Worlds Blog #1 - Bend to Brussels to Hoogerheide - Mike Albright Photography

Bend to Brussels to Hoogerheide

Welcome!  This is the first blog post of the European UCI World Cup Cyclo-cross races in Hoogerheide, Netherlands and Zolder, Belgium.  These races take place in the birthplace of the sport, so it is very exciting to be immersed in the culture and history of this great sport.

I'd like to , first of all, thank the people and companies that partnered with me for this run of events.  Their logos are displayed above, so if you have a minute, please clink on the links and check out what they have going on.  
This first blog focusses on the trip over (I spared most of the travel photos for you) and the course preview/practice day at the Hoogerheide venue, which was the site of the 2014 Cyclo-cross World Championships in 2014.

I will be posting more reports along the way, so please come back to check them out...and please feel free to share on social media.

Here is a raw, unedited course preview from practice.

World Cup cyclocross race course inspection in Hoogerheide, Netherlands

I wasn't planning on shooting the obligatory 'out-the-plane-window-shot, but when I opened the window shade when arriving into Munich, Germany for my Trans-Atlantic flight and saw this scenery, I couldn't help myself.  

World Cup cyclocross race course inspection in Hoogerheide, Netherlands

And the PS4 stations set up in the Brussels, Belgium airport looked like fun.

World Cup cyclocross race course inspection in Hoogerheide, Netherlands

A classic scene in Belgium.  Bikes and more bikes.

World Cup cyclocross race course infection in Hoogerheide, Netherlands

The first roundabout off the freeway near the Hoogerheide venue has these metal sculptures of 'cross racers, a testament of the deep roots that cyclocross has here.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

If you've watched past videos of the Hoogerheide, you may have noticed a super-fast righthand turn where riders end up hugging the fence coming out of it.  This is that turn, and a few shots showcasing some different styles today in practice.   
The area has received enough rainfall to make the course fun, slick and a little rutted in places.   Forecast for tomorrow is for a drying out period, which could solidify the ruts and make the course a little faster.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

This is what electronics geeks take photos of after flying  9000 miles around the world...power cords.  The best part of this shot was watching spectators try to figure out exactly what I was shooting.  Yeah, not much.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

These 44 concrete steps are a new feature here at Hoogerheide and they could prove to be a deciding factor in the event.  Not many riders were running up the steps today, more like a meandering walk.  Caroline Mani, (not photoed here)  however was running up these at race speed.  "Perfect Practice Makes Perfect"

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

These stairs are worth a couple more shots.  This one shows the height...

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

...and this one from the side gives a nice perspective.  This hill is all fresh dirt, so no spectators or media will be allowed on it this year.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

Jeremy Powers showing Scott Smith and Ellen Noble around the course.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

France's Caroline Mani clears her back wheel at one of the nastier corners, at least today.  There are a couple of inside ruts and an outside line.  It looked like the outside line was faster today.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

It was pretty greasy here.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

Coroline is always willing to help others out.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

Here are the ruts, which will most likely change for the race tomorrow...but we'll see.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

Here is your classic Dutch bike rider:  Riding through mud with a city bike, high heels and a Michael Kors Bag in hand.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

A few of the vending rigs around the venue today.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

Practice is pretty low-key, with riders traveling around the course as a team.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

Hopping a fence to re-ride a section is normal.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

Watching and learning from others can be critcal, too.

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

Matthew Lasala: Fellow photographer, travel partner and frequent driver down cobbled walkways (they might have been roads, it's hard to tell over over here!) getting shots of Jeremy Durrin and Jeremy Powers

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

This cemetery sits a few feet from the finish line at Hoogerheide, a solemn reminder to cherish every day.  

2016 World Cup Cyclocross - Hoogerheide

American rider, Scott Smith is stoked to be riding on the World Cup circuit.

World Cup cyclocross race course inspection in Hoogerheide, Netherlands

After a day of shooting and not eating, it's great to find a place nearby to sample the local cuisine...what is that??

World Cup cyclocross race course inspection in Hoogerheide, Netherlands

The origin of Fresh fries (or Frites, as they are called here) can be traced to Belgium around 1700.  They are not a side dish here, they are front and center!

Well, that's it for today.  Check back tomorrow for a race report from Hoogerheide with more posts coming, thanks for looking...and please share

Mike


Look for a course preview video coming soon, too!

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