Wednesday, December 7, 2011
A Christmas (in Belgium) Story
I've been holding off writing a blog update about my Christmas/ Holiday Cyclocross campaign for a while now, mostly because so much of it has been up in the air. As of this last weekend, I finally nailed down all of the details. Sorry, Mom and Dad. I won't be home for Christmas, again.
Originally, I had planned to stay with the extended family of a few of my friends from IU, but it turned out that car rental/ transportation was going to be so expensive that it made that route a no-go. About the time that was falling through (last month), Craig Ritchey messaged me about an opening at The ChainStay in Oudenaarde. The ChainStay could offer housing, some meals and most importantly, transportation to all of the races I was looking to do. I spoke with Craig, and also Gregg Germer, the owner, about the opening and put down a deposit to secure my spot at the house. The opportunity to stay in Oudenaarde was pretty exciting because the riding in that area takes you over many of the famous "Bergs" of the Tour of Flanders and I was also looking forward to the opportunity to see a new city for a few weeks, but it was not to be.
The most recent (and final) development started unfolding in the last handful of days, and it has hinged around Ryan Trebon's knee injury. Geoff Proctor called me on Friday to see if I would be interested in filling Ryan's spot if he officially backed out, which he did on Saturday. I had always planned on doing the Belgium trip on my own, not because I didn't love the camp last year, but I just to leave a spot open for someone else to have the same awesome Belgian experience that I was able to have last year. Part of the reason behind my invite is that the only other Elite rider attending Camp this year is Jake Wells, and he is an awesome dude, but also a first timer (because I've obviously been, like, so many times), but Geoff wanted to have another Elite around the house with some experience as well as someone to keep the Juniors, and Zach McDonald in line. The support and whole experience that the Cross Camp can offer is unbeatable; so needless to say, it didn't take much convincing.
Now that the final details are in place, I'm able to stress a little bit less and focus more on the fact that I'm just excited to be going back for another crack at all of these races that slapped me around last year. It really is amazing the difference that a year makes. Last year I was watching videos of the Belgian races and nearly having heart attacks thinking about lining up with those guys. This year, I'm still nervous, but I know exactly what I'm getting into and feel much more confident about where I am with my training and mental state at this point in the season. No, I don't necessarily think I'm going to go over and finish on the lead lap of every race, but I'm excited to fight the Belgi's as hard as they plan on fighting me. Imma kick someone in the stomach! WATCHOUT!
My schedule for the trip will look something like this:
Dec. 17th- Lichtervelde (Local Race)
Dec. 18th- Balagem
Dec. 20th- Surhuisterveen (Way up north in Holland)
Dec. 23rd- Diegem Superprestige (Night race; Probs my favorite race EVER)
Dec. 26th- Zolder WC
Dec. 28th- Loenhout GVA
Dec. 29th- Bredene
So that's 7 races in 15 days, ranging from a World Cup, to a Superprestige, and even a couple midsized and smaller ones sprinkled in, too. 5 of the 7 I've done before, so I'm hoping that those experiences will count for something this time around.
As I'm sure you're aware, all of this ain't free. Traveling across the Atlantic and living for 2+ weeks is never a cheap proposition, but when you throw in the costs involved with air travel, equipment, mechanics, food, transportation, housing, and racing, this opportunity gets a bit spendy. I'm budgeting around $3,500 for the trip, and that's with me planning on stealing the airline peanuts as snacks. I would never expect to get all of this, or any where near all of this covered by anyone other than myself, but I do have a Paypal donation button set up on the side of the blog if you would like to help me defray some of the costs. If you're not into the Paypal thing, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work something out. For the right price, I could be persuaded to get your name tattooed somewhere visible, or even drop your name Nascar style in an interview or my Cyclingnews blog entry. Seriously though, every little bit helps. Regardless if you donate or not, I appreciate you even checking out my blog.
Keep checking back in the weeks to come, because I plan on making it rain blog posts.
Here's a bit of media from the UCI race in North Carolina a few weeks ago...
Watch more video of North Carolina Grand Prix 2011 on cyclingdirt.org
And just to refresh your memory on what exactly it is I'm getting into...