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Making the break

Belgium, December 30, 2006

Junior racer Danny Summerhill describes his experience racing the Azencross Loenhout 'cross (Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee Veldrijden #5) in Loenhout, Belgium.

To summarize my day, my morning started off about five hours earlier then it ever should have. Because of the jet lag, I still hadn't been able to get to sleep for the past three days. Then after three bowls of spaghetti and cheese we got in the car and drove to the race. When we got there, the venue was amazing.

It was one of the most well-put-together events I have ever been to. Not only does it have some awesome fly-overs but it is the only course I have ever ridden with BMX-style woup-de-doos. The other really cool thing for this race is the way they started us, which was not by a gun or a whistle, but with a street light that flashed from red to green.

On the start line though, each rider from their respective countries was called up RANDOMLY, but what I found interesting was how UN-RANDOM it seemed that all five of the American racers were called to the line very last. So with anger throbbing through my veins, the start light turned from red to green, and I was off.

With no regard for any of the European riders, I came flying to the first corner without even thinking of touching my brakes. For the next two laps, I clawed my way up from the very, very, very back of the pack up to about 20th. But that was definitely not good enough for me, so I decided to put the hammer down just a little more and try and drop these riders.

What this did was create the top five finishing group, and for the next few laps, we road together, with me going back and forth at the front to barely hanging on at the back. Then as soon as we had gotten enough of a gap between us and every one else racing, the cat and mouse tactics started, and the pace came down as every one was looking around waiting to see what was going to happen.

So just because I felt like seeing what would happen, I made a little effort up the side of the pack and just as soon as it started, four other riders were on my wheel. Then heading in to the last lap, the winner and second place had just made his winning move, opening up a gap big enough that the other two and I couldn't close it.

But we did try to catch them, and in doing so, we managed to drop the fifth place rider up until the last corner where our cat and mouse games got the best of us, and we were caught by the same rider we just dropped. Stupidly, I, for some reason, found myself on the front of this group which was not where I should have been, but I figured "What the hell...I am just going to have to go," and with that, I attacked but not late enough--because with five or so bike lengths to the line, I was passed by both of the riders I led out. All in all though, I have to say that I am happy with the outcome and was pleased with myself, given the unfortunate start position.

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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.