Grant Ellwood (Boulder Cycle Sport Devo p/b Boulder Junior Cycling) is in Europe racing cyclocross with the USA Cycling Development Team.
Monday, Nov 24, 2014
I am very excited to be back in Belgium/Netherlands again with USA Cycling! We had an easy flight across the pond, arrived on Thursday (Nov. 20) around noon, got some food and went for a ride. There are three U23 riders from Boulder here: Maxx Chance, Ian McPherson, and myself, plus a group of junior riders from around the Nation including Gage Hecht from Parker. Friday we drove to the Koksijde, Belgium for a U23 race held in conjunction with the World Cup. Koksijde is a course that is dominated by very very fine sand and if you struggle riding the sand at all, you will not be stoked on this course. Within the first half lap of pre-riding the course I had already managed to go over the bars twice and run into a wooden post once, all because of the sand. After that, the pre- ride was uneventful and we got ready for race day. During the race I was really struggling in the sand and was not feeling good. I was within 30 seconds of not being pulled, but unfortunately got pulled. (scored as 21st) The next day we raced the Spa Francorchamps Superprestige for U23, which is on a Formula 1 track. This course was super awesome. It had some technical descents and a really steep run up. I felt pretty good in the race, but definitely know that I can do better. (Finished 23rd) The two races this weekend were by far the hardest races that I have ever done in my life. It felt as if there was never time to rest, always on the gas. On Monday and Tuesday we have just gone on some easy rides around Sittard (Netherlands, location of USA Cycling’s european base). Tomorrow we will be getting the chance to go train with the Dutch National team and some of the worlds fastest! So far this trip has shown me how fast these Europeans really are and given me a lot of good experience to bring back with me in the future.
Wednesday, Nov. 26
Today we went to Alphen, Netherlands for a weekly training session with some of the region’s top junior, U23, and elite riders. At the practice there were around 40 guys and girls. The coach was Gerben de Knegt, Dutch National Team coach and a former pro National Champion. Lars Van der Haar was there, but he and his other elite buddies went and did their own thing. To start we just rode around a grassy field that had cones in it just leisurely until practice officially started. We started by riding around on the trails for 10-15 min. The trails were pretty flat, but very twisty and some sand. After that we began by having everyone ride around in a big square and when the coach would blow the whistle, everyone gets off their bike and runs until the next whistle. We did that a few times and then did the same thing shouldering the bike and then we did a few sets where everytime the whistle blew we would accelerate more and more as he blew the whistle. Only 5 blows of the whistle though. Then we would ride in this grassy field around cones set in a slalom and barriers and then add in a sand pit and shouldering making the loop longer and longer. After this we went on a course recon. There were some slippery grass corners and a long sandpit. We did a 15 min race simulation and everything felt good. I was probably top 5 at the end, tho I couldn’t tell due to lapped riders. Then we rode to the other side of the park and did practice starts along this field for 50 meters and then would have a cone that we would turn around and come back and then the next time we would turn around two cones, then three cones and then go back down to one cone after the start. In the end we probably did 5 or 6 starts. After this we did another course recon and did another 15 minute race simulation. Another fun course with a downhill sand pit and tight corners. Really fun!
This weekend we have two more races. Saturday is a Netherlands National race in Huijbergen, and Sunday is the B-Post in Hamme, Belgium. Then home on Monday!
I want to say thanks to my team – Boulder Cycle Sport Devo p/b Boulder Junior Cycling – as well as my coach Pete Webber and all the people and sponsors that make Boulder Junior Cycling run. Check out Grants entire picture albumn https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152878397788270&set=pcb.10152878399113270&type=1&theater