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Euro 'cross camp IV

Sean Worsech stays focused at Wachtebeke.

Training day exploration

By:
Cycling News
Published:
January 27, 2007, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:29 BST

There was a strange object in the Belgian sky this morning, something I have not seen in a while. It...

Belgium, January 2, 2006

There was a strange object in the Belgian sky this morning, something I have not seen in a while. It was the sun. Because of this unexpected apperance of the sun, which for the past few days has been unseen in Belgium, Steve and I were anxious to get on the bikes to start our recovery ride from the previous day's race. However, we were not the only riders with this same thought, as we prepared breakfast, Nick Weighall came into the kitchen after just finishing his ride with the sunrise.

Even though I was bundled up with just about every bit of clothing I could muster, I felt the cold the instant we began to ride. On our way to the neighboring town of Kortrijk, we couldn't help but notice how nice of a day it was. Once we made it to Kortrijk, we were both pretty hungry. This came at a prefect time because we were in the middle of the town square, we began the hunt for which of the delicious shops to choose to eat at. We decided on a deli and got these great sandwiches. After finishing lunch, we headed back to the house.

Once we arrived back to the house everything was pretty routine, we checked our email and once we got bored enough, we headed outside on the cruiser bikes to check out some of the stores in Izegem.

However, it was not a training day for Ryan Trebon and Eric Tonkin; they had a race in Middlekerke, Belgium. It was an awesome day for the US there. Eric Tonkin got 24th, Ryan Trebon got 12th, and Johnathan Page took an amazing second place. Unfortunately the race was not on TV, so we did not witness the American power.

Tomorrow, there is still no race, but we will be getting ready for our race Sunday at Diegem [ed. note - Superprestige Race #6 in Belgium].

Chance Noble returns to racing at St. Niklaas after being forced to sit out Diegem due to illness.

"13-31-Mud-46, Hike!"

By:
Cycling News
Published:
January 09, 2007, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:30 BST

For those who haven't grown up with American football, we Yanks like to invoke the playcalling lingo...

USA, January 10, 2007

For those who haven't grown up with American football, we Yanks like to invoke the playcalling lingo of the quarterback for everyday life situations--the ubiquity of the sport so ingrained in our nation's psyche that when you use the terminology in daily conversation, there's immediate familiarity.

Just back from Euro 'Cross Camp IV--from eight races in 12 days in the land of "field riding" (veldrijden)--and scanning the various sports pages I've collected (with Sven Nys headlining virtually every edition) along with the indelible images collected in my head, it's easy to make the following analogy: cyclo-cross racing in Belgium informs the lingua franca of that lowland country just as American football does in our country. Huge crowds, live television, beer on the tips of tongues. If my own children collect football cards; what do Belgian kids fancy? You know it.

So, what's up with the abovementioned numbers? My camp riders love to give me guff about the little notebooks I carry around to keep things straight. I have to explain to them that, for my small brain, I can't possibly keep track of it all--tire orders, commissaire names, email addresses, what tire pressure and tread worked best at the previous year's race etc. So, in perusing my notebooks this time around, I find those numbers above etched on various crinkled, stuck-together pages:

"13"--that's the number of times Erwin Vervecken has raced Loenhout. For my new guys at the camp, Rad Racing's Sean Worsech and Steve Fisher, Alan's Nick Weighall and Jerome Townsend, TIAA-CREF's Jim Lennon, FiordaFriutta's Jamey Driscoll, they can all now proudly notch a 1 next to Loenhout. Second-year campers Morgan Schmitt and Dan Neyens (Hagens-Berman) and California Giant Strawberries' Chance Noble, a 2. Hey, you gotta start somewhere! We don't need to divulge that Sven Nys holds the winningest record at Loenhout, taking the race twice as an espoir and four out of seven times as an elite. Nor might Sven need to be reminded that this year's elite winner, Niels Albert, is only 20 years old; a feat even the mighty Sven couldn't achieve in this, the highest profile race we do every year at the camp.

"31"--that's the number of years a Superprestige has been held in Diegem. I have only one guy out of the whole camp, 4-year camp stalwart Erik Tonkin (Kona), with that many birthday cakes. The rest hadn't even seen the light of day when the first Belgian 'crossers were inscribing at the Deigem castle, skipping Sunday services at the iconic church that frames the course, and battling around the suburban Brussels streets laced with bakeries and shoe stores. Were current Superprestige sponsor Karcher power washes even invented back in 1976? I don't know, but I'm sure the frite stands are the same.

"Mud"--remember the lore about native Alaskans having over 40 different words for the concept of snow? After all these years of standing in pit drool and cigarette smoke with the top riders' mechanics, I can vouch that these guys have as many Flemish descriptors for the texture of their beloved mud. What did victor Bart Wellens just say about today's quagmirish Belgian National's parcours in Hamme-Zogge? "This is why I became a cyclo-cross rider: for the rain, the coldness and the mud. For Tom Boonen this is too much, but not for a real cyclo-cross rider."

When Bart says that, I can only smile at the progress my elite camp guys have made as mudders in these big Belgian races--Jelly Belly's Jeremy Powers, Kona's Ryan Trebon, Barry Wicks and Erik Tonkin, and TIAA-CREF's Troy Wells. These guys have become incredibly adept at riding (and running) in the stuff.* Oftentimes we'll sit around the camp dinner table and try to describe how different, and more difficult, the mud is than in the US. Eventually, the task is too much and we move on to more important topics, like the paucity of safety pins at Belgian races.

"46"--that's the number of cross races Erwin Vervecken will race this season. Who can blame him? When you're reigning World Champion, you hay when it's sunny. That's Banking 101. For our top guys, the financial rewards are less stratospheric and the number of race starts is probably in the low 30's.

"Hike"--But you gotta start somewhere! Exhibit A: TIAA-CREF's Danny Summerhill: two third-place podiums (Diegem and Baal) and a 5th place (Loenhout) during the camp. Engine-for-engine, this kid can ride in any front group. Exhibit B: Alan's Bjorn Selander: an 11th in his first U-23 SuperPrestige in Deigem. Y'-know-what-I'm-sayin'?

"First and goal".

See you at Worlds,

Geoff Proctor
Director Euro Camp IV
National Team Coach
USA Cyclocross

Ryan Trebon

Sick, but grateful

By:
Cycling News
Published:
January 07, 2007, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:29 BST

So another addition of Geoff Proctor's Cyclocross Camp is done . I hope that everyone out there that...

USA, January 8, 2007

So another addition of Geoff Proctor's Cyclocross Camp is done .

I hope that everyone out there that is a fan of cyclo-cross, but especially US cyclo-cross, realizes just how important and helpful these camps are to the development of US cyclocross. I really appreciate all the time and effort that all parties involved put into making this thing happen. Because without their support and knowledge, I don't think I would have ever had the opportunity to race in Europe as much as I have.

Racing much is definitely what I didn't get to do this camp though. Being sick is one of the ineviteablities of traveling and racing as much as I do during the winter. Fortunately I stayed healthy through nationals, but being sick during the Christmas series is a bad time to come down with something. There are many important races to do.

So I had to miss a bunch of racing and training while lying in my bed watching everyone else drive off to some of the biggest races of the year. With the camp being over and still feeling under the weather, I decided to head home for two weeks and try and recoup 100% and get some good training in on familiar roads. I hope to be prepared for a good result at the world championships.

I would really like to thank everyone involved in pulling off the Euro 'Cross Camp: Geoff Proctor, Noel Dejonckheere, Els, The Fox, Luigi, Danny, Lionel, Herman, Mark, and Mario. I couldn't imagine a harder working and friendlier group of people out there. So thanks everyone for all the help and support!

Erik Tonkin (Kona)

Big brothers and Greek mythology

By:
Cycling News
Published:
January 06, 2007, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:29 BST

The camp is now over. I arrived late and left a bit early, thanks to time and money constraints....

USA, January 6, 2007

The camp is now over. I arrived late and left a bit early, thanks to time and money constraints. Even this shorter trip was hard on me - I felt like Sisyphus pushing his stone uphill. Yes, sometimes it felt like purgatory, but then - all of a sudden - it was heaven. Anyway, I managed to race (and finish) five 'crosses in eight days, so you could say I got around. I've attended every camp now, and I'm proud of it: I'm a four-time repeat offender!

And I'd like to go back. I'm the old guy racer there, as nobody else is above the age of 25. Geoff and Noel like to have one "more mature" rider, somebody who can reliably wake up on time every day, clean up the kitchen out-of-turn if necessary, and, most important, always show up ready to race. I'm that guy. I'm not there to be the best. Instead, I'm there to help bring the best out of the others. I like to think of myself as a player-coach, like Reggie Dunlap in "Slap Shot". You know, I try to lead by example! Really, if it was any other way, I'd feel bad about it. I mean, why else would a spot go to a washed-up, old, has-been like me?!

Partial kidding aside, I'm in debt to Geoff for always choosing to take me along. Mr. Proctor makes dreams come true for people, and I'm one of 'em. He works tirelessly and selflessly, as far as I'm concerned, to make possible this unique experience.

I admire Geoff because he pursues his passion. He has successfully melded his many loves - his love for young athletes, for teaching and coaching, and for the sport of cyclocross itself - into a singular whole, the Euro 'cross camp. And, he does all this on personal vacation time. Most impressive, Geoff includes his family, being his wife Nadia and their boys Atticus and Andriy, in the adventure. The Proctors are living proof that what seems impossible is really not, that good things come to those who try hard, to those who don't take "No" for the far too simple answer it is.

I do indeed help bring out the best in the young guns at camp, but that's easy because Geoff's brought out the best in me. If I'm the big brother type to the 'cross campers, then Geoff is surely mine. I want to thank him for that.

Here's to next year!
Eric Tonkin

Jeremy Powers

Remembering other years

By:
Cycling News
Published:
January 04, 2007, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:29 BST

Hello to all and Happy New Year! I was out riding with the "caveman" Eric Tonkin today, and we...

Belgium, January 3, 2007

Tales from past Euro 'cross camps

Hello to all and Happy New Year!

I was out riding with the "caveman" Eric Tonkin today, and we started to discuss all the hilarious stories that have happened over here during the years, so for your reading pleasure, I present the first edition of the "Powers' Chronicles!" The first story was the time after the camp ended back in 2003, when I was at the house solo. Noel’s brother Reechard came over to use the computer pretty late one night not knowing I was in the house sleeping. He slammed the doors when he came in and was making a lot of noise. I popped out of bed and came running down the stairs screaming expletives, brandishing a plastic wiffleball bat, only to find a very surprised Reechard trying to figure out what was happening.

Sometimes when Trebon and I are out training, we sprint for city limit signs. One time while we were going full out past a pedestrian walking home with his baguette from the bakery, he started screaming “C'MON! YEAH!! C'MON!” at us and once we sat up, he jumped up and down in excitement!

Some city limit sprints are a bit sketchier than others. One in particular stands out above the others in sketch factor. The first road, which is basically a single farm road, crosses wet train tracks then does a blind corner right-hand merge onto a main road where cars travel pretty quickly. The city limit sign is about 50 meters after the merge, and it is really a 50/50 chance to see if you get rammed by a car or win the sprint.

One amusing day started with Trebon licking my heart rate monitor strap before realizing it was mine. Shortly into the ride, he rammed the back of a sprinter van going through a roundabout and fell after the driver hit the brakes suddenly. Ryan popped up quickly just to kick the back door and scream at the driver as the guy drove off.

Then of course, my favorite Trebon story of all time. One day Ryan rode to Brugge, a local tourist spot in the area and ran a bunch of red lights while he was looking around. He did not have his passport and got put in the jail when they pulled him over for it. He tried to bribe the guy with a Clif bar, but to no avail. I was at the house relaxing, making some dinner, and got a call from Noel that he had to come by the house and get Ryan's passport and some cash so he could bail him out of jail.

These stories all seem to involve Ryan, and I probably have 100 more stories like those I could tell, but to keep your stomachs from being sore, and to keep Ryan from getting too upset with me, I’ll stop there.

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

Jeremy

Erik Tonkin's fan club

Erik Tonkin's fan club

By:
Cycling News
Published:
January 04, 2007, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:29 BST

Tonkin is the man in St. Niklaas. For the third year in a row, he had a supporters crew that could...

Belgium, January 4, 2007

Tonkin is the man in St. Niklaas. For the third year in a row, he had a supporters crew that could rival Sven Nys. On the way to the start line today, I asked Tonkin if he had seen his fans yet, and he replied that he’d only seen a couple.

Coming around a corner on the second lap it became apparent that Tonkin’s fans were out in force. All I could hear was "Go Erik " and "We love you Erik". After the race the supporters came over with a banner that had "Love Erik" written on it. They all had "kodac" to have their "photo" taken with the king himself.

Tonkin attracted his support crew four years ago because he was the only rider that smiled when they cheered for him and he had a beard. But don’t worry, Tonkin said that he told his fans that they had to adopt me after he hangs up his skinsuit and hairy legs.

Before the race, Tonkin and I were talking about how different the courses are in Europe compared to the States. On the six minute lap today it had more sand, mud, and off camber sections than we face in the entire cross season in America. Today the only thing that saved the bikes was being able to ride in the lake in order to clean out the drivetrain.

I also witnessed a baby Nys out doing laps around the running track on his custom Colnago with Shimano carbon wheels with world champion edition Dugasts. I think the little guy put in more miles than his dad today. Next year he will be taking part in the niewelingen (juniors >16) 'crosses.

Author
Euro 'cross camp IV

Fresh from US Cyclocross Nationals, sixteen American riders were selected for the Euro 'Cross Camp IV from December 23, 2006, to January 3, 2007, in Belgium. US national 'cross coach Geoff Proctor started the program in 2003 and runs the camps during his winter vacation from his job teaching high school in Montana. This is the fourth year that top US riders will be given this opportunity to gain valuable 'cross racing experience in Europe and to prepare for the world championships in late January. Riders were selected for this year's camp based on their performances in the 2006 USGP of cyclo-cross and US nationals. Coach Proctor and his riders will take turns contributing diary entries.