Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Eddy's Volvo

We tried to drive this car away from the RdV museum, but it started a riot. Luckily we had enough Strawberries to give everybody.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

Flyin' home, sweet home

Flying is a blast. You can go from here to there in an instant. It is just what happens in between that makes it exciting.
So, be smart when you fly and call ahead to make sure your plane is on time, and double check just before ya leave to the airport.
Well, this is a tail of the Kit cat that shared breakfast with me in Mechelen at the Woolsack. It leaped at the door, like a Jack Russell trying to get itself inside. Then, Kit politely sat in the chair next to me, not asking for food, only to chat.
Meanwhile, United is called and the plane is an hour and a half delayed. So, I asked the operator, " that means I show up two hours before flight time, “yes sir”.
OK, a couple more laps around town, sniffing all the bakeries, …no, no you can’t have any of those.
Had to pack the bikes in the light of some old courthouse last night, beautiful job, and loaded the duffle to a perfect sausage. Ready to go. And off to the airport. Turn in the car and work the balancing act of big bags to the counter. The red wheel bag calling out, $$$$. Wheeled around the check-in to find United shut down. What!, flashbacks to Argentina. Circling again, found their other desk. “ Oh no Mr Kramer, its to late to check in, your plane was going to leave in 15 minutes.” ….?…. Yes, but it is two hours late, and I am here two hours before the rescheduled departure?? ....Oh, but, but… well lets see. OK, is that your bike and wheel bag,.. here is your boarding pass. How did the race go?, she asked. Good!, thank you. WOW! Did a couple of back flips to celebrate the event.
Still two hours to departure, ...oh and that layover at Dulles and missed flight, rebooked. Who picks me up at the airport now?
To the gate, to the gate, to the gate, to wait.
Boarding now, ...oh no they caught the wheel bag ,..but I am sure I saw them load it. "No, Mr Kramer we need to ask you some questions. …Uh oh. Who packed your bags?" Nobody but me would of wanted to pack the two bikes and all that other stuff, that weighs who knows how much. Oh I see, you here for the championships? …how did it go,…congratulations,… have a nice flight. Double WOW!
Didn’t know they served ice cream in ‘economy’, …nice meal. Time for a movie. Boy that was a bad one. Five more hours to kill, …lets watch another crummy movie.
Phew, made my connection. Sure is easier running through airports when you are fit. Bikes were a little to heavy to make it, soooo, they will just have to wait .
All the best, Henri

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday, its Race Day!!

Don't matter to these fellows, Mol was just another race, so what if they gave away a rainbow jersey. Well, to bad the champ in my bracket did not show today. This was way tougher a race! So many of the same faces that shared of themselves over the last five years were here.
Wilrijk ( say it three times correctly), has become a heck of race. It is hard. Steep little hills and lots of thick Belgium mud, wears ya down quickly. And that it did. Snaking up and down those hills through the trees and then plunging into the fields of mud, left little rest time.
Got away with Mertens right at the start, but countered him on the second lap and was able to pull away. Rode the last four out of six laps off the front building a good cushion and needed it. Things fell apart a bit with two laps to go and that got really scarey. The track became more slippery, and it was obvious my tire pressure was too high, slipping on every tight corner. The idea of going to the pit to grab a bike with brakes that were marginal at best was not an option. Coaching refocused the effort and cruised to victory.
By the end of the race my bike looked like a wheat gin at harvest time. All the kids were laughing. But the gals threw kisses, upon seeing the bouquet of roses, that signaled the winner.
The promoters over here have really stepped it up. I was interviewed after the race, lots of pictures, got to kiss a cute girl, wore a winners green jersey (you can't take it to America, they kept laughing), got a cool trophy, and a cash prize. I told them, if they had Giant Strawberries here, I'd move to Belgium.
It took hours to wash my two bikes myself, but there were hot showers, where they don't care if you make a mess with your mud. So now I'm goin' to pop the balloon and pack my bikes... I am not sure those wheels are worth the extra $120, so the ticket guy may get a big tip, sorry Andy ...and head back to lovely California to my beautiful wife and daugher. But, I swear, on all the unpatched tubes in my garage, that one day, I will return and race a full season ...for the love of cross and God, both are worth praying for!!

All the best and lots of thanks for the help and encouragement, Henri

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Belgium shares the love

Even the Belgiums got it on the air fast with a little love for all.

Ronald De Scheemaeker, nationaal kampioen masters C, trok de regenboogtrui aan in de categorie (1953-1957). Hij reed solo naar de zege. De Amerikan Henry Kramer werd tweede en de Brabantse veldritcoach Daniel Van Oosterwijck was goed voor brons.

Surely, they forgot to mention powered by Strawberies on a Specialized machine.

Can't retire yet

Well, I was dreaming about that SD job at Strawberry, but I guess it will have to wait. A Silver medal ain't all bad, see'in as they scored the winner and I with the same time. He got a front row call up, and I at the back without the 'hole shot',... Had to ride through some ugly traffic. Belgie managed to escape the sand first, while I fought my way off the beachhead in seventh spot and moving into second at the start of the next lap. Flying by guys, wonder what race they were doing. It is a very short race, 30', and with two laps to go, I figured, unless he had some real problems, it was goin' be tough to catch. I rode a great race, with few mistakes, but was foiled in the early stages from a poor spot and no clear opening. Even the officail's good luck wishes didn't part the seas. Boy, it is great racing here.

So, thanks CalGiant Strawberry and Specialized, but it looks like you'll have to keep me in shorts and bikes for a couple years till I get one of those jerseys. It was real cool to stand next to "Ron" when he pulled it on.

All the best. I'll try an give ya a more detailed report if you'all can stomach the details.

Thanks again!!! Henri

Thursday, January 18, 2007


The wind was notorious today. Even the Strawberries were blow off their stems

Things were blowing sideways, branches, trees, trucks. So after the drive from Brugge to Turnhout for a hotel. Hustling over to the Mol venue was like arriving at a ghost town...deserted. Figured, even on a rest day, needed to brave the weather and it was not all bad. As luck has it, ran into all sorts of boys from state side. Not much had changed on the par-course, the sand was everywhere and as fast as always.

All the best for some rest, Henri

Now here is a Christmas tree

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Belgium weather returns

It moved in with a vengence. Lady luck has had the weather great till now with blue skies. Today the wind began to howl and heard it is gonna be worse tomorrow, and the rain stated to come down in sheets. Fortunately went training this morning. Out of Brugge for two days. Found this great hotel right in downtown last year, the owner is a stand up. Trains playing poker with three other guys while on stationaries.
Rode to the beach to get some sand work and had miles of dunes to myself, with an obnoxious 30mph crosswind. Paced a scooter on the way out for about 15k and the guy would of paced me to Paris if I wanted. Then, as per ususal, I rode in circles, trying to find my way back. When I did, it was pounding the flat cross wind bikeway along the canal, the most direct routes for two whell in these parts, as the storm worsened.
Tomorrow, head over to Mol, to some new digs, will miss Phillip's place here in medievall Brugge.
All the Best, Henri

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Its rainy, it must be Belgium

The weather turned normal for here with some rain and only a few peaks at the sun. The TdV museum was pretty cool. I'll have to learn Dutch if I want to rea the picture book. Wandered the roads out of Oudenaarde, following the TdV route and climbing some more burgs, and that was enough.

On a more serious side, what are they doing to these trees?

Monday, January 15, 2007


Found it, hidden in the trees. It's steep, who said its short. Try riding down it. Will check out the TdV museum in the morning, and hunt down a couple more burgs ( not to hard now)
All the best, Henri

Sunday, January 14, 2007

3#rd times a charm?

1/14/2007 Today, turned out how I hoped and planned, with the win. There was no way I was sitting back and playing cookie with those two mugs. So, I set out to go the pace and be the front. At the whistle, with a weaving line, where there was lots of banging. The start was down a long paved straight into a sweeping narrowed 180 left turn, curbing (ramped), to the snaked grass section and one set of barriers. This is the same track, a few improved variables, was run the past 4 years. So, as the corner began, back about seven and knowing the front, I powered a smooth outside inside line and swept the corner clean to the front, and rode away from the group. At the first turn on the field there was ten seconds. That margin never narrowed.
The track was fast, with lots of straights. The traffic came quickly, but luck allowed for fast easy smooth passing. My gap grew every lap, all the way to the finish.
The course had several challenging pieces. A 30 meter mud section that I ran the first lap because of traffic, rode best center then to the right then left. A ditch, that had a riding line, always seemed jammed with slogging mudders, so running came naturally, albeit one of 8 laps. A tricky narrow trail along a stream, had a sharp left rise with a notorious root, but luck had it clear every pass to ride it clean. The one disappointment, and I feel badly for the others, is missing the podium call ( and picture). I am hoping my Belgium friends forgive quickly.
Today was a blessed day, thank you!
Well, in a couple of days, we’ll go look at the sands of Mol and ready for the main event.
Oh, the weather was unbelievable!! Blue skies, low 50s.
“Is this California”, I exclaimed.
All the best, Henri
/Users/henry/Pictures/iPhoto Library,iBook/Originals/2007/Belgie 07/DSCN1468.JPG

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Don't forgt to show up

13/1 Alarm clock - church bells rang for a half hour till I rolled out of bed. Figured... rise and shine, if I had any chance of making start time in Schriek. Needed to find the car before the police, and puzzle one bike together in public view in Mechelen town square. Oh, how's about that breakfast they spoke so highly. GET GO'IN SAILOR!!
Well, circled Schriek and remembered a few streets... feelin' kinda' local... pulled into a farm yard next to Gert, Sven, Wim and Francois. Choose to walk over and see if there was still time to race. Everything looked a bit snazzier than 4 years ago, and it was all that much better. Tried to notice who was warming up, when Howie and Ted pulled aside and said " suit up Kramer, we're racing in 30 minutes," OK!
Kitted and reg'ed in 15 and managed half a lap, figured I was not in to much trouble since the three groups were 30s, 40s and 50s...and everyone knows my age. I recognized a couple of faces, but this wasnew age grouping over here, so some of the slower ( I mean faster guys were out of luck). Fortunately, I ate a few fresh Strawberries for breakfast and built my Specialized carbon cross bikefor this one.
The start was easy, I pushed my way to the front while three of us rode away. The pace was not gut wrenching like Nor-Cal, but this is Belgium and it can play out way different on this flat windy track, not much deep mud today. I made a move to get to 2nd wheel, but the varmint did not want to give it and I quickly found out why. Von Oostervijk did not want to challenge Merten, but I wanted to follow for a few laps to settle in nad then attack. The traffic got horrendous and the gaps opened up quickly. This was my undoing as gaps took longer to close as we caught more and more riders from the earlier groups.
And so, the finish ended as it started, Mertens, VonO and Kramer. A podium shot, a trophy and a prize. Cross heaven!
This was a great send off for the up swing to Mol. Not all the key player were in this event, as many race on the other side of Belgy this weekend and else where. Tomorrow will be a more open track with more lanes and I plan on getting a full lap in for warm up!!
Left the camera in my bag a usual.
All the best, Henri

Friday, January 12, 2007

Tripper over

1/11/07 Well, the trip began as the usual HK adventure…. $125 for the bike!! Hey, can’t you stuff those extra wheels in the jumbo bag, says the very cool checkmen. Of course, HK gives it a go, and believe this, the guy appreciated the effort so much that he said, No charge. Yippee, now to repack the mess upon the floor. Hurry before they change their minds. Sorry, no upgrade Mr K. Ten hours to London, start counting.

Safe in London, making the long corridor walks to the connection. There is only one neat stack of bins for the next security being handed out one by one, quickly filled by the anxious one in line before you have even removed your shoes. Not to worry as the curt British politeness has managed the impediment.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ned shares the love

The folks in Durango even know how to spell HKs name, and I guess I am movin' to Watsonville soon. Thanks CalGiant!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

going the distance for NORCAL

last state side encounter

last CCCX endevour before going to face the serious men of cross in Belgie. there were some super efforts out there. good course, great ride, solid effort for a win. only part of the intent, as keeping on the gas was the mission with risking a result, but it came any who who. now the chores begin with packing and packing and, oh, packing the bikes, extra wheels what else. tools, tubes, cleats. thanks Anthony!! can't carry any Strawberries. HK

Thursday, January 4, 2007

the last of the season

for most the cross season has ended. it is in full swing in the motherland. a trip this time of year can be an uplifting experience, as fitness moves into a fine tuned slipscreen. a trip there will enhance the reality of mud slogging. stay tuned.