2014 UCI BMX World Championships – Ahoy Rotterdam

For nearly 2 years now we have been preparing for the 2014 UCI BMX World Championships in Rotterdam.  If Mr 10 didn’t qualify for the Team USA Cycling, we decided that we would just be going to Rotterdam to watch the racing anyway, ‘coz how often is a World Championships in your backyard?

So over a year ago we booked a hotel about a kilometer from the Ahoy stadium and Mr 10 kept riding, training and racing with his beloved Dutch BMX club, the FCC de Boscrossers Heiloo, North Holland.  He has never won a race or even gotten onto the podium in all the racing that he has done here in Europe, but he is tenacious, persistent and driven and really wanted to qualify for the USA BMX team badly.  Once the USA team was announced we asked for a discretionary nomination since we are already here in the Netherlands, and it was accepted in late May, but disaster struck in early June when he broke his arm at school.  There is nothing quite like getting that call from school “Hello, this is the school nurse.  Is this …..’s mum?”  Ugh, my stomach dropped, my mouth got dry and I knew something was wrong, but thankfully it wasn’t as bad as we thought…. just five weeks and three different casts.  Not a problem – we can handle this!  But can he???

He was a super trooper and after the first week of the chalky white cast be worn, that was quickly graffitied by all this mates, and by his ever loving mum who wrote “Now we should rename you Walker”.  The 2nd red cast that was nearly up to his smelly-boy armpit was fitted and he started riding his road bike in the living room on the trainer.  I suddenly and inadvertently became a spin coach 5 days a week.  “Okay, two minutes of gentle spinning…. and GO!” “Okay, up 4 gears, faster, faster, faster…. and GO!”  Yes, barking orders seems to be my forte (I am a mum after all)! 

The third cast was orange, only to his elbow and he was able to swim and shower with this one. Life had just gotten better for him.  The impending school camp wasn’t going to be the pits just sitting in the corner watching his friends have fun, now he could join in with everything and basically be a crazy water loving boy again!

They are a little strange, but I still love them!
I had been shuttling the two monsters back and forth in a bakfiets that had I borrowed from a friend for the couple of weeks that he was out of commission.  Bakfiets really are the greatest thing, I was actually quite stressed out when he broke his arm because I just didn’t want to drive everywhere, having the bakfiets made me happier, made the boys happy and as you can see by the video above, they loved every minute of being silly together.

Once his arm was healed enough and he could ride on his own again, I had to give the bike back, that was a terribly difficult day for me and not just because I jogged the 7km home instead of riding.

Once back on the bike with his little skinny pale arm, and he got to train on the BMX track a couple of times and his dad took him out on the road bike a few kilometers every day, but nothing too strenuous or jarring as his arm was still a little tender after a few hours.

Soon the time had come – Monday, 21 July 2014.  We spent the morning packing and stacking the car.  A few suitcases, bikes, bags of random “stuff”, a few cameras, a few flags and a couple of silly boys…. we were finally off to Rotterdam.

The major port city of The Netherlands is only an hour and a half south of where we live, so the drive was definitely not tedious.  The boys watched a movie and didn’t even get to finish it by the time we arrived at the hotel.
You ready to go?
The Art Hotel Rotterdam was our home away from home for the week, and I am so glad.  Our booking was made over a year in advance which obviously helped reduce the room rate by half -SCORE!!  It was only 1km to the stadium, straight up a wide tree-lined street through the African district of Rotterdam.  There were convenience stores, restaurants, take-aways and a Metro and tram station next to the hotel, as well as underground parking.  On the way to the stadium was a massive shopping mall with an Albert Heijn supermarket conveniently placed along the footpath, so supplies were never an issue for my locust like children.

Art Hotel Rotterdam
Metro Station Maashaven directly outside hotel entrance.

The hotel lobby and our room were gorgeous.  Beautiful old up-cycled furniture and interesting mixed art adorned our room, but I think my boys like the funky carpet the best!  The only thing the room seriously lacked was a ceiling fan.  Once the rain passed, Rotterdam heated up a lot and inside our hotel room was like a tropical summer in South East Asia!  No aircon, no ceiling fan and windows that only opened a crack left my Arctic weather loving hubby very sticky, grumpy and uncomfortable!

Once we unpacked the car (and that took a good long while) we took a stroll in the drizzle to the Ahoy Stadium to see the finishing touches being put onto the BMX track and check out our entertainment centre for the week.

Can I ride it to BMX?
Tree lined walk (notice the size of the bike lane?)
 2010 TdF Prologue started here – this truly is cycling nirvana!
A drizzly afternoon welcomes us to Ahoy.
Brace yourselves – WE ARE HERE!
Putting the finishing touches on the track…

So after we sussed out the track, realizing that it is short, the start hill is VERY high and the first straight is going to be make-or-break for the racers, we then fortunately ran into a few friends from around the world as BMX is a very small community.  Once sharing similar opinions of the track, we walked back to the hotel and got some delicious shawarma for dinner from the takeaway across the street.

After dinner, Team USA had their first meeting at their team hotel, so off the boys went excited to meet new team mates and make the plan for the week.  A few hours later they came back with the USA jersey’s and team packs.  VERY COOL!

The kit!

Now he is ready to ride….

Tuesday morning, the sun made a welcome appearance and he got to do his first practice on the track.  He could barely finish his breakfast as he had a grin just wouldn’t leave his little face.  So was so amped!

Little bro wants to be just like his big bro.
Heading in….
Team USA arriving for their practice right as Mr 10 is gearing up.
Team Australia rolling in.
Butterflies in his tummy.
Mr 4 found a friend from Virginia to watch the French riders with him.

Once our little rider was into the team area he had to wait for Team USA’s practice to start with the Swiss, the Aussies, and the South African’s, at which time we headed into the stadium, as parents can’t stay with their riders, and we had a look at the Expo to see what was on offer and to get a few t-shirts and a small cuddly for the boys – basically just to spend all our money.

Mission accomplished…

Cuddles waiting for “bubba” on the track.
The sea of stars and stripes waiting for their turn on the track.
Go Aussies! (That’s a bloody nice helmet – btw.)
Modeling next years Worlds poster for Zolder, BE.
Coming into the finish on his third and final practice lap of the day.

After his practice, where the South Africa families clearly won the competition for best cheering, it was back into the Expo for the boys to hang out for a little while longer and let them enjoy themselves.

Talking Strider-track tactics
Waiting to get onto the pump track with the whole world.
This is what BMX is about. Hard competitors on the track, but as soon as they roll over the finish line these kids play together and become best mates.  Borders do not matter.  Skin colour does not matter.  Language does not matter.  Geography does not matter.  Fun, friendship, experiences and sportsmanship is the only thing that matters here!

Scooter Worlds?
“Mum, we are coming back to Belgium next year right?”
Right outside the stadium doors.
Genius. Weird. Self Explanatory. Gross. Brilliant.
Heading back to the hotel after practice, lunch and mega 
play time. Mum and dad are pooped – too bad the 
monsters are not!

The view from our room at about 2200.

Wednesday morning was another gate practice session.  I had to go the The Hague, which I discovered was only 30km from Rotterdam, so I missed his  track session, but I needed to collect a package from his wonderful sponsor “SockGuy” who sent him some special USA socks specifically for his race. By the time I got back to the stadium it was just after lunch andI found them hanging out with friends catching the Belgian, German and Dutch practice sessions.  There were a LOT of Dutch riders, it was basically an Oranje washout! 

The Mothership
Practice #2. Ready to conquer it!
Belgium and Germany heading onto the track.

Checking out the competition together.
Team mates, besties and opponents from
FCC de Boscrossers (and a little brother).

Team USA after the 2nd practice ride.

After practice, photos and hanging out with friends we went and checked out the BMX museum and movie and found some really retro stuff.

We found some old skool bikes and plates. Crit plate is
our friend and Mr 10’s sponsor so we were excited to see this
old plate on a vintage BMX.
I am completely terrified of E.T. but my boys thought it was neat.

My husband is now kicking himself that he no longer has his bikes from when he was a kid, but I think he wanted to take every one of these machines home and make a museum in our loungeroom.

Moto’s were then posted with over 120 racers from 27 countries, with 7 Americans in the 11yr old Boys category on the UCI website.  So he had over 119 boys to race against.  The nerves started to kick in…

It was going to be a 0500 start on Thursday to be on the track at 0700.  Augh… everyone was jittery!  I am not sure that any one of us slept well Wednesday night as it was so HOT in the room, but we got a little rest at least. I think?

Thursday morning arrived quick smart, we shoveled down a big breakfast, got our jersey’s on and headed out to the car, but not before a few silly USA photos.

Love these goofballs!
Wonder where they are going?
“So are you ready to race?”
Excited much?

We reached the stadium at 0635 and the carpark was still not open.  People started unloading kids and getting ready in the street. Not an ideal situation for the families that arrived a little after 0645 as they were being unloaded out on the main road between traffic lights.  A lot of very unhappy parents sounded off about that on the way in!

The parking gate was still not open at 0700.
Riders and families were late, but the stadium still
charged everyone 12.50 to park.  Outrageous!

Once into the stadium, we got some good seats right at the end of the first big turn, hung the American flag on the rail and waited impatiently for the racing to commence.   Our boy was about to ride and represent America.  HOW. COOL. IS. THAT?

He had three moto’s to get through and we were hoping that he would at least make it into the next stage, but nerves  and the start hill got the better of him, and many many others.  He came in last in all three, but we couldn’t be more proud of him (and terrified) for even attempting competition at this level!  He represented America in the best way possible, with grace, spunk and sportsmanship.  As parents you can never ask for anything more!

Die hard fans!
Some gorgeous mum and her littlest monster.
Once racing had finished the kids went crazy swapping jerseys with each other.  We ended up with a Japanese jersey, that I negotiated for with a lovely Japanese family from Yokohama.  See, my Japanese does come in handy sometimes!  A Zimbabwe jersey was the next cool acquisition, the family who asked to swap was stoked to get an American jersey too.  Mr 10 and his team mate from the FCC de Boscrossers then traded jerseys.  These two look similar anyway, especially in their local team gear, but once they swapped the American for the Dutch, they looked like twins.  I traded my jersey for an Aussie jersey (thank goodness I bought a spare t-shirt).
Who is Dutch?  Who is American?
Finally it was time to go outside and collect all the gear and the bike from the team area.
“I wanna take it mama! I can help”
OMG!  Caroline Buchanan!
Caroline Buchanan from Australia, the (then) current BMX World Champion, walked out of the team area so I grabbed her for a photo.  She is one of my favourite athletes, so very talented and extremely generous with her time especially for women in sport.  As I introduced myself to her, she said that she had been talking to my son inside.  Awwww…. I love moments like that!  When he came out, just after I said goodbye and good luck to her, he was excited to tell me that he just started chatting with her and he told her that I was Aussie and his dad was American.  He was a little star struck – but I am certain I was far more!  She rocks!  Sadly though, she ultimately crashed in her final moto and finished fifth in the semi final, unable to qualify for the final.  Hopefully next year she will be World Champion again!

A few more photos around the stadium finished our day off.  Everyone was tired and hot and ready to go back to the hotel and relax.

Dutch team mates and his BMX coach.
On Friday after we had all slept-in, then taken a few deep breathes and had a decent breakfast, we decided to go to the Natural History Museum.  So across to the metro station we went, but it was going to be nearly 30Euros for a three kilometre round trip, so we decided to take advantage of the cooler weather and walk.  
Part of the way there, we stopped at a supermarket and got some rolls and cold cuts and had a small picnic in a grassy area.  Along the edges of the grass where photo images of old Rotterdam, so of course I had to get photos of them.


Once our tummies were all satiated we were off again toward the Museum…  
You don’t expect to see tractors with trailers full of hay in the
middle of the city, but here – you do.
These guys make me smile (when they are being good)
Some really interesting architecture.
Wind turbine props used for seating.
So much new architecture but nothing is as gorgeous as the old.
Found it!

Rockin’ a nose ring but I think I need to pluck my
neck hairs.
Loved the kids artwork on display in the museum.
No. That is not a person about to jump off the roof.
Yes. That is a whale penis in the bottom right corner.
Some big shoes to fill.
Found them!
Feeding some hungry friends.
Salmon Harbour.  Yes, I would live there!
Bike, boat, building.
The Abel Tasman. Apt for an Aussie.
Highway to heaven.
Drijvand Pavillion – conference and functions centre.
Canal boats.
We had a great day at the museum and then feeding the ducks.  Ever since then Mr 4 has convinced himself and us, that he is a “baby duck” which of course, is terribly cute.

That night my hubby and our little racer went back the the stadium to watch more practice, this time the Elites.  Mr 4 and I had dinner in the hotel restaurant which was absolutely superb! Thursday night he wanted fish, so we had shared catfish, and he promptly devoured. Friday night we got the Chef’s special – a trio of fish, which included tuna, salmon & a white fish (but I can’t remember the name) with mashed potato and seasonal veggies.  It was sooooo incredibly good!  The waitress made a mistake though and bought us two plates of dinner instead of just the one to share.  I sent the other back, but about 5 minutes later the restaurant manager came back with the plate and said it was on the house.  I don’t know about you, but I think that free food always tastes more fabulous!  Of course, we ate both plates but we almost needed to sit on a bike to roll us back up to the room.  Littlest monster went to sleep soon after that.  A happy full belly of good food always helps!

Saturday morning we packed up the car and rolled out by lunch time.  See ya Rotterdam it was fun!  Then it was back to North Holland, and onto another adventure… but first we had 6 loads of washing to do!

We would like to thank the wonderful sponsors who helped get Mr 10 geared up and ready for the UCI BMX World Championships in Rotterdam this year:



You have been brilliant, generous and extremely supportive! 
We really hope he did you proud! 
Thank you!

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