Pearl Izumi today premiered its first "dachshund'mentary," a video offering a glimpse of what it takes to become Strava's FKD, the Fastest Known Dog.
"Since coming off the WorldTour, it's been hard to find a training partner," former Pro WorldTour racer and 2022 Belgium Waffle Ride Champion, Alexey Vermeulen states. "I finally found one in Willie and he's awesome."
"He doesn't just want to be a good dog, he wants to be the best dog. And there is one place where Willie is truly first-class, and that's Strava. Willie's big motivation since we started training together is to be the FKD, the Fastest Known Dog."
Racing while safely tucked in a backpack on Vermeulen's back, Willie leaves no stone unturned in his efforts to become the FKD. This includes eating well, resting a lot and even, enlisting the services of Pearl Izumi's aero-specialist.
Several minutes into the film, however, the former LottoNL-Jumbo rider starts questioning their partnership.
"Honestly, he's completely obsessed and it's starting to drive me crazy," Vermeulen confides into the camera. "He won't stop refreshing Strava and I don't think we're training partners anymore. I think I'm his domestique!"
Sir Willie is a a long-haired miniature dachshund that belongs to Vermeulen's girlfriend, Sophie Linn. When the COVID pandemic hit, and people were told to limit in-person interactions to the members of their household, Vermeulen and Linn started riding together more and brought Willie along so he wouldn't be left alone so much. Turns out, Willie is a complete natural and loves seeing the world from two-wheels with his ears flopping freely in the wind.
Willie quickly became a regular on the roads and trails around Boulder, Colorado, and his fame grew. As racing returned in 2022, Willie started accompanying Vermeulen to his races, making friends everywhere he went.
He even has his own, rapidly growing Instagram account.
"He's more famous than I am," Vermeulen told Cycling Weekly. "People were almost angry at Belgian waffle Ride when he wasn't there."
As a Top-10 competitor in the LifeTime Grand Prix series, Vermeulen's next target will the 200-mile Unbound gravel race in early June. He is, however, unsure whether Sir Willie will be able to accompany him in Kansas.
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Cycling Weekly's North American Editor, Anne-Marije Rook is old school. She holds a degree in journalism and started out as a newspaper reporter — in print! She can even be seen bringing a pen and notepad to the press conference.
Originally from The Netherlands, she grew up a bike commuter and didn't find bike racing until her early twenties when living in Seattle, Washington. Strengthened by the many miles spent darting around Seattle's hilly streets on a steel single speed, Rook's progression in the sport was a quick one. As she competed at the elite level, her journalism career followed, and soon she became a full-time cycling journalist.
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