When you read "last year I got hypothermia during that race... but it was fun" you know there must be a few screws missing. But for Gosse Van Der Meer it is this craziness which makes him great! A lot has happen over the past year for the Dutch native after he announced he was going out alone with support from Bombtrack bikes and Hunt Wheels. As he puts it, he is "finding (his) own way in professional cyclocross". This means bulk 30hour weeks, motor pacing, solo training camps, hypothermia, racing in 38 degree heat and broken knee caps - we are in total awe of how hungry Gosse wants it!
Recently, Ollie got in contact with Gosse to find out how he is feeling coming into the 2018/19 season. All we can say is that he has taken the bulls by the horns and is giving it a real go!
Hunt: Hey Gosse. Last time we spoke you were fresh off a pretty nasty accident at the World Cup Round at Namur, where you mashed up your knee real good – how was that recovery process and is everything completely ok now?
Gosse: Hi Guys! When I smashed that knee in Namur it had quite a big impact on my entire life at that moment. The week before Namur I told my team I didn't want to resign and I also wasn't talking with other teams. There where options but I was ready for a change and I had been in contact with Bombtrack already for a longer time. With Bombtrack there were also other brands that came along to step in this project. Challenge (tyres) stepped in and also Ritchey (components) joined. When Hunt made clear they were in, it was for me the moment I know we were good to go. As a ‘cross rider you need quite a lot of wheels and you need really good wheels.
But going back to that Sunday in Namur, I had a unlucky crash there but still finished the race. Only to find out after the race my kneecap was catching air... I was covered in mud so I had no clue what was going on. After I got carried away to the doctors at the course they started to clean up and things didn't look well. The coach of the national team was with me and he first thought it was a career ender.
Later that night I drove with my mechanic, Jelle, to the hospital in Nijmegen in the Netherlands to get my knee repaired. It needed internal and external stitches. 17 went in to keep it all in place, I wasn't allowed to bend my knee for the first couple of weeks because the stitches would pull out.
Even though everyone around me though it was end of season and a long, long road to be able to walk normal again, that idea had never passed my mind. I worked hard to get everything good again. As soon as I was able to move again the second phase of recovery started and that was to get back on the bike. That was a bit nervous in the beginning because I didn't know if there was a lot of internal damage. But cycling went better and better, and as soon as I could ride normal again I flew to Spain. I sat there alone in a very small room for a week to train again for a mid-season comeback.
I was looking forward to the Worlds, I've put so much effort in to do well in my first year as an elite because I also knew that the Worlds were in the Netherlands. The time during my recover I was working towards the big months. But I've was out for too long and I missed the important December period. I tried to come back into racing but I had to start from the bottom again and then stand on the start line against guys who are in top shape. My comeback wasn't what I hoped it would be and I did some of the last races and then I went for a rest period.
Because I crashed on Sunday in Namuur, and got the key of my new apartment in Germany on Monday... I actually sat the entire period alone in an empty apartment in-between some banana boxes and on two camping chairs. And it also felt a bit strange for me to receive so much stuff from all the sponsors who stepped in my career but I was not racing and being ''lazy'' at home. At least that is how it felt. I was extra determined to come back racing as soon as possible and show my sponsors I was in to it!
Gosse and his setup.
Hunt: Could you give us a brief overview of how your off-season has been spent? You’ve been seen riding/racing just about every kind of bike!
Gosse: My offseason has mostly been filled with going to the University and setting up my team. (Ed. Gosse decided to part with his former team and start his own team with him as the only official rider). After the real ''off season'' I've started training again. But I always wanted to go on a bike packing trip and there was no team anymore to tell me to not do those things and let me race way to early. So I stepped on my CX bikes with some bags on it and some Hunt 4Season Disc wheels with some 33mm Challenge gravel road tires and peddled over the Alps. I personal visited all my Swiss and Italian sponsors in a 2.5-week bike packing trip.
After a first week of getting the engine running again at home I put in weeks of 30 hours. The idea is quite simple, I just do 6/5/4 hours and one day of rest. So you train 15 hours for 3 days and take one day of. And after some blocks of that you start to do motor-pacing behind the scooter.
Then my first block of road races started with a 200km road race on the cobbles in Northern France. It was hard but I finished this race on my steel Bombtrack Tempest. After that one I did a stage race on the road in Bretagne and that also went quite well. I followed it with some off-road races.
Then in summer I went to my ''second family'' in Switzerland to put some good training in. I also participated in the first ever cyclocross stage race! I finished 2nd just behind Simon Sahner after 3 days of racing. But a couple of days later I was the first non-Swiss guy who won the hill climb race in Bern. Then I stayed in Switzerland to do some road races and I even finished 5th against a very hard field with a lot of climbing. I was 5th behind 4 road pro's! From Switzerland, I travelled to France for the Tour de la Manche. Unfortunately, a possible top-10 overall was literally blown away by the wind in a stage where the last 70km where straight against the wind and flat towards the finish... I ended up in the 4th echelon and lost 10 minutes....
After that race in France I started some more XC training because I got selected to represent the Netherlands at the World university games in Portugal in the MTB XCO race. I worked hard towards this race and I was in top shape (finishing every crit in the top 6 I did the two weeks before). When I came to Portugal it was around 25 degrees, but on the day of the race is was 38 degrees... already in the first lap there was a 5 man break and I felt good in this break. But in the 3th lap I became dizzy and couldn't see things properly anymore. I had to ride a bit slower because there was a big chance for a crash on one of the rock gardens on the course. I finished 6th and that was a big disappointment. It was a bummer to end my summer season like this.
This year I had some solid results in road races, partly because I did much less racing and more training and also because I really searched for the races that suit me well. With my 60kg weight it is hard to make a difference in a Dutch flat and windy road race. And I am also not the guy to win a group sprint or a crit off a sprint. But when I just do races with a lot of climbing it is just the strongest guys who end up high in the results. And those races I was always there.
Off road there was only one race where I wasn't on the podium. I won a nice marathon in Germany but the day afterwards I had really bad legs at the national championship mountain bike street race.
But overall, quite a good summer for me!
Hunt: What have been the biggest difficulties racing as a team of one?
Gosse: The hardest thing when you race as a one man team is that you miss teammates around you. In a crit I always have to look really good to others and for my luck to play a much bigger role than for other riders who have guys behind them to help them. If I jump to a break I have to hope it makes it to the end and work hard for that. But teams can play out more strategies, I just have too adapt to what is happening.
And it is impossible to enter UCI road races so I miss those hard and long races where you really get stronger.
Hunt: More recently, you’ve been in Australia – could you tell us more about that?
Gosse: It can't be more recent because this email is sent from Australia! Long story short, I flew over here to Adelaide to spent some time with the Bombtrack Treadly CX team. I do 3 CX races in Australia and 2 in China before I come back to Europe. The first CX race was here last weekend in one of the parks of Adelaide and I won the first one! The next two will be two UCI races and those will be a lot harder but I hope to get some solid results there to take some points back home since I lost a lot last season when I was out (Ed Update: Gosse Finished 2nd in the UCI Categorised Aus Nationals Day 1. Day 2 results to follow).
Aussie level / 100.
Hunt: How well-prepared to you feel for the CX season ahead? How does that compare to the sensations ahead of previous seasons?
Gosse: The last weeks I had some solid preparing with nice training weeks from 20-25 hours. I think I will be more ready for this season than last when I had done too much racing in the summer. Although my European season will start in only a month I have to be careful to not be too good in shape already too early. A CX season is long because I start racing now half August and race every weekend until the end of February.
So, I think and I feel that I am well prepared for the races here and I am just good enough to get some nice results, and then in the next two months make a good step again in my racing shape and get all my last season results improved. My overall shape and basic fitness has gone up so if I can peak again to some blocks of racing I think I can show some good progression this year and show that I am a solid elite professional rider who is working hard at this level of racing.
Hunt: Any races you’re particularly looking forward to this year?
Gosse: My favourite race is the EKZ ‘cross tour race in Eschenbach. It is long and climbing heavy with a technical off camber descent and a singletrack descent in the end. Then you make some flat loops to pass start and finish and then you hit the climb again. That would be my perfect course to get a top result and put my face a big spotlight.
Last year I got hypothermia during that race and I am still thankful for all the help I got after that race. Because I had literally no clue anymore where on the world I was... I rode my bike straight against a camper because I didn't even see the thing or even brake anymore. A lot of people helped me with everything because I could not even get the shower up and running...
My body had to recover from that one a bit longer then from other races...
But in the end it was fun!