Saturday, August 19, 2006

Back Home WV

I endured another monstrous travel day back from Europe on thursday and it feels great to be back. Yesterday was a perfect home coming gift of a mellow day in Davis chillin' with the BWB boy's and getting in a good ride on the WV State Championship course across the Camp 70 bridge. Good stuff as the course is super dry and fast with a couple much improved sections from years past. Pretty much the most rideable it's been since the early Canaan Mt. Series days.

Looks like I've got a low key weekend at home until the final blast of racing begins. I'm super psyched for the up coming schedule that includes the SMT100 for the first time ever! Need to think about getting my ducks in a row for that monster...

Enjoy the weekend on some dirt.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Escape from Belgium!

After a chaotic and stress filled trip that had it's share of ups and downs, I'm spending tomorrow in-transit back to WV. I was up early today as the team and I had a nice high-speed, Belgian-driven travel day from Brittany, France where I just finished my last block of ride-till-you-crack Grand Prix races. We arrived back in Izegem a few hours ago and I've been scrambling to fit all my stuff back into giant team duffel bag. I'm pretty sure it'll be over the 50LBS limit since I'm coming home with another full season's worth of National team gear.

I'll throw up some more photos in the coming days.

See ya'll soon.


Tuesday, August 8, 2006


I love the warm buzz I get from a bike race. The mix of endorphins, fatigue and increased blood flow throughout the body is most definitely my favorite feel-good cocktail. Crosswinds on the other hand lay in a category of hatred all it's own.

The Ardennes region of Belgium is an amazing place to race a bike. Not quite the mountains I thrive in but hilly nonetheless. The last three stages have been pretty wild averaging around 40+kph each. I've been jumping with all sorts of breakaway attempts but they've all been ill-timed with the actual move of the day going from a counter attack that I couldn't respond to because I was too blown from my own escape-attempts. I've been relegated to the peleton pretty much everyday. Yesterday was a double day with a 110k road stage in the a.m. and a 18k Time Trial in the p.m. Both were short and fast. The road stage was killer since we started at 9a.m. (12:30 normally) with cool mist as we flew through the narrow farm roads. The TT was actually kind of Bizarre since we raced across an old airport runway. It was super wide open and kind of surreal because of how wide and exposed it was. No planes around so I'm guessing it was closed for the race??

Today sucked thoroughly. I could tell this morning that my mind was wandering and my motivation waning from the race. This happens when you're not a factor in the GC and your hopes for a stage win are long gone after suffering in the pack for 3 days straight. So, when the first Crosswind section came @ about 10k into the 150k stage, I got dropped. As the caravan passed I was able to jump in and surf it with a few other unfortunate feather-weights all the way back to the pack. Not an easy task when you consider it's super fast motor-pacing with twenty different cars. In order to make it back you ride about two inches away from the car's rear bumper and hop from car to car until making the final leap to the back of the field. Highly stressful but a great rush! Anyway, I made it back on then got crushed in another nasty side wind section. I chased with a group of 15 or so for about 30 miles with the pack in sight but we never made it on. The green-flag car and the van with a broom tied to the back came by and that's all she wrote. Race over. I grabbed a musette from our feeder and proceeded to get lost trying to find the finish alone. L'epic!

Not quite sure what the travel plans are looking like at this moment but I may be heading back sometime next week since it doesn't look like the race schedule here in Europa is taking me to the mountains this trip. I'm psyched to experience WV in August. I plan on rockin' the Blackwater Bikes WV Championship race and then heading out to Wisconsin for Shequamegon in September.

-Nickska (that's what the Belgians call me)

Now to hang my computer out of the window to find a wi-fi signal to make this post...

Saturday, August 5, 2006

To the Ardennen...

Up at a friendly 8A.M. this morn... Well, we're always at that because Els (Noel's wife) makes sure of it with a sharp GOOD MORNING threat to anyone still happily slumbering.

We take off at 9:20 for the Tour de Namur. The mechanics showed up early to load clean bikes and equipment into the Mercedes sprinter van and spare bikes onto the director's Saab. Els is sitting across from me wrapping up some race food (fresh rice cakes from the local baker).

Shite! Gotta run.. I'll try to post at the race if there is a connection


Thursday, August 3, 2006

No L' Avenir.

For Team USA anyway. A definite bummer especially after making the trip and effort for the specific reason of getting to do that race. Miscommunication with the organizers was the reason given to us. There is speculation that the Floyd-Factor may have something to do with it as well.

I haven't really talked to anyone but Noel about my potential plans for the remainder of the trip. At this point my schedule looks like this:

Aug. 5-9 / Tour de Namur, Belguim

Aug 12-15 / Head to Bretagne, France for a series of one day events.

12/ GP Leon
13/ Prix Des Bles D' Or
14/ Prix De Amorique
15/ Prix De la Mi Aout

The days here in Izegem have been cooler lately and more in line with Belgian stereotype weather of wind and rain. It's funny to be so eager for the mellow time at the house during a difficult stage race and when it finally arrives the novelty wheres off the first day and your eager to race again as an excuse to get out of the house.

The routines are pretty much the same here as they are in the states, though.

Breakfast followed by internet everything... Then riding. And Grazing...

The dinning area is a virtual Wi-fi Cafe at all hours of the day.

I rode the Time Trial Bike today for an hour in the rain. Super nice bike that actually fits me... Go figure, time trials aren't to be feared if you're actually prepared.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

House time

Ronde Van Vlaams Brabant is over. With 5 solid days of speed and danger in the books, I'm now enjoying some down time @ the Belgian house. The last two stages of RVVB were tough 150k and 160k days. By stage 5 I was starting to lose some motivation for the event as everyday was similar with 4 or 5 "long loops" and 2 or 3 "short loops" in order to get the distance in. I get dizzy doing laps and prefer to end up somewhere different after spending 4 hours on my bike. The reason for this tight route everyday is that in order to stay in the Region we have to do a bunch of loops. If we rode point to point 160 kilometers we would ride out of the region. So, the last day on the 5th of 7 laps after it had been raining for the last hour I found myself at the back of a strung out pack struggling to hang on. Then after avoiding a nasty rain-induced crash -by avoiding I mean not going down. I still had to chase with about 30 other riders to make it back to the pack. When we made it back I was still at the back so the next time it got strung out I popped right off the back with 1 lap remaining. As I drifted back through the caravan being splashed by the team cars as they past I was over the day. The sweep vehicle rode about two feet from my rear wheel almost the entire way to the finish occasionally beeping impatiently for me to stop and get in the van. I ignored him and eventually he sped off to join the rest of the caravan.

Another wild story from earlier in the week was in stage 2 when I witnessed (and managed to avoid-barely) one of the scariest mass pile-ups I'd ever seen. The pack was all together flying down a wide street at about 35mph when a racer to my left hit a speed bump and his hands bounced off his bars and he did a flying superman summersault into the pavement. His bike was rolling along side me minus the rider as I heard the soft, metallic crunch of aluminum, titanium and flesh like a wave crashing into shore behind me. The crash was so bike (like 70 riders or more) that the officials stopped the race up the road in order the let the others catch up.

With the first stage race in the books, I have a few days to recover in Izegem...

We ran into the mechanic at the bar across the street from the house last night. Surprisingly he was in the shop early bright and early this morning.