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January 20/04 10:04 am - Pre-'Cross Worlds Reports


Posted by Editor on 01/20/04
 

'Cross Worlds Reports

Canada has two participants in this year's Cyclo-Cross World Championships - Wendy Simms and Samantha Nicholson (they finished 1-2 at the Canadian Nationals). Samantha is already in Europe, and rode the World Cup race in Nommay, France last weekend, finishing 32nd. She has provided a report below. Following that report, Normon Thibault has sent in a story on Wendy Simms' preparations.

Samantha & the Euro Gloop, Chapter 1

Bonjour from Belgium . . .

I arrived safely in Brussels on Thursday (Jan 15) although there was a momment of panic when it took an extra 30 minutes for my bike to appear. However, everything travelled well, including me (!), and I was even able to squeeze in an hour's ride that same day (in the rain, darkness and cold . . . ). I've been staying with my friend, Jean-Pierre, and his kind family in a small village near Namur in south-east Belgium. The Belgian way is very nice - plenty of fresh breads, pastries and chocolates! No beer for now though.

Jean-Pierre and I traveled to Nommay; France on Saturday for the World Cup #5. There we met up with the British National Cyclocross team, several of whom I met last season in Frankfurt (World Cup #1). It was pouring rain and just a few degrees above zero - true eurocross!

Race day was somewhat less rainy, in fact it eventually stopped raining and the sun even came out. The course was goopy, slimy and quite torn up from the eariler races. In places, the mud was up to 20-cm deep! Ugh. And there was plenty of running - good if you're a runner . . . Double ugh.

I had a very difficult race. We were called to the start line based on our UCI ranking (which put me in the last row). There was a big crash right at the start which I was unfortunate enough to be behind. I quickly made up some time which I promptly lost again after I crashed on a very greasy paved hairpin corner. I smashed my rear derailleur, my elbow, hip, knee and chin.

My mechanic, Jean-Pierre, was ready with my spare bike (thank you to Martin - British Team Manager) and I was back in the race. The 2.7-km course was so muddy that we were changing bike twice per lap!

I didn't recover well from my crash (can I blame jet-lag?). I was having a rough time of it and the French spectators were cheering "courage" to me. I mustered all the courage I could but in the end it just wasn't my day. I finished a diappointing 32nd although I was somewhat pleased not to have been lapped.

So! Next I'm off to The Netherlands where I will spend several days in the office. I have a few days of good training & resting ahead of me and all my gear should be clean and dry for a double-header of racing in Belgium next weekend. Until then, I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new Reynold wheels which my photographer/mechanic/masseur/husband will bring over next week!

A huge thanks to all those who have helped me get this far: Reynolds for the new spangly wheels, Greg for glueing on my tires, the ABA office for their support, Shell and my boss Norm for the flexibility with respect to work, Mike T for the speedy work on my bike, the Lannoy family for their generous hospitailty, all my friends (especially Jessica, Jerome & Roger), my coach Dirk Friel of TrainingBible/Ultrafit.com and especially my husband Ewan.

Samantha Nicholson in Canadian colours by Ewan Nicholson

Canadian women take a different road to world c-x champs
by Normon Thibault

While the USA prepares to send an 18 person squad to the World Cyclocross Championships in Point Chateau France at the end of January their northern neighbors will have only two representatives going across the Atlantic. With no funding and only a little support from the Canadian Cycling Association the top two females at the Canadian Championships; Wendy Simms (Steed Cycles-Frontrunners) and Samantha Nicholson (The Bike Shop-Bianchi) are finding the preparations just as tough as the training.

When they heard about the Americans having to pay $4000 ("Canadian") towards their supported trip with set accommodations and a set schedule they both commented that they would rather pay that money and have everything worked out for them then to have to put so many hours in finding out details about Europe, travel, accommodations and events. "We are having a hard time even figuring out what races girls are allowed to do as not all races have a category for us it seems" Simms.

With Cyclocross a low to no priority sport in Canada the pair had to wait 5 weeks before even hearing back from their federation that they were able to race at the World Championships. The lack of funding and support were some of the reasons that discouraged all the Canadian men from traveling over to the worlds but Simms saw this as an amazing and her adopted community of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island has rallied around her to raise funds. One of Wendy's sponsors, Frontrunners, made their annual shop party a fund raiser and raised $2000. Her co-workers at Malaspina University College had a raffle and raised $1500 selling tickets at $5 a piece. With $3500 banked this has helped her confidence level as well as paid for a number of expenses and a bit of equipment.

Simms says that she has had some very positive support from a number of cycling companies. "I wanted to have a 2nd bike for the world Championships and was currently riding, and loving, a Surly Cross Check. I contacted Dave Gray from Surly bikes and told them that I was hoping to have another bike to have two bikes for worlds BUT explained I wanted to have it a little more flashy. "I did a street luge race in September and painted my luge Barbie pink. The girls on the course responded to the colour and instantly they wanted one....it helps to promote sports to girls to have cool looking gear". They got right behind the project and the custom painted Bubblegum Super Pink Surly "Cross CHICK" arrived and it looks ready to rip". Simms says she has also received positive support from Tufo North America and Envy from the North Shore of Vancouver. "I really am blown away by how much Nanaimo and everyone I have contacted have gotten behind me. I went to the movies the other day and the cashier said that she had seen the story on me in the paper and wished me good luck at worlds. These are people that have never heard of cyclocross in a non-biking town. It is awesome".

Samantha has been to one C-X World Cup race in 2002 but that is her only international racing experience. Living and working in Edmonton it has been tough to train in the -20 degrees Celsius weather that the area has been experiencing lately. "Every time I think of getting on that trainer I think of Wendy out there in BC training on the roads and it has been good motivation for me." Actually lately even Wendy has been stuck inside recently as Nanaimo has experienced a rare dump of snow with about 12 inches blanketing the town making training outside impossible.

With no funding Canada was not able to send a manager or a mechanic to France. This did not stop Samantha and Wendy. They just recruited. Wendy's boyfriend, Norm, will be the team manager. Wendy's neighbor, Cory, will be the mechanic and Samantha's husband, Ewan, will take photos and send updates to friends. A complete crew in place. The added bonus is that Norm and Cory are going to race the masters c-x world champs in Belgium the weekend before the Elite World Champs. As Cory puts it, "We are ready to get schooled by some Belgium guy that rolls up to the line with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. Those guys have grown up with the sport!".

Regardless of all the work on the bike and off the bike prior to getting to the start line that both these girls have done they have one common thought. While they do think about the thrill of competition and he chance to compete against the best; in France. After receiving their uniforms from the Canadian Cycling Association last week both Samantha and Wendy found an item that they did not think they would be able to get. Their common thought? At the World Cyclocross Championships in Point Chateau France both girls are most looking forward to putting on their long sleeve Canadian National Team long sleeve skin suits. "They just look so cool. I can't wait to muddy it up". Simms.

Good Luck Wendy and Samantha!!

Wendy would like to thank: Frontrunners, Helly Hansen Canada, Steed Cycles, Tufo North America, Surly, eNVy Sean at CCA, Houshang at Pacific Sport and Cycling B.C.

Samatha would like to thank: Alberta Cycling, Ewan Nicholson Photography, Bianchi-The Bike Shop and Reynolds Composites

Simms' Surly Cross Chick
Simms' Surly Cross Chick

 


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