My European start position was a metaphor for my European racing experience. At the beginning of camp, I would wait around disoriented before the start, until I was called up with a few others lacking UCI points or Belgian citizenship to the very back of the pack.
When the gun went off, I would chase as hard as I could for forty minutes. I’m looking forward to seeing the front row at nationals.
Even outside of racing, it took me a while to get used to things. The level of support confused me (in Belgium, I never had to work on my own bikes, pin my numbers, mix bottles), and asking for things I needed was difficult. But like in racing, after a few days I settled into the rhythm of things and didn’t feel guilty about lying on the couch for recovery or asking for a bottle of water from the trainer. I saw a steady improvement in my results as well as I adjusted to European racing by sharpening my elbows. I got more comfortable with the battle that was the first ten minutes of a cross race in Belgium.
Not surprisingly, the way I spent my time and energy off the bike at Euro Cross Camp helped the way I raced. With such incredible support from mechanics and other staff, I focused intently on my eating and resting, rather than college applications, bike work, or hurrying to class.
I was never rushed or distracted in warm-up, and the groups of interested fans gave me energy. What made the camp powerful for me was that everything pointed to the races. This smoothed the transition to ruthless European competition, and made me faster.
Geoff Proctor outlined success in racing at the camp as being satisfied with at least two race efforts. I felt the best at the Zolder World Cup and a local race in Bredene, but I learned from the entire two weeks of camp, inspired by the Belgian way of cyclo-cross.