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!