Nationals may not have been my best day but I will say this, Boulder knows how to put on a bike race. They embraced the whole event in a way that was really special. The community, the events, the local junior programs they have set up, and the crowd at Valmont created an atmosphere that will be hard to forget.
I knew competing at altitude in Colorado would be difficult. To be successful you have to prepare correctly, and racing at altitude is hard to get right. If you don't have the pieces in place, you have to be lucky or have a really good day. That Sunday was neither good nor lucky, it was just rough. I finished taking antibiotics for my ‘Loenhout cold' the Tuesday before nationals. The race itself was ugly. I suffered, I snotted, and through all that I managed to finish sixth place. Just that took all that I had.
I spent some time with sponsors like Fuji, Challenge and Clif Bar in Colorado. I attended a Clif Bar fundraiser that was raising money to help send young U.S. athletes to worlds. Since cyclo-cross is not an Olympic sport, these kinds of initiatives and events are an important part of funding young racers.
Honestly I'd love it if cyclo-cross were added to the Olympics. It seems like a good fit to me. It translates well to TV, half of Belgium would show up wherever the race was, and you could hold it in the winter or summer games. Plus, I'd love the opportunity to represent the U.S at the Olympics someday. The other upside I see is that Americans tend to ride well in the snow, as we've seen at Bend and Madison, so I would vote to add it to the winter games.
The Nommay World Cup was encouraging, and there is still time to pull together a few late season results. The course was muddy and greasy, the kind mud that rips derailleurs off of bikes. I still wasn't 100 percent at Nommay and I really want that feeling to come around. Still, I was happy I could start and push through to the finish. I had one bad lap and lost a bunch of places, which put me just outside of the top 20. There is no such thing as going slow over here, so there is room for improvement.
The weather will definitely be muddy and nasty, so I think we will see true Belgian/Holland style cyclo-cross at the World Championships in Hoogerheide. Since several of my best World Cups have been at Hoogerheide I'm hoping I come round just in time. There are always a lot of logistics with Worlds so I am thankful to have Marc Gullickson to help work things out. Riders are coming in from all over the world, transportation between venues needs to be coordinated, and hotel accommodations are in a constant state of flux. My old nemesis, parking, will be really important on the day of worlds with the large crowds they are expecting.
It's hard to say how the race will pan out since Sven Nys opted to skip Nommay to train. Nommay was interesting because several countries, in addition to Belgium, were represented on the podium. Still, Nys is going great right now so you can't count him out. Van der Haar may not have such a big engine, but he can stay out of trouble early in the race. On a course like Hoogerheide, that is sometimes a smarter way of racing.
After worlds I have six races, including one of my favorites Middelkerke, through the month of February. Usually my fitness stays good after worlds, so February is lucrative month for us. I'm hoping to rack up some results, and then start exploring which side of the Atlantic I'll be racing on next season.