Photo: Janet Hill

The Phoenix

The Phoenix

by / / 71 posts

As a dyed-in-the-wool Northerner, my time living in the South was a mixed bag. Southerners think differently, speak differently, eat differently, and prioritize life differently than do Yankees. In many ways, I became a better person during my time in the South, learning to relax a little bit and stop chasing my tail over everything all the time. In fact, the new and relaxed Frank was probably better prepared for the mellow attitude towards living that I’ve found so delightful here in the Pacific Northwest. (Believe it or not, PNW Frank of today is less-uptight than previous iterations.)

On the other hand, trying to get something moving faster than it was already moving was a near-impossible task and one that caused my impatient self frustration at times. I also learned that while the North has long since moved on from the trials and tribulations of the Civil War (er, the War of Northern Aggression), parts the South has not. In fact, any conversation with an elderly Southern Gentleman would invariably lead to the assertion that the South would rise again, to which my query was ignorant as always: “Again?”

My sense of nationalism is a wonderfully flexible thing. I was raised in the States in a Dutch household by Dutch parents speaking Dutch as my first language. I was, however, born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, about a score after Johnny Cash accidentally met a heartbreaker there. On any typical day, I self-identify as a Dutchman, despite my passport being inarguably American after having been born within the borders of the United States. But whenever the good ol’ US of Fuckin’ A pulls one out of the bag, my allegiances happily flop over and I’m suddenly a proud American. Its very convenient, always being on the winning side this way.

Seeing the turnout at the Cyclocross World Championships was one of those times. Everything fell in place; the crowds, the racing, and the weather going full-blown Cyclocross by throwing ice, snow, mud, and rain at the racers. American Katie Compton even brought home a Silver medal. (Oh, and by the way, the Dutch won 3 out of 4 events, so put that in your pipe, Belgium.)

This was already enough to restore my faith in American Cycling, but it wasn’t until the Elite Men’s Award Ceremony that I was nearly brought to prideful tears. There isn’t any population that has a healthier disdain for authority than do Americans, and I can’t think of any group of Americans with a healthier disdain for fat white corrupt assholes than Southerners. Given the current state of affairs, I tip my hat to the great work done by Louisville, Kentucky in organizing the event, the throngs who showed up and proved that Cycling can be successful in America, and booing Pat McQuaid like he has always deserved.

I’m not sure if the South will rise again, but I’m mighty proud at how we pulled this one up from the ashes. Chapeau, ‘Murca.

// Belgian Affirmations // Cyclocross // Defining Moments // Nostalgia // Racing // Tradition

  1. Watched the race on Sunday morning, it was freakin awesome! The weather, the crowd, the racing, it was like a real Euro cross race! My mate Alex Revell had a good race, and finished a lap ahead of five other riders, and won his friendly battle with Aussie Lewis Rattray.

    Pauwels was unlucky, it looked like his Di2 was giving him grief while trying to get the chain back on. He was looking strong. Vantornout made a couple of mistakes and that was all Nys needed to turn the screws. Klaas looked a bit pissed off on the podium, almost ungracious.

    And Vos, well what can you say? Just amazing.

  2. @eightzero WTF !  That was hilarious, But i did notice one thing that stood out?  The home grown podium girls were smoken if i do say so myself.

  3. “booing Pat McQuaid like he has always deserved” – excellent. Almost would have been worth the trip just for that.

  4. Confusing all round….what is this strange sport of cyclo-cross?

    Even more so is the Johnny Cash reference….as soon as you mentioned where you were born “Big River” gave me a massive lightening strike of reminiscence and although the riff is the same, was Cry Cry Cry about the same woman?

    The reference is at 0:35 and I still recall the hangover the morning after the day he died after an all night session with my Dad discussing his life and music….and drinkiing far far too much beer wine and whisky….and sending texts to my brother in the Gulf letting him know the “Man in Black” had departed…

  5. I was there, sorry I didn’t realize you were there Chuck! Got to meet VeloVita and get a few photos, as I thought we were the only Velominati there.

    What a day. My VMH and I did some couch surfing at a house that overlooked the Ohio River and the course. Tried to check it out Friday night but the cops kept us away. Awoke Saturday morning to snow and cold temperatures. The Junior race as nice, course was frozen and snowy. van der Poel was incredible. I actually didn’t know who he was but did notice the WC stripes on his shades. “Hmm, I’m thinking he’s won this before.” Yep, defending champ.

    Marianne Vos. Wow, she made it look easy. That is the thing with the best cx racers – they almost don’t look like they are trying. Smooth pedal stroke the whole time, rarely out of the saddle and perfect through the corners. You can see the other racers get tired and cut corners and take bad lines, but not the best at the front. Katerina Nash. Heartbreaking, great effort, but seems as if that is the first ever podium in a big race Chainel-Lefevere. Caroline (my VMH) commented that it was poor sportsmanship to overtake Nash but I said that’s how racing goes. So cool to see Vos in person. I’ve never been to a big race and to have her pass right by me…wow! I actually have two blisters on my fingers from ringing our Turkish “cowbell” (all we had!) so fervently. Battle wounds!

    U-23 men. Another big Dutch win, as the crowd really started to build up.

    Elite men – what can you say. Nys & Vantournout kept their powder dry as Mourey and Simunek went off the front, knowing that an hour of racing is a long time. I still haven’t seen Klaas hang-ups so will have to go back and watch the video. Earlier in the day the crowd was small enough that you could run all over the place & see the race from all over, including running to the finish line. Not so by this race. Felt bad for the Hungarian, the Norwegian, the Australian, and the Kiwi racer & cheered my ass off for them, but think all four DQed. The Norwegian went down on the technical back corner that I would have had trouble with on a dry day & I think that is where he abandoned.

    I think it actually was more fun to have all the races crammed into one day. Spent Sunday seeing Louisville, as we’d never been there. Cool city, felt “northern” after driving up from NC but not as “north” as my homeland of NY.

    My first major race & it was really great. It blew my mind to see all the mechanics/crew just walking around shouldering super nice bikes, bringing them to the pits and such. And really, really cool to see the Bart Wellens fan club, just a bunch of Belgian folks out having a good time.

    Note to self: ease off on bike purchases and buy a better camera. The VMH nearly got a photo of me under the Finish banner with Jonathan Page passing me as he rode back to the team area but…it shut off as she clicked it. Argh! Did get a sweet shot of Vantournout’s bike being wheeled back to the team area by his mechanic right after the race ended.

    I had a great time & Caroline is now hooked on cross, which is great. As she said, anyone could have a great time there. Really fun to be so close to the racers.

    In other news: I think they had 6 porto-bathrooms. That was rough. Beer & frites lines were insane. I didn’t even bother, just nipped the gin I had in my pocket. Caroline gave up on frites after a long wait. I guess this situation was due to cramming the races into one day but c’mon organizers. Lots of fun fans & the changing conditions of the course made each race really unique and awesome.

    Ha, I said, “What the fuck?” aloud when they announced McQuaid. I couldn’t/can’t believe he had the balls to show up! Yes, I booed him.

    Crowd was big but I do wish it had been more balanced in the sense that the scruffy, bar-fly Pabsters hadn’t seen it as just an outdoor frat party and just used it as a chance to get totally bombed & the people who came just because they live in Louisville and wanted to check it out had been a bit more enthusiastic. I cheered every racer but some of the folks around me just stood hands in pockets, hoping for the race to be over so they could get out of the cold.

    That said, WOW! What an awesome weekend & what a great experience to be inside the (outer) barriers and that close to the racers, the mechanics, the Dutch, Belgian, & Swiss fans. Crazy for me to see some regular dude walk by, smoking a cigarette, carrying some $4000 wheels. Damn.

    I’ll get some of the less-than-spectacular photos I have up later today. Velovita had not one but two nice cameras. I’m hoping he’ll hook it up for y’all!

  6. Oh, and I’m certainly no expert but one thing I noticed: the professionalism & unity & focus of the Belgian & Dutch teams. This was highlighted for me by the fact that they all had on the same clothing, gloves, etc. They were using cantilever brakes too. Meanwhile, the Americans were all dressed differently. What I’m getting at is it seemed the Belgians & Dutch had a coach who simply said, “Wear this.” and that was the end of it. Focus on the race, not your knee warmers or something else. Full leggings, high socks, good gloves, nothing under the helmet. The Americans were all over the place in dress & some on disc brakes.

    It just seemed like the Belgians & Dutch used the proven gear & dressed smartly and left it at that. Focussed on the race. The Americans, and others, seemed to spend too much time second-guessing clothing, gear, etc.

    There is a good story on Sven Nys’ bike & how he’s on a Colnago that is a few years old, still using older Shimano pedals, and still on older Di2. Bonkers to me that the best in the world is using scuffed up cranks, but hey, I’m not going to question his decision!

  7. I was freaking 90 minutes away from Louisville for a whole week the week before the Worlds.  I really wish I was there for the event.   However, Merckx willing, I will be moving to Lexington, KY in the near future and will be CXin’ up a storm in years to come.

  8. i attended as well.  and it was ri-goddamn-diculously amazing. road cycling is great and everything, but wow is it incredible to see riders plow through mud at insane speeds and hear the roar of the crowd nearing you with every passing lap.

    there are a couple items in the article i’d like to point out:

    1) there wasn’t really any ice or rain being thrown at the racers.  in fact, only the elite men had any precipitation, with snow coming down on ’em (and it was pretty light).  the ground was snow covered (and mud…so much mud) but not icy.  doesn’t take away from the “epic-ness” of it, but just wanted to point out that really the weather was basically perfect that day.  it is, however, insane that a few riders didn’t wear gloves and a couple went without leg/knee warmers on. screw that.

    2) i wouldn’t credit any booing slung towards patty mc’q to southerners.  i think locals accounted for a very small population of those present and others were from all over the US (and Europe).

    some pics!

  9. @Ron

    Oh, and I’m certainly no expert but one thing I noticed: the professionalism & unity & focus of the Belgian & Dutch teams. This was highlighted for me by the fact that they all had on the same clothing, gloves, etc. They were using cantilever brakes too. Meanwhile, the Americans were all dressed differently. What I’m getting at is it seemed the Belgians & Dutch had a coach who simply said, “Wear this.” and that was the end of it. Focus on the race, not your knee warmers or something else. Full leggings, high socks, good gloves, nothing under the helmet. The Americans were all over the place in dress & some on disc brakes.

    can’t really speak to the unity/focus you’ve mentioned, but as far as their kit i think it kind of varies depending on the rider and country.  for example, gabby day is a british rider for rapha/focus normally and was riding in GB colors with SKY logos and no rapha logos to be seen (other than on her bike), simply because british cycling and SKY are tight-knit partners.  on the other hand, you could see trek logos on katie compton’s but not on other US women.  similarly, the elite US men from cannondale/ had cannondale logos on their kit.  if you look at the belgian riders though, you can see they have a different range of sponsors on their kit.  on the other hand, every photo i’ve seen of dutch riders just had rabobank logos on them.  like i said, it’s all over the map so i think it just depends on the country’s national cycling program and its sponsors, as well as the rider’s sponsors and their agreements.  it’s normally this way at road racing worlds too, i believe.

    disc brakes: powers and johnson have been on/off them all season (trebon too, i think).  johnson was actually running hydraulic ones with MONSTER hoods to hold the master cylinder.  they’re crazy.  makes the bike heavier too.  but they seem to like ’em for whatever reason…  but there is a resistance among european CX pros to disc brakes.  there’s a velonews article about it somewhere…  i forget their reasoning, but i think it’s basically: “cantis work fine, why change?”

  10. Lets be honest, the Dutch and Belgians could care less about disc vs cantis.  They could pull the tail of a rattle snack causing it to bite down on the brake track, and still end up on the podium.

  11. Great reports, youse who were there.  But @Ron, gin, really?  In Kentucky?  Shoulda been bourbon!

  12. I had plans to drive 3.5 hours from Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday to catch the races, then drive back. Really made no sense, but I was going to do it. Even found a guy with free VIP passes in a tent with food and beer. Then the schedule changed, couldn’t make it Saturday. Oh well. I stayed warmer watching it on the computer. I am stoked to race ‘cross this fall, though. Bought a cheap Raleigh Furley single speed.

    And, not for nothing, it’s “dyed in the wool”, as in the dye is ingrained in the material. Sorry

  13. @Cheaves

    nothing like a healthy dose of “boooo”

    Indeed- away from cycling, but one of the more amusing moments of the Paralympics last year was during the Athletics, when the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer got to find out exactly how unpopular he was- at a veritable festival of inclusiveness and positivity he had the best part of 80,000 people booing his presence- nay, his very existence.

  14. Weather was shit, kind of nice, then shit, then kind of nice, then shit for the elite men – so basically it was fucking perfect cyclocross weather.  It was great to meet Ron and his VMH and chat for a bit.  I wish we could have met up with all you other guys.

    Some quick observations as sadly I have a lot of work to catch up on at the office:

    1. Belgian fans I spoke to were overwhelmingly supportive of the event here in the US and excited that CX was growing in this country.  Of course they realised the turnout was going to be no where near the 60,000+ at last years event, but were surprised and how supportive the fans were of all the riders, not just the Americans (which is what they expected)

    2. Vos is fucking ridiculous.  There is seriously no comparison between her level right now and that of Katie Compton.  She was so far ahead the stewards were allowing full blown course crossings by throngs of people in between the two riders. It was great that Katie took 2nd and won the World Cup this year, but Vos is from another planet – Planet V.

    3.  The cyclocross equivalent of the V Locus is simply putting your head down between the bars, ignoring the fact that any exists in front of you and burying yourself on the flat, straight, paved sections.  From the Juniors up through the elite men, I’ve never seen anything look more pro.

    4.  Apart from Trebon, these guys are so tiny its ridiculous.  Trebon’s seatpost however looks the length of my entire seattube and I’m only 3″ shorter than him.  I’m amazed he can handle a bike as well as he does.

    5.  The only disc brakes I saw were on bikes ridden by the Americans.  Cantis didn’t seem to give anybody very many problems.

    6.  Ridley must be thrilled at the course announcer proclaiming the bike’s brand over and over when commenting on Pauwels chain issues.  That said, its about the third or fourth time this season he’s had a mechanical issue that’s completely taken him out of the race.  Sunweb can’t be thrilled with either their mechanics or their bad luck.

    7.  Good call on moving all the racing to Saturday.  Riders would have needed scuba gear in the wooded section had the race schedule remained as originally planned.

    8. Nys really needs to be seated at the right hand of the Merckx.  He is just plain awesome.

    9. Sportcrafters had the absolute coolest product on show at their tent.  Its a prototype of mini-rollers (say 6″ or so) with built in resistance (like their current roller offerings) attached to a folding fork stand.  Folded up, this was maybe the size of a car tire jack, but could easily replace a full fluid trainer or full set of rollers for warmups at races or even training at home.

    10. I should have brought my DSLR and some autofocus lenses.  Still Here are a few photos.  I took a lot more but haven’t had time to go through all of them yet:


    The man himself


    Tim Johnson finished as the top American in the elite mens race


    J-Pow had a rough day


    So did Gabby Day


    The new Giro helmets are fugly no matter who is wearing them


    Even the Belgian U23s know how to do casually deliberate


    Who says light blue isn’t a bad ass colour?


    Putting the ‘V’ in Vos


    The weather was perfect for the mens finale

  15. @Ron

    I didn’t even bother, just nipped the gin I had in my pocket.

    Ah ha!  Now I understand why you weren’t toting beers!  Nice work!  I had some whiskey back in the hotel room, but figured I wouldn’t be able to smuggle it in.  As it turns out, I could probably have brought in a film crew and rolled a keg in with me and no one would have cared.

  16. Velo – Nice shots! And great analysis. Aaaah, sorry for not sharing. I guess I was so overwhelmed by everything I forgot, but very unVelominati like to not help a Follower out. I’ll have to get ya back next time we meet!

    They had some demo Moots on display with Shimano stems & seat pillars. I had never seen the pillars…which sport a V right at the front, so when you are really dying and hang your head so low you can see between your legs, you see a V!! Nice compliment to the stem V.

  17. Yeah, I know I was in bourbon country but as I ride a Gin & Trombones I decided to go with gin, thought it might help me fully get in the spirit.

    Yep, they had signs up “no outside food or drinks” and then when I saw people carrying in sippy cups of pussy drinks and even dogs I realized they weren’t really enforcing things. Might have very easily rolled in a keg, or two.

  18. @Ron Did you bring a trombone too?  Because that would have been over the top.

  19. @Ron Goodness – I thought only flapper molls from 20s drank neat gin? Careful, you might get depressed.

  20. @Nate

    That would have been fucking awesome!  Trust me, @Ron with some gin and a trombonewould have been exceptionally tame when compared with some of the fans

  21. @roger

    Lets be honest, the Dutch and Belgians could care less about disc vs cantis. They could pull the tail of a rattle snack causing it to bite down on the brake track, and still end up on the podium.

    Mmmm. Rattle snacks.

  22. @G’rilla

    In the ‘Nam, they ate rattle snacks and they liked them.

    I don’t know from cx, but the father of this heroine is one of the local retirees who can ride me into the ground:

  23. A few more photos


    Sven shaking out the legs pre-race


    Georgia Gould


    The Dutch did bring other women


    Yes, yes it is


    Vos drilling it


    Yet more of the Dutch


    The U23 race was arguably the most excitng of the day


    Albert really seemed a bit off the entire race


    The woods were packed with fans for the elite mens race


    Trebon hoofing it


    The Belgian champ pre-race

    If someone could put all these in one of Frank’s neat and tidy albums, that would be great. Unfortunately I don’t know how to do that.

    Alternatively, as I go through all my photos, I’ll be putting them here in case anyone is interested.

  24. @chiasticon


    Great pics.  Wish I had been there.

  25. I watched the feed through CX Magazine in a cafe. It was spectacular. You Americans did us North Americans proud with the show!

    Vos is a Boss! She killed the course. And the U23 Men’s race was the race of he day.

  26. @VeloVita

    A few more photos


    Sven shaking out the legs pre-race

    Great shot! You should submit that to

  27. A better video of McQuaid being welcomed to America:

  28. Some awesome photos here.  However

    There isn’t any population that has a healthier disdain for authority than do Americans

    What about, er… the French?

  29. Why Trebon DNFed:

    That was a pretty steep hill and he’s falling from higher up than most.

  30. @VeloVita


    Bummed that we didn’t meet up.

    Too much to catch up at work to wax poetic about the event but I’ll echo your reports: it was a great day. In the end, happy that they moved everything to Saturday (even though that meant missing out on a Saturday morning distillery visit) as the walk from the hotel to the venue was a little longer than anticipated. This way, was also able to catch the junior race which was good. Loved how the Japanese rider was getting the loudest cheers from the crowd! Weather was perfect, crowd was great, tight course layout meant easy access to every part of it. True that getting a beer before the last race was a bit of a challenge.

    We missed the podium ceremony (and thus the boos heard around the world) as we were hangin’ out by the Rapha Focus pit, hoping to get a few autographs (didn’t). But we did run in J-Pow and Ryan Trebon in the hotel lobby on Sunday and they couldn’t have been nicer.

    I also managed to run into Ryan Kelly (of “ah, chocolate milk fame” from 200 on 100) over an over: first at the Galt House hotel bar, then at the course, at the official unofficial after party, Sunday night at Against The Grain Brewery (also where Rapha Focus had their team dinner), and finally at the airport Starbucks. He looks shorter on the internet.

    Link to my pics from the event.

  31. Hmmm… let’s try it this way.

  32. I cannot explain how annoyed I am that I didn’t make it down there from Cincinnati. Why must I have a job? Oh. The horror.

    But, the weekend before Kings CX was awesome.  As a side note, a member of the team I used to ride for was very excited to place 9th in the elite women and, wait for it, get drug tested.  Apparently, it is now a right of passage.

  33. @VeloVita


    Even the Belgian U23s know how to do Casually Deliberate

    I sit like this all the time, but I do not look pro doing it.  One of those things where wearing the Belgian baby blues means you can do WTF you want and you will still look the look.

  34. Sauterelle, that photo kicks ass.

  35. @seemunkee

    Sauterelle, that photo kicks ass.

    bullshit – he should be riding that section.

  36. @VeloVita


    Sauterelle, that photo kicks ass.

    bullshit – he should be riding that section.

    I just spit my coffee!

  37. VeloVita – Ha ha ha, amazing.

    Damn, didn’t realize Trebon crashed that hard!

    No trombone for me, I spent all my Talent Points on sports, none on music. I used to get kicked out of chorus in high school (we had to take it) because the director thought I was trying to ruin the sound of the 100 person choir. I was doing my best though.

    Some photos, nothing nearly as good as some of the others, but here they are:

    Klaas’s bike wheeled away by a sharp looking older mechanic while he was being pissed off on the podium:

    A second shot, you can barely make out his name on the TT. The gent to the left had on a Bart Wellens fan club parka. Awesome!:

    Some one get this young man some leg warmers. The blood on his socks & beaten pegs pained me to watch come by each lap:

    Pretty sure this is the U-23 start:

    Action shot of Niels being followed by Simunek Jr., I think.

    This gent held down the fort all day long, was in the same spot for every race:

  38. That might be Logan Owen, huh?

  39. @Ron

    That might be Logan Owen, huh?

    The bloody-socked American?  Yep, that’s Owen.

    I didn’t realise Trebon crashed either – he kept coming around the finish lap after lap and then just didn’t.  I figured he must have had a major mechanical or something.

  40. Owen’s pale Pacific NW guns made me cold & wince just seein’ ’em.

    And speaking of regionalism & differences – holy fuck, do some (most?) Southerners talk really damn slowly. When a few of my Southern friends start telling stories I’m able to pull out a pillow, catch a bit of shut eye, then wake up for the end of it.

    Then again, I talk too fast & include far more detail than necessary for most discussions.

  41. 1st post…this may be a dumb question but what makes the Belgians so freakin dominant?

  42. @Ron

    Then again, I talk too fast & include far more detail than necessary for most discussions.

    I think my wife would tell you the same thing about me.  If I’m talking and get ‘the look’ I just stop.


    1st post…this may be a dumb question but what makes the Belgians so freakin dominant?

    Not a dumb question at all, although I’m sure Frank would be the first to point out that it was actually the Dutch who had the best showing in Louisville.  I think its mainly just because its in their blood – they grow up with it.  I think this says it all:


  43. @VeloVita

    Any west coast based KT attendees want to volunteer to bring one of these back for my pedalwans in a 40 or 45 cm wheel size?  Failing that, a pair of the little-kid size drop bars?

  44. @shackleton

    1st post…this may be a dumb question but what makes the Belgians so freakin dominant?

    In no particular order: history, geography and climate. And beer, of course.

  45. Frank, don’t be so hard on yourself.  Neither hailing from Minnesota nor Seattle would make you a yankee down here, at worst you are a psuedo-Canadian Midwesterner or a vagrant, pot-smoking Californian.  You would have to be east of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon line to be a true yankee.  It is a very select group, and one that no one would willingly confess to being a part of.  It would be like calling yourself a Frenchman.  As for southerners not liking the corrupt fat white asshole, hell we invented him, remember Huey P. Long, Boss Hogg & Jeb Bush?

  46. Both your own country and the country in which you reside refuse to nominate you, so you get Malaysia and Barbados to nominate you. Which requires a rewrite of the rules in the middle of an election season.

    That’s legit!

  47. @G’rilla It’s a fucking joke. Mugabe wouldn’t even try to pull that sort of shit.

  48. Ah yes, Malaysia, Barbados, and Turkey those bastions of democratic freedom. Those amendments aren’t going to lead to a future shit show at all (let alone the current one) /end sarcasm 

    Seriously? WTF, does Barbados even have a cycle team. That fucking island makes Luxembourg look huge. You couldn’t hold a single stage of a Grand Tour on that thing.

    @Chris, this is exactly the kind of shit Mugabe would pull.

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