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Euro 'Cross Camp X

Curtis White in action in Namur

A taste of success

Curtis White
January 02, 2013, 21:46 GMT,
January 02, 2013, 21:51 GMT

Curtis White wraps up Euro 'Cross Camp

Wow. It's hard to believe that Euro 'Cross Camp X is a wrap. Even though this has been my second consecutive Christmas in Belgium, it seems as though I've soaked up as much, if not more, experience and knowledge as the first time. This year's camp had different effects on everyone. For me, I had my first taste of a podium in Europe.

Things started of with a bang in our first race of the Kerstperiode after placing second at Namur, quite possibly the hardest course on the European circuit. 300 meter uphill start, 100 meter drop, 100 pitch, 100 meter drop, again and again. All mud. Because of the extreme conditions, things broke apart quickly. After 40 minutes of suffering on the sides of the citadel, I crossed the line in second. Immediately after crossing the finish, I was guided along a completely fenced off path that led to the podium and a warm tent. Things were good.

My next taste of success was the bpost Bank Trophee in Loenhout. Slow, grinding, thick mud. Pure volk racing. After 40 minutes of slogging through cow manure ridden fields and over the infamous whoops, I sprinted to the third step on the podium. A podium out of a field 70+ deep... I was ecstatic. Again, I was escorted to a warm tent to be washed off for the podium. I received kisses from the podium girls, flowers, and a basket of treats.

Everything about this year's camp was incredible. Many thanks goes out to Jim Anderson for his fine cooking, to Dave Hartman and the rest of the mechanics for making sure everyone's bikes were in tip-top shape, the soigneurs for the help the house and race, to Bob De Cnodder for allowing us to stay at his team house.

Most of all, a huge thank you to Geoff Proctor for giving juniors, such as myself, and many others the opportunity to compete with the world's finest cyclo-crossers.

Thanks for reading.

Curtis White

Danny Gerow finding his rhythm at Loenhout

Belgium: the land of rain, occasional sun, and smiling faces

Daniel Gerow
January 01, 2013, 17:04 GMT,
January 01, 2013, 17:10 GMT

Danny Gerow sows the seeds of success

This year’s camp has been an incredible experience. It has been really refining in positive ways, and I have learned a lot during it.

Racing over here is humbling, and it makes you focus on the details of excellence. You can learn a great amount here as you race the world’s best.

I am amazed at the support and care of the staff here at camp. They work really hard to provide us with amazing opportunities to grow in our racing and as people. Their smiling faces and willingness to help always encourage me. One example of this is Kristof, one of our soigneurs. He is always friendly and encouraging as he massages our legs after the races. I can always count on getting a good laugh in with Kristof no matter how tired I am from the racing. The small kindness like this helps the riders feel at home and stay fresh and rested mentally. Without the great staff, the riders at camp would not be able to fully take advantage of the opportunities before them. I am very grateful for their encouragement and support.

The character qualities of persistence and determination have been on my mind while I have been here. Cycling is a sport that rewards those who are persistent and determined. Belgian cyclo-cross is a discipline of cycling where this is very apparent. The courses and the field strengths are the most demanding in the world, and in order for one to race their best and learn as much as they can, they must be determined and persistent. In order to be successful, a rider must ride with heart and passion in Belgium. This passion and heart in cycling is one of the reasons why I love the sport.

A metaphor of the drive required for elite level cycling occurred to me on my training ride a few days ago. It was raining and very windy while I was doing my pre-race efforts. I felt like I was riding into a squall. I persisted on finishing my openers. After I finished my last one, the rain stopped and the sun came up. As I rode down a countryside road, the lush, vibrant green field to the right glistened in the sunlight. It was a reminder that hard work will plant a good crop to be harvested at the right time. In order to be successful, one must work hard and persist through the challenges (the rain) in order to reap the harvest of success (the beautiful, plentiful field of crops).

Thinking of heading home to the U.S. in a few days is bittersweet. I am very excited to be home with family and friends, but I will also miss the staff and the riders at camp.

I want to say thank you to my team (Wolverine Racing Elite CX), Matt Baroli, my friend’s and family’s support, my coach (Ben Ollett), Geoff Proctor, and all of the people who have helped me get to where I am. Without their amazing support, I would not have this opportunity to grow in my racing and as a person over here.

Happy New Year!

Danny Gerow

Drew Dillman on the podium at Loenhout

A European podium, at last

Daniel Simms
December 31, 2012, 2:07 GMT,
December 31, 2012, 9:36 GMT

Drew Dillman getting amongst the Belgian experience

Yea, I haven’t even got past top-15 and just today I got my goal of top-30 at one of the bigger races. What podium? Well, I was up on that top step a few days ago at Loenhout. Not for my race performance, but rather for the after party. I bought an American flag Morphsuit and a huge American flag before I left, having pre-planned this whole fiasco.

So after my race I took off one set of spandex and put another set on. The responses from the crowd were awesome. I had crazy drunk Belgians dance with me, choke me, cuss at me, shake my head, kiss me, try to pour beer in my mouth and take a lot of pictures with me. It felt like I was a super hero and had special powers that allowed me to do things that I normally couldn’t do and quite frankly wouldn’t choose to do. For example: dancing crazily with hundreds of drunk Belgians or going onto the UCI Podium and taking a picture with the podium girl. Mom, I finally got a European podium. Aren’t you so proud of me? (She is). It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to have more fun in the USA suit at Worlds in February.

A New Perspective on Camp

This year I decided to make a set of videos containing all the secrets behind the Euro 'Cross Camp experience. These videos, primarily for my family and friends back home, started to get a little fun so I began to get a little better at how I edited and presented them. I’m not hoping to get a million views or anything, but it’s definitely a fun and interesting way to show my family what racing in Europe is really like and it is also great for the sponsors. As the camp proceeds I will continue to come out with new videos and I hope everyone back home enjoys them. If you want to check them out they are on my Facebook profile.

Brothers in Christ

One of the coolest aspects of the camp this year is the fact that there are three riders attending Marian University that get to experience this camp together. The best part of this is that all three of us are Christians and therefore brothers in Christ. We meet frequently to read the Bible and pray together and to bring this to the Camp with us is something very special. I look forward to the moment before each race when we all three get to pray together on the start line. We are all focused on the same thing: Glorify God.

Leading up to the camp this year I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend because I really wanted to go on a Christian Mission Trip to Ecuador for most of the 2013 summer. I was afraid that if by attending the camp I would sacrifice my trip to Ecuador which means a lot more to me than Euro 'Cross Camp. Don’t get me wrong, I love to race my bike and I aspire to become one of the best 'cross racers in the world, but it comes down to this: Which is more important eternally, racing my bike or saving the lost souls of unreached people all around the world? And by "more important" I mean which brings more pleasure to my Father in heaven? I’m sure many Christian athletes suffer from these same questions and situations, but they are tough to deal with and when all is said and done all I truly want to do is glorify God with my whole life. Thanks for reading.

Dizzle Dillman


Josey Weik at the Loenhout 'cross race

The road 'cross the ocean

Cycling News
December 30, 2012, 16:41 GMT,
December 30, 2012, 19:41 GMT

Josey Weik gets a taste of Belgian 'cross

I began the season with a goal. Make it across the ocean to race cyclo-cross in the motherland of the sport. Belgium. Rainy, muddy, brutally honest and terrifyingly revealing, this is where you go to race the best in the world. \

I didn't think I would actually make it. It was a long shot to qualify for EuroCrossCamp. Don't get me wrong. I knew I could do it, but I knew I would have to improve by leaps and bounds in order to reach the level to make it. Having a high goal to shoot for has always been good for me though, in order to achieve this I think I pushed myself farther and was more focused than I ever have been.

After the first few 'cross races I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I could do it. I did a big fundraiser to make it out to the qualifying races in Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky. Thanks to a ton of awesome people, I made it out, and shocked myself. I started to think that I could actually make it, then that I would make it.

On thanksgiving morning I got the e-mail, saying that I was invited to the tenth annual EuroCrossCamp. Thanks to a ton of very generous people, my team IScorp, HED cycling, WCJ Pilgrim, the Bonebell, Trek, Enzo's Button, and of course my parents, I was able to seize this amazing opportunity!

A few weeks later, I left from the airport in Chicago with my friend David Lombardo. Taking the plane to Belgium was surreal without my parents. I didn't really comprehend that I was going to another continent across the ocean, until we arrived in Brussels. The airport didn't look very different, but once Jim picked us up and we got on the road, it was immediately apparent that we were in a very different place.

The roads were tiny, so thin they looked like they were one-way. There were bike trails next to almost every major road and the ditches were incredibly steep and deep. Everything seemed close together and squeezed in. We got to the house relatively quickly, considering we traveled across half of Belgium. Of course, that is relative as Belgium is very small.

After we unpacked our bags, ate lunch and got settled into our room we went on a easy spin - our first ride in Belgium! I couldn't shake the impression that I was in a Harry Potter movie. There were so many hedges and all the yards were extremely well kept. I did not so much notice on the first day, but you almost never see the sun. In Belgium it really does rain all the time. When there is sun out though, it becomes a big deal.

The riding was fun. Close tight, windy roads, and bike paths with interesting sights and a fair amount of traffic kept us on our toes. Once we got back we settled into the routine that would define the rest of camp. If it is a non-race day we get up at eight 'o clock and eat breakfast. Then we get dressed and go on a ride. We come back and make sure our bikes are in working order, then take a shower, and eat lunch. After that, depending on the day, you're either responsible for the breakfast chores, the afternoon chores, the dinner chores, or it's your day off. After relaxing with your legs up, hanging out, napping, and playing pool for the rest of the day you eat dinner, attend the meeting, and go to bed.

After a few days at camp, getting adjusted and settling into the routine we did our first race, the Namur World Cup. Pretty much the craziest cyclo-cross course there is! Words cannot do this course justice, other than that it is vertical - when it's up, it is UP and when it's down, it is DOWN. Along with it simply being extreme, the course was muddy (of course). I don't think I have ever had so much fun in a race. Sure, my eyes were rolling back into my head the entire time, but the course was just so cool! I placed 11th out of 30, and fellow EuroCrossCampers Logan and Curtis placed a great 1st and 2nd.

The second race of EuroCrossCamp was the only double race. Four of our juniors, five of our U23's, and our elite rider did the Zolder World Cup. Myself and two others (it would have been four others but two were sick) did the smaller, provincial championships in Beernem. The small local races in Belgium are very brutal and straightforward. This one was tight, so much so that it reminded me of a mountain bike race. With it's narrow (only five riders instead of eight wide), long start stretch, twisty track, and actual single track with little passing opportunity. I started last row out of forty riders and placed a decent 15th right behind Nick, our top finisher at 14th. Logan placed a great 2nd place at the Zolder World Cup.

After Zolder/Beernem we started the race every other day schedule. This changed the routine a little bit, and made it quite a bit more difficult for our super staff, Geoff, Jim, and most of all our mechanic Dave. It made it extremely important to be on top of everything.

The next race we did was Loenhout. For me, this race was the most brutal with many long, straight, almost axle-deep-mud-power-sections, and interesting with BMX-style whoops, and a huge flyover. It was also the biggest race yet with about 60 starters and crowds... the crowds! Beer tents, Frite stands, people screaming everywhere! It was really amazing racing with such a big crowd.

The start was long, and starting from the second to last row with 60 some riders was tough, but really fun! I had by far my best start yet and moved past over half the pack on the first section. The rest of my race wasn't quite as good, I had a few issues with running into the course tape, but I pulled through for a very muddy 34th place. It was not a bad race by any means, but I was having a tough time in the long mud stretches. Some of the other kids had really great races though! Logan placed 2nd, Curtis 3rd, and Stephen 7th.

I'm now resting up for the race in Diegem tomorrow, and after that the final race in Baal. This camp has been a methodical whirlwind of experiences so far, and I am amazed by the level of racing and the dedication of the staff here keeping us together. Big shout out to all the people who have helped me get here and have this amazing experience! I will continue to post updates on my blog and my Twitter (Bikerboy_weiker) with race reports, pictures and more.

Cheers, Josey

Josh Johnson in action

The journey and the sponge

Cycling News
December 29, 2012, 10:49 GMT,
December 29, 2012, 11:19 GMT

Josh Johnson soaks up Belgian cross culture

The European Cross Camp experience has been a wonderful opportunity to be immersed in the culture and lifestyle that has forged some of the worlds finest bike racers. After spending over a week in Belgium and having the opportunity to compete in three race so far, I've gained a better understanding of what it takes to continue to develop both mentally and physically.

Mental preparation is necessary to allow yourself to be ready to race in extreme conditions, which can consist of mud, rain, snow, and ice, along with courses that challenge and push you to the limit. Physically, you must be prepared to maneuver your bike in the on and off positions; riding, sliding, running, and sprinting to the finish.

The races here are watched by large crowds who brave the aforementioned (unfavorable) conditions to watch as their favorite hero's battle the elements for the right to stand on the top step. This is much different than what we're used to in the US. We're not familiar with having superfans who attend many of the races, going around to all the riders, taking pictures, asking for rider cards, and then cheering on their favorite athletes. One group of fans has been to the same races we've attended, over a time span of under a week (they seem to congregate near the EXC setup). That's dedication.

Having never raced outside the US, I wasn't quite sure what to anticipate and where my expectations should be set. My goal has been to go into each race prepared to not only do my best, but to also learn as much as possible in every situation. I want to soak it all in, so I can be a sponge full of muddy Belgian water, returning home to squeeze out all the acquired knowledge... then apply it to my racing. This approach has allowed me to learn a great deal from each race, gaining valuable experience to help me as I continue to develop.

With two races left on the agenda, I look forward to continuing the process of refining my skills and soaking it all in. The analogy of the sponge seemed fitting for the many days of rain that frequents the Belgian sky. I hope to finish the camp with a strong display of what I've learned so far, racing with tenacity and perseverance, being confident in the skills that I have and enjoying each moment.

As I finish writing this brief reflection, I can't help but think of the journey that I've personally undergone to get to where I am in my life, as well as my cycling. There have been countless numbers of people who have given their support and encouragement to me time and time again. I am extremely grateful for that and wouldn't be writing this if there weren't so many people who cared enough to invest in my life. If you are presented with the opportunity to help a young cyclist in their journey, do it – something small goes a long way.

Here's to the journey – Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed!

A close up of the four legged friend

A day to recover

Manny Goguen
December 28, 2012, 22:32 GMT,
December 28, 2012, 22:34 GMT

Manny Goguen puts his feet up in Voselaar

It is our eighth day here in Vorselaar Belgium, and the day after the Zolder Wolrd Cup. Tomorrow we race the famous race with the whoops, Loenhout! I'm getting super pumped for this race, if I remember correctly I had my best ride in Loenhout last time I was here in 08/09 as a Junior. With a World Cup yesterday and a Bpost Bank series race tomorrow that makes today one to rest and recover.

This is a much needed day off for me, yesterday I got pretty banged up with a couple hard crashes in the pre race laps trying to test the course limits... Actually as much as I'd like to say course limits I should really say my limits because after watching Sven Nys on tv fly through sections smoothly, faster than I went through them crashing I clearly wasn't getting close to the course limits... It's amazing watching how fast the veteran pros rip around these courses!

Today's rest day started off with a quick trip to castle Vorselaar for team pictures. On our way back a couple of us stopped to get some pictures of this massive horse near by. Curtis said it was Bob Marley reincarnated haha. I was happy to get back and get on the rollers, nothing feels better than lightly spinning yesterdays hard race out of my legs. We manage to have just as much fun training indoors on rainy days as we do outside on the 'cross course in town.

After everyone rides, the rest of the day we just try to stay off our feet as much as possible. Recovering is just as important as training hard, there's no pick up football games or outdoor activities today. Most of us spend out free time watching some tv shows online, reading a book or taking a nap; there's also bit of pool played, a fun and easy activity.

But we can't be to lazy, before dinner I've got to go through my bikes and makes sure they are race ready for tomorrow's super fun race. I'm pretty sure after yesterdays race with all the sand on the course I may need to change a couple cables. Keeping your bike in tip top shape is very important for any elite racer and with these muddy courses it can be a challenge but luckily we have great help over here from Dave our mechanic. Geoff has set up an excellent program for us here, it helps us to race at our best while staying relaxed and really have the opportunity to soak in the European racing scene and learn a lot from it.

I'd like to take this time to thank, Geoff, Jim, Dave and all the staff for their ceaseless support and assistance. And I would also like to thank NEBRA and all of our great friends and family back home who made it possible for Peter and I to make this trip!

Euro 'Cross Camp X

Euro 'Cross Camp Director Geoff Proctor will lead the tenth annual cyclo-cross camp that will run through late December and early January. Nine juniors, six U23s and one elite rider will make the journey to Belgium to train and race over the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

What's new for this year is the location of the Euro 'Cross Camp, which will be in Vorselaar, Belgium. Racing for the campers will begin on December 23 at the Namur World Cup and run through the Baal Bpost Bank Trophee on January 1. A few of the Euro 'Cross Campers will stay a bit extra so that they can also compete in the Rome World Cup on January 6.

The camp has previously helped the careers of racers like current US National Champion Ryan Trebon, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll. Read these diaries for hints of who may emerge from this year's crop of three elite, eight U23 and eight junior racers as America's future 'cross stars? Coach Proctor and his riders will take turns contributing diary entries.

2012-2013 Euro 'Cross Camp X Roster

Justin Lindine (Redline Bicycles), 28, New Salem, MA

Under 23s
Manny Goguen (C.F. Racing P/B Trek Portsmouth), 21, Hopedale, MA
Danny Gerow (Wolverine Racing Elite CX, 21, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
Josh Johnson (Bissell-ABG-Nuvo), 20, Fort Wayne, IN
Skyler Trujillo (Boo/Enve/Challenge), 20, Fort Collins, CO
Andrew Dillman (Bob’s Red Mill Cyclocross), 18, Fairdale, KY
Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized), 18, Santa Cruz, CA

Logan Owen (Redline Bicycles), 17, Bremerton, WA
Curtis White (Hot Tubes Development Team), 17, Duanesburg, NY
Nate Morse (Hot Tubes Development Team), 17, Cohasset, MA
Stephen Bassett (Bob’s Red Mill Cyclocross), 17, Knoxville, TN
Nick Torraca (Mad Duck Cyclery), 17, Grapevine, TX
John Francisco (Red Zone Cycling) 17, Louisville, KY
Peter Goguen (C.F. Racing P/B Trek Portsmouth), 16, Hopedale, MA
David Lombardo (Verdigris-Village Cyclocross), 16, Crystal Lake, IL
Josey Weik (ISCorp), 16, Wrenshall, MN