Saturday, April 30, 2011


Yesterday Alistair and I had another encounter with the fabulous US Healthcare system, this time in the form of Kaiser Permanente. One thing is blatantly obvious from this brief encounter: while Kaiser may advertise "Thrive," their more correct slogan is "Pay or perish." It is so interesting to contrast this brief encounter with the one John had while in Tongeren. Not only was ours much more complex, much more draining and much more expensive -despite the fact that John had no insurance and we do-, but Kaiser also made it plain that they really don't care about our well-being unless we pay.

Here are some more pictures from the kermis koers at Geluveld. If it seems as if the pictures trickle in, note that my iPhone-iPhoto sync is out of whack and getting pictures out is now a real challenge. No more plug and play here.
Before the start:

Alex was nervous for his first race in Belgium

The corner, 'tHoekske

Top of the climb

The finish

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pictures continued

More pictures from the Belgium trip. A new trip is planned for early June to race the Ster van de Vlaamse Ardennen Junior stage race. More info will be posted soon. Let me know if you are interested.

Mur de Huy:
Bottom of the climb, see the arch in the distance

The first section

Near the first turn

Near the top

My vantage point during the race

Alex and Alistair by the car before leaving for Huy
The quintessential Belgian chocolate bar: hazelnuts.

A few updates and more pictures

UCI said Iljo Keisse can race (abroad) again on August 6. Ironically enough due to a lot of legal wrangling the embattled cyclist who can race only in Belgium may soon be barred from racing there until a later date. A decision about that is expected on May 24.

Cycling has now entered its quiet period after the Spring Classics and just before the Grand Tours. Various smaller Tours and Grand Prix events are going on right now but these rarely grab headlines. There is the Tour of Rioja in Spain, the Tour of Turkey, the Tour of Romandie and the Tour of Asturias. A win in these events may be just enough to displace the various prognostications about the upcoming Giro or the news of yet another doping scandal.

Here are some more pictures from the Belgian trip, in no particular order:
Alex after a ride

Breakfast before the Ster stage 1

Erik wearing compression socks

Team dinner

Paperwork for Ster entry

Pasta in the square: sometimes you need a second dinner

Team cars arrive at the Begeinhof

Some teams bring trucks full of bikes

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Miscellaneous pictures from the trip

Here are more shots from the trip to Belgium:

Orange loop, in Kwaremont


Dried fish, a kermis staple

Our team car

Team car

Oude Kwaremont
Some race pictures from Geluveld:

Newsclip (in Dutch)

You can see our team as well as the US National Team on several occasions. This is a local broadcast so they focus on riders from Limburg, the province where the race is held.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Traveling to Belgium for bike racing

Today, Alistair and I flew back to California from Belgium. We arrived after a 14 hr ordeal that was quite eventful and now I will go to sleep. Alistair is very sick. He coughed all night last night and then threw up. He is running a high fever. It seems likely this played a role in his Ster performance on Monday.

Tomorrow I will post more wrap-up and pictures. Stay tuned and thanks for your support.


More duty free beer

Dulles airport

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thank you

The last few days we've been so busy I almost forgot to tell you about the spectacular victory of Philippe Gilbert in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. We saw it all happen in real time while driving in the caravan for the Ster thanks to the built-in TV in our car. Although we were very busy we managed to see Gilbert leave the Schleck brothers behind while he won his fourth race in a row on Sunday.

Now that our adventure is coming to a close I would like to thank the following people and groups for their support:

Above Category Racing, Above Category Cycling and Chad Norwall who generously provided kits for the riders. Those Assos bibs made the team look really sharp.

Rocktape and Greg van den Dries, who provided us with cycling kits and tape. for giving us access to a ProTour type car with all built-in amenities and gadgets.
Bruno Naessens, the CEO of Cyclingsupport and his son Simon, who was our driver and helper during the event.

Flanders Cycles (Oudenaarde), the Asfra Racing Team and Luc and Ronny Assez, who provided us with spare bikes and wheels.

The Chainstay and Gregg Germer, who provided us with transport, rollers, pumps and other necessities (such as getting kalenderkaarten).

Ralf Medlof for his advice and help.

Omer Bovy, the organizer of the race, who invited us to come to this most fantastic event.

Many of the support personnel of the Ster, who I do not know by name, but who helped us with local transport and arrangements.

Het Begeinhof in Tongeren and Ward Mouha who made our stay easy and pleasant.

I would also like to thank the riders and their parents and coaches who believed in this adventure and made it happen!

The day after

Yesterday started out spectacularly on the Grote Markt in St. Truiden. But before that could happen, the guys had to do laundry. Then three riders took to the start.
In the laundromat

Grote Markt, St. Truiden

Hunter getting ready. He would be the only survivor of the day

Matt Lipscomb before the start. He was second in GC, 2 sec back

It was hot in the sun

What followed was not so beautiful. As soon as we rounded the corner, race radio announced the first flat of the day. This was followed by the first crash. All within the neutral zone. It never stopped after that.

When the race hit the open country there was a strong tailwind and the pace was very fast. Then race radio announced a turn into the wind. And then, "waaiers, waaiers," (echelons). I looked at Simon the driver and he looked at me and we both knew mayhem had started.

A typical Haspengouw farm
Riders were falling off the pace left and ride and pretty soon, even we (car 29) were zigzagging between dropped riders. Then we found Alistair who was caught behind a crash and had to bridge. We helped him for about 500m until we ran into the US Team car (car 2) on the left, with a mini-pack of riders drafting. All had been involved in the crash or were held up by it. At least 3 US National Team members were behind the car, as well as several others. Here we had to let go of Alistair.

Our car had live TV and we watched Liege Bastogne Liege on Sunday

Once we hit the Maas/Meuse river the climbing started. The first climb was very steep, almost like the mur in Huy but a bit shorter. The second one was pretty bad too with lots of exposure at the top. This was followed by some very fast descents, one of which was a totally dark tree-tunnel on a bad road surface. Needless to say, there were more crashes here and many more flats.

A little ways further up the road we saw Erik riding in a small pack with Matt Lipscomb. Many times they would come close to rejoining the main group but it never quite worked for them either. 

Return to Flanders after a stint in Wallonia
Pit stop, even the drivers need a break

Hunter stayed in the pack all the way to finish while the others were pulled at the start of the local circuits. By now, even the best teams had lost riders. Of the 157 that started only 64 finished.  Hunter was 43rd. Unfortunately he lost so much time the day before that he ended up last in GC with a gap of 21:16.

After the finish: Hunter and Erik

After the race, the organizer removes the ad banners