The 2011 Masters World Championships are quickly approaching, with the racers lining up this Saturday in Mol, Belgium. Current 40-44 national champion Pete Webber is in Mol with a strong crew of US riders getting ready for the big event, but took the time to send us back this course preview and vids.
by Pete Webber
The Masters World Championships will be held this Saturday in Mol, Belgium. A sizable contingent of North Americans has made the trip this year and is out to prove that the level of Master’s racing in the US and Canada has reached a new height. A crew from Boulder, Colorado is in Belgium for two weeks. The 6-person group includes current 40-44 National Champ Pete Webber (Boulder Cycle Sport), former 35-39 National Champ Brandon Dwight (Boulder Cycle Sport), and other consistently fast guys like Ward Baker (Justin’s), Brian Hludzinski (Boulder Cycle Sport), Michael Robson (Moots), and from Maine, Kurt Perham (Bikeman.com). Webber has taken several Masters wins in the past few weeks in Belgium and Holland. Last weekend, the Boulder guys took 5 of the top 10 in the 40+ race at a tune-up event in Bakel, Holland. Webber has been blogging about their adventures at mudandcowbells.com.
We don’t have an exact list of what other Americans will be in Mol, but others making the trip include 45-49 National Champ Don Myrah, former 50-54 National Champ Kevin Hines (Corner Cycle), former 45-49 National Champ Jonny Bold, and current 50+ World Champ Marilyn Ruseckas (Seven Cycles). Hines won a 50+ race last weekend in Langemark, Belgium.
On Wednesday, the Boulder crew went to Mol to pre-ride the track for Worlds.
The course is pretty awesome. It is mostly flat, with a good mixture of high speed and slower sections. There are a zillion turns, mostly fast and with a good groove. There are a few tight 180s with a deep rut defining the best line. You’ve got to be balanced on the bike and hit the rut while leaning and turning. The main challenge is sand. There are two major sand pits: one is a long, beach section while the other is in the forest. Both are ridable if you hit the ruts right, but if you screw up you can lose significant time. They are pretty fast when you have a clean line, but traffic will up the difficulty. The beach section is directly following the start/finish, and it will be chaos on the first lap. Since call ups are in a random order, luck will play a big role. It will be essential to get through the beach cleanly on the first lap.
Most of the course is under a canopy of pine trees, and the pine needles are combined with a dark, sandy loamy soil. In some places it is hard-pack, in other places it is loose and rutted. Water drains quickly, so mud will not be an issue. There is one set of six log stairs, and one set of double planks. No running otherwise. Overall, the technical challenge is moderate. The physical challenge is definitely high. The soft ground requires power, the many turns require sprinting, and the sand pits keep your heart rate pinned. The rider with good legs, high-end speed, solid technical skills, and no mistakes will win.