I have been to Europe three times now and this has been the best, I mean worst, trip yet. Not because of the racing or because of the weather. No, it is because I have been in Belgium without my bags for 11 days now. Thank you so much British Airways.
I still cannot figure out why it has taken this long to get my bags from London Heathrow to Brussels when it is less than an hour by plane and only two hours by train. I have almost thought about getting on the train and going to the airport, getting my bags and then coming back. It has been a bit of a struggle just because they don't really have everything that I am used too.
So, in order for me to combat the situation here in Belgium, I had some support from back home. I had my parents FedEx some clean clothes over to me. They were supposed to be shipped via second day air, which was awesome because they got to Belgium in two days but then they sat in customs at Brussels Airport for a day and then it was too late on a Friday to deliver. So here is the weekend and no clothes, but since it was the weekend they wouldn't get delivered until Monday.
So now Monday rolls around and it's time to go racing, I don't have any of my riding gear or skinsuits from Cal Giant so I have to race in my USA skinsuit which was not a problem other than the fact that it drew attention from all of the spectators at the race today in Diegem.
The race was awesome because it was right downtown and there is a huge crowd base. Fans lined the course three-deep with a few of them yelling "Go Americans" to me in their Belgian way.
It is interesting to me how the fan base works here. In most of the European countries, the fans go crazy for the top riders but when anyone comes by outside of the top 15, you can hear crickets chirping, no excitement. Back home the fans cheer for everyone from first to last and are so enthusiastic, while here they just cheer for the guys that they know.
Moving past all of the disruption of having no bags, I am looking forward to the week of racing ahead of us and learning as much as possible in the process.
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This year's Euro 'Cross Camp will feature a total of 20 riders including four elite, seven under 23 and nine junior cyclo-cross racers. Some of the riders are veterans of previous camps while others are new.
It is the eighth year that Camp Director Geoff Proctor is taking young (mostly) American cyclo-crossers over to Europe to gain more experience racing in and near Belgium. The opportunity gives them the chance to experience cyclo-cross at its highest level with races at two World Cups. They'll also get to compete in several national-level events.
"Domestic racing is great, but you still have to go to Europe for the highest levels. If you want to be the best in the world, you have to go race the best," said Proctor, who is a school teacher in Montana. He's also a member of the UCI's Cyclo-cross Commission.
Riders will arrive on Thursday or Friday, December 16 or 17 and depart just after the New Year. Expect daily blogs from the riders on their vacation adventures.
Euro Cross Camp VIII Roster
Sean Babcock, 28, (Kona)
Ryan Knapp, 27, (BikeReg.com)
Ryan Iddings, 27, (Redline)
Mitchell Hoke, 23, (Cliff Bar Development Team)
Danny Summerhill, 22, (Garmin-Holowesko)
Jerome Townsend, 22, (BikeReg.com/Joe’s Garage/Scott)
Steve Fisher, 21, (Rad Racing NW/Hagens-Berman)
Chris Hurst, 21, (Unattached)
Joe Schmalz, 21, (KCCX/Verge/Challenge)
Zach McDonald, 20, (Rapha/Focus Cyclocross Team)
Cody Kaiser, 19, (California Giant/Specialized)
Yannick Eckmann, 18, (Hot Tubes Development Team)
Jeff Bahnson, 18, (Van Dessel Factory Team)
Gunnar Bergey, 18, (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes)
Bjorn Fox, 18, (Clif Bar Development Team)
Kolben Preble, 18, (Clif Bar Development Team)
Jeremiah Dyer, 18, (Champion Systems/Cannondale)
Zane Godby, 17, (Clif Bar Development Team)
Cypress Gorry, 17, (WEB-OP)
Andrew Dillman, 17, (Red Zone Cycling)
Euro Cross Camp VIII Race Program (subject to change)
Wednesday-Friday, December 15-17: Riders travel to camp
Saturday, December 18: Lichtervelde
Sunday, December 19: UCI World Cup-Kalmthout
Sunday, December 19: Maldegem
Wednesday, December 22: Team Training Race (Ardooieveld)
Saturday, December 25: Beernem
Sunday, December 26: UCI World Cup-Zolder
Sunday, December 26: Balagem
Monday, December 27: Super Prestige-Diegem
Wednesday, December 29: Azencross GVA-Loenhout
Thursday, December 30: Sylvester Cyclocross-Bredene
Saturday, January 1: GP Sven Nys GVA-Baal
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