Thursday, January 24, 2013

2012, it's a wrap!

Eight years I have been waiting for this season. For eight years I have wondered. When's it gonna happen? When am I gonna make that jump? When am I gonna grow? It started like any other year but by the end, I was a different rider. A different person. I started the season with a goals list, I didn't know if I could do any of them... six inches, three category jumps, tens of thousands of miles later in the car, on my bike, and in a plane I have achieved almost every one and beyond. My goals were:

#1: To place 1st overall in the cat 4 series at ToAD, I placed second overall by five points.

I did however achieve my first Cat 4 road win at Lacrosse
#2: To win a Cat 3 Cross race

And later went on to podium in several Cat 1/2 races like here at State championships.

#3: To top five at Short and fat, I placed 7th in the group sprint for 2nd.

 #4: to bunny hop barriers consistently

And #5: to Place top ten at Cross Nationals, I placed 6th, losing the sprint for 5th

I dreamed about going to EuroCamp but thought it was to big of a goal so did not put it on my list. Neverless, I was able to go to the tenth anuall EuroCrossCamp!

I also was on the Midwest team for Le Tour De Rimouski cadet race.

And attended Geoff Procter's USAC Cross Development camp.

Thanks to a ton of very generous people for making everything possible this year: 

My team IScorp, HED cycling, WCJ Pilgrim, Doug Close, Scott & Angie Rake, Amy Weik-Bonebell, Trek, Enzo's Button, The Crossniacs, Ski Hut, Thirsty Pagan, people who bought t-shirts, all the generous donations, and of course my parents!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2013 Cyclocross National Championships

After five days being home from Belgium, I left for the last and most important race of the season, National Championships. I was nervous coming into Nationals. Not because it was a super important race, although that was contributing factor. I was nervous because I had been sick since I got home. A sinus infection, otherwise known as the Belgian crud. I had been fighting it since my second race in Belgium, barely holding it off. The long, stressful plane ride accompanied with the dry air, and low quality food in the air plane finally tipped me over. I took good care of myself while home and managed to get healthy. The thing I was nervous about was if it would affect my race. Because I was sick, I only rode twice from the time I arrived home till I left for Nationals.

In order to open up my legs, I decided to do the non-championship under 29 B race on Wednesday. The conditions were fast and slippery, the surface was a mixture of wet frozen dirt, half melted ice patches, and packed snow. As I expected my legs were blocked up and my start was lackluster, I took me most of the first lap to figure out how to ride the slippery conditions at race speed and get my legs fully opened up. Despite some shifting issues, I placed second to a Canadian u23 rider named Micheal Vandenham and my teammate Max Ackerman had a great ride to 5th place.

On the day before my race (Friday), I rode over to the course to cheer on friends that were racing and ride on the course. By then, the temp had risen above freezing and a inch of rain had fallen. The course had inches of slippery, slimy mud, and patches of ice underneath. There was no wind, it was foggy, and the temp was just barely above freezing. In short, the conditions were absolutely perfect for me!

The morning of nationals I woke up early enough to pre-ride the course before my 10:30 race. It's a good thing I did because the conditions were completely different. There was a very strong, icy cold biting wind and it was as cold as it could possibly be without freezing. The biggest change though, was the mud. Over night it had thickened into what is referred to as "peanut butter mud". Thick, power sucking stuff, requiring little technical skill. At first I was frustrated. This stuff was not bad for me but I had still lost a huge conditions advantage. However, as it got closer and closer to my race, the sun came out. The warmth began to thaw out the partially frozen thick mud and the consistency became more loose. It wasn't the slippery mud of the day before but there was now a line through the mud, right next to the tape. By riding as close as possible to the tape and spinning, you could go faster than slogging through the deep mud in the center. The technical part about it was you were running a very high risk of getting tangled up in the course tape, or worse, hooking a post and flipping.

I warmed up and rode over to the start line. It was very cold, I had a thermal Skinsuit, two base layers and Enzos Button embrocation on. I lined up second row on the left. I lined up on the very outside. The gun went off and we sped towards the first corner. Then some one slips on a ice patch on the inside and starts a massive crash! I slam on my brakes and slide to a stop just in time to avoid falling into the pile up. I stand there for a few seconds in what seems like a eternity as I try and escape the pile up. by the time I finally do, I'm forty seconds back on the top five and in the thirties.

Later my dad ask's me if I was frustrated then. To be honest, I do not remember feeling any emotion. If you look at photos of me in the race you can see my face and mind were a expressionless void focusing on one single thing:

Racing my bike as fast as I can.

I don't remember much from the first two laps of the race. A few disjointed images with little thought attached to them. After the race my dad told me I was 30th when I hit the dirt, 25th coming through the pits on the first lap, and I was 17th by the first hill. I was on fire, having the race of my life after complete disaster!

A video of thee first lap at the pits. the first rider to go through is 4th place. I appear at the end

By the end of the first lap I could hear people shouting at me: "That's top ten right there! Go! GO!". I moved into 11th. Then 8th. into 6th. 5th place ! For the first time in the race, I felt an emotion. I smiled. This was my goal, top five! I wasn't going to get it easily though. There was some one on my wheel, Anders Nystrom. The last lap was a blur of pain as I tried to drop him. He passed me right after the pits, I put in a huge acceleration and passed him back before the hill. Little by little I started to open a gap. I was concentrating everything I had on not making a mistake. Which of course, was my mistake. On the final uphill coming into the downhill into the finish, my front wheel caught something. I fell down. I got back up quickly and ran up the last bit of the hill and got back on my bike. It was a tiny mistake, but it was enough. Anders caught me, sat on my wheel and then attacked me as we hit the tar. I struggled to hold onto his wheel to try and make some last attempt to beat him at the line but I had already burned my all my matches. I crossed the line in 6th place, four seconds down on the podium.

I had a amazing Nationals. I had the ride of my life right after disaster and I did it when it counted. I was the only rider in the top ten who got suck in the crash. My ride was not without flaw but I am proud of it. Now that I have done the last race of the season it is time to rest so that I can return for road season, hungry for more.

Thanks to Roxxanne King (@CyclingRox) for the awesome photo and the Bonebell for the video!

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Belgium adventure, a conclusion.

After two weeks in Belgium, I find myself looking at things differently. Something changed while I was battling the mud in Belgium. I see things differently now. Not in a dramatic way, but subtle change is apparent. I grew in Belgium, physically, mentally, and emotionally. A seed was planted, one that will grow with time in such a way that can not be averted. I learned a lot in Belgium, but what resonates with me the most is Geoff's quoting of Aristotle;

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."

My trip to Belgium was a realization of our struggle for excellence. To me EuroCrossCamp embodied that struggle. What it takes to become a professional cyclist is really seen while over there. Adverse conditions and talented fields show how good you truly are through repeated and demoralizing defeat. If you are disciplined and tough, you see what your weaknesses are. You see who you really are. Geoff did an excellent job of making this camp a great learning experience. The riders are cared for through the camp, but not coddled. It becomes opportunity to see the connection between dedication and results.

Despite being a race camp full of very competitive people, friendship and team work was very prevalent through out the two weeks. Riders (for the most part) from different teams and parts of the country filled the roster but while in Belgium, we were team EuroCamp. Whether preparing for a race or just doing the dishes, we had each others backs from making sure things weren't misplaced, to taking the chore load if some one was sick, and helping each other work on bikes. In that way and others, EuroCamp was the most professional camp I have been to.

I have tried to sum up what this experience was like with pictures and posts on both Twitter and Blogger. What it was like to ride around in a different world with roads tight and twisty and neat hedges. How the food tasted. What it was like to hardly ever see the sun and hear an almost constant sound of rain drumming on the rooftops. What the people sounded like when they spoke such a guttural language. How tough the races were with deep mud, sketchy descents, and brutal hills. Most importantly, what I learned. Hopefully, I have succeeded -at least to a  degree- so that all the people who so generously helped me understand how grateful I am. Understand how much fun and learning a kid can have playing in the Belgium mud.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

IN the News!

 EuroCrossCamp 2012 a Success (12.31.12)

Weik, the youngest rider at the camp, who turned 16 only days before embarking for Belgium, said that despite the challenges, he is already hoping to make a return next year.

“I’m having a blast; this is the best ever,” he told VeloNews after a 34th-place finish in Loenhout. “Despite just getting my head pounded in today, I was having fun the whole time. It’s all super fun, a super big learning experience. Namur, the first race I did here, was by far the most fun I’ve had on a bike. I was scared, but it was just a blast.”

Velo News: EuroCrossCamp 2012 a Success

  The Road 'Cross the Ocean (12.30.12)

Josey Weik gets a taste of Belgium Cross

"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."

CyclingNews Article HERE

  Missives from the Motherland
-EuroCrossCamp through the rider's eyes

They published Josey's first blogpost of his Belgium experience
"Beginning in Belgium" (12.21.12)

I arrived in Brussels with David after a nine hour flight with little sleep at 9:00 AM. The Brussels airport was surprisingly painless and we found the baggage claim with out a fuss, with plenty of 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?”

Tuesday, December 25

Josey Weik shares his Namur race report:
"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."


12.31.12      Josey Weik 
He wasn't the first rider on course. And he wasn't the biggest in the Junior race, but Josey Weik rode the whole sand pit at Diegem while most couldn't. The Belgians noted this.

Tom Robertson

Tom Robertson