01-04-2007, 09:51 AM
I ran across this story about Erik's euro fan club on cyclingnews.com.
01-04-2007, 11:58 AM
Can you post full URL? you re Tiny.cc url looks suspicious
01-04-2007, 12:55 PM
01-04-2007, 01:32 PM
This report from Erik was posted to the OBRA list. “Fucking pharmaceutical freaks”, mwa ha ha.
From Erik Tonkin currently racing cross in Europe for the holidays:
Middlekerke’s North Sea Cross C2 (Dec. 29, 2006):
I added another race to my schedule, deciding to accompany Trebon to the North Sea Cross at Middlekerke on the coast. Some of the big guys were not to be there, and Ryan had a big contract for it, so it was a day for a result! He had a realistic chance to win it, and I wanted to go along as moral support, to share in the suffering and hopefully the celebrating. I also wanted to race a new ‘cross, as the others are now events I’ve done at least 3 times a piece. Finally, I must admit I, too, wanted a shot at a good result, which for me is possibly top-15, at least at certain Belgian C2’s, like this one.
Neither of us had good days. Mine, in particular, started out in the rough. On my third and last pre-ride lap, right before getting off the course, I misjudged an off-camber drop-in to pavement and took myself out on a metal course barricade. I mean, I hit its “foot” and went over the bars, smacked down on the pavement. Ryan saw the whole thing. I tried (as did he) to laugh it off, but the truth was that I was pretty spooked, especially given the other day. I had to second-guess racing, and I spoke to Proctor about it. Ultimately, however, it was Ryan—in a bit of role-reversal—who played the sports psychologist to my patient. He said, “No guy with the nickname ‘Cavemen’ is gonna be intimidated by this course. You’re racing.”
I owe Ryan one. I think choosing not to race would have been destructive for me. I like to ride a lot while I’m here, and I draw strength from keeping such a full racing and training schedule. So, I wrestled the thermal skinsuit over my hairy and flabbier-than-usual body for the third ‘cross in a row and let ‘er rip.
And I’m glad I did, even though it was a terribly mediocre performance--even for me! The most interesting part of my race was the start. We blasted off down 700 meters of sidewind-swept pavement to a 180^ turn into muck. I was actually well-positioned for once, leaning on guys to keep my line just out of the wind, and I was also able to protect my outside. (All the while, I was careful to stay away from Hammond, who’s always so gracious to me—I didn’t want to ruin his new life with T-Mobile!) One dude tried to come by on the wide side thru an impossibly small gap between me my buddy the footed barricade. I swung my hip at him as he nosed in, and what I heard behind didn’t sound good. I told Powers about that when we got back, and he pointed out that guy’ll probably think twice next time, and others’ll be tentative, too.
Admittedly, I was still weak in the head, my first lap ending up a comedy of errors. I screwed up everything possible, even popping out of my pedals at retarded moments, and lost more than all the ground I’d fought to protect at the start. I faded to around 40th. After that, I mostly got over myself and just played catch up, moving up to 23rd but finishing 24th at the line. The whole day I just felt as if I didn’t belong on my bike, just fighting the bike and the course’s bumpy, sticky combination of grass and muck. It was just hard the whole way. The only real respite was the wind-blown, paved start stretch. Riding up and down the big, seemingly man-made earthen mounds was fun, too, and I never complained about the good sandbox. But those features were hard on me as well.
Ryan caved similarly on the first lap, but his middle laps were unbelievably fast. I heard he recorded the 3 fastest of the race. But he only had those minutes in him, finally finishing 12th. He said he just didn’t have the legs for it. Besides, ol’ Trebon seems to go better on a bigger stage, so he’ll definitely fight another day.
But Page had a great race, as I’m sure everybody’s seen by now. He is just living proof that athletes need to stay positive after tough days, that there’s always another race, and that there’s value in putting forth the best effort each day. More important, Jon Page, I think, serves as a reminder that these “big guys” over here--Nijs, Wellens, Vervecken, etc.--are, after all, humans. He has progressed steadily over the past few years and is now close to the top. Hard work pays off, but it takes time.
Really, there is no sense in being too intimidated on the start line of these Belgian ‘crosses. Almost anything can happen on any day. Hell, if I’d had a good race--the kind of performance I’m capable of and, in fact, have had before--I might’ve got the other Sven today, who just had a bad go of it. No, I don’t usually line up thinking I have a chance to beat Vanthourenhout, but, hey, any given Sunday—or Friday.
The thing is, here at the camp there’s much talk about who’s on drugs and when. But I think that’s neither here nor there. It’s wholly irrelevant to the task at hand, which is for all of us to ride at our best levels possible, no matter who’s in front or behind. Sure, these big guys have every advantage already: they show up with 4 bikes and 4 extra sets of wheels; they have their own motorhomes (just like Decker!), styled-out with private commodes; and they rarely have to travel far to race, almost never flying anywhere. To add the thought that they have pharmaceutical assistance, too, is….Well, it’s not only discouraging; it’s also infuriating. Nevertheless, we’re here to learn how to race our bikes better, to see the sport with new eyes, to unlock some previously caged bike racing animal (like “Danimal” Neyens!). We’re not here to worry about the other guys’ secrets, shit we can’t do anything about anyhow.
But speaking of drugs and “manimals”--or perhaps “fucking pharmaceutical freaks”, as little Wells calls them--at Middlekerke the “yellow bus” made an appearance, so the top-10 had to not only give piss samples but blood, too. (I may have to verify the blood sample part….) Maxime Lefevre, the retro French rider, no-showed. This guy definitely has a history, so there are some bad apples out there. It’s a good thing that there is so much testing over here. I mean, the bad ones would have field days back home in the states.
(Tonight is our special team dinner, and tomorrow is an off day, or training day as I like to call it. Then we race the Superprestige at Diegem on Sunday.)
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