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Euro 'Cross Camp IX: Belgium Brigade

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You know you're in Belgium when the mud looks like this.

You know you're in Belgium when the mud looks like this. (Image credit: Tom Robertson)
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The Euro Cross Campers warm up together

The Euro Cross Campers warm up together (Image credit: Tom Robertson)
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It takes skill to corner in the Belgian mud

It takes skill to corner in the Belgian mud (Image credit: Tom Robertson)

Today is my third day at EuroCrossCamp and while some juniors went to the larger race in Namur, seven of us went to a smaller race in another part of Flanders. The organizers decided that most of us should start in the last row. Also, the starts are conducted differently from the United States, with no thirty-second warning so that was something we all learned today.

The course had a variety of terrain, including cobbles, mud, sand, and slow grass. Barbed wire was also used as part of the course, as John Fransisco learned after a miniature Johnny Hoogerland impression.

I came up with an alternative strategy for today, dialing back on the first lap so I would be able to ride fast at the end and this worked reasonably well for me. Luke Haley and Lionel "The Lionel of Flanders" Rocheleau crushed the race, finishing sixth and eighth respectively. Prepared as usual, our decidedly PRO pit crew kept all the bikes running smoothly and made sure all we had to worry about was racing.

One idea I have pioneered since arriving at the house is the Head-To-Toe Organizational System. Basically, I realized the drawers we keep our clothes in are a little taller than me so I arrange all my clothes and gear in the same way that I use it when riding. Shoes go at the bottom, then leg warmers, followed by skinsuits, other clothes in the middle, and finally glasses and hats at eye level. So far the system has been working well and I have not forgotten anything so I think I will put this system into use at home as well.

Another fact about the camp is the abundance of hilarious people. Luke Haley, the famous Els, and a bunch of other people are keeping the mood light. Other entertainment includes the Flemish version of MTV, Jim. The channel plays a lot of videos no one watches in America so it is very interesting. Pirate jokes and puns bounce through the house like tumbleweed and when all else fails, Youtube has been working well for something to do in the afternoon.

The group dynamics of the camp are developing quickly. Most of us already knew each other but everyone is meshing together well. I think this is the most promising American generation of crossers in a while and to have such a tight-knit group makes EuroCrossCamp even more special.

Thanks to all my supporters for making this trip possible. I am having an awesome time.

Follow my teammate Drew Dillman on Twitter @DizzleDillman to help him beat Cody Kaiser in a followers competition!

Euro 'Cross Camp is about to enter its 9th year and continues to go from strength to strength. Its vision is to offer European race experience to young, developing American cyclo-cross riders and to prepare them for the world championships in late January. Founded in 2003, it utilises the same infrastructure as the USA U23 road programme. This year there will be 20 riders involved and a staff of 12 will be on hand to cater for their every need at the base in Izegem, Belgium.

Throughout the Camp riders will be updating Cyclingnews users on a daily basis, offering them a fly-on-the-wall perspective on the ins and outs of life in a residential training camp and the progress that they are making. The riders will do between 6-10 races over the two-week camp under the watchful eye of Euro 'Cross Camp founder and director Geoff Proctor, who also serves as National U23/Junior Team Coach for the USA at the world championships and is a member of the UCI Cyclo-cross Commission.

Euro 'Cross Camp IX Roster 2011-2012

Juniors
Andrew Dillman (Bob’s Red Mill Cyclocross Team)
Zane Godby (Clif Bar Cyclocross Development Team)
Curtis White (Clif Bar Cyclocross Development Team)
Tobin Ortenblad (California Giant-Specialized)
Logan Owen (Redline Bicycles)
Jordan Cullen (Clif Bar Cyclocross Development Team)
Cypress Gorry (Whole Athlete-Specialized)
Lionel Rocheleau (Team Geargrinder)
Luke Haley (Red Zone Cycling Team)
John Francisco (Red Zone Cycling Team)
Sam O’Keefe (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes)
Nate Morse (cyclocrossworld.com)
Stephen Bassett (Bob’s Red Mill Cyclocross Team)
Spencer Downing (Clif Bar Cyclocross Development Team)

U23
Yannick Eckmann (Pearl Izumi/Shimano)
Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus)
Dan Gerow (Wolverine/ACFSTORES.COM)
Kolben Preble (Clif Bar Cyclocross Development Team)

Elite
Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt)
Jake Wells (Stan’s No Tubes Elite Cyclocross Team)