Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Road 'Cross the Ocean

I began the season with a goal. Make it across the ocean to race cyclocross in the motherland of the sport, Belgium. Rainy, muddy, brutally honest and terrifyingly revealing, this is where you go to race the best in the world. To be honest, I didn't think I would actually make it. EuroCrossCamp was a long shot. Don't get me wrong, I knew I could do it, but I also knew I would have to improve by leaps and bounds in order to reach the level to make it. Having a high goal to shoot for has always been good for me. In order to achieve this, I think I pushed myself farther, and was more focused than I ever have been.

After the first few cross races I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I could do it. I did a big fundraiser to make it out to the qualifying races in Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky. Thanks to a ton of awesome people I made it out, and shocked myself on my performance. I started to think that I could actually make it! On thanksgiving morning, I got the email inviting me to the tenth annual EuroCrossCamp. Thanks to a ton of very generous people: my team IScorp, HED cycling, WCJ Pilgrim, Doug Close, Scott & Angie Rake, Amy Weik-Bonebell, Trek, Enzo's Button, Crossniacs, Ski Hut, Thirst Pagan, people who bought t-shirts, all the generous donations, to those select special people (you know who you are), and of course my parents, I was able to seize this amazing opportunity!

A few weeks later, I left from the airport in Chicago with my friend David Lombardo. Taking the plane to Belgium was surreal without my parents. I didn't really comprehend that I was going to another continent across the ocean, until we arrived in Brussels. The airport didn't look very different, but once Jim picked us up and we got on the road, it was immediately apparent that we were in a very different place.

The roads were tiny, so thin they looked like they were a one-way. There was bike trails next to almost every major road and the ditches were incredibly steep and deep. Everything seemed close together and squeezed in. We got to the house relatively quickly, considering we traveled across half of Belgium. Of course, that is relative as Belgium is very small. After we unpacked our bags, ate lunch and got settled into our room we went on a easy spin- our first ride in Belgium! I couldn't shake the impression that I was in a Harry Potter movie. There were so many hedges and all the yards were extremely well kept. I did not so much notice on the first day, but you almost never see the sun. In Belgium it really does rain, all the time. When there is sun out though, it becomes a big deal.

The riding was fun. Close tight, windy roads, and bike paths with interesting sights and a fair amount of traffic kept us on our toes. Once we got back we settled into the routine that would define the rest of camp. If it is a non-race day we get up at eight 'o clock and eat breakfast. Then we get dressed and go on a ride. We come back and make sure our bikes are in working order, then take a shower, and eat lunch. After that, depending on the day, you're either responsible for the breakfast chores, the afternoon chores, the dinner chores, or it's your day off. After relaxing with your legs up, hanging out, napping, and playing pool for the rest of the day you eat dinner, attend the meeting, and go to bed.

Racing at Namur photo by Matt Shriver
After a few days at camp, getting adjusted and settling into the routine we did our first race, the Namur World Cup. Pretty much the craziest cyclocross course there is! Words cannot do this course justice, other than that it is vertical- when it's up, it is UP and when it's down, it is DOWN. Along with it simply being extreme, the course was muddy (of course). I don't think I have ever had so much fun in a race. Sure, my eyes were rolling back into my head the entire time, but the course was just so cool! I placed 11th out of 30, and fellow EuroCrossCampers Logan and Curtis placed a great 1st and 2nd.

The second race of EuroCrossCamp was the only double race. Four of our juniors, five of our U23's, and our Elite rider did the Zolder World Cup. Myself and two others (it would have been four others but two were sick) did the smaller, provincial championships in Beernem. The small local races in Belgium are very brutal and straightforward. This one was tight, so much so that it reminded me of a mountain bike race. With it's narrow (only five riders instead of eight wide), long start stretch, twisty track, and actual single track with little passing opportunity. I started last row out of forty riders and placed a decent 15th right behind Nick, our top finisher at 14th. Logan placed a great 2nd place at the Zolder World cup.

Fellow EuroCrossCamp kids showing a little USA spirit!

After Zolder/Beernem we started the race every other day schedule. This changed the routine a little bit, and made it quite a bit more difficult for our super staff, Geoff, Jim, and most of all our mechanic Dave.  It made it extremely important to be on top of everything. The next race we did was Loenhout. For me, this race was the most brutal with many long, straight, almost axle-deep-mud-power-sections, and interesting with BMX-style whoops, and a huge flyover. It was also the biggest race yet with about 60 starters and crowds... the crowds! Beer tents, Frite stands, people screaming everywhere!

Josey with a Belgium Fan!
It was really amazing racing with such a big crowd. The start was long, and starting from the second to last row with 60 some riders was tough, but really fun! I had by far my best start yet and moved past over half the pack on the first section. The rest of my race wasn't quite as good, I had a few issues with running into the course tape, but I pulled through for a very muddy 34th place. It was not a bad race by any means, but I was having a tough time in the long mud stretches. Some of the other kids had really great races though! Logan placed 2nd, Curtis 3rd, and Stephen 7th.

Warming up before Loenhout photo by Tom Robertson
 I'm now resting up for the race in Diegem tomorrow, and after that the final race in Baal. This camp has been a methodical whirlwind of experiences so far, and I am amazed by the level of racing and the dedication of the staff here keeping us together. Big shout out to all the people who have helped me get here and have this amazing experience! I will continue to post updates on my Twitter (Bikerboy_weiker) with race reports, pictures and more. Cheers, Josey.
Belgium Tasties
Supporters Club in Belgium

Friday, December 28, 2012

Wrenshall's Weik is biking toward the BIG time

Kevin Pates of the Duluth News Tribune wrote a great article about Josey on December 23, 2012. You can read it HERE


Josey Weik has watched the Oscar-nominated 1979 movie “Breaking Away” and, yes, he bears some traits of the cycling-devoted lead character, Dave Stroller, played by Dennis Christopher.
Stroller grew up in a small town and dreamed of riding professionally for an Italian cycling team.
Weik, 16, lives on a 16-acre organic vegetable farm in Wrenshall, is homeschooled, raises pigs and dreams of riding in the Tour de France.

He’s adept at mountain biking, road racing and cyclocross, a unique sport combining road biking and cross country running while carrying a bike. This week Weik is in Vorselaar, Belgium, for Eurocross Camp, a United States development program for elite cyclocross riders that began 10 years ago. He’s the youngest member of the 16-athlete contingent.

“I’m completely dedicated to cycling. It’s my passion. I can go for days just thinking about cycling,” Weik said recently while traveling to Bend, Ore., for a cyclocross competition.
In reality, he rarely has time to daydream.

Weik, an only child, is up at 7 a.m., does some stretching exercises, has breakfast, feeds the chickens on the family farm (named YKer Acres), waters and feeds his pigs (approximately 20), rides his bike, has recovery time, does school work and is in bed by 8:30 p.m. He’s able to train on family land or nearby on the Willard Munger State Trail.

His sophomore classes are split between his mother, Sara, who, for instance, teaches math, and his dad, Matt, who teaches physics. Four years ago Weik chose raising pigs to support his cycling.
“Josey has been very responsible from a young age,” says Matt Weik, who grew up in Brainerd, Minn., competed in Nordic skiing and attended Minnesota Duluth.

“He’s typical of a lot of endurance athletes — he’s dedicated, high achieving and has good athletic ability,” he added. “And he enjoys spending the time needed to train and get better.”

Watching televised coverage of the Tour de France got Weik to ask for a bike at age 7. He now owns three bikes worth about $4,500 each, has a coach based in Boulder, Colo., and enters 60-some races a year. He trains about 6,000 miles annually and receives some sponsorship from ISCorp, based in Mequon, Wis.
Cyclocross is his discipline of the moment, popularized in Europe, where crowds have reached 60,000, with races held in the fall and winter. Junior riders, Weik’s age, compete for 40 minutes on looped courses that have barriers, unrideable hills and stairs, and often muddy conditions and snow, requiring riders to dismount at certain points and carry their bikes on their shoulders (average bike weight is about 15 pounds). Riding speeds average from 16-22 mph.

Interest in the sport in the United States has more than tripled from 2005-11 to nearly 100,000 participants, according to USA Cycling, the sport’s official governing organization.

“Josey has amazing skills for his age,” says Jeanne Fleck, 47, of Proctor, one of Minnesota’s best female cyclocross riders. “He’s not afraid of anything. I’ve seen him crash in a race and get back up and chase the leaders down. He has a good blend of fit and fast. He’s going to be a force in the sport.”

Earlier this month, in the Minnesota Cyclocross Championships, opting to move up to the Pro 1-2 Category, Weik was fourth. A week later, on the road with his dad in the family’s 2008 Dodge Caravan for 1,800 miles to Bend, he placed sixth in the junior men’s division of the U.S. Grand Prix of Cyclocross.

Weik was selected for the 10-day Eurocross Camp in November and has since sought to raise $5,000 for the trip to Belgium, noted as the world’s cyclocross center. While there, he’ll train and race under the direction of coach Geoff Proctor.

“Cycling is something I’ve wanted to pursue, it’s healthy and an adventure, and my parents have allowed me to do this, and they give me time to be a teenager,” said Weik, who is 5-foot-7 and a lithe 109 pounds. “But I work to support myself. Raising pigs is my business and it requires a lot of energy, and it’s very rewarding.”
After returning from Europe, Weik’s schedule includes the U.S. Championships on Jan. 9-13 in Madison. The UCI Cyclocross World Championships, held outside Europe for the first time, are Feb. 2-3 in Louisville, Ky.

Fleck also will compete in both events.

To contribute to Josey Weik’s Eurocross Camp trip, go to his blog at He will tweet his experiences and results from Belgium the next 10 days at @bikerboy_weiker.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The first race: Namur, Belgium

After being in Belgium for a couple of days, it was time to race. At five 'o clock, eight bleary juniors stumbled from their beds and began the process of preparing for the first race. For some of them, like me, it was the biggest race yet. I had packed everything the night before, so I started by making breakfast for my self and trying to get my head wrapped around the fact I was going to race against a world level competitive field on arguably the hardest cross course on the circuit.

Three hours later, we walk out of the car having arrived at the course. It's on top of a huge hill in the middle of town, the site of a old fort. Everything is sloped, especially the windy road that brought us to the top. My state of mind turns from a surreal, anxious anticipation to a sort of frantic, hyperactive state of overdrive. Things run through my mind at high speed. Gotta get my bib, do I have my passport? Don't lose the passport. Get your number. Find somebody to pin you number! Quickly, it's time to ride! Get your bike. Dial the pressure. Find some to to ride with. Get on the course. No one is taking care of you now, there is no room for error.

It's just now getting light now at 8:30 in Belgium. I race at ten, so it's time to ride the course. I know this course has a lot of hills and a lot of drops, but I am unprepared for the sheer audacity of its blatant brutality of it. You start up a cobbled climb about a minute and a half long and shift into a down hill/technical section. You go past the pits, then drop off the edge of the world. Then you do it again. And again. And again. With a nasty off camber and the mother of all run ups. I opt to ride my HED Ardenne wheels with Challenge Limus tires. The aluminum braking surface was braking much better and the wheels were solid enough to take hits from the numerous rocks on the course and the tires were the highest traction I had. They hooked up perfect!

I will admit, I was scared for the start of the race. The course was insane, but the real thing was I didn't know what to expect... I didn't know how fast everyone was going down the hills, or up them. I was pretty nervous when I lined up, the last out of thirty to be called up.

The start was going ok until I tried to pass some one up the gutter. It was cobbled and wet so my real wheel skidded. I was dead last up the first hill. I raced hard though and despite losing four spots, finished 11th. Logan and Curtis had great races with first and second place! Congrats to them and thanks to Geoff, Jim, Dave, and all the other Eurocamp staff.

There is a ton of awesome pictures of the race by Tom at:

Tom Robertson Photos of Namur HERE

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Beginning in Belgium.

I arrived in Brussels with David after a nine hour flight with little sleep at 9:00 AM. The Brussels air port was surprisingly painless and we found the baggage claim with our a fuss with plenty of the booth people saying things like

"you here for Cyclocross?"
"Very good, what races are you doing?"
"Namur, Beernem, Loenhout, Diagem, and Baal."
"Oh good! I cheer for you eh?"

At the baggage claim we ran into Jeramy Powers (multi time US national champion, best cross racer in the states) and chit chatted for a while, maybe even got on behind the barriers, hopefully it makes the cut.

Once we got our baggage we headed to the meeting area and found Jim, who was driving us back to the team house in Voselaar. I spent a good amount of the drive playing chess with Skyler (one of the other EuroCampers) but I was definitely looking out the window plenty. As we pull on to a road about as small as a bike trail going 80Kph, I ask nervously; "this is a one way right?" Jim chuckles and says "no, this is a two way. See the little shoulders? You each pull off onto those to pass each other". The road was twisty and rural, farms off to the side with horses and muddy fields. Yeh, about the mud. It's been cloudy and drizzling the whole time. Jim says the conditions will almost certainly be the same for the entire trip. "You won't see the sun until you get back to the states or get really lucky". "You brought your mud tires right?"

The drive continued along the small windy road with tiny ditches that looked more like V shaped cut outs. Don't bail into that ditch! I couldn't shake the impression as we passed the farms, houses, and villages that everything was being packed into a small space. Even the trees seemed squeezed into their forest. As we neared the house and started to drive into the little town of Voselaar, Jim started talking. "Now the drivers here don't give you much space, and they don't slow down. Everyone bikes here and they assume if you're on a bike, you're experienced enough to handle it. As long as you hold a straight line though you'll be fine, these drivers aren't stupid. You won't see many cars though and a lot of the streets have bike paths right next to them." We pulled into the house and started unloading.

After eating lunch and putting together our bikes, John Fransisco, David Lombardo, Skyler Trulejilo, Curtis White and myself went on a ride, with Curtis leading us making sure we don't get lost.

As we spin around Voselaar and the surrounding country, I get struck by the feeling I'm in Harry potter of all things. The houses are so quaint and there is SO MANY HEDGES. Every single house has proudly maintained beautiful hedges, and some of them verge on art work. There doesn't seem to be a "bad neighborhood" here. Everyone looks hard working and reputable (or drunk). Everyone's houses look well maintained and every shop and cafe is quaint and fresh. We looped around and took a small dirt road after a Pub, lined with massive trees. We stopped next to a patch of forest. "Look in there man!" Curtis says. "That's the local cross course". I look in and see a snaking, pure dirt, beautiful trail lined with wooden posts and rope. It's muddy and has a few stairs in it, clearly a cross course. "That thing?" I say, shocked. "It looks like its had more work put into it than half the big races I do!" "Yeh man" Curtis says. "The local pub puts on little races here, and all the little kids around here practice on it". We truly are in the motherland.

We continued down the road and find a castle, complete with a moat, in the middle of the country side. It's clearly not a medieval castle, it's full of windows. But it's big and has a real moat. It was awesome!

We got back, ate dinner and did chores, then hit the hay. It was a very busy day so I didn't take many photos. I'll make sure to do a better job of taking pictures today! I'll keep you posted.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

EuroCrossCamp-TV interview

The last couple weeks leading up to my departure to Belgium have been particularly busy. It's crazy how much preparation goes into getting ready for EuroCrossCamp. My bikes have to be in perfect working order, I need three sets of wheels with the right tires glued on, I have to pack my bikes and wheel into a double bike box (Thanks to the Flecks!), book flights, do tons of paperwork, get involved with media outlets, learn about Belgium, get the clothes needed that I don't have, figure out what I'm going to pack, do the dreaded task of learning how to grocery shop, and all the while do some of my most intense training during the weeks leading up to the camp.

The fact that I'm leaving in a few days time has really snuck up on me to. I think it's just now starting to hit me that I'll be going to Belgium to race some of the toughest race courses against the toughest competition in the world. Plus, I'm flying to another continent all on my own!

Kati Anderson from Northland News came out today to do an interview. (see below)

Northland News Story click here

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The lead up to EuroCrossCamp, State, and Bend USGP

First off, in-case you didn’t know, I’m going to EuroCrossCamp to race in Belgium against the best Juniors in the world for two weeks. I (ironically) found out I qualified on Thanksgiving morning. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks getting everything together, fundraising, and traveling to Bend, Oregon to race one last Junior UCI race. Here is what I have been doing:

Two weeks ago was State Championships. I opted to get the toughest competition I could in preparation for EuroCrossCamp so I raced Pro 1/2's instead of Juniors. It was a very competitive field. Some of the competition was Pro roadie for Kenda Gear Grinder, Pat (Patty Cakes) Lemuix; Eric Thompson, a previous podiumer at U23 Nationals championships; Reigning State Champion CJ Faulkner; Chris Fisher; Lance Beuning; Jesse Rients; and Chris (Smithers) Smith.

MN State Championships photo by Sara Weik
The course was very fast and the front of the race was consistently a big group of seven to eight of us. There was lots of tactics and attacks despite Eric driving a brutal pace at the front and Pat’s frequent leg breaking accelerations. A few times a group of three would get off the front, usually the instigator was Pat, sometimes Lance or Eric, and both CJ and Smithers put in their own attacks. Each time I reacted and got my self onto the attackers wheel. I felt great, I had the power to react to the attacks and position myself like never before.

MN State Championships photo by Sara Weik

 One time Eric got away with Pat and myself on his wheel and the other racers behind us were closing the gap. I decided to take the pace making at the front for a little bit to try and stay away, I felt good, but I knew if I did that to many times I would be to tired for the sprint. I followed wheels the rest of the race until the last lap when things started exploding. I stayed at the very front but got chopped in a corner coming into the bunch sprint for the finish and placed 4th. I was very happy with my result and the way I played the race and had a ton of fun racing. Congrats to Pat on the win!

Three days later we packed the car with bikes and luggage and headed out on the long drive to Bend, Oregon to do the final UCI Junior race before EuroCrossCamp. CJ, Chris, and Jesse hired us to transport their bikes out for them so the car was packed full (big thanks to them, this enabled me to afford this trip that was not in my budget otherwise). The drive to Oregon was three days long, some parts depressingly boring and others really pretty. We got to Bend on Thursday night and spent Friday relaxing in the hotel and pre-riding the course. It was very different, rather akin to a mountain bike course being technical, bumpy, and little opportunity for passing.

Day one was a lesson learning day. I was a little bit nervous and didn’t quite have my head in the game that morning. I had a bad start and ended up pretty far back and made some stupid decisions that made me crash. This got to my head a little and I got stuck behind other riders too much. I placed 11th, two and a half minutes out of 2nd. It was not my best day but I knew what I needed to do better.

Day two I was focused the whole morning of and did a much better pre-race prep and warm up. I was having a much better start, but couldn’t get into my right pedal. My foot flew off and hit the ground as I awkwardly straddled my bike for a few seconds. I stayed calm though and moved my way up the ranks aggressively until I got onto the back of a group. I attacked and dropped them and realized I could see second, third, and fourth just a little ahead. The last three laps were a blur of pain. Second place got thirty seconds ahead of me and third stayed about fifteen to twenty ahead. Fourth place though, was less than ten seconds ahead of me. David Lombardo caught up to me and we worked together to try and catch fourth place. Towards the end it became clear we were not going to close the gap and we began to worry about each other. David has beaten me in the sprint twice this season, so I did not want to repeat my mistake. I attacked him three times. Three times I dropped him, and three times he caught back on. On the last few sections coming into the finish, we were side by side going as hard as we could trying to be the first one onto the tar. David got ahead of me on the final stretch before the tar, we sprinted and David beat me by a second for the third time this year, beating me for the 5th position and the final UCI point. Despite the frustrating finish, it was a great race (6th is my best finish yet) and duking it out with my good friend David again was a lot of fun.

I’m home now after a very long and boring drive back. I’m celebrating my 16th birthday today. I will put a full post up on what exactly EuroCrossCamp is and what it means soon (which I leave for on the 19th).

Monday, November 26, 2012

Interview with SkinnySki about EuroCrossCamp

A good friend Corey interviewed me for SkinnySki about EuroCrossCamp. Click HERE to read the article.
OR see below...

Interview with Josey Weik, EuroCrossCamp Qualifier

Duluth’s Josey Weik has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. On Thanksgiving day, he learned that he was selected to the prestigious EuroCrossCamp. 

15-year-old Josey has been turning heads this year on the Minnesota Cyclocross scene. Josey’s been racing bikes pretty much since he could ride one, so he used to be visible on the local mtb and CX scene as “the little kid with big skills.” However, a whole lot of intelligent training and a growth spurt later and Josey’s been mixing it up with the Minnesota Cat 1-2s in 2012. It will come as no surprise to those 1-2s who have been “schooled by a 15-year old” that Josey is also making a name for himself nationally.

EuroCrossCamp, which is in its 10th season, is the brainchild of National Junior/Under 23 Cyclocross Coach Jeff Proctor. The camp is a 14-day trip to the heart of cyclocross, Antwerp Province, Belgium. The idea is to take young, green Americans across the pond and immerse them in the challenging European racing culture. Proctor advertises his camp as, “the starting point for international experience” and alludes to the camp being intentionally overwhelming. “What does it really take to be successful at camp? 1) Ambition 2) Guts 3) Willingness to Fight.”

Josey qualified for EuroCrossCamp because of his results in the Junior UCI field at the November Cincy3 Cyclo-Stampede and Louisville Derby City Cup USGP. He notched two 7th place finishes in Cincy and then an 11th and 12th in Louisville. These results are all the more notable when you consider that Josey raced in the 17-18 year old category. (Cyclocross racing age is the age one will be at the end of 2013. With a December birthday, Josey will always be at young end of his age class. The 15-year old is racing age 17 for cyclocross!)

The achievement of qualifying for EuroCrossCamp cannot be overstated. The list of former participants reads like a who’s-who in U.S. Cyclocross: Jeremy Powers, Ryan Trebon, Danny Summerhill, Jamey Driscoll, Cody Kaiser, and Zach McDonald. For a elite junior rider, making EuroCrossCamp is pretty much “having arrived.”

As a Minnesota rider making EuroCrossCamp, Josey is following in some pretty big footsteps. Bjorn Selander, David Hackworthy, and Jordan Cullen were all previous participants.

Before turning you over to the interview, I’d like to put in a plug for donations to cover Josey’s expenses. Like so many great athletic opportunities in youth endurance sport, this honor comes with a pretty staggering price tag. Josey leaves for Belgium on December 19th and needs to have $5000 raised by December 12, 2012, which also happens to be his 16th birthday. Josey’s blog has a link to donate via Paypal.

Last year you began the season as a Cat 4 rider, and ultimately finished mid-pack in the 3s at State. How did you make such a big performance jump this year?
Good question! I think it's just been a culmination of a lot of hard work and tough lessons since I started racing. Also, I’m enabled by my growth spurt finally coming. Just not having the muscle mass to do things was my biggest inhibitor for a long time. I had to learn how to go fast and do things as the small kid, so when I finally matured it was a domino chain of things falling into place, allowing me to jump to that next level and really start to learn.

What are your goals for this season and next?
My most immediate goal is obviously to be as well-prepared for EuroCrossCamp as possible. After camp, I pretty much get home right before Nationals, which is obviously another season focus. Unless I have some really good results in Europe and qualify for Junior World Championships, the only goals I have left for this season are to learn a lot and have fun at EuroCrossCamp, and then come home and do my best to podium at Nationals. As for long-term goals, I’m doing a lot of stage races and time-trialing on the road next year and learning more about tactics and team dynamics. I want to go to Europe next year in cross and have a solid base of experience to give me the opportunity to pull some really good results. I also want to shoot for the Worlds team and the National Champ jersey in cross next year.

I know that you are home schooled and live on an organic farm. How does your life at home help you succeed as an athlete?
Being home schooled pretty much makes everything I do with cycling possible. I ride every single day, I put my biggest hours per week in during the winter in a place were it’s far too cold to ride in the dark, and I put a very large amount of my mental energy into cycling. I'm not saying I wouldn't or couldn't do cycling if I wasn't home schooled, but I don't think I could do it the way I do. Living on a farm is very valuable too. I really do get an unfair advantage on my competition because of my organic, fresh, and free-ranged diet. Plus, living on the farm has just taught me so much, and keeps me humble and grounded in reality.

Who helped you achieve your success this year?
Phew, I think that is the toughest question you could ask. Cycling really is a team effort and there have been so many people who have helped me get to where I am already, even though it's still pretty early in my career. The first and foremost is definitely my parents. Besides the obvious fact that I simply wouldn't exist without them, my parents really have gone the whole nine yards in supporting my aspirations. Our great local shop in Duluth called SkiHut has been supporting me pretty much since I got into the sport and has continued to be a huge help this year. Obviously my cycling team ISCorp has helped out a lot this year, and finally my coach has done a lot in developing me as a rider. Also, not so much this year, but I am grateful to the folks at MNJRC for helping me get into cyclocross.

What would you tell a 10-12 year old rider who looks up to you?
As a young Junior, a lot of people will simply tell you, "be careful, don't burn out" and little else. My experience has shown me that this is wrong. Of course it is important to always make sure you are having fun and doing what you love, but it is very important to always be pushing your limits as a rider and as a person: going out and doing that training ride when you really don't want to, being up-beat and positive after you just had a bad race and you want to just be angry, taking extra care to recover after a hard race or ride when you're so tired you just want to lie on the couch. If cycling is truly something you want to chase, you have to be willing to accept that you have to work hard. Another thing I have learned is to never ever give anybody a legitimate reason to not like you. Be aggressive, don't let people push you around or anything, but you should always represent yourself, your sponsors, and your team in the best possible light. Most importantly, always be looking for ways to improve and have fun.

What excites you most about Euro Camp?
Really, the whole thing is pretty overwhelming. I get to fly with across the Atlantic Ocean, visit another continent for the first time ever, race in the cyclocross capitol of the world (I mean really, cyclocross is the sport in Belgium. Seriously, 60,000 people pay to go watch the big races.), travel with other kids that I have tons in common with and will likely become great friends with, and race on some of the coolest courses with the hardest competition in the world. I think one of the biggest things though is just how big of a leap I have made to qualify for this. This spring, I already knew that I wanted to qualify, but that I would actually make these improvements and get to go? It's crazy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Louisville USGP of CycloCross Derby cup.

Day 1: 12th UCI 17-18 Josey, 30th 2/3s Max, 31st 2/3s Nate, 43rd 2/3s & 28th 17-18 UCI juniors Garret, 3rd 10-14 Simon, 6th 15-16 Sam, 5th 15-16 Alex.

Day 2: 11th UCI 17-18 Josey, 12th 2/3 Max, 5th 10-14 Simon, 9th 15-16 Sam, 8th 15-16 Alex, 43rd 2/3 Nate.

Louisville was the second of the two qualifying races for EuroCamp that I traveled down south for. After Cincy3, dad and I drove the short distance from Cincinnati Ohio to Louisville Kentucky. We stayed in a hotel the entire week... at first it was fun, laying around all day and doing nothing. But after the first two days it started to get really boring, especially since we couldn't ride the course due to insurance issues (which was just a mile down the road).

Eventually the course was opened up on Friday and had the great opportunity of meeting multiple time professional National Champion Ryan Trebon, and then riding the course with him.

(You can watch me ride with Ryan in this vid; pretty cool!)

Of course in the south it is hot, and for a November day it was very hot, 75F degrees hot. It was pretty tough racing in the heat (not super hot, but CycloCross can be very dusty in the heat and I had been training in below 40F weather for some time up in Minnesota) especially since there is no room on a 'cross bike for a water bottle cage, nor a pocket for a water bottle on a skin suit. The first day they did not allow water feeds in the pits either (although they did the second day). Racing for 40 minutes without water isn't fun.

The first day went pretty poorly for me, I wasn't ready for the temp and I had a bad start. My end result wasn't bad, (12th, 4:04 back on the winner) but I wasn't racing strong like I had been in Cincy3 and I knew I would have to pull a better race the next day if I wanted to make it to EuroCamp. Some of the other ISCorp boys had better days though, Simon Jones placed a solid 3rd in the 10-14 Jr boys, Alex & Sam placed 5th and 6th in the 15-16 Jr boys, respectively. Unfortunately Max, Nate, and Garret all had bad luck getting stuck behind a starting crash in the 2/3s and finished 30th, 31st, and 43rd (out of a HUGE field of over a hundred riders) respectively. None of them were actually caught up in the crash luckily.

The second day was not cooler, but much to my relief water feeds in the pit were allowed and I took full advantage of it. Despite only placing one spot better, I finished two minutes closer to first place than the day before and was under a minute down on on the podium. A little bit better of a start and I would have been in the front group. Max also had a much better day finishing 12th in the 2/3s. Simon had some mechanical issues and placed 5th (10-14 JR). Alex & Sam placed 8th and 9th (15-16 JR), Garret 26th (17-18 UCI JR), and Nate 43rd (2/3s).

I learned a lot about being tough and coming back after a bad race here and it was really cool being that far from home and having full team support with ISCorp team vans and having a bunch of my team mates present. Kudos to ISCorp!

 This race was a few weeks ago but I refrained from writing it up until I knew whether or not I had qualified for EuroCamp, I just found out a few days ago that I have qualified and will be attending the 2012 EuroCross Camp! Huzzah!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Jingle Cross Rock 2012

After being home for a little over three days, it was time to leave again. This time for a relativly small Cyclocross race. At least, it seemed small compared to the two Junior UCI races -Cincy3 & Louisville USGP- that had caused the absence from the farm for the past two weeks. Really though it had seemed much bigger past two times, last year and the year before. This would be the third time racing in Iowa. Three years, three bikes, and three different perspectives on the steep ridge that the course snakes up, over, and down Mount Crumpit.

CycloCross pro (and winner of two of the three races 
this year @ Jingle) Tim Johnson (Green kit), riding the 
Mt Crumpit hill that you're supposed to run up on 
Friday night. I couldn't find many photos of myself 
 riding it  that do the hill justice unfortunately...
We arrived at the Marriott hotel we would be staying at ten o'clock Thursday night. The course opened at two o'clock the next day. Three hours before my race I donned my skin suit and went out to check this year's brutality...

The first day I had a good race. I lined up at the start excited and ready to go! I had by far the best start I have had yet and bunny hopped the barriers/rode the run up every lap. I was in second place for the first few laps before having another rider run into my wheel and rip out one of my spokes.

I had to ride a half-lap to the pits with my wheel barely able to spin! Once I changed bikes I was able to work my way back up to 8th place.

Saturday was much warmer so I had no chance to use my Enzo's Embrocation.

The start on Saturday went even better. I opted to ride my Challenge Limus's and HED 3's and had much better traction everywhere. I was second to the top of the hill on the first lap and took the lead before the downhill! I had one of the best races of my life, leading the race until three laps to go was really fun and painful. With three to go, Jordan Cullen and Alex Martin caught up to me. Jordan attacked us on the flat section with two laps to go and neither of us could follow the attack. At the very end of the race I was leading into a corner with Alex hot on my tail when my tire caught a rut and I crashed. I lost 10 seconds on Alex to place a happy third, thirty seconds behind Jordan.

Sunday was a little bit more of a rough start, I got pushed into the tape twice and crashed once. I stayed calm though and worked my way up through the numbers.

Jordan was in the lead at the front and I went deep trying to catch up to him and Alex who were a minute ahead.

Riding the run up again each lap...


And hopping the barriers a few more times...

To finish third place again, the exact same time down on both Alex and Jordan. BIG thanks to CyclingRox for all the great photo's of the weekend.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cincy3 Kings Cross & Harbin park.

As you may or may not know, one of my main goals for the next two years is to qualify for EuroCamp and race in Belgium for two weeks. There are two qualifying race weekends, Louisville USGP and Cincy3. I am taking a two week leave from the farm and traveling down to race, spend a week in a hotel, race again and drive back home.

We arrived in Cincinatti Friday evening. There was a race that day at a different venue but not a UCI Junior race so I was free to ride the Saturday course for a solid hour and get all the lines dialed in. It was a grassy course, no sandpits and little tar. Grass start, grass finish with plenty of corners, three steep hills and two uphill drags.

After pre riding  dad and I headed over to my second cousin Erin's house were we would stay for the weekend. The next day was extremely relaxed. I didn't race until 5:30 so I pretty much had the entire day to chill out. Just after I had gotten out and ridden the course to check if the conditions had changed, it started raining! I watched the course get muddier and muddier as the rain poured down. I went out to pre ride the course one more time before my race, in the mud. It was perfect! I had been hoping it would get super muddy the whole week but the forecast had said it definitely wouldn't rain.

Yet as I warmed up, the rain continued! The favorable conditions helped with my nerves a lot. I had never competed against this elite of a field and didn't have a CLUE how I would stack up so I was a little tense, in a good way. It was cold once it got that wet, so I put my extra hot Enzo's Embrocation on. Embrocation is a special oil that protects you skin from water, wind, and cold. I burns a little bit when you apply it, but it usually feels good when your out in the cold with only a thin layer of Lycra on.

I lined up on the back row of 25 riders. A small field sure, but a very, very fast one. Off the start I was dead last, I picked the wrong rider to line up behind and couldn't get through the riders! Part of me was panicking and part of me was just supremely calm. I knew the starting stretch was fairly long so I just kept on moving up. We hit the first off camber section and I was able to stick a high line and blew past the field! I went from almost last to 12th in a matter of seconds. I really started to get into my rhythm then as riders crashed left and right. 10th, 7th, 5th! I could see 3rd and 4th up ahead when I got a little too comfortable with one of the off cambers and slid out, falling on my drive train and dropping my chain. I had trouble getting my chain back on and lost a good 30 seconds. I started pitting every lap because of the mud accumulation on my bike. I moved my way back up, got ran into by other riders twice, moved back up, caught a root trying to make a pass and stumbled. On the last lap I was 7th place, Feeling great and having a blast. I had passed riders I had never been within minutes of before like they weren't even moving. I could see David Lombardo up ahead in 6th about 15 seconds ahead. I started clawing my way up to him, concentrating on making no mistakes and riding everything. The barriers, the two slippery hills, part of the stairs.
I caught up to and passed him with about 4 corners to go and two long uphill stretches. I gapped him by a few bikes lengths, but he closed it back down and I came in the the final finish stretch with him right next to me. David has a really good sprint, he beat me and I placed a very muddy 7th place. This was my first time racing on my new HED wheels. They were great, super light, stiff, and took me banging them on the barriers and stairs without complaint.

Check out this awesome video of my race by Chris Schmidt! (its Vimeo so I couldn't post it to here) *Video*

The next day my race was at two o clock so I got out earlier to ride the course in between races. It was much different from the day before. No place to rest, plenty of corners, long lap, two sand pits, no run up, a tar start, and uphill barriers to high and slow to hop. I also had a first row start this time around.

The start was fast however and I was back in the teens coming into the first technical section before I started moving up. I jumped on David's wheel as he came by and we moved up the pack until only five riders were ahead of us. The front group of three was about 20 seconds up and two riders were just 5 seconds up. David and I worked together and caught one of the two riders ahead of us but the other, Nate, held us off. Coming into the last lap our group consisted of David, John, Gunnar, and myself. I knew I didn't want to go into the sprint with all of them, so I attacked coming into the final technical section. I put a few bike lengths on David and dropped Gunnar, but David caught me on the power drag coming into the sprint and passed me in the sprint. I was going hard trying to limit my losses but John nipped me on the line by inches and I finished 7th again.

After the race I looked at the results and found that not only was I one second out of fifth and seven seconds out of fourth, but just ten seconds out of third and thirty eight out of first. its been a crazy weekend, I have made astronomical improvements and going to Belgium is starting to look like a real possibility. I am looking forward to Louisville this weekend, I'll be ready to race!

Thanks a ton to Jeffrey for the awesome photos! Go check out his other great photos of these races and more at his Website.

Big thanks to ENZO's Cycling Products for the great all natural Embrocation to keep me warm and ready on race day! Check them out at their Website 

Last but not least, huge thanks to HED Cycling for the sweet wheels!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Green Acres CX & Jackson Meadows

Round two of the cat 1/2's! This weekend the competition was quite a bit tougher. Last weekend a few of the top cat1/2's had been at Fort Collins USGP so I was looking forward to testing myself against a full field. Green Acres was on Saturday, it's a great venue with (for a local race) lots of spectators, good sized fields, and a varied course with a little bit of everything. It has a relatively big hill, a sandy run up, a fast off camber downhill, and a few good technical sections. Not only is the hill big, but you start straight up it! I had a little lackluster start because of this and lagged behind the leaders on the first few laps.

However I felt really strong on this course and I moved up quickly, soon I was 3rd on the trail bridging up to first and second with three guys on my tail.

I caught up to the two leaders within a lap, Jesse, Josh, and Smithers coming up with me.  I quickly blew past them and went to the front, I felt amazing and I wanted to test everyone.

(Me, Eric, Jesse, Josh, Smithers, and Fred in order)

Being at the front of a cat 1/2's race driving the pace was incredible, but it didn't last. Again, I pushed it too far on a downhill and crashed. I lost a good 40 seconds on the lead group...

I went deeper than I have in a while, and about half way through the race I caught back on to the lead group, and then hit a patch of slick grass and crashed again.

(me riding the sand run up)

I went really deep again and closed down the gap to 8 seconds, but with two laps to go they started to go really hard and I didn't have enough left in me to catch them. I finished 5th, but lapped every rider that didn't beat me except one.

The next day was Jackson meadows. Not my favorite race course, its straight, a few small roller hills and really fast with not many corners and huge barriers. However, I was looking forward to getting redemption for yesterdays crashes.

I had a good start, its not hard to here. the start is a long, tar road section and typically for the first lap or two the front group is really large. After a few laps though it whittles down to just Josh, CJ, Eric and me. Most of the the race was pretty uneventful, We each took pulls at the front, but mostly just watched each other. With three to go CJ put in his attack and I got gapped a tiny bit coming into the run up. I lost even more time on the run up and couldn't get it back before the tar. I was far too tired from my huge efforts the day before. Out in the ind all on my own I lost time quickly and they got out of sight. CJ dropped Eric but Josh won in the sprint.

(You can check out some great photos of my race at Jackson Here!)

I had another great weekend in the cat 1/2's, I really enjoy racing with these guys. It's pretty competitive and I learn a lot racing with them!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Racing with the BIG BOYS as a Cat 2

After winning the cat 3's at Backer Orchard last weekend and getting on the boxes in the cat 2/3's at Madison USGP the weekend before, I decided it was time to apply for a upgrade to cat 2. As a cat 2, I would race in the 1/2's (the highest category, right under Pro) at all the local races. I got my request approved a few days before the weekend, ready to race with the big boys.

The plan was to race the first race, Cross & the Y and see how I felt the next day. It was strange being able to sleep late in my own bed Saturday morning, on the day of a race. Since my race wasn't until 2:30 and the course was only a two hour drive away we didn't have to leave the house until ten o'clock. I was actually a little bit nervous on the drive over, I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew I'd do fine, I'd already compared lap times and such... but there was something about the idea of racing in the 1/2's. I could remember watching the 1/2 race when I first got into Cyclocross three years ago and thinking how they were going so fast, and here I was about to go head to head with them. My nerves must have affected me a little bit because I wasn't quite as well prepared as I should have been. I forgot a few things when I packed, (nothing important thankfully) and was generally slow and distracted that morning so we got on the road a little late. Because of this I was only able to get one lap of pre ride in and I didn't dial in the course like I should have. My warm up was affected too, I didn't do a long enough or intense enough warm up.

At the start I finally snapped out of the weird distracted haze, it was time to race! Because of my inadequate warm up, I had a slightly lackluster start and had to do some work in the first half lap that I shouldn't have, but I quickly established myself in the front group. The course was fast, it only had a handful of tight corners but because of the high speed it was actually a pretty technical course in a different way, nothing like Madison USGP, but still challenging enough that I payed for not pre riding the course enough. Right off the first lap, A rider, Lance X, made it off the front. He is a good Mountain biker and the high speed corners were enough like fast single track he was able to simple ride away from the front group by going through the corners faster. This is the part of the race I went back and agonized over, if I had gotten a good enough warm up, I would have had a better start. If I had had a better start, perhaps I would have been able to follow Lance's aggressive lines through the corners and ride away with him...woulda-coulda-shoulda though, I made a mistake and learned a lesson, that's life!

Of course that's not what I was thinking about during the race, I was just enjoying being in the front group in a 1/2's race. I felt great, I wasn't in much difficulty and felt in control. It was almost like a really technical criterium after the chaos of the start and everything being established. Nobody was going easy (especially since Lance was still up the trail in first), but we were eyeing each other up so to speak. You could feel the tension in the air, like everyone was just waiting for some one to make a mistake, or for a attack to be launched. Coming into a corner right after the start finish a few laps in, just that happened. It was a sharp corner with a lot of speed coming into it and I had seen a few people look a little shaky through it in previous laps so I decided I wanted to be in the front going into it. I accelerated quickly past everyone into first just before the corner and while going through it heard my suspicions confirmed. The rider in third wheel went down and took everyone else with him. I looked back and it was just me and Fred Mills. "Lets go Josey! We got a gap!" he said, I nodded my head and start to really open up the throttle.

After a few laps of Fred and I taking turns driving the pace, Smithers and Matt Allen were the only riders able to bridge back up from the crash. I backed off the pace a little bit as they catch back on and let Matt take the lead. Matt sets a pace, but it wasn't a very aggressive pace and Lance pulled away to the point were I knew we wouldn't catch him.

We continued that way for most of the rest of the race. I had a minor mishap with my front derailuer and had to pit, but I caught back on quickly. Coming into one lap to go Fred attacked! I reacted quickly as I had been planning on attacking soon. With a little over a lap left he let off the pace and I counter attacked. I held a high pace strong until the last quarter lap and dropped Matt, then Smithers attacked me up a hill. It took me until right before the finish to close down the small gap he had on me, so I was third wheel coming into the high speed barrier close to the finish. I came over it fine, but out of it I didn't remount quite fast enough and Smithers and Fred got a small gap on me! I started my sprint early on the finishing stretch to try and close it down but right before I could catch and pass them Fred started sprinting and Smithers reacted. I finished fourth overall behind Lance, Fred and Smithers. 3rd in the 1/2's because Smithers was a master 35+.
3rd place at the Y Cross Race

The next day at Theo Wirth I was much more organized and got out early to do plenty of pre-riding and and get a good warm up in. I was a little nervous about the monster, super steep run up stairs but confident as well, because there was a single barrier coming into the finish that was low enough speed I felt comfortable hopping it. This time Eric Thompson (a few years ago he was on the U23 national championships podium) was here, so the competition would be a little tougher. Eric, Lance, and Fred got about a ten second gap on me from a little bit lackluster start, but I closed it down by the second lap no issue. I was was resting from my effort when I stumbled on a remount and they got a few yards gap on me. I went extra fast on the the downhill coming into the run up, as I knew they would be stronger on the run up then me but I was going to fast and crashed! I got back on quickly, but they already had a good 40 seconds on me and the crash knocked the wind out of me. I bunny hopped every lap till the finish, but I never closed the gap. Shortly after I crashed Fred smoked a corner and rolled his tire, so I passed him and finished 3rd. Eric won the the race in a sprint with Lance.

I made some mistakes but learned a lot from them, it was a good weekend.
3rd place Theo Worth Cyclocross Race

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Baker Orchard 2012

There's nothing like waiting for new bikes to come in the mail, especially when its the day before you're going to race on them. It seemed like I waited forever for the UPS man to come down the drive way, but it really was not that long. I got my two big cardboard boxes of carbon goodies in the late afternoon a little bit before Dad got home. Getting my two new Trek Cronus CX cross bikes put together took a little longer then expected, but I was able to do a short familiarizing ride on my Cross track in the field that night.

The next day was Baker Orchard, the first Cat 3 race I did this season. Up to this point I had done Cat 1/2/3 races and 2/3 races but not a straight up Cat 3 race. It's not a US grand prix or anything, just a local Minnesota race held at an apple orchard. It's a fun race never less, but of course I'm biased, coming back to a race you've won the previous year is always exciting. Its like "Hey, that's a fun course... I won there last year!". It is also extra special because when I won it last year, it was my first Cat 4 victory.

I pre-rode the course for a few laps to warm up and did some last minute tuning on my bike before I lined up for the race. The course was mostly enclosed by trees and pretty bumpy. It didn't have many corners but it was high speed enough that the corners that were in it could be pretty technical. There was two sets of barriers in the course, one set was pretty standard, just a pair of 40cm high barriers but the other set is made of three large log stairs.
 I had a little bit of a lackluster start but moved up quickly
By the second lap I was leading with Ethan Furios right behind me!

 After a few laps I put in a big acceleration and dropped Ethan who was caught and passed by Rhett Finley.
Rhett then put in a huge effort ad managed to close down the gap to me with a lap to go
Rhett caught onto my wheel on the last lap, we went into the last technical section coming into the finish and I kept the pace high enough that he smoked a corner trying to keep up with me and lost my wheel. I got my first cat 3 win!

Here is a awesome video by Brady Prenzlo showing the race in helmet cam perspective, you can see me some towards at the start and some of the rest of the video. This gives a good perspective on how fast we are going. (skip to 3:00 for our race)

I had a lot of fun at this race, I just got my upgrade to cat 2 so next weekend I'll be racing with the big boys!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Madison USGP

And so the cross season starts! I had done some local Tuesday night races but this would be my first "real" cross race. It's a big race, all the best pros in the country go to the USGPs, but it's early in the season so I just treated it as a training race. Dad and I rode down Friday morning so I could pre ride the course. I had forgotten how much fun a well designed cross course can be! I rode the course for a good hour or so, dialing every corner. Afterward,s we went to a hotel a few blocks down the road and relaxed. I got up bright and early the next morning and rode over to the course. My race (the cat 2/3s) started at 9:30 and it was cold! as I warmed up and rode a lap in between races the temp was 38 degrees. Dad comes up to me and asks, "Do you want to try out some embro?" "Sure." I say (embro is a warming cream that you rub onto your skin to protect from wind and water) after some fussing around with my clothes I decided on a long sleeve skin suit with a undershirt and embro on my legs.

It rained a little bit the night before so the course got just enough moisture to smooth out and have really good traction. It would be a fast race. I lined up third row and took off my jacket and vest for the final few minutes before the start.

Last year here I placed 7th in the cat 4's. This year I was lining up for the cat 2/3's confidently. I had raced a few small Tuesday night races before this and I knew I had improved a lot. I was not ready for just how much I had improved.

Right off the gun I knew everything had changed. Despite my starting row, I quickly moved into the top ten and continued to move up. It was crazy, I could see the leaders up front and I knew I could catch them I just was completely and utterly in control. I moved up slowly but consistently until I was sitting top five. I could see my friend Ian not to far ahead when Lionel came flying by me on a downhill section. I got on his wheel and stayed there but he was much more powerful up the one hill in the course and he got a small ten second gap on me. He quickly moved into first and kept pretty much the same gap for the rest of the race. I caught Ian and gapped him a little bit, at that point I was in third place, looking up the course at the one last adult left ahead. On the last lap Ian caught up to me and I became less concerned about catching second and more on keeping third. Ian was strong, but gassed from his effort in catching back up from me. I came out onto the tar in the lead and it stayed that way. I finished 3rd place, 15 seconds down on Lionel, 5 seconds down on second place and less then a second ahead of Ian. I was super pumped!

The next morning it was not as cold. The sun provided some extra warmth as I pre-rode the changed course with Ian. It was pretty different, they took out a lot of technical sections and the surface was fast and loose. It was going to be a very fast race. I lined up in the same spot, third row right next to Lionel and right behind Ian. This time I started even better. After less then a half lap it was just Lionel, Ian, myself, and one adult. The next few laps were incredibly intense and fun. Never before had I been in a situation during a cross race were I wasn't at my limit and it became about tactics. We were flying, coming into corners at tremendous speeds and trading attacks. I got very jacked up about being at the front with Lionel, too jacked up. I got arrogant and decided to attack with three laps to go. I put Ian and the adult in some difficulty, but Lionel quickly and calmly reacted to it. It was a good attack, by far the best I have ever done, but poorly thought out. I did it coming into one of my weaker sections on the course, with too many laps to go. I was spent after my attack and got gapped by Ian and Lionel. not by much, just a few seconds, but it was enough. The adult passed me, and then on the last lap I bobbled riding the run up and it cost me another two places. I finished 6th.

It was a really fun weekend, a big race and really well put on with a fun course and lots of spectators. I raced far better then I ever have before and learned a lot on the second day. It's a great start to the cross season, I can't wait for more!