are sometimes smooth and silky, and other times tired and tight.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

8 (+) Reasons Why I Hate Sundays in December

1. Waking up late, but earlier than you'd like, so you can attend a group ride.

2. Discover that your rear tire is flat just as you're leaving.

3. Forced into switching cassettes, since your winter bike is an 8 speed.

4. Discovering 50 meters later that your cassette is loose.

5. Grabbing your good bike, when you'd rather leave it tucked away for the winter.

6. TTing to the meeting point, and arriving 5 minutes late.

7. TTing to the next 6km, in vain hope of catching the group, who are prone to slow starts, but never seeing them.

8. Turning around, because you can't be bothered.

Then the rain starts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011



It’s been awhile.

Still alive. Believe it, or not.

Never finished the follow up the my last entry. Let’s just say that the FD’s teammate is a prophet.

Since that past post I've done a fair share of racing. Nothing worth writing about.

Work took over for a bit.

Then I went back to the Heartland.

While I was there I -

Threw it down on many an occasion with the Cannibals. Always a pleasure.

Ate plenty of comfort food. Burp.

Mixed it up with Townies and Gownies. Always fun.

Rolled a clincher in a hairpin turn, during a training race, but somehow managed to keep (the rest of) the rubber on the road (and grass).

Had an argument with a newly minted Cat 4 about how to ride in a paceline. Always entertaining.

Found myself delayed by a tropical storm.

Did some post-storm cleanup.

Flew back.

So, yeah... here I am.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Districtskampioenschap NH (prelude)

I lean forward, from the backseat, trying to listen to the conversation in front of me. With the din of the windshield wipers swiping back and forth, coupled with my rudimentary Dutch, I catch half of what’s being said. The Flying Doctor is driving, and in the passenger seat is one of his teammates. He's more of a time trial specialist than a road racer, but he's here to qualify for the national championships.

They’re talking about the course we’re driving to. None of us have ever raced it. I’ve heard that it’s easy. I’ve also heard that it’s technical. Maybe it’s both? I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

The one thing that is of real concern is the rain. It’s the worst kind for a race: enough to bring up the oil on the roads, but not enough to wash it off.

The subject segues to that of other riders. Who’s going to be there. Who won’t be. Who to watch. Who to watch out for.

This leads us to start talking about various riders. The ones that you want to avoid because if there’s a crash chances they’re in it. FD's teammate tells us about one particular rider., and how if he sees him in a race, he’ll go out of his way to get to the other side of the road. I think I know of the rider. Tall, bald, pale, almost always in a skinsuit, with skinny legs, and a pot belly. He has a brother that looks just like him. One rides a black bike, the other a white one. I'm not sure which one is the one to avoid. I’ve never seen either go down, but considering the way they race I’m not surprised. They (he?) tends to get a little too close and personal for my liking. The fact that both almost a foot taller than me doesn’t help either.

We arrive, and after some small talk in the parking lot, we go to pick up our numbers, then head back to the car to change. I use the race flyer as a floor matt, so I can keep my feet dry while I change in the drizzle. While the course may be new to me, the surroundings are not. It’s an industrial park. There’s even a port-o-potty. I almost feel like I’m home.

to be continued...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

1,004 words about the Oranjeronde van Amsterdam


Report to follow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rub a dub dub

Souvenir from Zaandam.

Easter Monday. A bright and sunny day. Tweede pas. Twee Bruggenronde van Zaandam. My first crit of the year.

Starting on a bridge, with a (thanks to the gates surrounding the course) tight left turn on to a speed bump, followed by a serpentine 200 meter long stretch of bricks leading ‘up’ to the second bridge, into the wind, with a shallow descent, banking left, on to another left, which leads you back to the hill that you started on. If pressed, I’d call it a challenging course.

I could try and regale you with tales of how I spent my 65 laps, circumnavigating the 800 meter long circuit. I won’t. It was a day spent mostly stuck somewhere in the middle of the peloton. The few occasions I found myself on the pointy end of the stick, I opted for caution. Don’t ask me why.

Perhaps it was the fact that this was my first taste of a touchy feely peloton this year: feeling a handlebar against my rump as I lean into a turn, handlebars brushed, tires rubbed, a wheel on my foot, a disgruntled rider subtly swerving into my front wheel. The joys of crit racing.

Next time. Next time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Return to the Battle of the Bulge

It's that time of year. Yes sir, lucky me. Once again a weekend of haute cusine, fancy wines, and leg breaking climbs were on the cards.

The weather was almost perfect.

The bikes were ready.

The wine was waiting.

But first things first: a warm up ride on day one.

After that, a quick shower, a quick beer, then the cooking commenced.

And the table was set.

Amuse (when in Belgium do as the Belgians do. In this case, eat mussels).

Sting Ray with pineapple sauce and fennel.

Lambs Rack with potato pancakes and red chicory.

After that succulent meal sleep was had by all. The following morning we awoke, had breakfast, and made our way to the ol' standby of the Route Buissoniere.

After that, beer was consumed. Potato Chips as well. We even showered.


Slow cooked Cod, with a smoked cheese sauce and spinach.

The next course was Steak and frites, but sadly I was so hungry I forgot to take pics.

By the time desert arrived, I was ready.

Beet root jelly with red fruits.

The morning after the night before, and everyone prepares for our return to the Wanne and the Stockeu.

Post Stockeu reward.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Books and covers

The Kabouter.

Half the race i was somewhere around him.

He drove me nuts.

When he was ahead of me, he was always a bit too much to the right, or the left.

I could never get past.

When he was next to me, my comfort zone was always breached.

When the peloton broke in half (thanks to Bunny's attack) he was on the wheel of the rider who couldn't hold the pace.

I was behind him.

For once i understood what the WK means when he says that it sucks to ride behind me.

No draft. Or so I told myself, when I was shot backwards.

Turned out he finished 4th.

Turns out he's a European champion in both the the road and time trialing, as well as world champ in the TT.

He's even the father of a pro.

Lesson learned (once again) - never judge a book by its cover.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Spring is here.

The most beautiful word in the Dutch language - Voorjaarsklassieker - is in full effect.

If I was a smart man, I'd have the beers chilled, the doritos in the bowl, and the TV on tomorrow.

Thing is, I'm smart, but stupid.

No Ronde for me tomorrow.

The choice was simple: observe or participate.

I chose the latter.

In the rain as well.

Yep. Stupid.

Report tomorrow.

Perhaps with something about today.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Caboose

Meet up before the race. Go for an easy spin to wake the legs from their 2 1/2 week long slumber. Sit in during the race. It was a good plan. A fine plan indeed.

Swerving p­ast people on city bikes, their thoughts clearly on the beautiful day, not the road ahead. I make my way through town.

My bike feels odd. My saddle high. My tires soft. I feel drunk.

Hardly a surprise. I’ve only been back “in country” for a day, after a 24 hour long trip back from the other side of the world. My excuses are ready.

WK and Mickey (the racer formerly known as KMII) are waiting for me at the meeting point. I pull up, shake hands, and we proceed on our merry way for an easy loop of the Ronde Hoep. The sun is shining. The wind marginal. All is good.

The warm up is spent catching up on the races that I’ve missed. Who was in form. Who isn’t. Breaks that stuck. Crashes missed. I find myself riding next to Mickey, into the wind. Each time this happens I wave the WK through. I need to follow the plan: take it easy today.

Our warm up complete, we arrive at the clubhouse. We collect our numbers. Say hello to a few friends and teammates. One of them is Banana Legs, who is back after his own hiatus. Another is a new member of the team. On training rides he’s been like the Energizer Bunny, he just keeps going, and going, and going.

I pass on riding a pre race loop, and pull up to the line. It’s busy today. Considering the weather, this comes as no surprise. The start is delayed to allow the overflow enough time to sign in.

Mickey pulls alongside, and a few rows further back is the WK and Bunny. I take another look around, surveying the field. There’s a familiar face next to Mickey. Someone who I’ve been in a few breaks with over the past year or two. I note that he’s traded in his Cervelo for a Wilier. Next to me are a group of juniors.

Eventually Andre steps out of the clubhouse, and sets us loose. Instinct kicks in. As soon as I’m fastened in my pedals, I sprint ahead.

I have no intentions of staying away. None at all. I'm fully aware that I don’t have the legs today. Besides, that’s not the plan. I see someone in the corner of my eye. It’s Mickey. I ease, and he passes, towing a few of the juniors behind him. I look behind and see that we have a gap. I get out of the saddle and dig.

It takes longer than it should. For a moment or two I fear that I’m about to be dropped. By juniors! Misplaced pride takes over. I manage to claw my way to the last wheel. Mickey is at the front, pulling the cast of kids along behind him, with yours truly making a cameo as the caboose.

I figure we’ll stay away for a lap. Maybe two. We’ll be reeled in, and I’ll settle into the warm embrace of the peloton. Then all will return to plan.

As I comfort myself with those thoughts, I see Bunny ride past me. Then past all of the juniors clinging to Mickey’s wheel. Then past Mickey. Mickey accelerates, and eases onto Bunny’s wheel. They start trading pulls. It’s not supposed to happen like this. I’m not supposed to be here.

A lap, or two later, some more company joins us. Reinforcements. One of which is Wilier guy. From my vantage point of the back of the group, I see that we have a large gap. Large enough that I don’t see the main peloton.

Twenty minutes in we hear that we have a gap of 30 seconds. A lap, or two, later it’s 35 seconds. Several laps later 45. We’re pulling away. Actually, they’re pulling away. Each time I take the occasional pull I struggle grab the last wheel.

My legs empty. My heart rate in overdrive. I accept my role for the day. Caboose.

I rethink my plan as thoughts of the Talking Heads pass through my head.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

1,003 words about this afternoons race

Wet and gritty.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The end of the beginning

photo courtesy of dolly van der laan

Cold. Windy. Dry. One out of three. Good enough. Today is the day. The beginning of the beginning at Sloten.

It’s February. No pressure. No Worries. Just some training. With a number pinned on. That’s the plan.

Granted, I’ve opted to break out the good bike for today. My winter bike is showing its age. All 18+ years. Not that I plan on trying anything special today. I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. Nope. This is training. Nothing more.

I meet the KMII and the WK a few hours before. We saunter along at a leisurely pace. Circling the loop of the Ronde Hoep. Eventually we arrive, as scheduled, at the clubhouse.

Numbers are collected. Friendships reacquainted. Weights and training hours are compared. It’s all good.

I see the Berlin Wall, a teammate and training partner. He missed out on our pre-race warm up. Too busy doing domestic duties for his Mrs. We go out for a few warm up laps. Two weeks ago the course was covered in twigs and dirt. Today it’s perfect. Keurig.

I pull up to the line. Waiting there for the rest to arrive. One by one the familiar faces pull alongside. The WK, Berlin Wall, van der Terminator, Thomas the Taxi … Finally Andre arrives. We wait a bit longer, and the Flying Doctor appears. He’s wearing a pair of leg warmers that makes me think of the Irish diaspora in Barabdos.

Finally, Andre makes an announcement. We’re sent on our way. At least I think we are.

I make my trademark move. For the show, and only for the show. I look back and see that nobody cares. I’m alone, apart from another rider. I’ve done a few training runs with him over the winter. He’s strong. Much stronger than I’ll ever be. He pulls through and I follow, sitting on his wheel.

He sets the pace. I follow, until +/-500 meters before the strip. I take over. As we approach the line, I see Andre, waiting on the line. That wasn’t the start. Dummy. Me.

Stop. Pause. Repeat.

I do it again. I jump off the line. Once again I’m not alone. I don’t know the rider, but I know the team. It’s a good one. It doesn’t take long to realize my mistake. When he pulls through, I suffer.

Fortunately we don’t stay away for long. The peloton reels us in. What follows is the usual series of attacks, and counters.

I ride past the FD. He says something, but I can’t quite hear him. I catch his gist: nothing is sticking.

The BW rides past, and I nod at him – go. There’s a teammate up ahead. They should go for it. I ease up, as he jumps. It’s suicide, but suicide is painless. Or so the song goes.

Their venture doesn’t last long. About a lap. They’re pulled back. The riders doing the job are from a variety of local clubs. The thing that I notice is that many have the same leg warmers. Team Amsterdam. The men (boys) to watch.

What follows is gripping stuff. If only I could remember it. Thing is I dig so deep to get to them that I’m not registering, I’m only reacting. The FD is there, beckoning me on. So is the van der Terminator.

The group is working together. Or so I think. I look behind, and see that we don’t have a clear gap. I ease. I’m not the only one. I look up the road, and see that the TA boys haven’t given up. They have a gap.

I think about jumping, but wait. Someone jumps, towing vd Terminator along. I latch on to his wheel. The next 2 km last forever. I dig deep. Deep into the proverbial pain cave.

The TA boys are just ahead of us. We’re clawing them back. I’m in the red. Deep. As deep as a trapped Chilean miner. Deeper.

Just when I think I’m lost, vd Terminator comes past and dials it up a notch, or two. Probably three. I’m glued to his wheel. I want to pull through, but I can’t. Finally he eases. As he does, someone swings past us.

I jump and grab his wheel. To my surprise vd Terminator is gone. He must have gone too deep.

The TA Boys are ahead us. Just. We’re getting closer. Closer. Closer. We’ve made it. The gap is closed.

Someone from the break rolls back, and tells us to work. I shout, a plaintiff, phlegmy, foamy shout, that we’ve just closed the gap. Chances are there was some colorful language thrown in.

I skip a pull, or three, and catch my breath.

The end of the beginning of the beginning has begun.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The beginning of the beginning

It began last Sunday. Technically. Yes, it was a race. No I wasn’t really racing. Call it a leg opener. If starting at the back of a 112-man peloton, then holding on for dear life after every accordion effect corner can be consider as such.

So, the feet have been dipped in the proverbial water. New faces. Old faces. Many not seen since last October.

Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow will be a homecoming. Of sorts.

The Flying Doctor, KMII, Weg Kapitien, Bone Crusher ... who knows?

The countdown begins.

See you there.