Words by Adam Rachubinski – Team Director of Alpha Bicycle Co – Groove Silverthorn CX Team
Photos by Ethan Glading / @thepenultimatestage
In a year with so much change and uncertainty, there are still a few moments of normalcy within the cyclocross community. This week marks the start of Kerstperiode and the holy week of Belgian cyclocross.
Due to the current state of affairs, the entire Alpha Bicycle Co. – Groove Silverthorne CX Team could not travel to Europe for this blissfully intense week of racing. However, young Jules van Kempen took advantage of his Dutch passport and his large extended family that lives in Belgium and The Netherlands to travel to Europe for some racing.
In a normal racing situation, this would be a daunting task for any young rider. But when the Under-23 races were canceled, this presented an entirely new and more profound set of challenging race circumstances for Jules. But, without hesitation, the 18-year-old decided to throw his hat in with the world’s best cyclocross stars and race with the Elite Men.
When the current Canadian National Champion and former Continental Champion finish a race like this by placing in the 30s and 40s, you know it was a challenging day on course. Then, throw in a green rider like Jules, and you know it's going to be an uphill battle from the gun. But, there is simply no substitute for the experience gained on iconic courses like the one in Namur. Each chance to race, no matter the result, is a stepping stone for the future.
It was a baptism by fire out at Namur. As expected, the race had its challenges, and now it's time to learn from this experience. Jules knows his trajectory is set toward the 2023-24 season, where we'll see what he's capable of as a professional 'cross racer. Each of these opportunities is a huge part of that development.
And this year, more than any other year, any bit of normalcy or consistency a welcome opportunity.