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Superbowl: A 'Dutch' Perspective (LONG)

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Old June 21st 13, 11:09 AM posted to rec.bicycles.racing
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Default Superbowl: A 'Dutch' Perspective (LONG)

Le mardi 1 février 2000 09:00:00 UTC+1, Danny Callen a écrit*:
2000 Cyclocross World's in Sint-Michielgestel, Holland are now over and I
just remembered
that the Superbowl was yesterday in Atlanta, Ga. I had actually completely
forgotten until
someone on the plane back to Boston started telling me about it. Pretty
amazing considering
I'm a pretty darn BIG Tennessee Titan fan (being originally from Tennessee
and all).
However, I just spent 5 days in the Holy Land of Cyclocross basking in the
warmth of
everything I dream of 'Cross becoming in the US someday...even just 1/10th.
here is HUGE! Everyone from our Hotel Host in Amsterdam to the Security
man at the airport knows who Richard Groenendaal is and what Cyclocross is
all about.
In fact we even had people mention Walker Ferguson's Silver Medal!
World's was the Dutch Superbowl and Groenendaal was their star Quarterback.
Even the
Americans are rockstars over there.

I ventured to Amsterdam with one of my friends and former team mate (New
England Cross God
Mike Ward) and his sister Meg. We met up with Adam Myerson in Amsterdam
after he took
a train down from Paris. Adam had been racing some of the World Cup events
in Europe and
decided to take a bit of a 'holiday' with us. It turned out being quite
fortunate for us as
he became quite helpful as we tried to figure out the train / bus/ tram
system of Holland.
I've traveled quite a bit to Europe, but it's mostly business trips with
quick stops and
hired cars rather than 'schlepping' from place to place. Anyone who knows
Adam understands
that he is one of the best at 'schlepping' and communicating with almost
anyone anywhere.
His talents are in making contacts and making things happen. He has
tremendous leadership
qualities. It was great getting to know Adam a little better. His Europeean
Race tour was not
to gain fame and fortune for himself (although he did quite well!) but to
fulfil a dream of
helping pave the way for other future stars of 'Cyclocross from the US. With
his personality,
drive, and experience, I'm convinced he could have quite an impact for the
future of Cyclocross
in the US. Hopefully, with the growth of the American Cyclocross Foundation
and people
like Adam, Cyclocross could become the sport it deserves to be in the US. If
not, Amercians
will at least be a force to reckon with in the World of Cross...Adam and I
are on the same page
as far as that goes and hopefully our paths will converge someday.

Off to the races...

We arrived for the first day of World's just as the Women started their
race. The course was
fast, but also laced with much extremely sticky, glue-like mud. It was
quite different than the
'fast' courses we have in New England. I got a strong feeling during the
Women's race that
this course forced riders to 'race the course' rather than just the other
riders...it looked
damn tough to me and required quite a bit of raw POWER. The Americans did
well but no
podium for us. Hopefully next year, USACycling will decide on their
selection proceedures
much earlier and give the women and the rest of the riders a chance to
properly prepare
for the World's. You really can't just fly over and race. You need to get
here a few weeks
early and race with the Europeans and acclimate to the surroundings,
courses, and the
style of their races. It is my opinion that making Nationals an all or
nothing selection
criteria hurts our results. It's just too close to the World Championships.

Enough of my rant, the picture I really want to paint is what it's like to
actually 'experience'
the World Championships. All the stories that you hear are true. There's a
BIG beer tent
with food, drink, Ompa Bands, Crazy Swiss guys wearing gigantic cow bells,
and cheering..
LOTS of Cheering from the 'Supporters'. Every freakin' cross legend Sven
Niijs, Bart Wellens,
Adri Vander Poel, Danielle Pontoni, etc have their own little faction or
'Supporters'. These
fans are decked out in nicely embroidered parkas with the name of their
hero. There
were quite a few Americans in Sint Michielgestel, but we rooted for
everyone. I guess next
year we'll have to have our own 'Tim Johnson Supporters' jackets so that we
can keep
up with the Jones's of Cyclocross.

Meanwhile back in the beer tent....

As we paraded through the Beer Tent with our small
Walmart American Flags sticking out of our Backpacks, we heard someone
yelling rather
rudely..HEY! ...YOU! .....AMERICAN BOYS! Somewhat mentally prepared for a
brawl...I swung around to see two very large MEN with their glasses in the
air (as if to
toast) and saying in the best English they could...Tim Johnson! Incredible!
Tim has become
quite a 'star' over there and is well liked by the Belgian fans. It is also
interesting to note
that the Europeans somewhat view America as the next growth place of
Cyclocross. There
were quite a few articles on the Super Cup series in the magazines and alot
of interest in
what's happening in the US. They are actually interested in 'learning' from
us! The US
is really starting to make it's mark in the World of 'Cross...it's too bad
that so few of us
see this whithin the US.

Richard Groenendaal! OLEEEE...OLE...OLE!...OLE!

The second day of racing started out really bad for me as I woke up with a
right foot that was
about 1.5 times the size of my left. I had been suffering with a sore foot
throughout our
first day at World's and all our little trips through the Red Light District
of Amsterdam..
(could have been that 'preening Blonde' we saw in the window that kept us
walking in circles).
I knew, however, that this was not going to be a good day besides all the
fantastic attempts
at keeping the swelling down by my roomies Meg and Mike who were able to
talk the local strip
club on the corner for some ice for their friend (thanks guys!). As a
result, I reluctantly decided
not to hold them up and Adam as I could see ruining my trip but not theirs.
I stayed home hoping
the swelling would go down just enough to give me the guts to go. Well, it
didn't go down...
but the 'Cross Gods Spoke to me and I realized I was not going to miss the
elite race even
if it meant a toe or two. Luckily, I made the very last train to Den Bosch
just in time to catch
the very last bus to Sint Michelgestel for the start. I arrived with the
sight of THOUSANDS
of fans (ten times the amount for the previous day). No longer could you
leisurely stroll the course
looking for different spots on the course to view the technique, now you had
to fight to find a
spot just to view them wizzing by. I found a few good spots to look and
cheer, but the best place to
be was near the beer tent in front of the 30 foot high screen which had
views from every part
of the course. There I happened upon my American counterparts by luck who
informed me of
Walker Ferguson's Silver Medal Performance. I was damn bummed to have missed
it but
happy to just be a part of the experience. The best part of the elite race
was watching
Mario De'Clerq SCREAM at Sven Niijs (his countryman) for not pulling through
to chase
Sven's 'trade-team' mate, Richard Groenendaal of the Netherlands. Obviously,
the Belgians
booed and roared loudly at this.

After the race, I hobbled back to the bus stop along with about ten thousand
fans all looking for that same bus. Watching that crowd trying to load onto
was like watching the Americans pulling out of Vietnam from the US Embassy
thousands of Vietnamese tried climbing aboard the choppers. I was not in the
mood to
push and shove onto a bus that was going God knows where. As a stroke of
luck or a
sign from the 'Cross Gods, we happended upon an overcrowded restaurant that
happened to have a place to sit! Through some excellent negotiating by Mike
we managed to seucre the spot for dinner and the hope of being able to have
while the crowds fought over buses and dwindled.

As luck would have it, the food was excellent and lengthy enough to clear
all but a few
fans, one of which was a Richard Groenendaal supporter with coconuts for
breasts, a
big orange inflated glove on one hand, and a glass of Heineken in the other
who managed
to direct traffic quite successfully with no problems from the local police.
A man looking
just like Richard Groenendaal but a little elder entered the restaurant
along with a lot
of hand shaking and hugging. We never confirmed it but were pretty sure it
was the man
who owned the Golf Course that the race was run on.... Richard's Uncle.

As we left the restaurant, we noticed a crowd gathering in the square,
Oompah bands and
Heineken Beer trucks pulling in. By the time we crossed the street, we
realized they were
handing out FREE BEER. After a few pints, we found out that Richard
Groenendaal was
going to emerge up on the steps to greet his townespeople. This is Richard's
Sure enough he did! Garbed in his World Championship Jersey and flanked by
his wife
and father, Richard greeted the now frenzied crowd of women, children,
supporters and
a few lucky Americans. We felt 'blessed' to be there.. for this was the Holy
Land of Cyclocross
and damn sure the Dutch Superbowl!

Danny Callen

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