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Finding my feet in the Belgian 'Cross scene

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(Image credit: Tom Robertson)
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After the run-up at Zolder

After the run-up at Zolder (Image credit: Tom Robertson)
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Hopping a ditch in 10th place at Bredene

Hopping a ditch in 10th place at Bredene (Image credit: Tom Robertson)

My European start position was a metaphor for my European racing experience. At the beginning of camp, I would wait around disoriented before the start, until I was called up with a few others lacking UCI points or Belgian citizenship to the very back of the pack.

When the gun went off, I would chase as hard as I could for forty minutes. I’m looking forward to seeing the front row at nationals.

Even outside of racing, it took me a while to get used to things. The level of support confused me (in Belgium, I never had to work on my own bikes, pin my numbers, mix bottles), and asking for things I needed was difficult. But like in racing, after a few days I settled into the rhythm of things and didn’t feel guilty about lying on the couch for recovery or asking for a bottle of water from the trainer. I saw a steady improvement in my results as well as I adjusted to European racing by sharpening my elbows. I got more comfortable with the battle that was the first ten minutes of a cross race in Belgium.

Not surprisingly, the way I spent my time and energy off the bike at Euro Cross Camp helped the way I raced. With such incredible support from mechanics and other staff, I focused intently on my eating and resting, rather than college applications, bike work, or hurrying to class.
I was never rushed or distracted in warm-up, and the groups of interested fans gave me energy. What made the camp powerful for me was that everything pointed to the races. This smoothed the transition to ruthless European competition, and made me faster.

Geoff Proctor outlined success in racing at the camp as being satisfied with at least two race efforts. I felt the best at the Zolder World Cup and a local race in Bredene, but I learned from the entire two weeks of camp, inspired by the Belgian way of cyclo-cross.

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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

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 (
Stephen Bassett (Bob’s Red Mill Cyclocross Team)
Spencer Downing (Clif Bar Cyclocross Development Team)

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

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