It is hard to believe that 17 days have passed since I arrived in Belgium; the time has flown by so fast. I have learned so much more than I anticipated and covered more subjects than I thought we would. The experience has definitely exceeded my expectations. With all of that, what can I take away from Belgium?
Adaptability is a crucial aspect of racing. Having flights that were delayed, baggage and bikes that didn't arrive with me, wheels that traveled to India and missing the first two races all have the ability to be frustrating. Making the best use of my time, focusing on my goals and enjoying what I could helped pass the time and helped make the best out of a compromised situation.
Even though I did not have my bikes, I found a few solutions by riding the cruiser bikes at the team house, jogging on the roads and did plenty of stretching. This allowed me to keep my fitness for the upcoming races. I understand the value of adaptability in a race, but this trip has made it perfectly clear how I need to adapt to everything else to improve my racing.
To know the purpose for the day is essential. If the day was meant for rest, then rest it is. If the day was meant for racing, then racing it is. To be focused and single-minded is always difficult with so many distractions, especially when the distractions are fun.
Geoff Proctor said in one of the team meetings, "You are doing a great job of being united, but you [the group] should make sure that you do what is best for yourself. Even if that means riding inside rather than ride outside. Just make sure that you are doing what is best for you." It is imperative to focus on the goals in order to achieve them.
How to find success in a less than stellar performance is invaluable. A couple of the races did not go according to the plan. Either I had trouble warming up, had no legs or had mechanical issues. While they were not ideal, each one had a lesson to take away to improve the next race. Whether learning how to play full contact 'cross (politely) or figuring out how to get the best results without the normal power in the engine. There was definitely a lesson in each race.
Enjoying the experience is a tremendous reward. I am not sure which I enjoyed more, being able to chat with Jamie Driscoll and Jeremy Powers or racing at a World Cup in the Team USA skinsuit. Being able to just shoot the breeze with the Cannondale/Cylocrossworld.com boys was pretty cool. Then again, toeing the line in the USA skinsuit was AWESOME. I am almost certain that the skinsuit added at least 50 watts to my start.
The whole experience will not soon be forgotten, and I think it is very important that everyone know how well the Team USA Crew takes care of the riders. Everyone did a superb job - Geoff for offering needed advice, Fox for always encouraging us, Els for the delicious food (especially my birthday cake), Brecht for the constantly squaring away my bikes and the other mechanics and soigneurs for putting our experience at the top of their TO DO list. I offer a sincere thank you to all of the people, in Belgium and the States, who have made this Camp possible and a tremendous success.
As I leave Belgium, I am more motivated than ever to train smarter, race harder and enjoy the experience as it comes.