Bart Wellens wins © Bart Hazen

Bart Wellens wins, again. © Bart Hazen

by Kat Statman

Folks, it really has been too long since we’ve talked about the wide world of professional ’cross racers. The Christmas week has come and gone, National Championships around the world have come and gone, and now we’re into the part of the season where the wheat is really separated from the chaffe, because if you don’t have anything left in the tank at this point, you are in trouble. So where is everyone and what are they up to? Tim Johnson and Kaitlin Antonneau have been attacked by airline monsters; Jeremy Powers, Ian Field and Sven Nys all get a new set of clothing; Dusty Labarr is training for a new type of push bike racing; and in some final good news, Bart Wellens heads home to continue his recovery.

Aaaaaah! Real Airline Monsters!
With US nationals out of the way and most Americans, except those in Louisville right now of course, shutting their seasons down and enjoying a few tasty beverages, there are those that have opted to hop a transatlantic flight for at least three more weekends of racing, notably Tim Johnson and Kaitlin Antonneau (not to say that Ryan Trebon, Jeremy Powers, Zach MacDonald and Chris Jones aren’t notable, they just seem to have had an easier trip thus far). We all know that traveling across the US is sort of a mess when it involves multiple bikes and wheels and all of the equipment necessary for ’cross, but how about when you go overseas? Imagine that mess times a million. Kaitlin Antonneau arrived without her bikes, something that is a bit tricky for the powerful, tiny racer to deal with. Then, when she finally got them back, well, it turns out Tim has no wheels for his disc equipped bike … little tricky to ride bikes without wheels there, huh? Here’s to hoping you guys get everything you need in time for Hoogerheide tomorrow.

New Chamois’ for Three
Hopefully you’ve all been following along with what’s going on at over the past few weeks, especially with National Championships weekend being a full-on onslaught of information and racing and just pure ’cross excitement around the world. Now that all that has subsided, we can think about what this really means. There are notably three racers in the field that get a brand new set of clothes, some of which we’ve seen, like Jeremy Powers noticeably red, white and blue kit (something I hear he hasn’t taken off since it arrived!) and Ian Field’s, well, white, red and blue set up (another person in the “not going to take it off” camp) and then of course Sven, the King, gets another new kit for the year. What will his look like? I haven’t seen it quite yet, but I can imagine it will be red, yellow and black like so many others hanging in his closet (my thinking is Sven isn’t in the “not going to take it off” camp, but you never know, someone may one day have to wrest it from his cold dead hands!)

Dusty Labarr Makes his Return
If you’ve been following Ryan Trebon’s career over the past few years, one of his trusty side kicks both on the mountain bike and in ’cross has been Dusty Labarr. Dusty has been Ryan’s mechanic for years and is now Ryan’s business partner. But what many of you don’t know is that back in the day Dusty was a pretty fast bike racer too. In fact, he and Georgia Gould used to drive around the country in a van just to race the national mountain bike series races. Turns out Georgia got sort of fast (though that’s something a little hard to believe after this fall, ahem #heckleme) and Dusty fell off the training wagon a bit. But, recent photo developments show that he’s getting back at it, but on a new form of push bike racing. It’s not really a bicycle, but more of a quadracycle and has a steering wheel and pedals. I think he has a bit more work to do before he starts winning anything, so I guess it’s OK that he can’t quite do a “heading to the start” wheelie or an “across the finish line” celebratory wheelie.

Good News Bears: Wellens Heads Home from Hospital
In some final good news for the week, per various news sources, it has come to my attention that Bart Wellens can go home to finish his recovery, just in time for his daughter’s birthday too. Glad to hear this Bart and we all hope for a speedy recovery.