Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Lesson in Pain

It's been a surreal first three weeks in Basque country. I have not been active on my blog simply because things have been more about adjusting to life here and trying to experience as much as possible. Last week was probably the biggest race in the schedule for this year, The Tour of Bizkaia. This was a world caliber junior race, the level was very high and the courses were very hard. Consisting of 5 stages over 4 days, with 2 mountaintop finishes, over a dozen cat 2 and 3 climbs, and one double stage on the last day with a Road race in the morning and a 12k Time Trial in the afternoon.

My entrance to the race went pretty well. I felt good for stage 1,  besides the rather eye opening experience of going 80kph down hill with hundreds of other riders packed around you, it was rather uneventful until the finishing climb. I was ran into by another rider at the base of the climb and nearly went down, we hooked bars and he crashed. Because of this, when the gaps started to open I wasn't in the first group. I trailed in the next group back for the rest of the climb and finished pretty happy at 55th place out of 200 some riders, confident for the next day.

After the 1st stage the race got a lot harder. No one was holding back for a final climb, so the whole day was very fast and hard. On stage 2 the lead group finished with an average speed of 41kph despite two cat 3 climbs that day. At some point my seat slipped down without me noticing and I paid for it dearly. Between that and getting hit by a car recently my back started to hurt, and a lot. I fiddled with my position over the final three stages but never quite figured it out and became familiar with an ever constant pain, both physically and mentally. You see, I've never actually quit a race. I've been pulled out, but never taken myself out of a race. This is something I take great pride in and it was the stage for a battle between myself and I over 7 hours of collective racing

I did a lot of solo riding over the week, no resting, nothing to distract myself from the pain besides the occasional cheering from spectators. For the last 30k or so of stage 3 I simply repeated the line "pain is temporary" out loud over and over again. I'm sure from an onlooker I may have looked a little bit insane. In the moment, there was many times I would have gladly been kicked in the balls if it would have some how transported me to the finish line. The physical pain itself wasn't the hard part. I'm pretty used to that. It was the idea that I was enduring this pain as the victim, not the aggressor. Pain can feel rather good when you're doing well in a race, but when you're dropped it serves only as a reminder that you're not good enough. I told myself I was going to quit many, many times over the weekend. In the end however, I just couldn't bring myself to end it.

Now that it's all over, I can look back at it with pride. Sure, I did terrible results wise, even if you consider the caliber of field. However I made mistakes and I'm learning from them. The biggest thing to me is that I didn't quit. I endured. For now, that's enough.

Don't think I haven't had any fun though! The past weeks have been just that almost exclusively, racing or not. Over the next week I'm going to catch up on my experiences, but I think this will be all for now.

Friday, May 23, 2014

My Plans for the Summer.

Up until now I've been fairly vague about my plans for this summer. Some of you may be wondering if I'm doing anything at all... While I'm in the USA I'll be guest riding for various teams and I'm riding for Focus bikes, HED Wheels, Enzo's Cycling Products, and Lazer Helmets across the board.

So my plans...I am very excited to announce that from June 22nd to September 1st I will be racing with a Spanish team called Beste Alde Orue Eskola in the the province Basque country (which is in Spain). We will also be racing in Belgium, and the UK for the Junior Tour of Wales. I will live, race, and train at the foothills of the Pyrenees for 2 months. Obviously this is a huge and very exciting opportunity for me, the caliber of racing I'll be attending is really high and will be on closed roads with 60-120, 17-18 year old's everyday. Plus I will get to do lots of climbing, my favorite type of riding. This year really is a dream come true for me, I've wanted to race in the Pyrenees ever since I watched The Tour de France for the first time.

I've had a fairly late start to the season as I've been plagued by a recurring hip injury that started at my crash in the Namur World Cup last December. It was a long and frustrating winter between that and the record breaking sub zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures but my confidence is high and I'm feeling stronger than ever. My racing season started with an excellent trip out to Colorado to get some quality training and racing in. I guest rode for Natural Grocers in Colorado. Soon after getting home I raced Kenwoods, on my HED Jet 5 wheels, where I placed second in the  1/2 race. Last weekend I went out to the first Minnesota series XC Mountain bike race, the Wooly in St Croix. Unfortunately a crash wherein I broke my lazer helmet forced me to take the last two laps easy as to not injure myself for my upcoming trip, but I still had tons of fun riding some really great singletrack on my beautiful new Focus Raven 29'er.

This weekend I've opted to go to the Memorial Classic in Minnesota instead of my usual staple of the Snake alley weekend. I'm sad to miss such a classic as Snake, but it just makes more sense to do an Omnium with two road races and a TT with my upcoming schedule.

The Basque country is a rather confusing conglomerate of provinces in the western Pyrenees that spans the border between France and Spain on the Atlantic coast, and is  home to the Basque people, who (mostly) speak Basque (Euskara). Basque country is thought to have been home to some of the oldest civilizations in ancient history.

 "According to some theories, Basques may be the least assimilated remnant of the Paleolithic inhabitants of Western Europe (specifically those of the Franco-Cantabrian region known as Azilian) to the Indo-European migrations. Basque tribes were mentioned by Greek writer Strabo and Roman writer Pliny, including the Vascones, the Aquitani, and others. There is considerable evidence to show their Basque ethnicity in Roman times in the form of place-names, Caesar's reference to their customs and physical make-up, the so-called Aquitanian inscriptions recording names of people and gods etc."

While racing in Spain, I'll be staying in the city of Durango (Which was the first place in the world to be attacked by Nazi Germany's Airforce in 1937 during the Spanish civil war) in the province of Biscay. I'll end this with some pictures of the mind blowing landscape and architecture. As most of you know I am Home schooled and these trips are a big part of my education in seeing different cultures and learning new languages (I am currently learning Spanish and I'm sure I'll pick up some Basque). In short, I am very excited for this opportunity to become more worldly and create memories that will last a lifetime! Thank You to every one that has supported me in making this happen.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cycling Through My Thoughts #2; Hop, Skip, and a Smile Away.

Welcome to the second post in my new weekly writing series. This post was supposed to be out yesterday, but between packing and pig chores I didn't have the time. However, now I'm glad it waited another day because I have a good story to tell. Today I flew to Boulder, CO. It feels great to get out of cold, snowy Minnesota for some good altitude training, and I met someone extraordinary in the Denver Airport of all places.

After my flight from Minneapolis I got my bags and went looking for a place to eat in the airport before I headed towards my final destination, since it was about two hours past my normal lunch time. There was only one restaurant on the first floor of the wing I was on, so I went there. I picked a seat where I could pull up my bike box close by and sat down. Sitting at the table across from me was an older couple and they asked me what the box was for. I told them I was a Cyclist and we started chit-chatting for a half hour or so while I ate. The husband said he used to be a Football player, which didn't surprise me since he was about 6ft 4inch tall. After a very nice conservation, I officially introduced myself and asked him what his name was. "Winston Hill", he said. Only then while I was shaking his hand did I notice a NFL pin on his suit and a Superbowl ring on his hand! I asked him how long he played for, and he pointed up to a plaque on the wall and said "sixteen years". "Wow that's a long time for that sport!" I said. Just goes to show, with a smile on your face and a friendly disposition who knows who you'll meet. Maybe a NFL Superstar will buy you dinner...

I'm all settled in at Boulder and rode today. Man there is nothing quite like the first ride of the year in Shorts and Jersey! Keep an eye out on my twitter (@bikerboy_weiker), I'll be posting plenty of updates and pictures. Expect another Cycling Through My Thoughts next Tuesday, Cheers!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hashtag Transformation Tuesday

Hello everyone, hope all is well with you. I have been training away, doing base work in preparation for the coming season in which I have some very exciting news I should be able to share with you soon. Other than riding there has not been much going on so I have little to write about, partially due to this and partially due to a need for regular content on here I have three things to announce. First off, thanks to a friend I now have the domain www.joseyweik.com. Right now it just directs to my blog but I do have plans for that in the future. Secondly, I know have the specifications of my equipment on my blog. Thirdly, I have started a new weekly series (every Tuesday) on my blog. In it I will write a few paragraphs on a video, picture, quote, or idea. This may be cycling related, or it might not be. Also at the end of each of these I will include a picture of were I am that week. Right now I'm calling it "Musings from the Mind" but that sounds a little cheesy, so if any of you have suggestions please feel free to tell me. Check out my first post here. No this is not a April fools joke!

Cycling Through My Thoughts #1

This is my first post in my new series. Today I'm writing about a remarkable video by a Youtuber called Zefrank1 which illustrates on average how many days you have and what you will do with them in a very peculiar medium, Jelly Beans. I'll ask you to watch the video before reading any further.

The first time I watched this video, I almost felt panicky. Seeing how many days you'll likely have is eye opening and scary. The second time I watched it I felt sad, how many people go through their life just getting by? Or worse, suffering. The third time however, I realized something.
What if for the 8,477 days you're asleep you're looking forward to a great day? What if the 1,635 days you spend preparing and eating food cheers you up because you're eating healthy, wholesome food? What if the 3,302 days you spend working are making a difference or doing something you are passionate about? What if the 1,099 days you spend commuting are exciting because hey, who knows what you'll see where ever you're going? What if the 2,676 days you spend watching some form of television are educating you, or just don't exist because what a waste of time, right? What if the 1,576 days you spend taking care of household chores are... okay, I can't spin that one positively. What if the 564 days you spend taking care of loved ones completes you as a person, because you care about them? What if the 671 days washing, grooming, and other bathroom related activities are seen as taking care of yourself, not as a chore? What if the 720 days you spend doing communal activities brings you closer to other people?

Well then the 2,740 days you have left doesn't seem so small anymore does it? Let this remind you that our days on this planet are limited. We should strive to spend as few of those days as we can being bored, sad, angry, vindictive, whining, or hating. We should remember each time we linger on each of these emotions that in the words of musician Todd Snider; "Life's too short to worry, Life's too long to hate. Life's too short not to love everybody and Life's too long to wait!". Carpe Diem.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2013 Wrap Up

Yesterday, the selection for the CX Junior World Championships team was made... I received an email letting me know I am not on the team. That was a huge blow. I am a last year Junior and one of my biggest goals last year (after narrowly missing the team selection for Worlds) was to make it this year. I didn't think it would be an issue, after all, I was going to be way stronger and a bunch of people would graduate out of the Junior ranks. The competition this year however was, while not as fast with Logan and Curtis gone, much tighter. There was 8 Juniors who could all beat each other on any given day! When it's so tight, any mistake made is compounded a thousand-fold. I can tell you exactly what my "deadly mistake" was...one moment in time where I did something almost insignificantly wrong.

It was at 7:30 or so in the morning, dark, wet, and in Belgium (Namur specifically). The last World Cup I attended and the only one where I raced with a full team of Americans. Also, arguably the best race course for me. It was a very high pressure scenario, I was nervous and excited to prove myself. While getting dressed for pre-riding the still dark race course, I placed my race gloves (since the ones I used to pre-ride would be wet and unusable) on my chair, and then set my back pack on top of them, distracted by getting my bike, and dialing the pressure. When I returned to warm up, I could NOT find my gloves for the life of me! It was frustrating, but I thought little of it. The temp was relatively warm, besides, my priority was to get on my bike and warm up.

 "Okay" you might say, "You forgot your gloves and your hands got a little cold for 40 minutes. What's the big deal?" Well...in the race on the first lap, I had someone take out my front wheel in a slow corner and I caught myself on my hands. No big deal, just a small bobble, it was a slow section so I wasn't losing places...but wait, now my hands are muddy and I keep slipping off the bars! I try to fling the mud of my hands or wipe it off but a slimy film remains. If I had gloves on my grip would be just fine but without my hands were ready to slip out. A few minutes later am going down the steepest, gnarliest drop off on the course when my hands slip out, I flip over the bars, land on my shoulder and...well you know the rest.

Not only did that ruin the best opportunity I had to get a qualifying result (top fifteen would be an automatic, I had been closing in on that result at Koksijde 21st and this course was far better for me). It was such a nasty injury that my back was out of place for the next few days, even with the help of a really good Physical Therapist, so my immune system was really weak. After two good races at Beernem and Loenhout (I had good days there but Beernem was a small race with only a handful of the Americans present and Loenhout was a pure power course with almost nothing technical) I started to feel a little sick. I woke up the morning of Diegem full on sick. I opted not to race, hoping to get better for Baal. Still sick. I came home doing everything possible to get better for Nationals. Still sick.

So yeah, there is my three paragraph long rant on how a tiny little mistake during the important part of the season can blow out of proportion and cause real damage. Now that I have gotten my frustrations out of the way, I've been doing a lot of reflecting. It's amazing how easy it is to get caught up in that final objective. Win the race, make the team, get the time gap...You can't be an elite level cyclist without a very high objective-based drive. The ability to put it all on the line when it counts. The self destructive paradox of that requirement that plays one of the biggest factors in weeding out potential professionals is that you become so emotionally attached to that outcome. However you don't always achieve it! In fact, most of the time you fail. So somehow, you have to care so much that you sacrifice blood, sweat, and tears to work for that high goal and improve yourself, but if you don't make it you have to keep going like it didn't even phase you. As if you had some type of short term memory loss. Charge like a Berserker, get knocked down, get right back up again. And again. And again. And again. And again. So a very common syndrome is to not see what you've done, only what you couldn't do. Now past that, I can see I've gotten do so much!

I've trained in Arizona

 Raced in New York

Photo Cred; Antoine B├ęcotte

Raced in New Mexico

Raced in Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado

 Finally won State TT champions

Snake Alley Photo credit Kevin O'Neill

Raced in New Mexico

Photo Cred; Matthew Pastick

Wisconsin, and Illinois.

 Spent a lot of time with my great friend and team mate Gavin in a couple different Countries.

we got to ride the KoppenBurg and a bunch of the Tour of Flanders route...

Maybe a little to much time...
And even got to win a race together!
 Trained in Montana at the USA Devo Camp
 Podium-ed at the Short and Fat and a MN Highschool MTB race...

Raced in Rhode Island...

I did two trips to Europe and raced three world Cups, (Valkenburg, Koksijde, and Namur)

Three SuperPrestiges, Four Bposts, Two Soudal Classics, and a Race in Germany!

I got to Race on the Koppenburg!
I endured Jaarmarketcross, the muddiest, wettest, slogfest of a race I have ever done.
Rode the sand dunes of Zonhoven

I had the best host family, the Segers!
EuroCxCamp Xl
 I had a great time going to EuroCross Camp again and got to meet Sven Nys!
Making new friends in other countries...

 ... and exploring a different world with Dad. 
 Ultimately, I did more than I could express here. Many of my experiences will live on in my memory, not through photos. One thing is for sure, I have a lot of stories to tell my grandchildren some day!
... and the best is yet to come.
 It really had been a spectacular year full of amazing experiences. I can't believe I received  enough support from everyone to do these incredible things... From the bottom of my heart, thank you to EVERYONE who bought a T-shirt, donated, and donated on my GoFundMe.  
Thank you so much to my parents for being my biggest supporters!
Thank you John Haley for putting everything together and making it an amazing 'Cross season!
Met dank aan Tom voor het houden van ons van te verdwalen en het helpen in de pitlane en Inne, Britt en Tim Segers omdat hij een geweldige gastgezin!
Dank u Britt en Sharon Debeyne voor het zijn mijn soigneur!
Dank u Sylvie Eckhout en Sharon Debeyne voor juichen me op de race!
  Thank you HED Cycling, Apex Physical Therapy, Challenge tires, Enzo's Cycling Products, Lazer Helmets, Cuore of Switzerland, Honey Stinger the Thirsty Pagan, the Skihut, Twin ports bike shop, Focus Bikes, The Bonebell, BeRealSports. Vo2 Multisport, and Dakota Valley Oral. 
I'm looking forward to next year already, but for now it's time to rest up for a few days and then start training! 

Post for cycling news

Diary for CyclingNews

Read it at CyclingNews or here on my blog!

Josey Weik on his second year at the EuroCrossCamp
For me, this year's EuroCrossCamp was about doing Belgian races, where I knew what to expect. Until now, every course I had done on my past two trips was a brand new experience. I didn't know what to expect around the next corner. This time, I knew Namur would be crazy technical, Loenhout would be a tractor pull and Beernem has a dangerously tight start. Now I could apply what I had learned last year to both the races and the lifestyle in general.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a warm and sunny Belgium. I had come from temperatures of around -20 degrees F, so it was practically tropical and riding outside felt great. The first few days in Belgium were relaxing.
Three days into the trip was the Namur World Cup. This was my favorite race last year. With its insane drops and brutal uphills, it really is a primal course that favors a rider who can handle their bike and the pain that comes along with such an intense race. I made sure everything was in line for me to have a perfect race. Pre-race meal, check. Pre-ride, check. Warm up, check.
The thing with 'cross, though, is that any control you think you have over the outcome of a race is usually an illusion. Immediately off the start there was a large crash that I got caught behind and, just as I was starting to recover from it, I went over the bars and crashed really hard on my shoulder. I had to ride the rest of the race with one arm until I was pulled.
A few days later, all the EuroCrossCamp kids and I had the honor of a Q & A session with the world champion Sven Nys. Meeting him in person was a great experience and we all got to ask, arguably, the greatest cyclo-cross racer of all time any question we wanted. He is the embodiment of a true champion. Confident, Humble, and disciplined. I learned a lot from him in just half an hour. A big thanks goes out to Geoff for arranging this and Sven for taking the time out of a very busy schedule to talk to a bunch of aspiring American kids.
It didn't take me long to recover from my Namur crash and, just a few days later, I was ready to go at it again in Beernem. It's a local race, smaller and not UCI registered, so it's not limited by any safety constraints. As a result, the course is dangerous. Right after a really long and fast start, you are constricted into a two-meter wide alleyway. There are several high speed corners where you will go into the creek if you don't make the corner, and various rocks and roots strewn about the course just waiting to give you a flat. It's a fun race though, and I had a good time placing 11th.
The next race on the schedule was Loenhout or, as I like to call it, the tractor pull with whoops thrown in. I feel like this adequately sums up the entire course. It's not a well suited race for me, but I still had a decent day and pulled a 23rd.
I was supposed to race Diegem, one of my favorites. It's a super cool course with lots of climbing and unique features. Alas, I woke with a sore throat. I went to the race course to see if I could still race, but could barely breathe in the pre-ride. I decided to opt out and try to get healthy for the last race in Baal.
Despite some disappointments, EuroCrossCamp has been a lot of fun and a great learning experience. It's an honor to attend this camp once again. Thank you so much to all the staff for making it smooth and hitch free. Thank you also goes to each and every person who made it possible for me to attend.
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