It was Christmas morning and kids all over the world kids are running downstairs to open presents that Santa brought them that night and drink hot chocolate.
For me, it was the first Christmas I have spent away from home not to mention in another country. Instead, I am in Belgium crashing down mud hills and plowing my way through wet fields on my cyclo-cross bike.
The race on Christmas in Belgium was by far my worst day here so far. The day started out good, and I and five other guys went to the race with no problems. During the warm-up however, I managed to get my bike muddy enough to wrap the rear derailleur into my wheel and crack my frame.
The course featured three muddy, technical descents that I was having trouble on, and I crashed there during the second lap of the race. I rode the rest of the race at the back and finished in 28th place, which wasn't too good for me. Later that night, however, I found out that when I crashed I had actually cracked my other frame but even worse than the first! Definitely not the greatest Christmas ever but the trip hasn't been this way the whole time.
My favorite race so far during the camp was in Diegem last Friday night. It was one of the bigger races that I will be doing and had a huge field of 80 juniors. The course was very fun and had a lot of transitions between different terrains such as sand, mud, pavement, and stairs. I felt good and was able to finish in 42nd which is a solid race for me. Overall, Diegem was a very cool experience and hopefully I will be able to race in more of the upcoming big races.
Other than racing, riding and just the daily life here is a real experience. The roads are awesome and it's nice to get out on rural roads although it can smell pretty bad from time to time due to all the farms around the area.
Our daily schedule is pretty regular, and the house we are all staying is very nice. We have to do all our laundry in a small laundromat next door to the house. We have a variety of food around the house and we get any other groceries we need at the local Delhaize grocery store.
The mechanics at the house are amazing and take care of almost everything for us. They are always there to take care of whatever we need and in the pit they are number one! Just want to say a big thanks to the mechanics, Els, Geoff, and everyone else who has supported me for making the camp happen and run smoothly.
Being at Euro Cross Camp has been both a cultural and a racing experience. Even though I'm not home for Christmas this year, and I broke two bikes on Christmas day, the whole trip is a present itself. After all, the experience is the greatest gift I can get.
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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 (cyclocrossworld.com)
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)