Bicycling through mud and grass, climbing 18-inch barriers, and rising after a crash, Michael van den Ham, member of First Christian Reformed Church of Brandon, Manitoba, cycled his way to achieving a dream.
Van den Ham qualified for the World Cyclo-cross Championship in Hoogeheide, the Netherlands, where he placed as top Canadian in February.
Cyclo-cross racing is a mix of mountain and road biking. Racers cycle laps on a variety of terrain and cross barriers that can require them to carry their bikes on their back. There are lots of different features where you have to decide what to do,” explained van den Ham. “That’s a neat aspect of it.”
Van den Ham’s grandfather, Jan (John) van den Ham, passed away only two weeks before the championship race. Because of Michael van den Ham’s travel commitments, he could not attend the funeral. Van den Ham raced in memory of his grandfather and attached a sticker reading, “For Grandpa—JVDH” on his bicycle. “There were a few moments in the race it wasn’t going as I hoped. He [my grandpa] would never have quit . . . he never did quit for anything,” said van den Ham.
Herman van den Ham, Michael’s father, a grandfather, two uncles, and a nephew traveled to the Netherlands to watch Michael compete. “Watching my son race is unlike anything else I have ever experienced,” said Herman. “There he was, racing with the top cyclo-cross athletes in the world, totally committed to doing his best, and I could not have been prouder of his accomplishments.”
Dianne van den Ham, Michael’s mother said, “Many people have supported him in this endeavor both financially and as fans. This has been very confirming as it is often hard to be a Christian and an athlete.”
Michael is in his fourth year at The King’s University College in Edmonton where he is studying politics, history, and economics. While in Edmonton, he attends Fellowship Christian Reformed Church. He hopes to continue cyclo-cross racing in the future.