Sunday, February 05, 2006

Chance Noble's World's Report

Chance Noble sent us his report from the World Championships. Congratulations for a great season, Chance, we look forward to watching your bright future develop before our eyes.

After two weeks of rest from my first European racing trip, I was back in Belgium for round two and the Worlds Championships in the Netherlands. As I did in the camp, I stayed in Izegem for the races before Worlds. We had the option of competing in two races before Worlds. I chose to race once so I could have more time to recover from the plane flight and time change. The one race I did was a World Cup in Hoogerheide. The skies were clear and the temperature was a toasty 8 degrees Celsius. The course was fast with a few muddy sections followed by a relatively long road climb. I forgot my helmet even after my preparation was questioned the night before by Jesse Anthony. I managed to earn the nicknames, Sketchster and what I took as a sarcastic "Lance Noble." As usual, I was positioned at the back of the field on the starting line accompanied by Ethan Gilmour who was also last row of 57 starters. Bjorn Selander was given a more generous starting position and Alex Howes and Danny Summerhill did not choose to participate in the pre-Worlds races. I was the last rider into the dirt, but managed to jump from group to group thought the race. I finished 2:22 down and managed to pick up 38th place out of 57 starters. The course?s speed and road sections allowed for massive groups to form. In the U-23 and Elite race, a group of about 25 riders formed and stayed intact for the majority of the race.
I then had six days until my race in Zeddam. I put in a typical training week which was especially enjoyable because of the good weather. The team made the trip to Zeddam a few days before the Championships began to get familiar with the course. The venue has been known to have epic mud and also super fast conditions. Unlike some of the "permamud" venues in Belgium, it seemed like the course in Zeddam could have been radically different just by having the temperatures a little warmer. Just as I had hoped, it was extremely fast and technical. It was well below freezing every day so ice was a significant factor especially on the off camber decent. The decent could be taken at high speeds except for the steep switchback. The race organizers had saw-dust placed on select portions of the course which added some grip. Another key point of the course was a flight of forty stairs. The stairs were very wide and shallow which made them awkward for people with shorter legs. I was able to take them two at a time fairly easily which was an advantage especially in the later stages of the race. Zeddam is usually home to about two-thousand people but on this weekend there was between fifteen and twenty-thousand people in the small town. We stayed in a small, hotel which was conveniently five minutes by bike from the course.
The juniors and U-23?s raced on Saturday and the conditions stayed exactly the same. I warmed up as usual: a few laps on the course, "fired the bull" (Red Bull), some ritualistic, pre-race wheelies and I was ready to go. It was -8 degrees Celsius but it didn?t feel very cold because it was so dry. I had graduated from last row and obtained a seventh row start out of eight which helped me a lot especially because there was a crash within ten seconds of the start. I was third last into the dirt and gapped off the back of the pack. Only the two juniors that went down were behind me. I lost about a minute on the leaders on the first lap but managed to pass through some of the chaos. Thoughout the race, I saw a ridiculous amount of crashes. Most of which regarding a Japanese rider who I believe caused the crash at the start. I somehow kept it right side up the whole race. After the first lap, I was able to turn some decent lap times fairly consistently. It was strange to see how badly some people crack at Worlds. There was a Belgian slowly walking his bike with mechanical problems. He was still in a decent position and close to the pits. Come to think of it, he was the guy who backhanded me at Hooglede. I can?t say I felt terribly sorry for him. I also had some strange problems with my bike such as pulling straight out of my pedals and having my chain go under the third eye. This has never happened to me before during a race. Thankfully, when it did I had just passed the pit. I was able to illegally run backwards and change bikes without getting disqualified. This happened on the last lap and I lost about twenty seconds and six places. I still managed to finish twenty-ninth, 2:05 down. Bjorn had a insane race getting seventh and only 20 seconds off the win. Danny finished in the top twenty, Alex was a few spots behind me and Ethan was in there too. I was more than satisfied with my result and glad to end the season on a high note. The next day, as I was watching the exiting Elite race, I ate copious amounts of waffles, and discovered candy coated waffles and fried Oreos. These didn?t appeal to me at all along with French fries drowned in mayonnaise. Most of the team flew home from Amsterdam the day following the elite race. In the airport, I somehow found myself wearing mismatched socks, an orange flannel shirt and carrying ONE boot. Troy took the liberty of adding "Peanut" to my list of nicknames.
In Conclusion, my first season racing in Europe has been a great learning experience with results steadily improving. The Super Prestige, GVA?s and World Cups I did taught me how to work my way up through fields of 60. Without that preparation, I wouldn?t have been able to cope as well with the large field at Worlds. The European racing was a success for the team in general. As for the future, I hope to race the mountain-bike Worlds in New Zealand and return to Europe for portions of the coming cyclo-cross season with the aim of racing worlds as a first year U-23. Again, special thanks to everyone that contributed to my trip.
I'd like to personally thank Jerry Jayne and the folks at Amgen, Alan Coates, Dorothy Wong, Jesse Gascon of Shimano, Gary Hanson of Scary Fast Racing, Ed Whinchester, Beverly Lucas of Felt and of course, my family.


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