By Matthew Hill
Wellens rides the sand well and you do not.
One of the questions we most often get asked by riders new to the great sport of cyclocross is, “How the heck do those Euro guys blast through the sand sections with such grace and style?”
Well, luck and The Force were with us, and we were recently able to get our hands on footage of archetypal Euro Cross star Bart Wellens, showing the US peons just how to get things done in the sand pit of a Seattle area race.
Here, then, is our step by step analysis….
- Pick good parents…
Bart is cross royalty – heck, he’s got his own reality show – and like all royalty, he was born to it. Just ask brother Geert; a pro in his own right, like the second son of a king of old, he has spent his entire career riding in the shadow of his regal brother.
- Not so much lineage?
There’s a pill for that. Our European correspondents tell us that Amgen products continue to be much in favor.
- Equipment is essential…
If you aren’t running the right gear, you will never conquer the sand. Big tires, small knobs, and on pure sand courses like the legendary Koksijde, file-tread tires are key.
- Hold on, you’re an American…
Take a tip from US pro Carl Decker and dispense with the cross bike completely. You can roll right over the sand – and the competition – with a good ‘ole American full-suspension Mountain Bike! (USA, USA, USA…)
- Roll a big gear…
Bart attacks the sand in a giant gear, stomping his authority on the sand as he drives his enemies before him. How do you develop soul-crushing power like this? Start out easy by riding everywhere and everything in your largest gear. The small ring is for little children and broken old men.
- Spin a small gear…
When Bart isn’t dominating a gear normal riders fear to contemplate, he mesmerizes us with his supplesse, spinning the pedals with incredible speed. You can improve your leg speed by trying this old-school training method: take the chain off your bike. With enough practice, the wind resistance from your humming-bird like legs will be enough to propel the bike forward.
Or so we’re told.
- Position on the bike…
Bart looks great on the bike. You probably don’t. Especially if you think you do. Remember, it’s better to look good than to be good, unless your name is Froome.
Practice this important skill by surrounding your indoor trainer with mirrors, or use a 360 degree array of video cameras to provide real-time feedback for your efforts.
- Brutal Reality Check…
You’ll probably never be Bart Wellens
Ed. note: once ate at Hooters next to Wellens, for reals and have never made it all the way through a sand pit.
Ed. note: After a good run of 42 issues, our magazine app is no longer available, but we’ve archived the content here on our blog.
Also published on Medium.