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The secret of fast bike racing

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Jeremiah Dyer racing in the snow at Beernem

Jeremiah Dyer racing in the snow at Beernem (Image credit: Tom Robertson)
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Euro 'Cross camp training race

Euro 'Cross camp training race (Image credit: Tom Robertson)
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Jeremiah Dyer sprinting at MSG in Tennessee

Jeremiah Dyer sprinting at MSG in Tennessee (Image credit: Nicole Evens)
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Jeremiah Dyer says thanks to his sponsors for helping him get to Euro 'Cross Camp

Jeremiah Dyer says thanks to his sponsors for helping him get to Euro 'Cross Camp (Image credit: Kolben Preble)
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Kolben Preble and Jeremiah Dyer in the woods at Beernem

Kolben Preble and Jeremiah Dyer in the woods at Beernem (Image credit: Tom Robertson)
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Before a Euro 'Cross Camp group ride

Before a Euro 'Cross Camp group ride (Image credit: Tom Robertson)

What is the secret?

How does one get fast - really fast - at riding a bike? Seriously, ask anyone who bike races and you will get the same answer: BIKE RACING IS UNFORGIVING!

Yes, it is true. Whoever came up with the idea to train your body to the brink of exhaustion and then go ride circles in a snow-covered cow field when it is 15 degrees and raining was a little demented. Throw in massive amounts of beer, cigar smoke, and the Flemish-cult-mentality-spectators and you have plain and simple insanity.

My pilgrimmage to the Euro 'Cross Camp has not exactly gone to plan. The airlines have still not found my bikes and bags, and I missed almost a week of training, but the biggest blow was watching the first World Cup from the sidelines. I have been very fortunate to have bikes loaned to me thanks to Jonathan Page, who allowed me to get back to what I came here to do.

I did a local race on Christmas day and finished 15th. This local "B" race drew almost 40 juniors. I almost rode into the top 10 before locking up my front wheel on a decent and crashing as a result. I felt better in the race than I had expected and enjoyed the course, although certain sections resembled an ice skating rink.

Something I have learned since my last Euro trip with the mountain bike team is that being a bike racer is frustrating, requires patience, and will on occasion have you think the world is about to come to a grinding halt.

Does anyone other than me wonder how many times a day Jonathan Page thinks about the three seconds that separated him from the gold medal at the world championships in 2007? How do you find three seconds when you are already that fast?

What is it exactly that makes these Euros so fast? What is their secret? How does one become great at a sport that can be cruel and unusual?

The reason I race my bicycle and will continue to race my bicycle does not have to do with some elaborate plan to become world famous. I don't race my bike because it is a fad (and no, I don't own a fixed gear). I certainly don't race my bike because I want to be filthy rich. I don't race my bike because it starts conversation with girls. I don't race my bike because looking like a T-Rex with a farmer's tan is stylish.

The reason I race my bike is much simpler than any of those reasons. I race my bike because it is what brings me to the basics. It's a process of slowly making one's self stronger everyday and is satisfying and real, but nothing more. It's the singular focus of riding a bike fast, commonly described as tunnel vision, the zone, etc.

The reason we are spending our Christmas break in Belgium is to "re-learn" how to race our bikes. No, it is not very glamorous to race cyclo-cross in a country where it is practically religion, but I've found that we learn more in the races we lose than the races we win.

What I've learned here is the reality is that the "secret" is - that there are no secrets. You just have to go harder than you can possibly imagine and not make a SINGLE mistake!

Jeremiah Dyer
www.JeremiahDyer.com

P.S. - I want to thank everyone who is responsible for me being here: family, friends, sponsors and competitors.

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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

Elite men

Sean Babcock, 28, (Kona)
Ryan Knapp, 27, (BikeReg.com)
Ryan Iddings, 27, (Redline)
Mitchell Hoke, 23, (Cliff Bar Development Team)

U23 men

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)

Junior men

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