowbell in style! Thanks for all the support to the best Superfans in the WORLD!

I wasn't lying


Too Many Ham & Cheese Sandwiches makes a medium skinsuit pretty tight!

Cow Field of Dreams


It doens't matter if you are in Izegem or Sheboygan cow crap still smells like cow crap. Today we went for a 2 hour training ride through the countryside. It's amazing how comfortable I am with my surroundings now. Day one in Belgium I hadn't a clue where I was, but now I can go out for 1:30 ride and know exactly where I am the entire time. I guess it helps that the sun was shining for the majority of todays ride. It was a brisk 2 celsius with high humidity. You can't help but imagine how dangerous a 200+ strong crazed peloton is ripping down the narrow farm roads in the spring as you are pushed off to the side when one mini car goes by you in the opposite direction.

Yesterday was spent relaxing after Sundays race and dreaming of the off-season. I bought a couple of plane tickets for cheap to Girona and Mallorca for a little one week vaction after the race. I am pumped.

Tomorrow will be the last hard effort of the season and the final bit of preparation for Sundays race. Thursday we will be transfering from Izegem to Hoogeheide and then we will start training on the course. I am pumped to try out the new 2009 Easton wheels with some fresh 32C Rhino's in the Dutch mud.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Assenede

Mission Accomplished: Build Two Bikes, Fly To Europe, Rebuild Two Bikes, Race Cyclocross! Today was a warm up race before the big show in Hoogerheide next week. We raced in the small town of Assenede just south of the Netherlands border. It was a classic Belgian style race course. Main Street, Farm fields, mud pits, farm fields, a little hill, one more mud pit, one more farm field, someone's backyard, & back to main street. It was sweet. I had an OK start and filtered in the top 15-20. The next two or three laps I bridged up to 10th. The new bikes were riding really good. The middle of the race was good as I settled into a group with Summerhill and 2 other guys.

Shriver is cracked and smelling his Nutella because he can't find his spoon....

Summerhill ended up going forward and with 3 laps to go I started feeling the pain of the long flight and lack of hyrdration. On the last lap 5 dudes passed me....
I ended up 15th and was happy to blow the bad stuff out of my legs after not going hard since last Monday in Tucson.
















It was good to attend a smaller race and see what local racing is all about in Belgium. This was not a part of the GVA or Super Prestige series and all the big guns were racing the World Cup in Milan. The not so big guns are pretty fast here too! I even earned a few euro's for the days effort.




















Now it is time to rest up and start the mental prep for next weekend! I can't wait to get the USA skinsuit!

Red, White, & BLUE

I am happy to announce a new cross sponsor for 2009: Blue Competition Cycles



















I took the CXC's for their first spin through the countryside of Belgium yesterday and they are really nice. Thanks to the guys at Blue for making it happen in such a short time between Cross Camp and now. Along with the bikes came some sweet EuroX brakes from TRP! They work a lot better than the Tektros I was running.



















Later today is my first race at the Pre-Worlds camp in Assenede Belgium. Time to go get muddy!

Thanks again to all my sponsors who have helped me get to this point: Gear Grinder, Hyundai, Trek, Oakley, Crank Brothers, and now Blue! Stay tuned to Gear-Grinder.com for a sweet new t-shirt!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Slow Going

I wanted to do a sweet post, but blogger and the wireless are killing me.....I'm racing tomorrow so I'll update after the race.....in the meantime it looks like we got a 5th on the US Elite team!  I'm pretty happy for Page and I hope he gets a resurgence of energy and kills it in Hoogerheide....more tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2009

De Ja Vu

It seems like I just made this trip yesterday. Once again I'm in Izegem Belgium sharing some bunk beds with Shriver. I have already had my first Ham & Cheese, heard my fav 4 techno songs on Radio MNM (formerly Radio Donna), and checked my e-mail 10 times. A few things were different though. I couldn't sleep on the plane and therefore I am exhausted right now. I need to stay awake for another 7hours to properly adjust to the new time zone. Brutal. I flew NWA and they had some sweet on demand movies. I watched Miracle at St Anna. It was pretty good. My luggage arrived on time so that was pretty sweet too.














Herman the ex cop picked up Gully, Proctor, and I from the airport. It is 40 and raining. What more could you want? Good thing I bought those Rhinos! Andrea is flying out in one week to watch the race. Last time I did one of these(Worlds) was downunder on the fat tires! Time to go build some bikes.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Big Show

I was talking with some of the guys (Steelers) after the big game last night and we layed out our training, rest, and travel plans together. After a great day of riding, eating some killer chili, and football the Pittsburgh Steelers and I have some business to take care of on Feb 1st! Tomlin wasn't quite sure when he was heading down to Tampa. I reminded him that rest is the key ingredient during the late stages of a long season.
I did nail down my plans and booked my tickets back to Belgium this Thursday! I arrive Friday morning for the Pre-Worlds Camp in Izegem. Hopefully all the luggage makes it on time and I can do a warm up race on the weekend. After the race I will be gluing on some new Dugast Rhino's that I bought from cyclocrossworld on some new 2009 Easton EC90 Aeros. I'll be dialing in the bikes, resting, and then making the 2 hour drive up to Hoogerheide the following Thursday. From there it's a couple days on the course and then the big show. I will jump right into the off season watching the Steelers attempt to crush the Superbowl from a pub in Europe! Luckily Andrea and her sister Carrie are also making the trip and after the race we are taking a week to enjoy the sights of Europe. When I arrive home I will be in full relaxation mode for a month!

I will also be in full blow out mode selling everything I own to cover the cost of the trips and to get ready for the 2009 season. I have a Fuel 9.9, a Superfly, 4 sets of Easton EC90 Aeros with tires, two Trek XO2's, 2 sets of 4 ti crank bros pedals, and much more. If you might be interested in prebooking any orders let me know.... mailto:brimatter@hotmail.com all my stuff is in great shape.

Imagine if Polamalu had a mullet? Go Steelers!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Shootout 39:12

Well today was the big showdown in Tucson, with all the hot new pros in town it was sure to be blistering fast. Ty and I rolled down Ajo highway at about 6:30 am. We arrived :45 min later and were ready to roll. Then it happened...My front der. housing broke and I was stuck in the 39. I tried to fix it to no avail and was instantly chasing onto the back of the group. We started ripping it up past Valencia and I was thinking of my singlespeed friends back in Wisco. I was spinning like mad. Long story short I made it in the lead group and was 6th or 7th in the final sprint climb. After the ride I put in some serious time at the coffee shop. I had a breakfast burrito at the B-Line and ran into an old teammate. I did some more time at the coffee shop and even got some free advice for worlds from the Gray Wolf.

















After a while we rolled to Bookmans and then to Rosa's for a Carne Seca Burro....mmm We then rolled to Mt. Lemmon to pick up Andrea and Elicia after their summit. Now we are crashing Team Wisconsin's house before going out to dinner with Karew to celebrate his 36th birthday. We are going out for Mexican.

I wonder what the Belgies would think of doing an epic group ride in the 39 followed by 3 burritos? Thanks to Ver for letting me steal his computer and camera cord!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tucson Training


It's good to be back....


I think the last time I was in Tucson was 2003. The weather is great, the burritos are scrumtious, and the memories are alive. An easy recovery ride to loosen the legs after being on the plane Tuesday. I went for a ride with Karew and the girls on Gates Pass on day 2. A WI Brat Fry went down Wed night with about every cyclist from back home in attendance. Thursday was a day to get stuff done. Plane tickets, terrorist documents, and travel abroad insurance. I ran into Jake R. and Jason T at CTS when I went into town to pick up my bike. Today should be a good day of training on my XO2 followed by some hard efforts in the Shootout Saturday morning. We are staying way West of town on the Indian Res so internet is spotty. Andrea Elicia Bennet, and his teammate Ty are all crammed in to a guest house. Bob Roll would be proud of these living conditions! Thanks again to Travis for the loaner bike and the ink cartridge to print out all my doc's.
I put up another link to Paypal to help raise some money for the trip. Last time around I raised about $1600 which covered half of the expenses for the trip and my ticket was donated. Thanks to everyone who donated and thanks to MountainGoat and S. Diers who have donated this time around.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Worlds Team!


Yesterday I got the e-mail from USA Cycling's Marc Gullickson. I am officially on the 2009 World Championship Cyclocross Team. I am pumped to represent the USA at the battle royale of cyclocross in Hoogerheide. As of right now I am in Tucson...a little blown out from last nights 3:50am wakeup. It was -33 when I flew to Minneapolis. It was 65 when I landed in Tucson. Good decision to come out! It was a smooth flight and now it's time to start training! I have a good program lined up for the following week and then it looks like a trip back to Izegem on Jan 22nd for a pre worlds camp. More Radio Donna, more Ham & Cheese, and best of all more Euro Cross. Thanks to TJ Woodruff for the loaner bike until my bike shows up Thurs via UPS. Thanks to Geoff Proctor and his Euro Cross Camp who gives riders like me the opportunity. Thanks to Gear Grinder, Trek, Easton, Oakley, Crank Brothers, and everyone else who has helped along the way. Back in 1996 I competed in the World Championships as a Jr in Cairns Australia and to be representing the US one more time 13 years later is a dream come true.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weekend Update

Steelers looked good! Real Good!


Saturday 2 hours outside in the cold on the Superfly (which is still for sale)!
Sunday 7:00 am 1 hour w/ 10 min @ HR 190 + 4 max efforts!
Sunday 9:00 am Rocky III
Sunday Afternoon NFL Gameday!
Monday Work & Pack
Tomorrow 6:25am leave for Tucson :)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Sunshine Cloudy Day

Sure makes it hard to be motivated to train when my driveway has more ice on it than Joe Louis Arena. I have however been out on the skate skis twice. It's even harder when I'm not sure if I am going to make the team. So with more snow and single digits on the way I am checking out one more time. Tucson here I come....

I am leaving Tuesday and Wed morning when I wake I will know it's time to go do some hill repeats on Gates Pass or start the off-season. If I don't get to go to Worlds I will do some epic training rides and then come home and not touch a bike again until the snow melts. If I do make the team I will train harder than I have all season, fly home, then fly Brussels for one last dance at the big show this season.

I can't wait to eat a Carne Seca Burrtio....

Monday, January 05, 2009

Do I already miss Belgium?

I really miss the Radio Donna(constant techno)!
I really miss the Ham & Chees Sandwiches(no lettuce, mustard, or mayo)!
I really miss Shriver and Wells snoring all night long(really loud)....

But I'm really happy to be back home! It was a brutal day of travel. Starting with waking up in Belgium at 5:30am. A ride to the airport with Herman the ex-cop/ massage therapist....this part was all good....but then....

The bike case weighed more than 32 kilos. Isn't that why a pay for a bike? I figured no big deal....take out the chocolate, the leffe, the boots, and the spare parts. Nope still too heavy. Then I got pissed. I had to take off the brakes, handlebars, seatpost collars, basically everything I could with a multi-tool, all while the lady played dumb like she couldn't speak english. I knew this was only a few extra pounds and not the 15 kilos that I needed out of the bike case. So when I put the case back on the scale I made sure 2 of the 4 wheels were hanging off. 34 kilos close enough. Hoftferdoma! I left covered in grease, belgian cow crap, and sweating. Needless to say I wasn't thrilled.

The 8 hour flight followed by the 8 hour layover in NJ was brutal after starting off like that.....at least I got to order a cheeseburger w/ mushroom & bacon, along with chicken wings & 7 or 8 coca-colas, and eat & drink while watching 2 NFL playoff games (welcome back to America!!!).

I got 5 hours sleep last night and I'm pretty blown out. I just stopped by the shop to throw the bikes back together and make sure they were not damaged(everything seems good, just need all new cables). Time to go run some errands and then hang with Andrea & Rosco and cook up some homemade pizza and watch a movie on the big screen!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Last Day in Belgium

Today went by a lot faster than I thought. I was kind of dreading being here all day and not having anything to do. I decided not to travel, rest, and get healthy so I stayed here. Went for a really cool bike ride with Nick W, Erik E, and Will D. Then packed up the bikes, did some laundry and went to the store for some waffles, beer, and chocolate!
The journey is almost over....we'll see how the flights go tomorrow. I am excited to go back home to see everyone and share the war stories. With any luck I'll be back in a month for World Championships. I'll leave you with one last photo. See you in Sheboygan!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Sint-Niklaas

It's official. My first Euro Cross Campaign was a huge success. It finished today with a 35th place at the Sint-Niklaas race. The course was fast w/ 2 treacherous off camber icy descents / covered in a greasy mud. The race went a big cirlce around a lake and was pretty cool. There was one stair case run up and a pretty good sand section on the beach.

I had a great start, but wasn't hooking up with the Tufo's in the greasy stuff even at 19psi. I struggled until half way through I started to get the feel of things, but it was too late to do anything about it....I didn't get lapped which means 5 Euro Cross Races in the last 8 Days all on the lead lap with no major problems or crashes...."great success" as Wells would say. The Americans killed it today in the Junior Race and the Elite Race. I wonder what the Belgies were thinking with so many Americans racing.

The day ended as all cross races should. With a Belgie SuperFan coming up and asking for my autograph on a photo he took earlier in the day! Time for some steak and friets!


I'll try to squeeze in one more update tomorrow before flying home Sunday morning. Thanks again to all who donated $ via Paypal. Thanks to Wally Kunstman for the donation and the loaner laptop from which I have been doing all my updates. Thanks to Geoff Proctor & staff at the EuroCross Camp, & huge thanks to Gear Grinder casual clothing for the great sponsorship this entire season.

More Photos

Bad News....I can't find a link to watch todays race on the internet. So I'll leave you with some photos from Hardie Bikes. The top 3 are from Diegem and the bottom 2 are me and the Japanese National Champ at the World Cup. One more to go! Hopefully I will get some more photos from Loenhout and Sven Nys Baal.




Thursday, January 01, 2009

GVA Sven Nys Baal

Today was the first race of the New Year.  Happy New Year to All!  Over here in Belgium it is a very exciting day because all the new contracts are signed and the majority of the riders have changed teams and were wearing new jerseys.  It's also exciting because it is the national hero's hometown race.  I'm not sure but I think Sven has won this race every year except 2 over the last 10 or 11 years.  Some of us here think he paid of Stybar for the win....I was 4:30 minutes back in 25th so I'm not sure what really happened with Nys and Stybar you can watch it yourself and make your own decision.  I on the other hand am pumped with a top 25!
I had a good call up, but wasn't mentally into it early on today.  I didn't feel good on the course in the pre-ride.  I quickly went to the back as the gun went off.  My hands were cold, my feet were having a hard time feeling the pedals.  After about three laps I started feeling good.  I checked out of the group I was with and slowly bridged up to a group of Roger Hammond and Troy.  I was riding the technical stuff really good and was starting to feel strong on the climbs.  I was mentally into it again.  I made contact with 3 laps to go.  On the last lap as I was passing Hammond the crowd went wild!  Wells looked back, but it was only the crowd cheering for Nys crossing the line.  Another 4 minutes and we were setting up for the final sprint.  Troy led it out and I just got him at the line with Hammond finishing in 27.This race was a little different being in a small town instead of a downtown park, but the spectators were just as drunk and heckled just as much.  One lap I fell on the bottom step of the run and the fans heckled me like there was no tomorrow.  I loved it as I am a huge fan of heckling. 
I am having writers blank and I am just staring at the first 3 paragraphs.  I have a lot of unpacking, packing, and prepping for tomorrows race in Sint Nikklaus so I am going to end it here.  One more race to go! Thanks for reading.