SVENNESS 3.2

October 17th, 2014 — 4:17pm

For SVENNESS 3.2 we go to Ronse, Belgium, for the first race in the Bpost Bank Trophy series. After young Mathieu van der Poel’s early season successes, Sven Nys called this race the “Battle of the Generations.” MvdP drew first blood getting a great start and showing some rad moves but in the end it was the old man showing why the harder the track the stronger he becomes. Ronse is a brutal cyclocross course and Sven uses the opportunity to put on a clinic. We take a close look at riding steep off-camber sections and the importance of running.

As always, this episode is presented by Skills Drills and Bellyaches: A Cyclocross Primer. Please check it out atcyclocrossbook.com.

Footage for SVENNESS 3.2 is via Vier: vier.be/veldrijden

All of the bands featured on this episode are on BandCamp please do what I do and purchase the music if you like what you hear:

Rita Mae Young~The Record Company: therecordcompany.bandcamp.com/track/rita-mae-young

Ramona~Velociraptor: remotecontrol.bandcamp.com/track/ramona

Come Inside~Metro Delays: metrodelays.bandcamp.com/album/doomed-opinions

Goodbyes~RVIVR: rvivr.bandcamp.com/track/goodbyes

Filthy Luck~Beach Slang: beachslang.bandcamp.com/album/who-would-ever-want-anything-so-broken

Gang is Back~Mother’s Children: motherschildren.bandcamp.com/track/gang-is-back

Also check out They Don’t Do That In Europe on The Cyclocross Network. It’s like SVENNESS for your ears: cyclocrossnetwork.com/20-cyclocross-today-tddtie/

Thanks for watching.

SVENNESS 3.2 from In The Crosshairs on Vimeo.

5 comments » | 2014 Races, Commentary, SVENNESS, Video

SVENNESS 3.1

October 9th, 2014 — 6:44pm

SVENNESS 3.1 starts us off at the 2014 Superprestige Gieten, where a trio of Dutch youngsters look to dethrone the old Belgian guard. Lars van der Haar, David van der Poel and his little brother Mathieu van der Poel are all over the front of this race. The brothers van der Poel are also all over the back of the race as they spend time in the pack with Sven Nys who uncharacteristically flubbed the start and is 30 seconds off the pace. We look at riding and turning in the sand, barrier work and race strategy.

Please help support SVENNESS by checking out Skills Drills and Bellyaches: A Cyclocross Primer available atcyclocrossbook.com.

Shirts available at SVENNESS.com

Footage is via Vier: vier.be/veldrijden

Music for this episode:

Birdsong~Cattle & Cane cattleandcane.bandcamp.com/track/birdsong

Like A Hot Knife~The Modern Era themodernera.bandcamp.com/track/like-a-hot-knife

Mood Bomb~Superfood soundcloud.com/superfood/mood-bomb

DBTS~LVL UP soundcloud.com/double-double-whammy/lvl-up-dbts

No Shows~Gerard Way soundcloud.com/gerardway/no-shows

Summer~The Union Pacific theunionpacific.bandcamp.com/track/summer-2

Thanks for watching.

EDIT: Also, just posted is a weekly segment I’m doing with Scott and David from the Cyclocross Network. If you listen to the podcast audio and watch the SVENNESS video, they sync perfectly. Start the podcast when the lion roars.

6 comments » | 2014 Races, Commentary, SVENNESS, Video

Lars van der Haar at CrossVegas

September 19th, 2014 — 12:44am
Lars van der Haar ready and waiting at the start of CrossVegas.

Lars van der Haar ready and waiting at the start of CrossVegas.

We had the opportunity to catch up with the 2014 CrossVegas runner-up, World Cup winner and Dutch National Cyclocross Champion, Lars van der Haar, post-race in Vegas. In this three minute interview we cover his season goals, racing on the road, training for cross, and the last lap of the men’s pro race at Cross Vegas in which LvdH and Sven Nys battle it out for the win.
Of course, we weren’t going to pass up the opportunity to ask about the start. That holeshot was for you guys, America.

Thanks for watching.

Comment » | 2014 Races, Interview, Video

SVENNESS with SVEN

September 17th, 2014 — 9:14am

Cyclocross is finally here and we are starting off the season by checking off the top item on our ultimate wishlist: A full on SVENNESS with SVEN. If that’s why you are here and these words are just getting in the way, I don’t blame you. Hang in there for a handful of sentences and you are at the video. But before you get there, allow me to give you the quick and dirty intro: While at Cross Vegas last Wednesday, we had an opportunity to sit down with Sven Nys and watch clips of races together. He was gracious enough to take the time, hours before winning the Cross Vegas men’s pro race, to explain his technique, strategy and mindset for dealing with different cyclocross situations. As you will see, the insight he gives is something special. I want to thank Trek Bikes and Matt Shriver for helping make this happen, Bruce Buckley for filming and stage managing, and Dan Tille of Fulcrum Coaching for being my wing man. Also a big thanks to Brook Watts and Cross Vegas. Okay, here’s the video. If you are interested in how this interview came to be, there are many words on that below the video. Thanks for watching.

SVEN on SVENNESS at Cross Vegas. Photo by Ted Arnold, Division 1 Bicycles, Austin, TX

SVEN on SVENNESS at Cross Vegas. Photo by Ted Arnold, Division 1 Bicycles, Austin, TX

The rest of the story. I had several people ask how this extended interview happened.  Frankly, it’s all still a bit surreal, but I will try and lay it out for you. Here’s the backstory:

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. As I was flying to Las Vegas for Interbike and CrossVegas I was not confident that I’d get the chance to talk to Sven Nys. It’s Vegas so let’s put this into odds. I was giving myself about 50 to 1 odds that an interview would take place. Even less than that for the type of interview I wanted to do. But I pulled out my laptop and spent most of the flight preparing, just in case I did, in fact, beat the odds. Vegas.

In April of this year I flew to Belgium to ride the cobbles, take in Flanders and Paris Roubaix and hang out with my buddies and Skills Drills and Bellyaches co-collaborators, Dan Tille and Rusty Williford. Before heading to Belgium, a friend of mine who works with the Trek Factory Racing Pro Mountainbike team made some introductions and we were able to tour the TFR Service Course. He also reached out to see if Sven was in town and available for an interview. It turned out that Nys left the day we arrived, to train in Mallorca for the upcoming MTB season. In retrospect, I’m glad that interview didn’t happen because I hadn’t yet stumbled onto the SVENNESS with SVEN idea. An April interview, while an awesome experience, would’ve probably been me asking run-of-the-mill questions and getting run-of-the-mill answers. Thank goodness for missed connections.

Fast forward several months and Dan Tille and I are planning our trip to Vegas for Interbike and Cross Vegas and he is constantly badgering me about meeting Sven. “Missed him in Belgium, now’s our chance to get him in the States.” “I know this is self-serving, Bill, but I really want to meet the guy …” “Fine, Dan … I’ll try again …” Don’t tell Tille, but before the badgering began I had already reached out to Matt Shriver, who has worked closely with Sven since he started riding Trek bikes and was instrumental in forming the Trek/Sven relationship. Matt told me “I’ll see what I can do.” That was all I really heard from him. Nothing more firm then an “I’ll try.” That’s what I was basing my odds on. C’mon Vegas.

Along with Dan, my good friend and photographer for Skills Drills and Bellyaches, Bruce Buckley, also made the trip west. We headed out for Cross Vegas on Wednesday afternoon to set up a booth showing off our book and hopefully to sell some t-shirts. After getting set up we started to wander around the venue. At around 7pm, Dan and I were walking around the rider RVs and chatting with some folks. We ended up at the Trek compound talking to Mark Legg about pretty much anything and everything. Somewhere in the middle of an anecdote about Mark getting cut off in traffic and thinking he was still in Europe, someone calls me from across the tent: “Hey, if you want to talk to him, he has time RIGHT NOW …” “Oh, hey Matt … awesome. Thanks!” (At least that’s what I said on the outside. On the inside it was more like “GAHHHHHHH … I’m so not prepared.”) Logistically, what I wanted to do was pretty much impossible RIGHT NOW. So I sent Dan sprinting back to our table to get my laptop and iPad and grabbed my phone to call Bruce who was shooting the USAC amateur races … and then to text Bruce …. and call again … and text again …. no answer … no answer … no answer … so much near panic happening at this point. Stay cool. Vegas. Continue reading »

25 comments » | Commentary, Interview, Skills and Technique, Video

Why Look, a Soap Box: Cyclocross and the Art of Spectating

September 13th, 2014 — 9:55pm

As a post-script to the beer throwing and other undesirable spectator activity at Cross Vegas, here are a few quick thoughts:

Cross Vegas is an amazing event that brings the best of the best to the United States. A couple jerks in the crowd should not overshadow that. The story here is that Meredith Miller and Sven Nys took exciting victories over world-class competition.

That being said, the beer throwing/spraying was stupid, disruptive and insulting to the elite athletes who start to prepare for an increasingly long season a couple weeks early to be in top form for this specific event. Yeah, sure, cyclocross is weird. But so is my day job. Yet to date, nobody has doused me with a can of Bud while I try and do it.

U.S. cyclocross is a small, tight-knit community. I don’t have to tell anyone who has experienced it that you are part of something special. There is no excuse, however, for what some spectators did at Cross Vegas. The responsibility for those actions fall squarely on that small-segment’s shoulders and I think for the most part, those involved know what they did was unacceptable. Some have already reached out to the community and apologized, which should give this particular incident some sense of closure.

But here’s the cool part: we can make sure these incidents do not happen again. And doing so isn’t hard. As a “small, tight-knit community” it’s okay for us to self-police. If you see somebody doing something egregious, something that interferes with the race or denigrates those racing, tell them to stop. Or, if you are uncomfortable doing that, tell the race organizer and let them deal with it.

And, no, I’m not saying we should become fun police. If some dumbass is making a complete fool of himself but otherwise being harmless, that’s on him. Let that freak fly his flag. But throwing beer at both pro fields, like what happened during Cross Vegas, or tossing topless stripper cards specifically at the Cross Vegas pro women, is something that should never again happen. I trust you all to know the difference between “stupid but fun” and “stupid but unacceptable.” Remember, you’re at a cyclocross race, not a Limp Bizkit concert.

Peer pressure is not necessarily a negative concept. It can be used for the side of good. Let’s impose a little peer pressure for the sake of the sport we love. Keep ‘cross weird. Keep it fun. But keep it respectful, too. Be it Cross Vegas or any other race this season.

So enough with the lectures, already. Next week in this space we will have Sven on SVENNESS. It’s pretty darn cool. Seriously.

See you at the races.

-Bill

5 comments » | Commentary

The Week In Cross This Week: Episode 6

September 9th, 2014 — 6:37am
Ellen Noble (JAM Fund/NCC)

Ellen Noble (JAM Fund/NCC)

It’s finally here! Cyclocross season has begun. Before heading off to Cross Vegas, we took a trip to Trexletown, Pennsylvania, for Nittany Lion Cross. It was great day of racing at the UCI2 event and we grabbed the top finishers to learn how the day went. This episode features interviews with Laura Van Gilder, Stephen Hyde, Ellen Noble, Curtis White and Jeremy Durrin. We get a run down of how the race played out and then delve into how these top riders deal with adversity during a race, what their season goals are and how they start the day.

If you’re at CrossVegas, come say hi. I look just like the guy in the garage. Also, check out Skills Drills And Bellyaches at www.cyclocrossbook.com.

Thanks for watching.

For those having issues with Vimeo, here is the exact same video but on YouTube:

Comment » | Uncategorized

#CROSSISDEAD

August 30th, 2014 — 1:38am

I got in trouble over the past week for declaring “Cross Is Dead.” I was accused of being lame and negative. And maybe that’s the way it came across. But to be clear, I don’t think ‘cross is dead. In fact, I think the exact opposite. Cyclocross gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps me up late at night (it’s 1:15 a.m. as I write this). I live and breathe the sport. I really do. Cross is alive. And thriving. And, ironically, it is that belief (seasoned with a pinch of sarcasm) that got me in hot water.

About this time every year, the same chorus seems to start from a small corner of the cyclocross world: “It’s too corporate, too many roadies, disc brakes are ruining the sport, races are too expensive, grass crits, carbon wheels, dumbed down courses, Cat 5 high zoot tubulars, Di2 and aero helmets, training plans, power meters, blah … blah … blah …”

You used to hear people say that cyclocross in the U.S. was like punk rock. I would argue that U.S. cyclocross today is about as punk rock as Green Day is punk rock. Yeah, back in ’87 when they were playing 924 Gilman Street, Green Day may have been punk rock, but holy hell, Good Riddance?!? What happened to my punk rock?!? In the late nineties they started playing Green Day at high school graduations, for effs sake. And now the band has a Broadway show and Tony nominations. THIS IS NOT PUNK AT ALL. I want my Kerplunk!

Man. And we used to say they sold out with Dookie … who knew.

But here’s the kicker: Green Day is a damn good band. And damn good at what they do. Are they making the same music they did at seventeen years old in the late eighties? No. And why should they? Billie Joe Armstrong is 42, has a family. He’s not going to write more songs about leaving his parents home and living in a warehouse. If anything, he’s going to write about his kids doing that.

In the same manner, cyclocross in the states has grown up. It’s become popular. It’s not punk rock anymore. You can no longer have gnarly single-track and three foot drop offs into a raging creek at a race because when that happened, there were only 10 other people (maybe) in your category. Not 120. We need infrastructure and amenities and manageable courses to make sure everybody has a good time at races. That doesn’t mean it has to be easy or dumbed down, but it can no longer be stupid for stupid’s sake. It’s not punk rock.

And the cycling industry isn’t deaf. They hear what’s going on and are going to cater to (or in some instances steer you towards) the real or perceived needs of the sport. So innovation, needed or not, is going to happen. Spending money on bikes and wheels and coaches and power meters … it’s going to happen. But if you don’t want to do any of that: THAT IS OKAY!!! Go to a race, fly your freak flag, have a good time, have a beer with your buddies. Please! I love it. All of it.

You want to have a season goal of finishing top five in your series and upgrading by December? Hell yeah, go for it. You want to see if you can eat more cupcakes than your teammate by the end of the men’s elite race? I will be there cheering you on. It’s a big tent. And everyone is invited. That, my friends, is the beauty of cyclocross. And come to think of it, that is also the beauty of punk rock. We are still small, relatively speaking, and we all have one thing in common no matter our backgrounds: we love the sport. As in punk rock, If you love the music and the message, your background shouldn’t matter. As long as you respect the music, the community thrives. Respect the music, respect the sport. It’s no different. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it in your own way. Say, maybe cyclocross has a little punk rock left in it after all.

So please don’t tell me ‘cross is over, or it’s been ruined. That’s nonsense. It’s better than ever and you should enjoy every minute of it you can. As the sport grows, the real danger isn’t that more triathletes will start showing up or everybody will be wearing $700 skinsuits, but that the venues we love will start to disappear. You want to get mad at something? Get mad at that. And then go change it. Promote a race, go to a city council meeting, be a cycling advocate, promote the sport. All of these things grow the popularity and stave off the hostility that is out there. The hostility that wants bikes off the streets and out of our parks. Cross isn’t dead. But it’s up to you to prevent it from dying, Smokey.

In the end, I thought it was funny to respond to what I perceived as silliness within the sport with the hashtag #crossisdead. And when that seemed to backfire, I went in another direction and made this super-cute bumpersticker. And if you’ve learned nothing else from my rambling, at least know that you can buy the sticker, along with a couple others at the crosshairscycling.com shop. I need a miracle, people.

Bill Schieken

11 comments » | Commentary

TV Guide: European Cyclocross

August 22nd, 2014 — 11:10am

Granted, most of in the US don’t have Sporza on our cable box, or even on our Internet. But that doesn’t mean we don’t watch the races, right? So here’s the schedule for all of the 2014-2015 televised Euro-cross races. Mark your calendars and I’ll see you on Twitter at @cxhairs.

Date Cyclocross Type Broadcasting
September 27, 2014 GP Neerpelt Soudal Sporza
October 5, 2014 Casting (Ned) Superprestige VIER
October 12, 2014 GP Mario De Clercq Bpost Trophy Sporza
October 19, 2014 Valkenburg (Ned) World Sporza
November 1, 2014 Koppenbergcross Bpost Trophy Sporza
November 2, 2014 Zonhoven (Bel) Superprestige VIER
November 9, 2014 Ruddervoorde (Bel) Superprestige VIER
November 11, 2014 Annual Market Cross Niel Soudal Sporza
November 16, 2014 Asper-Gavere (Bel) Superprestige VIER
November 22, 2014 Koksijde (Bel) World Sporza
November 23, 2014 Spa-Francorchamps (Bel) Superprestige VIER
November 29, 2014 Milton Keynes (UK) World Sporza
November 30, 2014 Flandrien Cross Hamme Bpost Trophy Sporza
December 6, 2014 Grand Prize Hasselt Bpost Trophy Sporza
December 7, 2014 Flemish Druivencross Overijse Sporza
December 13, 2014 Scheldecross Antwerp Soudal VIER
December 20, 2014 Cyclocross Essen Bpost Trophy Sporza
December 21, 2014 Namen / Namur (Bel) World Sporza
December 26, 2014 Heusden-Zolder (Bel) World Sporza
December 28, 2014 Diegem (Bel) Superprestige VIER
December 30, 2014 Azencross Loenhout Bpost Trophy Sporza
January 1, 2015 GP Sven Nys Baal Bpost Trophy Sporza
January 4, 2015 Cyclocross Leuven Soudal Sporza
January 11, 2015 BK championship Championship Sporza
January 18, 2015 Roubaix (Fra) World Sporza
January 25, 2015 Hoogerheide (Ned) World Sporza
January 31, 2015 WK Tabor (Cze) Championship Sporza
February 1, 2015 WK Tabor (Cze) Championship Sporza
February 7, 2015 Krawatencross Lille Bpost Trophy Sporza
February 8, 2015 Hoogstraten (Bel) Superprestige VIER
February 14, 2015 Middelkerke (Bel) Superprestige VIER
February 22, 2015 Closing Price Malle (Bel) Sporza

2 comments » | 2014 Races, Public Service

Hilly Billy Roubaix 2014 Video

August 4th, 2014 — 8:55pm
Mike Simonson, 2013 Ulta Cross Series Champ and 2014 series leader.

Mike Simonson, 2013 Ulta Cross Series Champ and 2014 series leader.

It’s not really a documentary, not really a short film, but somewhere in between. Here’s a video I produced covering the Hilly Billy Roubaix, a 72 mile race that takes place on some of the nastiest roads in West Virginia. Started in 2010, the Hilly Billy Roubaix is a classic. Part of the Ultra Cross series, the Hilly Billy is a tough mud, dirt, grass, gravel, road race with a ton of climbing. Sounds fun, right?

One clarification from the video, I say that Garth Prosser holds the record for fastest time. Garth holds the 40+ record for the course with a time of 4 hours and 18 minutes. Michael Mihalik and Mike Simonson now share the overall record with a time of 4 hours and 19 minutes.

Also, Crystal Anthony set the women’s record this year with a time of 4 hrs and 31 minutes.

Special thanks to Stephanie Swan, Fritz Kessler and Marc Glass for letting me use the Hilly Billy Theme Song at the end of the video. You can see them play it live here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KW484pmfZU

Thanks also To JR Petsko for having me out. Check out all of the races he promotes here: www.abraracing.com.

Thanks for watching.

Hilly Billy Roubaix (Final Edit) from In The Crosshairs on Vimeo.

4 comments » | 2014 Races, Commentary, Video

Basil

July 21st, 2014 — 9:50am
04121182-Edit

Basil as a kid. Still growing into his collar.

Indulge me for a moment as I ramble on for a while about neither bikes nor bike racing. Our dog, Basil, passed away yesterday. He was 13 or maybe 14 years old. And was with us since he was about two, about the same time I started racing cyclocross, to give this the most tenuous of connections to In The Crosshairs. This is Basil’s story.

My wife, Heather, is a veterinarian and at the time we came to have Basil in our life she was working as an emergency vet at a clinic in Annapolis, Maryland. This was 2003.

One day at work, Heather is presented with a dog at the emergency clinic whose owner is convinced has cancer. “He’s scrawny, losing his fur, won’t eat, and is sickly. Dog has cancer,” the owner told Heather.

“Well, let’s examine him and run some test and see if we can come up with a course of care,” Heather responded.

“The kids have already said their goodbyes,” The man told her.

“I don’t understand. You’re dog may be sick, but he’s not dying.”

“The dog has cancer. We’ve said our goodbyes.”

“Sir, your dog doesn’t seem to be suffering and I’m not sure he’s that sick, if sick at all … I’m not going to euthanize him for you.”

“Dog has cancer, doc.”

This goes on for awhile, some initial test are run, and the dog—named Bear—is a bit dehydrated and does have some sort of skin infection. Heather suggests starting the dog on fluids and taking some blood tests.

“We don’t have any money. Our family has already said its goodbyes. Look how scrawny he is.” Refusing to kill this cute yet skinny black lab looking dog, Heather did something she has only been compelled to do one other time.

For most of us at work, there is only so much we can come home with from the office: A couple pens, box of paperclips, on occasion a ream of paper. When you are married to a veterinarian, however, there is always the risk that what comes home from the office is alive and will require feeding and walks. This happened to us once before when living in Rochester, New York. One day, we were the new owners of two ferrets: Teemu and Persephone.

It almost happened again when we were a whisker away from adopting a pit bull who had been shot in the head by a burglar. The dog’s name was Andre Lopez, which was reason enough for me to take on that guy. But he was adopted by some other person in the clinic who got there first.

Continue reading »

8 comments » | Commentary, Uncategorized

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