- Jonathan Page
December 24, 2010, 18:56 GMT,
December 24, 2010, 18:59 GMT
Racing with unlucky number 13
To be honest, the last few weeks of racing haven't been all that interesting but we've had fun with other things in between. For starters, we've had a few days of snow here in Belgium. I mean real snow that stuck around for almost three days and had even accumulated to a few centimeters on the ground.
I opted out of the World Cup in Igorre, Spain in the first weekend of December. Instead, I was invited to race in Leudelange, Luxembourg. The race organizers booked us in a great hotel that we've stayed in a few times before, in nearby Petange. It's also the town where we've spent a few New Year's Eves, since they host a race on January 1.
Sunday was the race itself. My problem was that I didn't get it together until it was more than half over. I had taken an easy week to recover from everything so I hadn't expected to be awesome, but this was just bad. By the time I got going, I was in fifth place, more than one and half minutes behind the race leader Lars Boom and I was a minute behind the second placed rider.
It was as if I was a new rider. I set out to make as much happen as I could in the time I had left. I caught and passed the fourth placed rider and then the third and by the end, I was just five seconds behind the second placed rider. Boom still had almost a minute but I was happy to have at least made the podium.
After the race, we set out in the snowstorm back to Belgium. Not far into our drive, the nice snow turned to beautiful rain and at home all the snow had melted and turned to a slushy mess. No more sledding for us, darn.
The next weekend was Nationals in the USA and I stayed in Belgium to compete in a race here that I'd never done. On Saturday, December 11 I raced in Essen which is part of the GVA series. I was handed lucky number 13 but I didn't mind because I'm not superstitious. I had a decent start and then on the second lap I got my first flat tire of the year. Ok, fair enough, I was riding on older tires and it was my first one of the year.
I'd forgotten about my number 13. I chased as best I could, making up ground rather quickly and then I heard, psssssssssssssssssst, it was a second flat tire. I couldn't believe it. It was a while to the pit again and by that point, I knew my race was over so I was out with four laps to go. Stupid number 13. I flatted two of my three rear mud tires. Just in case it wasn't the number, I decided it wasn't a good idea to use the third tire, that was just as old, for the next day's race at Vlaamse Druivenveldrit in Overijse, Belgium.
I got into the mobile home on Sunday morning, headed to Overijse, when Franky said, 'hey, guess what? You're lucky number 13 again today!' I decided to turn it upside down this time because although, as I said, I am not really superstitious, I just couldn't get past the fact that my only two flats of the year had come while wearing that number.
The course in Overijse was hard, maybe the hardest of the whole year. There were only about 100 meters where it was flat. The rest was up and down and steep with a tricky hill. I liked the course, but was definitely bummed to have run out of mud tires as I spun-out up much of the rideable climbs. The right tires could have made a big difference for me but wouldn't have stopped me from impaling my hip on the same metal pole twice in a row.
The first time only made me lose a couple of seconds, which I got back immediately, but the second time, I gave myself such a charlie horse on the top of my thigh that my leg gave out and I pedaled straight into the tape on an uphill. I couldn't believe it! I'd been riding in 10th place with Gerben De Knegt, but was passed and left by him along with two others and didn't have enough time to catch back up. I ended up placing none other than 13th!
I headed home to once again nurse my wounds. I hope I never see that number again. I am now officially superstitious.
This week, I've been gluing my fancy new mud tires that I paid out the ass for, seriously, I've never paid so much for tires in my life but this was an emergency of sorts. All in preparation for the upcoming weekend, Christmas series and beyond. I'm going to be happy to have them for sure.
Thanks again to everyone for all of your support. I keep getting really nice emails and Facebook messages. I can't tell you how much it helps me out over here. Happy Holidays everyone. Please drink LOADS of eggnog for me. We can't get it over here and it's the one thing that can't be sent via post from all my caring friends and family who send us care packages!
- Cycling News
November 26, 2010, 5:34 GMT,
November 26, 2010, 5:41 GMT
Cramps, rain and crashes during a tough patch
There has been some news in the media regarding my main sponsor of three years, Planet Bike, leaving and I'd like to start off by saying that I've known about it for a long time. There will be no more bike racing sponsorship for the team, including me.
However, my other sponsors which also help provide my salary - Blue Bicycles, Enve wheels and Lazer helmets - are still part of my team. I wanted to respect the owner of Planet Bike's wishes not to let anyone know about the sale of his company until it was actually done. He's been an awesome sponsor and will always be a friend. At the same time, I knew that I needed to be silently searching for another sponsor for the 2011-12 season.
I wasn't originally supposed to be sponsored by Planet Bike this season but the sale of the company was delayed so the owner was able to get another year in and I'm grateful for that. Of course, it's a bummer for me that they will no longer be my sponsor. Everyone I met through Planet Bike has been nothing but supportive and nice. They've made my last three years with them a great experience. I couldn't have asked for a better sponsor. They also provided me with a sure salary for three years which was the longest of any sponsor so far. It was nice not to have to search for sponsors during that time.
Now that I am able to speak publicly about this situation I've gotten back some pretty good options and some interest so I'm very happy about those prospects. I am not "retiring" as some people have asked based on rumours in the media. I have a couple of good ideas in the works in the USA and in Europe along with my other sponsors who have committed to taking care of me.
Blue Bicycles has designed a whole line of bikes around me and continues to express their happiness in working with me, as do my other sponsors. I have no doubt that they plan to support me until I'm finished racing and beyond. A few good results now that I'm healthy will help too I'm sure. Everyone loves a winner. It just happened that the news of the Planet Bike sale hit the public at a bad time for me. The last five weeks haven't been easy with my back and my stomach but all is back to normal here and it's time to get some results.
So, back to cyclo-cross racing. I took full advantage of my nine-day rest during a national-only race on the weekend of November 7. I was more than glad that I was not able to race. I went to a specialist twice who was able to diagnose and fix my back problems; my pelvis, Lumbar 1 and Lumbar 5 and the whole Thoracic region were out of whack along with the muscles surrounding them.
I also went to a good masseuse several times and spent lots of hours resting, stretching and heating. Actually, it was a good time to be resting because the weather wasn't good. We had two weeks of rain and driving winds here in Belgium. I was ready to race in Niel on Thursday, November 11, but wasn't sure whether to bring my bikes or a boat at that point.
Niel was under water, really under water. There was so much mud and water and many sections that were normally rideable, were not even runable. The wind was blowing so hard that metal fences were blowing into the road. My son, Milo, who was walking around on the course with an umbrella was picked up and thrown onto the circuit. His new nickname is "Milo Poppins".
I was doing alright during the race. I wasn't in the lead group but somewhere in the second group gaining places, then losing places and then gaining them back again. I didn't really find my legs until about the halfway mark and I was riding in tenth position with less than two laps to go.
A gust of wind blew a plastic netting fence into my rear wheel and snapped off my derailleur. I had a long run to the pit and lost a lot of time and places. It wasn't possible to gain that back in the last lap and half. I ended up 14th, but was happy that I was getting better and that my back held up.
Saturday, November 13 was Dottignies, a non-series UCI race in Belgium. There was flooding all over our province and Cori found a pool of water in our basement. On our way to the race, we had to take several detours because roads were closed due to the amount of water. Dottignies itself was partially under water and the course was too. It was very muddy.
I didn't start well. I was quite far back and was struggling to get toward the front. I could see the lead group of three leaving the station and so was the second group which was already meters ahead of my group. Eventually I join the second group and was chasing Bart Wellens, who was between the three leaders and myself. We got closer to the lead group but time ran out. I passed Wellens just before the road to the finish line and was able to come in fourth on the day. I was bummed to have missed the podium but happy with my placing.
On the way out, we were warned that it would be a tricky drive because lots of roads were now flooded and Oudenaarde was a disaster. Within the first kilometre of driving home we were in a puddle so deep that it was over our tailpipe. The closer we got to Oudenaarde, the more traffic there was and the more sirens and lights.
We passed our friends' house and saw that what was normally a field was now a lake. We called our friends and they told us that despite having filled 5000 bags of sand, their house was underwater. So much damage. We couldn't wait to get home to see what our place looked like. Fortunately everything was relatively fine.
Hasselt - what a cool town, first of all. Christmas markets were already set up and very festive. I wasn't well on Friday night through early Saturday morning but I figured it was just nerves before racing at the GVA Trofee - GP Hasselt. I had some stomach issues but I wasn't too worried about it at first.
The start of the race was a crash-fest and I pulled out of my pedal and so did another guy right in front of me. A second later there was a pileup that took a few guys out of the race, all in the very first corner. I got around it but had to slow way up and so did a lot of other guys.
A few corners later, there was another fantastic pileup mainly because guys were taking too many risks in order to get back to the front. After the second crash, I wasn't going to take any more big chances and just tried to slowly claw my way back into the race as far as I could. Christian Heule and I were trying to chase our way back into the second group and we ended up catching a few that were going backward but never caught the leaders.
With a few laps to go, my stomach started cramping badly and I couldn't ignore it. At the same time, something went wrong with Heule too and so on the last lap we both had to shut 'er down. I was in the bathroom the whole way home and for a lot of the night. Although I lost three kilos I didn't feel that bad and had done my best to drink lots of fluid to fight dehydration. I was hoping I'd be fine for Gavere.
Super Prestige Gavere can be a hassle, both getting into the parking area for racers and for the soigneurs and mechanics to get to where they have to go. This year took the cake. The military that was "guarding" the racer parking got a little too aggressive with some of the racers and staff, including myself. They even sent one guy to jail who was then released for being wrongfully detained. There were also a lot of fights.
During my 'situation' there was an angry mob screaming at the military guards and some very pissed off racers. It was all over some parking passes that were sent to us. Our passes were apparently a different shape than what the military guards had been shown so they were turning everyone away.
Because there are 25,000 people at the Superprestige Gavere, there wasn't anywhere to park close to where we needed to go with all of our bikes and bags. I realised it was impossible to reason with these guys and I just wanted to get out of there, It was too late, they already had my kids Milo and Emma screaming bloody murder in the back of the van and that got my blood boiling.
We got out of there finally and later found out about all the problems that others had ensued that day. Eventually I was able to focus on the race once the kids were safely back at home and less upset.
I started second row and did my best to keep contact with the lead group. On the first lap, I was still there, somewhere in the middle of about eight guys. On the second lap I was the last of the lead group of six and happy to be there. On the third lap, I lost contact with the lead group on the climb. My friend watching it told me it happened when someone had to run the hill and I got caught behind him.
While Sven Nijs was able to motor around him and straight off the front, I couldn't. I dropped back to the second group of between four and six guys and that is where I stayed for most of the race. With four laps to go I was battling some serious cramping, first the stomach and then the legs. By two to go, I was cramping so badly that I had to get on and off my bike in order to climb the hill, still hanging on to a group going for eighth place.
On the last lap my arms locked up in cramps and I couldn't hold my bars or steer anymore. I ended up on the ground for a few seconds while the group I was in passed me and left. A few more guys passed me as I gathered myself up and tried to figure out how I was going to finish the race. I lost 40 seconds in the last lap and finished a sad 14th.
I was really happy with my form until the cramping caught up to me. I was proud of myself for being able to push through it during the final laps. This performance gives me hope for next weekend. When I'm healthy and have no complications, maybe things can come together and I can secure a good result. Maybe even a great result.
I would like to thank all of you out there that have supported me. It's one thing for me to believe in myself because I know first hand what I'm going through and I also know what I'm capable of when I finally have no more health issues. But it's something else when all of you continue to believe in me through all these weeks of crap. I really appreciate the support out on the courses and on the computers.
Thanks a lot,
- Jonathan Page
November 07, 2010, 21:26 GMT,
November 07, 2010, 21:31 GMT
Resting up for Niel and Hamme-Zogge
The last two weeks have flown by, again. We barely got home and unpacked after the trip to Switzerland and repacked for the next trip to the Czech Republic. On Tuesday we kept the washer busy and searched for a van because our old van died in France. We've been trying to find another since September.
On Wednesday we had a belated birthday party for my daughter Emma at an indoor play place and on Thursday we waited to pick her up after school before starting our drive toward the Plzen World Cup. We took a car this time since we'd be spending most of the long drive on the German Autobahn.
We tuned into the American Air Force radio channel on the way. Driving through Frankfurt is always a highlight and we stopped at a hotel near Wiesbaden for the night. On Friday morning we went for a family jog to some nearby soccer fields where we played tag until everyone had rosy red faces and took a few rides on the zip line at the local park. Good fun.
We arrived at our hotel in Plzen without any problems, thanks to Tometta, our TomTom! But it was in a really industrial area and we didn't want to be there. We had a few hours to cancel so we re-booked at another hotel. This time, it was a great place in a perfect area right on a bike path and just steps from the old town square.
We checked in and headed down to the square to have dinner and coffee. It's always fun to go out in the Czech Republic because it's still really cheap. Four nice meals, appetizers and drinks was no more than 25 Euro. Two lattes and two ice cream cost around three Euro.
We had a good night sleep and a great breakfast on Saturday morning. I went out training in the afternoon and suddenly I recognized that I was riding on the same road that I'd warmed up on the year before, so I knew where the Plzen World Cup course was. It was a little different from the previous year but not much. I felt good training on it and was excited to see what I could do the next day.
However, my excitement turned to worry when I got out of the shower and suddenly, for no apparent reason, had so much back pain I could hardly move. My back was in a complete spasm. I tried heating it, stretching it, laying down, walking but nothing helped. Later that night, Cori tried massage and more heat which helped a little but it still wasn't good. I went to bed hoping for the best but I was really worried.
I had a rough night sleep and Cori had to push me up and out of bed (the same way I sometimes push her up now that she's six and half months pregnant). I shuffled down to the front desk to see what my options were. Time was running out and I was in a bit of a panic. I didn't have Ibuprofen with me and you can't just buy that in Europe because you need a prescription.
The front desk told me that my choices were either the hospital or a Thai massage place that was right across the street. Doctors and Chiropractors were not available on Sundays. So I tried the Thai massage. I was waiting on their doorstep when they opened at 10 am. It was nice, but it didn't help. I saw some guys that I knew at breakfast, staff and other riders, that said they'd ask around to see if anyone had a doctor with them. It turns out Sven Nys did and he was nice enough to try to help me out at the race venue. He was honest and said the race was over for me. He worked on my back for a while and loosened it up a little. I appreciated that because anything was better than nothing at that point.
I started the race OK but just kept slipping further and further back. I was in a lot of pain and had absolutely no power, especially on the long and steep stair run-up. I wanted to quit at several points but was finally put out of my misery when I was pulled, very happily, with two laps to go. I'm not sure I could have made it up those stairs one more time.
Thinking back, I am pretty sure it's the first time I've been pulled from a race in 10 years. I was disappointed that I didn't get to really race but I knew it was all I could do to just start. I wanted to get home quickly and go see my doctor to figure out what the heck was going on with my back.
Cori drove most of the way home while I struggled to find a comfortable position in the passenger seat. The next morning I was thankful to get right in to see the doctor. My vertebrae L1 was twisted and the muscles next to it and above it were in complete spasm. I probably injured my back when I went over my bars in Switzerland the weekend before. My muscles eventually just locked up so that I'd be forced to let it heal.
I had a lot of couch time (yawn) and a few more trips to the doctor and osteopath before I finally went on a training ride on Thursday. It went OK so I had some hope for a upcoming weekend of racing. Also, remember the van that we were looking for? We finally found one on Thursday too.
I trained on Friday, with a little less success than the day before, but I was still hopeful that after resting on Saturday I'd do alright in the sandy Superprestige Zonhoven on Sunday, October 31. Nope, I didn't. I stunk actually. I was climbing like I was pulling both my kids in a cart behind me. I pulled out with a few laps to go, quite disappointed.
Monday, November 1 was a public holiday in Belgium, like our Memorial Day in the US, and it’s always the big Koppenbergcross. It’s less than five kilometers from my house. I biked with the family to my mobile home that had been parked outside our friend’s house right at the course. Some people park their mobile homes there as early as Friday night or Saturday morning. Driving anywhere near the Koppenberg is nearly impossible because there were so many people. It's hard to describe but I will say that a friend of mine waited in a line for a sausage and beer for a half hour and it took my family and I more than 10 minutes to ride the last 200 meters to get to my friends.
It had been raining for a few days prior to the Koppenbergcross. I know, it's surprising, rain in Belgium! But the sun came out and things dried up on the morning of the race which made for deep sticky mud. I went out for a warm up lap and thought it was going to be one of the tougher Koppenbergs I'd done. I was right!
After starting out in the lead for the first few minutes, I slowly slipped back, back and further back. The crowd was deafening at some points and I seemed to have tons of supporters along the course that were cheering me on. That was awesome and much needed. I was really thankful for the support on each lap. I knew that I didn't stand a chance at getting a great result that day and the conditions only lessened my chances of even surviving.
Having a strong back was a definite advantage for that race. The fastest lap times were more than nine minutes for the leaders. We only ended up doing six laps because the course was so slow. If I remember right, we usually complete at least nine or 10 laps. At the finish, I was disappointed with the result but in hindsight I'm not sure what I was expecting and I should be happy just to finish.
I was cheered up when I arrived back at the mobile home to find a big crowd that had gathered for a little after party we do every year. It's so nice to have friends and supporters around me, especially during the hard times when racing isn't going so well. Don't get me wrong, when the racing turns around for me again I'll be ready to celebrate, too. I had a lot of fun at the get together and left a few hours later with my spirits lifted. I'm ready to start a nine-day break from racing. Thanks to everyone that was there, or wanted to be there. You made my weekend.
This weekend coming up is a national race in Belgium so I am lucky because I can use the time to try and fully recover for the Thursday, November 11. It’s another public holiday and therefore another big 'cross race here in Belgium at the Fidea Cyclo-cross Classic Niel followed by the Superprestige Hamme-Zogge on Sunday, November 14.
It’s been a bad couple of weeks so here's hoping it gets better. Thanks again to everyone for the support and for reading.
- Jonathan Page
October 23, 2010, 21:39 BST,
October 23, 2010, 22:42 BST
Diary #3, October 3-18
The last two weeks have been really busy trying to get back into the swing of things after the trip to the USA, racing a lot and setting my bikes up and running. It seems like every year it's the same thing. You would think I'd be used to it by now, but for some reason it always surprises me when I feel like I have a ton of work to do but when I get to the end of the night I realize, "geez, I'm STILL not done!"
So let's see, the kids were over the jetlag, thanks to Cori, after only one night of being awake from one to four in the morning. They were off to school again two days after we arrived back in Belgium. Cori and I, well, we were a different story. Nine hours is a big difference. At least I got some good bike work done in the wee hours of the morning. We had school conferences a few days after we got back, and our daughter Emma who is in the first grade is doing awesome again. We're really proud of her. I could never do what she's doing and the best part is that she absolutely loves school and can't wait to go each morning.
I raced the first Super Prestige in Ruddervoorde exactly a week after we got back. I thought it went really well despite some bad luck in the VERY FIRST STINKING CORNER and that was exactly what I was hoping WOULDN'T happen. After I caught back up to what was by then the second group, I rode much of the race alone, first in 12th, then in eighth, but was ultimately hunted down by a group of seven riders led by Klaas Vantourenhout, and I didn't end up placing as well as I'd hoped.
The next race was Aardooie, on Thursday. It's usually a race where not all, or at least not many, of the top racers show up but not this year. There were a lot of good riders and they were GOING for it! I suffered incredibly through the whole thing. I ended up eighth but had to fight for it until the last meter. I headed home as quickly as possible to get the mobile home packed up for the next adventure which was the first World Cup in Aigle, Switzerland that was on the same day as my daughter's sixth birthday - October 17.
We packed all the makings of a party with balloons, cake with pink frosting that came all the way from the USA, presents, a banner, sparklers, Tinkerbell plates and napkins, a crown, and the makings for "princess pancakes" for the special morning. Oh yeah, and of course, bikes, wheels, clothing, water bottles, etc. Let's just say we had the hazard lights on outside of our house for a good while Friday morning while we packed and all the neighbors stood in their doorways smiling and watching curiously. "Going on a trip?" they asked, "yup!" we answered. We sure were...
We drove the whole eight hours to Aigle on Friday and parked the mobile home at a river, just across the street from the World Cycling Center, where we slept for the night. They were already busy setting things up for Sunday's events. Saturday morning, we moved the mobile home to the racer parking area and then headed to the giant shopping center for a half cafe/half supermarket breakfast. We had some awesome crusty Swiss bread, pastries, coffee, hot chocolate and our favorite yogurts. It sounds dumb, but we always like going to the supermarkets in the different countries we visit, especially Switzerland!
After breakfast, we headed back to the mobile home where I spent the next few hours building another bike. I headed out on the course in the afternoon and was absolutely psyched with it. It had been raining and was going to continue to do so but it made the course really slick and fun. I did a few laps of it and came back really hopeful for a good result on Sunday.
We made some last-minute birthday preparations in the mobile home that night. Emma was on our bed trying to peek behind a curtain to see what was going on. Her younger brother Milo was blatantly peeking and then whispering to her what he saw, as if we couldn't hear him through that curtain that separated us. In the morning, both Emma and Milo were fired up for her birthday the next day, and I was fired up for both the race and her birthday. We got up to even more rain (I was happy) and some AWESOME pancakes that had people gathered around the mobile home sniffing the air. Emma got to open one present and then it was time for me to start getting ready for the race. I trained on the course around noon and was still really excited and hopeful. I knew what I had to do.
The World Cup started, and I made it cleanly through the first lap and was in the first group. Just into the second lap, the person right in front of me crashed and that launched me over my bars on an uphill for crying out loud. Then several others behind me smashed into the two of us who were already on the ground.
It was a mess. My bike was tangled with Christian Heule's and both bikes were wrapped around the tape on the edge of the course. I was pinned under my bike wondering what the hell had just hit me so hard in the thigh. Once Heule freed me from my awesome position, we tried desperately to free our bikes from each other and the tape but it wasn't going to happen for us that day.
By this time I'd lost the first group and lost A LOT of places. I put my head down and tried to catch up but they had too much of a gap. I spent the rest of the day running into the back of people, frustrated in traffic, in and out of groups that were anywhere from two guys to eight or nine guys. It's all a bit of a blur actually. I ended up a very disappointing 19th place. And the worst part was, there just wasn't anything I could have done about it. I am happy with my form, for the most part, for this time of the season but I am not happy with the place and am really looking forward to giving it another go next weekend at the World Cup in Plzen, Czech Republic.
I couldn't spend too long being disappointed because my daughter came to meet me at the finish line with my party hat and noise maker in her hands. She told me, "Well, Daddy, did you try your best?" I told her, "yes," and she responded, "well then that's all you can do and at least you didn't crash and have to go to the hospital like the last time." She was right about that.
The last time I was in Aigle, I didn't even make the start because I crashed in the warmup, went to the ER and then ended up having surgery that took me out for most of the season. I sang "Happy Birthday" to her right then and there (which made me feel much better) and then headed back to the mobile home for more singing and the birthday cake that I'd been looking forward to for two days. We had a gathering with friends who were at the race, some Swiss, some Belgian, some American and one lone Canadian. It was fun and Emma was happy.
I cooled down on the trainer with my piece of cake and then packed up to head toward home. We stopped in Montreaux, Switzerland, a beautiful lakeside city to have Emma's choice of Italian food for dinner. We drove as far as Basel and stopped for the night next to a quiet forest. Emma fell asleep on the way with her crown still on her head and one of her gifts (a spiral-graph) in her hand.
I'm really thankful to my wife for helping me juggle two very important things that fell on the same day. Emma had a really fun birthday, and I was able to properly prepare for an important race that I really hoped to do well in. So tonight, now that we are home, the mobile home is unpacked and cleaned and the kids are peacefully sleeping in their beds, my wife gets a back rub. There's a lot more than bike racing in our lives, but we are doing our best and I think, for the most part, we're doing a good job.
We'll leave Thursday for the second World Cup on Sunday in the Czech Republic. After that we'll go to a fun but difficult race called the Nacht van Woerden in Holland. Start time? 9:45 pm! Normal temperature? Below freezing! I'll get back to you sometime after that. Thanks to everyone for all the support and kind words. It's incredible how many nice people I find out there.
Thanks to the Cyclingnews readers for reading my diary.
- Jonathan Page
October 05, 2010, 3:39 BST,
October 05, 2010, 5:16 BST
Pages ‘crosses at home for three weeks
Well, due to some trouble with flights, I ended up arriving back in Belgium yesterday, October 3, six hours before the first GVA series race in Namur, Belgium: Ouch! I knew I remembered doing something like that once before and never wanting to do it again. On the positive side: I ended up getting to fly back with my family and having more time with them in the USA...I tried to keep that in mind as I warmed up on the oh so challenging course.
Back to my three weeks in the USA: They were mostly great. I was invited by Cascade Cyclery and Rad Racing to do the Starcrossed/RadRacing weekend so I flew to Seattle on September 11, one week before the racing started there. It was hard, as always, to leave my family, but I was also excited to get the season started. My trainer, Todd Herriott, picked me up and we headed to the Kirske's place – my hosts for the week in Seattle.
A little side note about host housing: It is one of the coolest things about this sport, in my opinion. When I have a choice I almost always choose it over hotels because I've met some really great people in my years of cycling that way. A few of my hosts have become really good friends and two of my host families were even a part of my wedding!
I did some great riding around Seattle for a couple of days: some alone, some with David Jnr. showing me the way. I then headed to Yakima, Washington, with my friend Greg – one of the three lawyers that saved my career two years ago – to do a cross clinic for his club there. It was nice to get to spend some time with Greg and his wife E and to meet his new son, Wolf. It was also fun to do the clinic because everyone was really excited to be there and all happy to learn something – which is always satisfying.
On Wednesday morning, after a delicious omelet breakfast, I headed back to Seattle with a box of huge sweet peaches in hand. I did another clinic there where I was again met with excitement to learn. It’s fun to see people learn new skills and its good practice for me.
I also did a big RadRacing clinic the Friday night before Starcrossed, for the second year in a row. I enjoyed it last year because a lot of really enthusiastic cyclists showed up and this year was no different. There were all different ages, abilities, and equipment out there having fun and trying their hearts out. They all appreciated being there and so did I. I have to do clinics more often as they are really uplifting.
One week after I'd arrived in the USA, Saturday, September 18, was Starcrossed. It was pouring rain but there was still a crowd out to cheer us on under the lights. I didn't feel super. In fact, I felt terrible, unfortunately, and struggled through the race for fifth. That was the best I could do. I hoped for better the next day.
Sunday's race did go much better. Francis Mourey was off the front with me chasing solo for much of the race. I had a mid-race battle with a tree that allowed Christian Heule to catch me and pass me during my bike change. I was able to catch him again, take a few breaths, and then we sprinted it out like mad men to the finish. I was able to just take second and I was really happy with that.
I headed back to the Kirske's for one last gourmet meal with them and Todd and then a short night of sleep before HSP picked me up for my flight to Vegas. I was really thankful for my great week at the Kirske's and also really excited to go see my family again.
My kids ran to meet me as soon as they saw me in the Vegas airport! Lots of hugs to and from them and Cori plus a kick from the baby in the belly! Also great to see my parents in law. Cori's mom babysat the kids Tuesday night so that Cori and I could go to the Lazer party at the Hard Rock cafe with our friends from VT and Cori's dad. Cool place. Cool party. Fun to go out!
Wednesday night was CrossVegas. It's a different kind of race course than any other during the year for me. This year was again a pack race and I just tried to stay near the front and out of trouble. With a lap and a half to go, I bunny hopped the barriers and another rider running next to me accidentally took my front wheel out. That was my biggest effort of the night, to catch back on to the leaders before the finish. I just made contact in the last metres but wasn't really part of the sprint for first, even though it looked like I was. I ended up last in the lead group of six. I was happy though just to have closed the gap down and happy with my form for this time in the season.
Thursday I went to Interbike with the family. The Blue Bicycles booth backdrop was a wall-sized photo that was taken of me when I was out in Park City, Utah, in June and they had the whole series of Norcross cross bikes nicely displayed. I have to say that I was really proud. The Planet Bike booth was cool too! It was set up to look like a camp site – the most unique booth I saw. The kids had fun there playing in the ‘fountain’ and ‘fruit bowl’ (made of planet bike lights and handlebar tape) and then later trying on helmets at the Lazer booth. I stopped by Edge and my other sponsors who were there before heading out.
Friday, I flew to my last US races – the Planet Bike Cup-in Madison, Wisconsin. I always enjoy going out there. Everyone involved with Planet Bike is nothing but nice and pleasant to be around and anytime I get to spend with people like that, I'll take.
Saturday's race went pretty well – I was third. There were two off the front so I had to be happy with that. Sunday was an absolute mess but I'll save that for the National Inquirer or the Young and the Restless.
I had one last dinner with my brothers, sister-in-law and Bob from Planet Bike, and then headed out to catch my flight back to Phoenix, where my parents-in-law live, so that I could take my wife out for our eighth wedding anniversary! Time flies...
I spent a few more relaxing days with the family and then headed to the airport for the trip back to Belgium. As I mentioned above, due to flight problems (late connection and full flights) I had to fly back Saturday. Not my best option, but we made the most of it, relaxing and spending time as a family before the hectic season gets into full swing.
The trip to the USA was a lot of travel and a lot of packing and unpacking bikes, but I met a lot of nice new people and I got to spend time with a lot of friends that I don't get to see often. I had lots of Starbucks and horchata, I got to go out twice and the racing as a whole went pretty well so I give my trip a double thumbs up!
Now it's time to get ready for the rest of the season here in Europe. Next weekend is the first Super Prestige in Ruddervoorde, the race I did nearly six years ago just hours after my wife had our first baby. The weekend after is the first World Cup in Aigle, Switzerland, where three years ago I fell in the warm up and tore my shoulder apart... Memories and new chances – I can't wait!
I'll write more often now that I'm not flying around every couple of days. Thanks for reading and for all of the support both at the races and at your computers.
- Jonathan Page
September 18, 2010, 2:35 BST,
September 18, 2010, 11:06 BST
A big winter of racing about to kick off
I'm not sure how to begin a diary that lots of people are going to be reading... so I guess I'll begin by introducing myself. My name is Jonathan Page and my birthday is today! I'm 34!
While the road cyclists are winding down, getting ready to take a break, the cyclocross season, my season, is about to start! I've been racing cross for 15 years now! I raced many years in America, a season in Germany, one season in Switzerland and now, I live in Oudenaarde, Belgium (a few kilometres from the infamous Koppenburg) with my pregnant wife (due in January, just at the time of the World Championships in 2011), nearly-6-year-old daughter and three-year-old son.
We've spent bits of eight years here but five years ago, we made the leap and bought a house. My daughter and son were both born here in Oudenaarde and they both go to a Dutch-speaking school seven kilometres away. I ride for my own "team" of sponsors that I've put together with the help of friends and other sponsors over the years, the main ones being Planet Bike, Blue Bicycles, Edge wheels and Lazer helmets.
I've managed a win and several podiums in elite races in Europe, but the results I am most proud of in my cyclocross career are second at the elite World Championships in Hooglede Gits, Belgium in 2007 three consectuive national elite champion titles (2002, '03 and '04), eighth in both the Hoogerheide, Holland and Igorre, Spain, World Cups in 2009.
I left Belgium nearly a week ago to fly to Seattle, where I've done a few cross clinics, checked in with my trainer at HSP and organised all of my equipment that has been sent here throughout the summer, in anticipation of the start of my season.
I'll begin my season this weekend at Starcrossed in the States and from there I'll fly to Las Vegas where I'll be excited to see my family and friends again, see sponsors that I don't get to hang out with often, attend some fun sponsor events and race in Cross Vegas.
Then I'll go to Madison, WI, home of my main sponsor of three years, for the Planet Bike Cup. My last stopover will be a quick trip to Phoenix, AZ, to take my wife out for our eighth wedding anniversary before flying back to Belgium to begin my Euro cross campaign.
This year, I have a great opportunity. I've been given series contracts for each major series here: Superprestige Series, GVA Series and Fidea Series. In addition, I'll do all the World Cups and fill in with some of my favourite UCI races around Europe.
All these series races means that I won't be able to go back to America in December for the national championships this year. It was a hard choice at first but I am now confident that I've made the right decision to focus on my career over here and see what I can do.
I'll look forward to writing in every couple of weeks about racing and life in general over here during the cold stormy winters... cyclocross... ahhhh!
Thanks for reading,
- Jonathan Page
Somewhat of a pioneer in US 'cross circles, Jonathan Page is one of a select few who dares to beat the best at their own game.
The three-time US 'cross champion is the only American to ever stand on the podium at the Elite men's cyclo-cross world championships with his silver medal performance in 2007's event in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium. After opening his 2010/2011 'cross season on American soil, the 34-year-old New England native, who's called Belgium home in recent years, will return to his residence in Oudenaarde, Belgium to contest the remainder of the 'cross season on European soil.
Follow his exploits on Cyclingnews as he contests the biggest 'cross races in Europe through to the world championships.