Monday, October 22, 2007

Kalmthout, Cross Crazy!

My trip began at 7 A.M. Saturday morning. I had to catch the 8 o'clock train for Izegem in order to give my papers to Geoff before he left for race registration. I figured I had to leave the house at about 7:30 to have time to ride to the train station and get my ticket. As I grabbed my bike to leave the house I noticed that I had a flat. I didn't have time to fix it so I just pumped it up and hoped that it would hold. I made it to the station with a little air left in the tire. The train went fine and I arrived in Izegem on time.

At the house I meet up with Geoff and Ryan (Geoff Proctor is the USA cycling cyclocross coach and Ryan Trebon is the current US cyclocross champion). Geoff went to Kalmthout to get all the US athletes registered, while Ryan and I just hung around the house and then went for a ride. I cooked some spaghetti for Ryan and myself then it was off to bed for a good nights rest.

Sunday morning I awoke at 6 A.M. then left at 7 for the race with Geoff, two mechanics, and two of their friends. It was an hour and half dive to the course, which is only 10 km from Holland. We were a little rushed for time, so everyone was busy doing their part to help. I got dressed and went out to ride the course.

The course was awesome. here are some pictures.

There was an extra cross bike my size at the Izegem house so they let me use it for a spare. The brakes on my bike don't work so well so I was planning on using the spare, but while in warm up I broke the seat post so I was left to ride my normal bike.

The race was filled with strong riders, the only teams allowed in for the junior race were national teams. The counties represented included: Belgium, France, Great Britain, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Czech Republic, and myself racing for the United Stated. Each country got a front row starting spot and since I was the only American that was me.

From the minute the gun shot it was pure craziness. There was about 100 meters of pavement before a hard left hand turn onto a small trail, so riders were fighting hard for position. I went into the turn in 20Th place, so you can see how crazy it was. The first third of the course was open and fast, so there were spots to pass and move up (for me move back). The course then went into a tight single track section with two different sets of stairs, at the end of the section was a very tight "s" shaped single track (I lost a lot of time here). By the end of the first lap I had gone from the front row to the very back. I rode hard but my legs just didn't have it, and I lack the technical skills needed for cross. I kept riding hoping that my legs would come around but they never did, I passed a few people that had bike problems, and thankfully didn't get lapped. I was the last finisher,in 41st place. After my race I was completely demoralized, I thought I would never do a cross race again.

But, after watching the pro race my perspective changed. It made me want to race cross more then ever, plus I realized that this was only my second cross race, and I was racing against Europe's best. The pro race was by far the best bike race I have every seen live. Those guys race like they're on pavement, they are going 35 kph thought the turns. I had a huge smile on my face during the whole race.

The atmosphere was electrified, it's like a NFL football game in America. there was a jumbo tron (huge TV), food and beer gardens every where and at least 15,000 spectators.

I will keep training and well I might not enter another World Cup for a while I will be out there doing some smaller races.
here are some more pictures for the race.

Hope you enjoy

this is a video I took. If this doesn't work it is also on you tube, I will add more soon


TLS said...

Ian great to hear you didn't get demoralized after your 2nd race. Cross is a blast, but it's harder than it looks sometimes. So I know your dad's going to ask so I'll do it for him, how was the beer tent ;)


flightboz said...

I am sure that Ian went straight for the cytomax tent and skipped the beer tent entirely. Right Ian?
Great photos Ian.

erikv said...

Great post! Thanks for that.

Cross is way different than road riding, as you know. It will click for you in no time. Just relax and keep the momentum going!