Just a couple days after arriving in Belgium, I was able to experience my very first cyclo-cross World Cup. It has been something I've wanted to do ever since I started racing cyclo-cross.
To race against the best in the world, in the sport you love. It's simply amazing. I was invited to EuroCrossCamp last year as a first-year 17-18 junior. My experience last year was quite an eye opener. I learned exactly what I needed to, to get me ready for this year's trip back to EuroCrossCamp. The racing over here is a very different than back home in the US. The courses here are a lot more challenging and much muddier.
Our first race was the World Cup at Namur, which was the most epic course I have ever raced on in my whole entire cyclo-cross career. It was full of really muddy and really steep descents that were about 100 to 200 feet long. I was able to finish 24th. Not what I was hoping for, but still respectable for my first World Cup.
A few days after Namur, I went on to race the second World Cup of my life in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium. The course is one of the most fun and famous courses out there. The course start/finish was on the Zolder Formula One Race Track. It was such a cool atmosphere. I would love to represent my country there again sometime in the future.
A couple days after Zolder came Diegem, the most urban cyclo-cross race I have ever done. The course actually goes in between houses and down back alleyways. The junior race started late in the afternoon, so by the time the pro elite race came around, they got to race in the dark with lights set up all around the course to keep it lit.
Diegem was yesterday and now we have a couple days of rest before the final race of the camp in Baal, Belgium (Sven Nys's own course) on New Year's Day. Fortunately enough, my teammate Austin Vincent, my good friend Cooper Willsey, and I, got selected to represent the United Sates of America at the World Cup in Rome, Italy one last time on January 5th before we head home to race the US Cyclo-cross National Championships in Boulder, Colorado.
This trip has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have met so many great people in these past two weeks - people who have helped me become a better person and a better cyclist. I want to thank everyone for giving me this wonderful opportunity. Especially God, because without him, I wouldn't be able to do anything.
Also a huge thanks to Mr. Geoff Proctor, the director of EuroCrossCamp, for all the hard work he has to put into this camp. I want to thank all of my family back home for their support and dedication for what my team and I do. I also want to thank my older brother Patrick, for coaching me ever since I started riding and also for directing Race CF (Cystic Fibroses), the team I am currently riding for. And, last but not least, I want to thank the camp mechanics, Hunter, Dave and Rico for their unlimited amounts of hard work for every single rider here at camp.