After a one-year hiatus, the Euro Cross Academy (ECA) returned to Belgium this week, with 10 junior riders from the United States embarking on a near three-week racing stint to get their first experience of European cyclo-cross.
In the final entry to the series on Cyclingnews, long-time programme mechanic Dave Hartman explains how much goes into the trip. For updates from the ECA, follow on Instagram: EuroCrossAcademyIG; Twitter: EuroCxAcademy and EuroCrossAcademy.com.
As I attempt to shake off the jet lag from the 2021/2022 EuroCrossAcademy (ECA) December block, now 3 a.m. with coffee in hand, I’m left with a sense of gratitude. To not only my colleagues who pulled off an amazing camp in the midst of plenty of adversity: a pandemic and an unprecedented bike/parts supply shortage, but also to our competitors who are all business between the tape, yet are willing to do whatever it takes to help each other out when the moment arises.
It's my life (Marcis Shelton)
Overcoming being overwhelmed (Samantha Scott)
Becoming the hammer (Magnus White)
Every position counts (Elsa Westenfelder)
Overdrive encounter with Wout van Aert (Ben Stokes)
Change is epitome of 'cross (Vaughn Veenendaal)
Comparison of cultures (Kaya Musgrave)
Adapting to disappointments (Natasha Visnack)
Tagging along with the Belgian pros (David Thompson)
Belgium, a whole new world (Frank O'Reilly)
In awe of Namur (AJ August)
With 20+ bikes, as many spare wheel sets, spare parts, and really adverse conditions, the demand to keep everything in top shape is a laborious undertaking. Add to that the setup each race day of tents, trainers, pressure washers, water tanks, etc. With all of this to repeat every few days, it really takes a lot of care for the equipment and careful planning. If something breaks, is lost, or forgotten, there is always someone ready to help, either as a direct source or helping network to solve it. Or at the very least, someone to sympathize with.
This camaraderie is also evident in these junior racers we are there to support. Most of these young riders have never seen this level of competition, the conditions Europe has to offer, or the amount of work it takes to get them to the start line. It is really rewarding to see the development these riders achieve in such a condensed, intense period. Not only learning to race in a new environment but to cheer each other on, help find the start line, share chores at the house, or just help keep each other company while staying safe in our bubble.
In an ever polarizing world, it is refreshing to check out and focus only on cyclo-cross for an ECA race block. Everyone there with the same goals. Whether it’s good results, bad results, flat tires, broken shifters, different environments, different routines, we all come out of it with positive experiences, important bonds, great lessons and great memories.
Thank you, Geoff Proctor for your addictive passion that is Cross, and to Andi, Roger, Kristof, Sten, Bob, and Karen for running such a well-oiled machine that is EuroCrossAcademy.
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