Tunnel vision at Christmas

Getting into a 'cross race venue with a logo-covered van is easy. Without it? Not so much.

Getting into a 'cross race venue with a logo-covered van is easy. Without it? Not so much. (Image credit: Jonathan Page)

It is a busy time of year for us in Belgium. My schedule for the Christmas races is pretty full, which is nice since it puts money back in the bank. We just finished Essen and Namur, and immediately following Christmas I am lined up to race Zolder, Azencross, Bredene, Diegem, and then the G.P. Sven Nys in Baal.

I’ve been feeling good lately, and I have the numbers to prove it. I was looking forward to Namur this weekend, and made it into the top 20 on a difficult day. I love the Namur World Cup. It is located near Liege, and the kilometer climb to the top of the citadel is a killer. It’s technical, it’s muddy, and you have to run three to four times a lap. It is a real test of your fitness, there is no hiding, and you will get what you get.

The Namur result gives me a lot of confidence going into the next week of racing. The down side of racing this time of year is that I’m in work mode through most of the holidays. I have to zone in on the racing, and I need to periodically remind myself to get into the Christmas spirit.

The other piece of good news is our mobile home is finally fixed, which helps on several fronts. For one, we can now get into races without incident. It is a sad fact of life that all you need to get into a Belgian race is a mobile home with sponsor decals on the side. The mobile home, which Frankie owns and rents to teams, needed to have about $10,000 worth of repairs to it after it was rented to a team in September. One of the team’s soigneurs drove the van with a flat tire, which shredded and flew up into the chassis, ripping a hole in the shower.

The mobile home also gives the family a place to hang out during the race. This week they’ll be cheering from the sidelines in their Santa hats, and I’ll have one more marker to help me figure out where they are during the race. I can always detect where they are cheering from by the English chants of ‘Go Daddy, Go!” Honestly though, I’m just thankful I don’t have to experiment with getting into venues in a regular car anymore.

Sunset in Zolder will be right around 4:30 this week, which is pretty similar to the U.S right now. I’m fortunate to be working with Spy again this year to help figure out the right mix of lenses and frames to manage the variable lighting and mud splatter. Spy’s provided me a lot of different frame and lens options so I can dial in my optics based on conditions, lighting, and my own mood. They’ve given me a host of red, white, and blue Alpha and Screw frames, so I can mix and match as needed. Spy’s been very supportive my efforts, and when I floated the idea of racing stateside next year they were incredibly encouraging, which meant a lot to me.

I like the holiday season but the tunnel vision is on, so Christmas time is little different for a European based cyclo-cross rider. The busy race schedule is helpful for getting my edge back since I’ve been sick and injured and want to defend my U.S. Championship title. We’ll post again soon as the week progresses, and I get prepared to head to Boulder for the nationals.

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