Home Sweet Home

Whew…it is nice to be home, so nice in fact that more than a week has gone by since my last update so here’s what has been going on since I arrived home:

Jet Lag Recovering – I spent the week overcoming the subtle effects of jet lag. 

Dog walking – Liesje and I have been walking our 2 dogs pretty much every day, which is lots of fun and really enjoyable and relaxing.

Bike Racing – I did the Devon cross country race on Sunday.  It was a really good day for the race however conditions were not perfect for me.  I started really well (not too hard, not too soft) and was confortably riding in a group of 3 sitting in 3rd, 4th, 5th position for the first 2 laps.  I was thinking “wow, I feel really good – all that racing in Europe made me faster”.  Great – this is going to be a good race…..but unfortunately, my tires were loosing air and became too soft to ride the downhills with any speed (you know when your tires are too low when you feel them “roll” around the corners).  Okay, no problem, I’ll just use my CO2 to put some pressure in them and chase back to that group I was riding in.  Nope – not my luck today…my CO2 trigger was broken.  The little needle inside the head that punctures the canister was broken so I could not get any air.  Crap – DNF.  Live and learn…

Birthday Celebrating – Liesje’s birthday was on May 28 so we had a couple of get togethers to celebrate.  First with some friends on Friday at Da Capo, second with Liejse’s parents for a nice home cooked dinner, and Monday a nice evening dinning out, just the two of us.

Giro d’Italia Watching – I ordered RAI for $2.50 for the month so I can watch the Giro everyday and learn Italian.  The Italian broadcasters sure make it sound like something really exciting is happening – all the time!

So, that’s about it. 

Ciao (that’s all the Italian I know so far),



Here I am hanging out in London Heathrow waiting for my flight home to Edmonton so what better use of time then to write my race report.

Well, the Apeldoorn course was pretty flat as expected with about 10 (estimate) short 10 second power climbs throughout the lap.  The start field was a little thinner – 110 guys this time and I was called up (they actually called my name – that’s the only way I would know as I don’t know what #158 sounds like in Dutch) in probably 90th position.  The start was crazy as usual however I’m getting pretty good at making my way up through the gaps and up into the field.  I probably moved up 30 spots off the start.  Even when everyone was off and running their bikes I used my balance skills to stay riding and then as the guys in front of me went to remount I would pass them.  This little Dolphin rider was awful.  I must have passed him 3 times in the start ’cause he could not ride his bike.  Once he crashed as he had to break really hard to avoid a guy who was stopped in front.

There were many soft sandy corners on the course and if you dared to break in any of them you would surely loose your line.  I got sketchy a few times – I need to work on my cornering skills.

So the first half of the race was going pretty well for me until I felt that I could not pedal hard anymore because my back screamed at me with every hard pedal stroke.  I felt like the legs could go harder but the back could not.  The course was suprisingly bumpy and I think a fully would be a good choice on this course.  Contrasting my fully view, Sven Nys, the winner of the race, was on a fully rigid bike – no shocks at all!  At the end of the race as we were waiting for Tim’s prize money (he finished 11th!  good job Tim) we were chatting w/ Thys Al and Sven a little and Sven said his back was sore during the race today.  Of course – you didn’t have any suspension!  Crazy Euros I guess…I imagine it feels a lot faster…

So the final race of my European experience was a bit of a mediocre result (82nd out of 110ish starters), which is a bit of a disappointment but I can still say I enjoyed the racing.

I am now happy to be going home and I look forward to racing my MTB in Alberta again.

I’m wide awake and it’s 4:30 AM?



Packing Up

Today was my last full day in Brunssum as I am heading to Apeldoorn for the final race of my European trip.  Tim and I did a nice ride in the sunshine, yes sunshine, then traveled by car to a nearby town for the finish of the 2nd to last stage of the Olympia’s Tour.  It is pretty much the largest stage race for the Netherlands for amature racers.  It was pretty cool to see.

 My camera went missing for a few days as I had left it in Dennis’ car.  Little 4 yr old Anne, Tim’s niece, figured out how to use it and started to practice her photography skills.  I had to laugh foresure!

It was really nice that the Heemskerk’s invited me into their lovely home especially with less than ideal circumstances.  I am happy I got to meet Tim’s brother Dennis and the Children Thijs and Anne.

Tot Ziens,



The last couple of days have pretty much been the same – rain in the morning as we sit around the house waiting for it to let up enought to go training on the bike and then hoping it doesn’t start pouring again while we are out riding.

Yesterday I went w/ Eric the Mechanic for a nice long ride into Belgium.  Unfortunately due to all the rain earlier in the day there was a lot of crap on the roads so I flatted…3 times!  Good think there was a bike shop 2 kms away from my second flat because it would have been a long walk home.

 Right now I’m pretty tired from training today.  I “motopaced” behind Tim on my MTB as he did some thresholds and some other secret intervals.  Later in the evening we snuck out for a nice MTB ride in the forest and my legs were definitely feeling the effects from the afternoon.  I can barely type I’m so tired.

So, that is pretty much it.  Nothing too exciting to report.  From what I hear Quebec and Holland are dualing it out for who can rain the most.

Time to Recover,


 MTBing in the Forest:

Tim Racing on the Track on Tuesday:

The church I have ridden by many times this trip while doing intervals:

Temporary Relief from Lung Butter

So Tim and I got up from our sicky slumber and drove 2 hrs into Belgium – Ronse to be exact.   Luckily we stopped to fill up Dennis’ Volvo and I could purchase a value sized pack of tissue as I was blowing my nose for the full 2 hrs of the drive.

The course itself was on the side of a hill -similar to a small Alberta foothill you could say.  The loop featured a long climb starting way at the bottom near the town and sectioned its way up through the feedzone.  It is hard to estimate how long the climb was as it was divided into a small singletrack section, then a pavement section, then a technical steep switchback, then some more pavement, then dirt road thru the feedzone, then some more wide singletrack.  Later into the lap also included a steep slippery climb lined w/ crazy Belgium MTB fans.  Looking back at my Garmin data I climbed 1317m for the whole race.  (8 laps total).  The rest of the course was filled in with slippery mud that was just getting tacky enought that you could ride it but still wet enought that one wrong move and you’d have to step off – or take a header.

As we warmed up I noticed this little kid dressed in a full on mini Belgium champion kit – 1/8th the size.  I said “look at that!”  and Tim told me yeah that’s Sven Nys’ kid.  Cool – Sven is racing today too.

So to torture us just a little more, the start of 129 riders was up a steep and long pavement climb that lead into the first wide decent of the course.  This was going to hurt.

Since I have not been using the Secret and have been sick for the majority of the week I was unsure as to what to expect for this race…so I didn’t have any stress about the start climb.  I just thought to myself to take it easy and go a hard but not blow yourself up pace as that is all I can do.  So that’s what I did and to my suprise, I started moving up from my start position of lets say 125.  So far so good.

Up the first climb I contiuned to move past guys however during that first lap I bobbled a little in a slick muddy section of the course and lost like ten spots right there but after that point I continued to move up.  After the first lap no one other than the leaders came back to me.  I was even dropping guys on the climb!

There was this couple watching the race on the long climb and during the first lap they read my name sticker on my top tube and started cheering really excitedly as only Belgiums could.  And after that first lap, everytime I came around they were cheering “GO MIKE” really loud with a nice Belgian accent.  It was pretty cool.  You’ve heard of Sven Nys Supporters (yes there were many at the race w/ their jackets on) well, these two were Mike Sarnecki Supporters!

One cool moment of the race was when I got passed by Filip, Nys, and Rudy Van Houts.  I was 1/2 way up the steep muddy climb when they got to the bottom.  You could feel the fans excitement as the leaders approached – I looked up the climb and there was no trail – just people.  It was a cool experience forsure…they barely moved out of my way as they were anticipating for their favourites to climb by.

So as I continued to pick up and pass guys throughout the race I ended up finishing 88th out of 109 finishers and 20 dnf’rs.  One reccuring thought I had while racing was that everytime I started to coast I thought of all the insults Roddi would dish my way if he saw me coasting so I started to pedal hard again. 

The classification position is not what is important to me but rather I am very happy with the result because I felt really good during the race and actually had FUN while racing eventhough I was suffering a lot.   Plus it was nice to not feel the symptoms of my cold/allergies while riding.

Monday brings another day in Europe and I’m going to make sure to step back and enjoy all Europe has to offer.

 Lung Butter (Tim-ism) is not lubricating,


The Start:


The Start Climb:

Up the technical section of the long climb:


Another Tissue?

I got caught riding in the rain – again.  Torrential downpour would be a better description.  At least the rain does not chill you to the bone as a rainstorm at home in Edmonton.

I’m fighting of a wicked runny nose and I’m feeling a bit under the weather.  My only relief from my nose is when I’m on the bike!  Hopefully this nose stuff will go away soon so I can enjoy my trip to the fullest.

Tomorrow’s race is sure to be of epic proportions as the course is apparently really MUDDY.  So muddy you need to make like a Kenyan running star and run up and down the hills.  What better way to spend a Sunday in Belgium than pushing my bike through thick peanut butter mud.  We’ll see how it goes.

On Friday Tim took me to Maastricht.  It is a very cool city that’s foresure as there is a lot of character in the streets and architecture.  Tim and I found this really nice Italian style cafe where we enjoyed a pretty good cappo.  Click on my flickr link down on the right to see some more photos.

Okay, off to try to sleep as my nose runs like Niagra,


Can Someone Pass Me My Rain Jacket

Well it rained again today, all day long.  We hoped we could get out for our ride in the forest with out the rain but it was not to be.  So now after a super fun 2 hr ride in the Forest around Limburg with Tim and Peter aka Puma I now have about 2 hrs of cleaning and fixing a dirty drive train.  Ya, I’ve left that to do tomorrow…

Tim’s coffee grinder he ordered on Thursday finally arrived today so we can now enjoy a Da Capo espresso from half way around the world.

This evening I went to Sittard with Tim as he had a massage scheduled w/ his Physiotherapist friend Ben.  We walked around the old part of town which was pretty cool.  I now see how Brunssum is considered to be more of a modern city.  Tim saw his first “Subway” restaurant today too.

Pop is expensive in Europe.  In the restaurant today, it cost me 1.80 Euros for 200ml of Coca Cola Light…no free refills here.

Nothing special planned tomorrow.  Just some training and maybe catching a flick in the evening – Blades of Glory is opening up tomorrow.

Thank goodness for gas stations stocking Nutella ’cause we are completely out,


Rainy Rain

Some how I managed to complete 4 hrs of training without getting wet, eventhough there was a huge down pour here in Brunssum today.  In the morning I ventured off on my own and used my GPS cycling computer to navigate my way home.  I made it back so it was a good day.

In the afternoon I took a drive with Tim’s parents in the nice Audi and I received a tour of the country side where the Amstel Gold race takes place.  Wow, the Keutenberg is so steep!

This evening I borrowed Fred’s road bike and joined Tim at the track for a little velodrome racing.  I initiated a bridge to the lead group a few laps in and Tim jumped up to me as did 2 other guys, and I lasted a few more laps of fast chasing until I had to turn it down as I was feeling the effects of my A.M. training session.  It was definitely some fun racing.

 That is pretty much it for today.  Legs are tired and I am looking forward to some sleep.  Hopefully I can get up at a decent time as I have been sleeping later and later every morning as the room is very dark so I don’t know what time it is.  Better set the alarm.

Mike, Out.