Friday, April 17, 2009

for the very first time...

I'm not sure where to begin.  The past week has been one for the books.  No, I didn't win the lottery, didn't notch any bike race wins, didn't even meet any crazy movie stars.  I did however get to sink my teeth into a race I've been admiring and looking to since I knew bike racing existed, that being Paris-Roubaix.  

It was big for our team to get an invite to such a prestigious race, and it was then equally exciting when I got the word that I was on the teams roster for the race.  As always, I don't think you can fully appreciate a race or happening without experiencing it first hand and looking back at the past week, I can't say how much that applied to my experience at P-R.  

Yea, its a long race at 260km.  yea, its a brutal one with 60km of gnarly cobblestons (let me add that these are not normal cobble stones, but especially jaw rattling, crash causing, tire blowing cobbles which in my experience are found nowhere else in the world).  PR also has a world class field, but I can't put into words out all of these pieces fit together to create an incredible race.  Such high stress, energy and tension within the pack.  Even greater energy lining the sides of the roads.  thousands of fans, unlike anything I've seen before, and crashes crashes crashes everywhere.  I was caught up in 3 of them, but only had some lost time and a bent chainring to show.  Normally, 3 crashes in one race would be terrible luck, but I learned that Roubaix is not a normal race in this respect.  we had 2 teamates sacrafice their bikes, another a wheel, another double flat, another injure his hand and another finish the race with a concussion after an eager fan stuck a flag poll through his front wheel!  so all things considered, my ride went fairly well and next time I get a shot at doing the race I'll start that much further up on the learning curve.  

its a shame the early kms of the race don't receive more coverage as they were by no means uneventful.  Of course the part of the race with the biggest amplitude of insanity and chaos was the forest of arenberg, closely followed by the Carrefour de l'Abre.  Rolling into the velodrome was also a big moment.  It was a great feeling to have made it through the previous 260km of chaos and be arriving on the drome.  My first time ever riding on one!! 

ok, enough talking.  some pics...

carving up the cobbles.  no, they aren't always a single file affair.  

hurt so good.  check out the sweet dirt line on the arms!
just a preview of the crazy fans.  We open the door to the van and our soigneur greame is mobbed by "trading card" grabbers.
a huge equipment and logistical effort by the staff to get us going for one big day of racing.  
a riders eye-view from the podium at the team presentation.  yes, i busted out my camera while I was up there.  
A calm Arenberg a few days before the race.  
That's all I have for now.  Currently, I'm hanging in Nivelles, Belgium.  A week and change until we head to Switzerland for Tour of Romandie.  Trying to kick a bit of plague out of the lungs right now, but a couple days of downtime were in order anyway.  

see ya

Thursday, April 09, 2009

They make roads out of what???

We rode the first 10 pave sectors today. Pave is an interesting word
for them. I'd prefer to call them "body thrashers".

I was surprised to see how "unflat" the route in general was. Lots of
gentle rollers, up and town. The cobble sections that have a rise to
them are gonna be leg breakers. Imagining the race w 260 km of that,
its easy to see why "sturdy" fellas usually excel here.

We got our bikes geared out with a few PR trick parts. Different
forks, chainrings, pedals, and of course wheels. Thinking about
sliding some padding in my bars too.

Gotta love hanging in french hotel rooms. All of my stuff is literally
never more than an arms reach away.

Gotta rest the wrists.

send me the power, please

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I like to think I look forward, while also being mindful to the
past.... 2 years ago today was my belgian lightpole encounter. Amazing
to think all I've learned and worked through since then. I'm really
fortunate and blessed to be where I'm at today. Speaking of which.....

Arrived in belgium today and made the drive over to northern France in
preperation for the big dance with the old ugly lady who is
"Paris-Roubaix" this sunday. Really exciting to think I'm gonna be
part of such a historical and massive race. Its a big step for BMC to
get invited, and an honour for me to be representing the team here. I
have no doubt that it will be a brutally twisted day, but I don't
think you would find many cyclists out there who would decline the
chance to have a go at it. Gonna check out a few of the cobble sectors
the next few days and will hopefully have a few reports.

Pre- PR trip, all has been well. We had a great weekend in Redlands a
couple weeks ago with Louder bagging the overall, the team really
rising to the occasion to defend and also bagging 2 stage wins along
the way. A big personal highlight being part of it. Looking forward to
more of those.

France equals lame internet, so phone update means no picks. Check out for a few great galleries from redlands.

For those social networking junkies out there, I caved in and caught
the "twitter" bug. Easy way to toss out some quick updates while on
the road, so follow me at

More from the "hell of the north" this week.
Wham bam

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hi, my name is Brent

And I made it through my last block of racing with no blog updates.
Blitzed through my first belgian races of the year. Spent a whopping
10 days across the pond the first week in March and have since been
recovering, training and hangin at home. Spring has arrived and the
weather has been downright dreamy for my past couple easy days.
Downside is that everything is blooming and flowering. Especially the
mucous factory in my head. Allergy mania!

Out to Cali today for San Dimas and Redlands. Then back to chatt for a
week before heading back to europe. Looks like I will get my first go
at the big nasty which is paris-roubaix. Oi! Exciting that BMC got
the invite to such a prestigous race. One of those races I remember
watching as a kiddo in my mountain bike days. Gonna be wild and

BMC boys got a good roll going last weekend with Chad Beyer winning
the Tour of Murrieta. Looking forward to keeping that flow going the
next two weekends. Gonna be fun to hit dan dimas since its been a
while since I've done that one.

For now, its back to the airport slog. Wholesome fun for thw whole family!

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

hey bucko...

A few pics from my recent adventure....

oh weird, wind.
how excited can you get to drive into the middle of the desert to start a bike race?  chad will tell you...
build an entire city at one time.  Brilliant!
motorized bike rack
window washers looking for work should maybe call this place
qatar forest!
Markus shopping for a new pet
crowd control at the start was always in issue...
grip it and rip it

Monday, February 09, 2009

AND wizards....

Seeulaterbye Qatar. Strange place, strange race. We all made it thru
and from the sounds of it, took a step forward in improving on the
teams performance there last year. No "break on thru to the other
side" type stuff but little steps forward start to add up. It was
great working with the new guys on the team and after 6 days of racing
we were more unified than when we showed up.

I'm wondering how long its going to take my body to adjust back to
normal time. Currently, I'm about 24 hrs into the trip home and still
have another 20 or so to go. Looking forward to a little decompress
and then hopefully some good riding/training. The mountain bike sounds
fun right now. No team racing until march 1 or so, back to belgium.
I'm thinking I need to invest in a scooter/driver combo for motor
pacing. This past week was a cruel reminder to just how "fast" racing
is and I really don't know if its possible to prepare or simulate that
without a race, a robot or a maybe a quickstep clone to ride with. Any
other ideas? Maybe all 3?

Thanks for the comments. I wasn't able to smuggle any camels out of
qatar, so sorry to those of you who requested one. Maybe next year.

Pics to follow at some point.

Why don't airports have more accesible power outlets?

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Why can't we be friends...

Another stressful, tense day in sand land. Team worked well together
and all stayed out of trouble which is more than can be said for a
handful of the guys. 2 more days. Good news is that I think we've
ridden every road in the country, so we know what were getting. The
bad news is that we know what we are getting and that is a nice set of
junk roads in insane wind which all looks EXACTLY the same. Whooop.

Thanks for the comments....

Food has been decent. The accomodations are actually the main redeemer
of the trip. Pretty normal stuff with a few "regional" options. Buffet
style. Trying to save as many pasta matches as possible for the rest
of the season.

Pics to come. Internet here is like 30 bones/day so the dingleberry is
my main source of sanity preservation.

And yes. PMA.

Ma' al Salama

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Saving the trees?

We drove over an hour to the race start today. Literally in the middle
of nowhere. They put rugs on the desert floor and tents up. There was
also a small toilet building. Inside there was a toilet, and a hose
with a sprayer, like the one on your kitchen sink. No toilet paper.
You use the hose instead. Yea, really. Remember that movie demolition
man, which takes place in the future? They didn't use tp either, but
shells instead. In qatar, THE FUTURE IS NOW. Wrap ur head around that.

The award for brilliance today goes to the race commasaires, and team
car drivers who repetedly drive around the pack of riders by going off
the road, into the rubble, flinging chunks of rock and sand at the
riders. Add a nice 20 mph cross wind to that and u have a tasty and
dangerous rock/sand cocktail flying through the pack.

Today was fast. We had to have averaged around 50km/ hour. The sickest
part about that is that there were some cross wind sections which were
so strong it was hard to keep ur bike on the road. Not just a few kms
at a time but nice 10-20km at a time. Ugh those were rough.

I am realizing more and more that to be a good cyclist, you have to
reject and deny any thoughts of logic which enter your mind. If you
think its a no brainer to do a particular thing in a race, you should
probably do the opposite because that is what everyone else will do.

Markus was a stud again today, made the front group. its impossible to
use words in describing what a feat that in itself is. He then
finished a solid 8th.

The rest of us survived. 3 more days.

Please send any extra mutant strength lying around to:

Brent bookwalter
Endless Desert patch 352
Rock and rubble road

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Crusty brown crouton town

that is from taylor, but I like it. A good way to describe this place.
I can't understand why people live here. Or why there is a bike race
here. I overheard at least 10 guys today talking about how ridiculous
it is. Stressful, dangerous. So much energy, such high winds,
dangerous roads at times. Rough way to start the year.

We all survived today. The neutral was bezerk, 50km/hr, over
threshold and guys taking risks. Chad jumped into the early move
which was surprisingly given a leash thanks to an early headwind.
Eventually we turned into crosswind and it blew to pieces.
Lots of nice scenery, meaning rubble, rocks, sand and desert. Guys
getting blown and pushed off the road. Real nice. Zberg made the 2nd
group. I think 14 guys went to the line to fight for the win. I got
gapped off the group I was in and slid back to tony, taylor and
jacksons group where everyone continued to fight eachother until
finally realizing it was futile, rolling to the line a ways after the
leaders. Like I said, we all made it thru safely.

More of the same tomorrow.....

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

This one time.....

Qatar stage 1, ttt.

Felt like we rode fast. But not exactly smooth. And relative to the
other teams here, not very fast. A lot to be learned. Little to be
dwelled upon. The first big dig of they year always feels extra spicy
and today was a perfect example of that. Deep into the windy desert
tomorrow and it is sure to be nothing less than alienville with cross
winds and plenty of fighting.

(Insert inspirational song. Here)

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Qatar facts, from jamie

Qatar has no income tax, and along with bahrain is the least-taxed
country in the world. also the has the highest per-capita, not part
of the arab emerates. also trying to get the 2016 olympics there.

Also, it takes 3 full travel days to get there from the USA when u
stop in swissland for a night. Kinda like getting leg massages for 3
days in a row, except the opposite.


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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bb on bikemonkey

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...Like butter plays toast

Already time for the first race of the year. A solid off season and
'09 training camp in the books. A few new heavy hitters on the team as
well as a great core group from last year. I'm really excited and
happy to be back with b to the mc for this year.

Right now I'm in transit to zurich switzerland where ill be meeting up
with the rest of the crew before we head to Qatar in another day.
Sand, wind, linebacker cyclists, camels, first race of the year, aso,
all make this one an exciting way to start. Keep on reading to all u
die-hards out there and ill work on the updates.

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Friday, January 16, 2009