Danish National Cyclocross Champion Joachim Parbo spoke last night at the Webcor/Alto Velo club meeting about his history, training philosophy, the US and European Cyclocross scenes, Danish investment in cycling facilities, and announced a cyclocross clinic tonight 4-6 PM at the Palo Alto Baylands Park and a talk at the Bicycle Outfitter from 7-8:30 PM.
Joachim Parbo started bicycle racing relatively late in life. He was discovered playing in the forest and encouraged to enter mountain bike races when he was 24, far too old for pro european sports. He won the Danish mountain bike championships in 1999 and dabbled in ski touring and adventure racing before discovering his true love — Cyclocross. He made the national team and was offered a sponsor bike. He entered his first cross race in Belgium. Despite being up against the top riders from all over europe, he didn’t get lapped. A few years later, he won the Danish National Cyclocross Championships and has now won his country’s title four times: 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010.
Joachim’s Training Philosophy
Joachim follows an unconventional training plan. A rebel to the dictates of structured plans, Joachim goes mostly on feel. He reports that he does own a heart rate monitor, but only uses it to “look at the clock.” He uses pain as his training indicator.
Joachim listens to his body and adjusts his training appropriately. When he started out, he went hard every day, but starting in 2004, he goes by feel and eases up some of the days. By staying fresh, he can go harder on his hard days and achieves better results when he races.
Joachim makes it clear that talented bike riders must be able to endure a lot of pain, but he says you must let old ladies pass you on the bike path when they are going grocery shopping.
Joachim does a lot of low-intensity base-building during the summer. He works as a bike path inspector for the city of Aarhus in eastern Denmark. His work requires he cover a network of 350 miles of bike paths, which fits in very nicely with building a massive base of training.
An interesting side note: Joachim does not shave his legs. He didn’t shave his legs when he first started out and sees no reason to change now that he is in the professional ranks. Since he is a cyclocross rider, he doesn’t have to worry about crashing on the pavement so he can “stay furry.”
Cyclocross Scene: US vs. Europe
At the end of the summer, Joachim switches over to Cyclocross, racing for a month or two in the US before he returns to Europe for the famous races in Spain, Italy, Luxemburg, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and of course Denmark.
Interestingly Joachim doesn’t race much in Belgium, and is strongly enthusiastic about the US Cyclocross scene. Joachim points out that Belgian cyclocross is like US football, maybe a bit more aggro. While the top level riders get paid 10,000 € just to show up, the fields aren’t very deep. By contrast, US cyclocross is more grass roots and more fun. Fields have “thickened” with some fields having more than 100 riders. Courses have evolved from simple grass crits to really challenging “buttonhook 180″ courses emulating the classics like Gavere. American fields continue to grow and the depth of talent is increasing, making the races both challenging and exciting.
Danish Investment in Cycling Facilities
Joachim described bike paths in Denmark and cited a few numbers that made my head spin. Denmark has a 5-year plan that earmarks $200M to be spent on cycling facilities. Wow! Denmark’s population is only 5 million people. That’s $40 per person or $8 per person per year.
How much do we spend in the US? I honestly don’t know the number, but I doubt we meet that mark even in bike-friendly meccas like Palo Alto and Boulder. Can anybody give me figures?
Clinic and Talk Tonight
Joachim goes home Wednesday. He’s been here for a month or so and has competed at Cross Vegas, at Greem Mountain Cyclocross in Vermont, the Gloucester Grand Prix in Providence, and in Irvine, CA.
Tonight he’s holding a cyclocross clinic in Palo Alto. It’s your opportunity to get one-on-one instruction and tips from a world class pro and all-around nice guy. A few seats are left and it only costs $30, so if you’re interested, show up at Baylands Park at the T intersection of Embarcadero Road and Embarcadero Way at 4 PM today.
And if you’d like to hear Joachim speak, you can see him from 7-8:30 PM at the Bicycle Outfitter in Los Altos in Loyola Corners, just off Foothill Boulevard.
Thanks to KCM
Joachim Parbo spoke last night at the Webcor/Alto Velo club meeting thanks to Katheryn Curi-Mattis, otherwise known as KCM. KCM won the US National Road Championships in 2005, represented the USA at the cycling world championships in Geelong, Australia in 2010, is a driving force behind the Webcor women’s bridge team, is married to Webcor/Alto Pro Team co-founder and 2011 Masters World Champion James Mattis, and loves cyclocross. Maybe she’ll consider a second career? We can always hope as it is a joy to watch her race!