Racing here is very different from racing in the US. The biggest difference is that here it is more like a 40-minute BMX race than the fastest one on the bike will win. That is what I believe I love so much about racing here. Also, the compition level is way higher.
There is always a group of 50 fast juniors starting. Whereas in the US, you will be lucky to get a field of 30 racers Today [at the World Cup in Zolder, Belgium - ed.] was a very exciting and important day for many of the juniors here. For everyone else, it was just another World Cup race.
For five out of our six juniors, however, it was their first World Cup race. Chris Wallace is the only one who has already done one. He was over here last year and raced the World Cups. For the rest of us, it was a whole new experience. We were pitted up against almost all of the best juniors in the world. We were all very excited for this race and ready to pin it.
The day started at 4:30 am. We got up and made breakfast because we would be leaving at 5:30 am. It was about a two-hour drive from the house to the Zolder race track. So we arrived right about 7:30 am, which gave us exactly two and a half hours to get all ready to race. We all got changed into our sweet Team USA kits.
It was really cold in the morning. We practiced a few laps on the course then got our transponders that we had to put around our ankle so that they could time and keep track of us with it. This left about 50 minutes until the start of the race.
We all got to the trainers and hopped on. We only had 10 minutes before we had to get off and start getting ready for the race. So it wasn't the warm up that any of us wanted, but it was time to head to the start line.
We all got put within three rows of the back - with our closest to the front being Jeff Bahnson on the third row. I started in the second to last row, but I worked my way half way up through the field in the first few turns because there were a lot of crashes.
I came through the finish in about 35th on the first lap, but all I knew was that I was first out of the Americans because I passed Jeff in the first turn after he got stuck behind some people.
About three laps in, Chris Wallace chased with me. We rode about a lap together until coming into a steep run-up. He slipped on a piece of ice and hit the ground hard.
I was told that I was in about 32nd. Going into the final lap, I was with a Swiss rider. I attacked him on the road section. He chased back to me as we were going by the pit. As he came by me, he shouldered me and almost knocked me off my bike. I held onto his wheel but I couldn't ever get by him. We hit the final straight and he dropped me going into the finish.
At the end of the 40-minute race, I ended up 34th. David Kessler was 37th. Chris Wallace got 43th after his fall on the ice. Jeff Bahnson got 44th after many crashes. Josh Lehmann Got 46th, and Matt Spinks DNFed after crashing and breaking his front fork and wheel.
Altogether I was happy with my effort, and I believe that I can do better at a future World Cup race, but for my first World Cup I am happy with my finish.