The 16 racers here for the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Development Program's third block of racing take on a schedule unlike anything they’ve seen in the US. Today was the day after the World Cup in Zolder, and also the day before the Diegem Superprestige.
Days like today share equal importance with paying attention to details when recovering from the previous day’s effort, as well as preparing for the next day. That is the reality of racing in Belgium during the Kerstperiode - the time around Christmas and the New Year when there are races almost every day.
When racing in the US, even with a flawless race, I always take away something I had learned and try to better myself from it. When I come to Europe to race, the learning curve increases exponentially. From the style of racing, to acclimating to life and training in Belgium, I’m always learning.
Stateside, I’ve had a fair amount of success, winning three UCI elite races and the U23 Pan-Am Championships. I’ve become more and more comfortable racing at the front of these domestic races, and have seen improvement throughout the season. Coming over to Europe to race is a whole different ball game, with deeper fields, more challenging courses, and just a completely different atmosphere. The first-lap aggression, the vertical drops of Namur… It’s a style that I feel I’m adapting to but I still have lots of ground to cover.
During this block of racing alone, I’ve already raced two World Cups in Namur and Zolder. Two years ago, I was second in Namur as a junior. This year, I crossed the line disappointed and frustrated. In Zolder, I felt better prepared than I was coming into Namur. Physically and mentally, I was fresh, feeling strong, and ready to go. But Lady Luck doesn’t always shine on those for feeling good. Again, I crossed the line not meeting the goals I had set for myself.
Racing in Europe can be brutal and unforgiving. I’ve seen both sides of the coin. Even though I am disappointed at the moment, I am never discouraged. There’s no place I’d rather be. The challenges and lessons learned racing in Europe can’t be replicated anywhere else. There are two more opportunities in Diegem and Loenhout. I am hungry for more racing.
Thanks for reading,