KÜHL cyclist Jesse Rients recaps his experience and top 10 finish at the 2016 Cyclocross Master’s World Championships.
My plan for racing the Cyclocross Master’s World Championships came together last fall after the Chainstay in Belgium put together a package for lodging and support for the race. It was pretty much full service with airport pick-up, meals, lodging and race support with an RV and mechanic.
I flew in on November 25th with my double bike box. It was tough choosing limited equipment. I normally travel with three sets of wheels for each bike, but I only had mud wheels for one bike and file tread, which is best for the sandy Worlds course, on the second bike.
I stayed in Oudenaarde, home to some of the cobbled climbs from the Tour of Flanders. Gregg, our host, took me on an 90-minute loop after building bikes, and we rode the Koppenberg and the Paterberg. It was amazing to be on these roads!
The next day we headed to a local Belgian race to get our legs ready for Worlds the following weekend. I was called up at the back, but I made it to the top 5 and chased down the leaders before I had to take a pit and move onto the bike with file treads. It was a muddy race so I ended up slip sliding to 11th. Legs were good, and that was more important than the result.
Three other racers arrived over the next two days. I had a friend from MN that had been in town for a month so we did our training together during the week. We also visited Bruges, Ghent, and the cafe at St. Sixtus Abbey to pick up Westvleteren 12, the #1 beer in the world.
The Worlds course was 90 minutes in away in Mol. We arrived on Thursday for number pick-up and pre-riding. The course was crazy hard, with a lot of sand; some was rideable, but when red lined in a race, we knew we’d be running.
I raced on Saturday, December 3rd, and with my random call up, I was on the third row. There were more than 80 riders in my race, including some retired professionals.
I held my spot at the start and slowly worked my way into the top 10. I was in 7th and 8th for a bit, but the race ended up taking 52 minutes instead of the 40 minutes we all predicted. I faded a bit from all the running and finished 10th. I’m pretty happy with my result and excited to come back for another try.
The next day I raced another local Belgian race with several of the same racers and ended up taking 7th to end my 2016 season. Next up: UCI race spectating with beers and frites and then home to jump on my skis and fat bike.