Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2013 Wrap Up

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

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

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

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

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

I've trained in Arizona


 Raced in New York

Photo Cred; Antoine B├ęcotte

Raced in New Mexico


Raced in Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado


 Finally won State TT champions


Snake Alley Photo credit Kevin O'Neill


 
Raced in New Mexico

Photo Cred; Matthew Pastick





Wisconsin, and Illinois.

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




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

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


Raced in Rhode Island...


















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

















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

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
















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

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

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