Friday, November 18, 2005 GP Clark Natwick - San Francisco, CA Golden Gate Park + classic photos! GP Clark Natwick - San Francisco, CA Golden Gate Park Final Event in 2005 Crank Bros. US GP of CycloCross
(scroll down for photos)
On Sunday Clark Natwick gets to take a rare trip in a time machine when he arrives in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for the final round of the Crank Bros. US Grand Prix of Cyclocross. It was 30 years ago when Natwick entered his final tune up event in Golden Gate Park before the first ever US Cyclocross Championships, held later in December across the bay in Berkeley’s Tilden Park in the pre-carbon era - toe straps, soccer cleats, bar end shifters – it was pioneer cyclocross days. Although only a few bits of that Polo Field course are still recognizable they will all be included in Sunday’s circuit. Starting with his first Nationals podium in 1975 behind Champ Jim Gentes, Natwick became one of the most decorated US racers in history, with 5 National titles and 11 medals in his bag. And on Sunday, he’ll be presenting medals for his own event, the GP Clark Natwick.
An homage to one of Northern California’s pioneers in the sport, as well as US National ‘cross coach, the GP Clark Natwick is a far cry from the 70’s and 80’s when the majority of events had minimal infrastructure and maximum enthusiasm. When he walks inside Golden Gate Park’s famous Polo Fields, he’ll see the sport as it has evolved in the 21st century, much of it thanks to his early efforts to create a National series of events to annually attract the best US talent, the original “SuperCup Series”. The top US series is now structured according to UCI regulations as the Crank Bros. US GP of Cyclocross presents the US version in a manner every bit as sophisticated as some European events.
Natwick will host a couple of current US stars at the start line for the Elite Junior event. With a berth on the US World Championship team on the line, Natwick will introduce a couple of his protégés with a story of their own to inspire the field. 1999 Natwick took the US team to Poprad, Czech Republic and came home with the first ever medals for the US – and 1999 Junior World Champ Matt Kelly will let these kids know the medals in Holland can be theirs, too. Tim Johnson, 3rd in Poprad in the U-23 behind Belgian Superstar Bart Wellens, will add his 2 cents worth before he and Kelly start their warm-ups for their 2:30 Elite Men’s final round.
Natwick’s first exposure to World Championships came in 1977 when he, Laurence Malone, Joe Ryan, and team mechanic Ralph Kornahrens arrived in Hannover, Germany for a Worlds most noticeable for Malone’s acrobatic bunny-hopping of the barricades on the course – Germany was electrified with the flying American. No flights were possible in 1978 when the Worlds landed in Spain in Basque country. Ralph Kornahrens remembers rain, rain, rain and mud. In the pre-power wash days, mud meant a bucket and brush to get equipment clean for the next lap. And meanwhile back home in Northern California Natwick started a career on the road in ’78 with a podium finish in the “Contienda de las Colinas” - at the time the 10-stage event in Santa Cruz was the longest in the country.
Post-Cyclocross Natwick enjoyed a Pro Mountain Bike career as one of Thomas Frischknecht’s team mates on the Ritchey Team in the early 90’s before his current passion, training/teaching/coaching athletes at Mill Valley’s Endurance Sports took center stage. Natwicks career coaching palmares match up very well against his competitive career with stints as: Coach for USA Olympic training center development cycling training camps. Coach for USA Olympic training center world team preparation cycling training camps. Coach for USA Olympic training center elite cycling training camps. USA Cycling National Cyclo Cross team coach 1991- 1999, 2001. USA Cycling National Mt. Bike team assistant coach 1991 & 1998. Head coach for Peninsula Velo Cycling Club, San Mateo.
USA Cycling Team Member of 7 UCI Cyclo Cross World Championships. USA Cycling team Member of 2 UCI Mt. Bike World Championships. 10 National Championship Medals (5G, 4S & 1B)
Sunday’s weather forecast still predicts sunny clear skies with a course that’s dry except for shaded corners and temperatures in the 60’s. And to make sure Clark Natwick really feels at home in the 1975-era Golden Gate Park for his race, the hottest sounds of San Francisco from that era will get featured air time on the race PA system. The course is just a few feet away from the meadows where Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Chambers Brothers, The Doors, and Santana once played outdoor concerts – and they’ll get tickets to the GP Clark Natwick time machine, too. Far out, man!
Information: Tom Simpson Pilarcitos Cyclesports firstname.lastname@example.org 650.302.6310
I'll publish our interview on my blog (http://garyb.posterous.com) prior to the May 11 event.
Q: Tell me about your racing background. A: I saw the Nevada City Classic in the mid 70s as a teenager and that sparked my interest to start bike racing. I won the Nevada City Classic the following year as a junior athlete. I raced nationally and here in N. California for my entire cycling career. I raced with the national team on occasion to do south of the border and European stage races. I would do small international trips to race in other countries. I have ten National Championship medals, all in Cyclo Cross; five gold, four silver, and one bronze. All in Cyclo Cross. I was a better athlete in Cyclo Cross and MTB XC then road racing. I did MTB XC and DH events nationally and internationally. I have competed in 7 UCI Cyclo Cross Word Championships and 1 UCI MTB XC Championship. I ended my cycling career in 1991.
Q: What are you doing these days? A: My wife Katie and I have been married for 24 years and we have one daughter, Rebecca who is 18. We live in San Mateo. Immediately after ending my cycling athlete career I started working for USA Cycling in the coaching department. Chris Carmichael was the head of the USAC coaching department at that time. There were a lot of good people involved with USAC coaching at that time. Coaching education was becoming part of USAC as well. I worked for 7 years with USAC as a regional development coach and the national Cyclo Cross team coach. I have also worked with MTB Team Ritchey and athletes along with Dave McLaughlin for about 2 years. I also was starting to work with athletes independently. Currently I have an office in Burlingame where I coach local athletes, do metabolic testing, biomechanical bike fits, skills clinics and work with local amateur teams and clubs.
Q: How and when did you get involved with Team Rwanda Cycling? A: I always told Jock that if he needed a hand to let me know. After about two years he finally was in a position to have others come and help the team Rwanda Athletes. Jock is dedication to the development, funding, political and technical needs of Team Rwanda and the athletes. He works tirelessly to that end. He has Felix, Max and Kim helping him in Rwanda. In April 2010, Jock and I exchanged emails about the opportunity to come for 3 months. Jock came back to Monterey in July and he, my wife Katie and I met at his warehouse to learn more about the trip to Rwanda. My flight was booked shortly after that and on September 1st I was on a flight to Rwanda.
Q: Tell me about the highlights and lowlights of your three months in Rwanda. A: It was an adventure in the beginning. I was living in Ruhengeri Rwanda about 90 km for the capital city of Kigali for the next three months. I lived in Jock’s house with Max and Zulu, his dog. We had internet at Jock’s house as well. I wanted to help the athletes; test them, do bike fits for them, write training plans for them, identify new talent for the Rwanda team, tech training techniques, tech race tactics, all of that. Unfortunately I didn’t speak Rwandan and their English was very poor. I decided not to learn Rwandan, because I felt that the athletes would benefit much greater if they were to learn English. I found it hard to understand the athletes at times. What motivated them? They loved to ride their bikes. What I would struggle with was did they want to be the best? And what does that mean to them? One athlete was truly of that mold; Adrian. He motivated himself to speak English, use a SRM power meter and is now racing and living in South Africa for a Professional team. Recently, Adrian qualified (for Rwanda) to race the 2012 London Olympics in the MTB XC race. We would have “training camps” weekly with between ten and sixteen athletes. The athletes would get housed and fed at the Project Rwanda house, about a one kilometer from Jocks’ house. The athletes would arrive from far and near to do the training camp. When they arrived they would usually try to find Max (team mechanic) to have him do some needed component replacements and adjustments to their bikes. Max didn’t loan out his tools to the athletes. Scott would ride with the athletes on most days. I would use a motor bike to support the athletes on their daily training rides. I would carry water, spare tubes, a pump, tools and bananas for the athletes. The gas prices in Rwanda are roughly the same as Europe. Jock and Kim have a Ford Explorer in Rwanda. It takes about $90 to fill the gas tank. The main roads are very beat up. Most are dirt. Some of the main roads are in the process of being paved. Our daily training rides were on a paved road out and back. Electricity and water could be a problem. We would lose electricity almost daily. Some times for half a day. There is not enough electricity in Rwanda to provide for all the country. Water was not as big a problem. We had to purify all our cooking and drinking water. Our ion purifier ran off of electricity. We had to make sure our extra stored water supply was always topped off. We did lose water just like electricity, although not as frequently. One time, we were without water for three and half days. Again, Rwanda doesn’t have enough water to supply the whole country. We lived at 6000 feet (2000m). The Volcano National Park and Gorillas sanctuary was very close to us. We would meet European and American tourists sometimes in Ruhengeri at the market or near the hotels. They would come to see the gorillas in the wilderness of Volcano National Park, paying $500 each for the tour. We met the remarkable veterinarians that take care of the Gorillas. The volcano’s peaks were at 10,000 to 14,000 feet (Karisimbi 4507m). We were 25km from the Uganda border and 70km from the Democratic Republic of Congo border. Racing stage races in the best of circumstances can be hard enough. The first three weeks of my last month in Rwanda was spent in the team hotel in Kigali helping the team do the UCI African Continental Championships (RR, TTT & ITT) and the 8 day 9 stage Tour of Rwanda. Prior to the beginning of the competitions and for about a week into the competitions we had a 10 person film crew visit Jock and the team. They wanted to finish a documentary they had started a year ago. The documentary was about the Team Rwanda athletes, their personal connection to the genocide and their successes as athletes that they were now experiencing.
Q: Why do you believe in the Rwandan cyclists? A: I felt that they deserved a chance to pursue what they loved which seemed to be cycling.
Q: How has using your time and talents to help former strangers from a Third World country changed your outlook on life? A: It’s made me feel many things. Glad for all the advantages I have and my family. It humbled me. It may sound cliché, but when you are there for an extended time and you come back to California, you see how true that is. Meeting the New Yorker journalist Philip Gourevitch was very fascinating for me. That only happened because of traveling to Rwanda and working with Team Rwanda. His views and understating of the Rwandan history and future were insightful. Being from a western culture there are Eastern African ideologies I still do not understand. Some people in Rwanda are truly living day to day. I was told that even today the average life expectancy of a Rwandan is 50 years old. I also heard that the average income was $400 annually. Since the 1994 Genocide, Rwanda is experiencing a population explosion. Family sizes are increasing. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame’s was reelected just before I arrived for his second seven year term. So much in America is just about consuming. Being out of the country during the 2010 November midterm elections made me think how American media and the American politicians are way out of touch with the American needs.
Gary J. Boulanger Sales Manager The Bicycle Outfitter www.bicycleoutfitter.com 963 Fremont Avenue Los Altos, CA 94024 650.948.8092 Twitter Facebook
I’d like to share this clip of the film crew that came to Rwanda while I was there. Very cool! This is the film crew that was putting the finishing touches on the movie - Rising From Ashes . enjoy.
A friend of mine made up this web site. It’s primarily to help bring awareness to children’s congenital heart defects and poke a little fun at one of cycling’s greatest athletes. Jens Voigt Facts http://www.jensvoigtfacts.com/
On November 4th to the 20th, while I was in Rwanda there was a 10 person film crew shooting us working with the athletes. The film crew was divided into two teams. It turns out that one team was filming the behind the scenes of the making of the film Rising From Ashes . They were with us some days for 10 plus hours. They worked hard. Here’s the link to their efforts http://www.zacuto.com/bts-trailer . Both movies are due in March and April.