Working European cyclo-cross, I like to keep a small notebook in my back pocket. In it goes daily plans, rider information, notes, addresses, gate key codes, a myriad of other details and, inside the back cover, some notes to self.
Low-tech, but dependable, through mud, snow, random beer-foam dousing, it keeps on ticking from pit to press conference.
This year, as I ready for EuroCrossCamp 11, one thing I have written down is "development = finding meaning in what others find meaningful."
I started EuroCrossCamp back in 2003 to help US riders gain both seminal experience in European cyclo-cross races and prep them for the world championships at the end of January. My rationale: once riders reach certain domestic targets, they need (with strategic blocks of European racing) to expose themselves to the 3 C's of higher-level cyclo-cross: courses, conditions, and competition.
This year's camp will encompass two weeks and 4-6 challenging European races. And the group is as promising as ever.
For many years, I've tried to select some women riders but for a number of reasons, it hasn't worked out. This year, I'm really pleased to have two strong women who are keen to ratchet up their riding: Elle Anderson and Courtenay McFadden. Elle has been smashing it in the US and Courtenay has a ton of promise as well. Another exciting note: in the two upcoming World Cups in Namur and Zolder, we'll have nine American women on the start line (eight spots plus one extra thanks to Katie Compton leading the world cup overall).
Again some of our strongest U23's are coming up. Logan Owen (4th Jr. CX worlds; 4th Jr. Road worlds) has been tearing up the US domestic season with some strong finishes in the elite races. And his Cal-Giant teammates, Cody Kaiser and Tobin Ortenblad, have been solidly up there as well. And Drew Dillman always comes on in the later part of the season and I've worked with him for a number of years.
I'm bringing 10 this year and for several of these kids, EuroCrossCamp is an extension of the focus we set down during our summer camp work. I simply love helping young riders figure out what works, what doesn't, teaching them how to focus on excellence. And it has a lot of overlap in life, too. If you focus on excellence, on taking care of details, really working on them in a disciplined, methodical way, then the results come.
So, I'm busily prepping for athlete arrival. Planning the race days, the nightly meetings, the training days, getting everything organized. This year, I have super support again from my mechanics, soigneurs, and helpers. Another personal highlight is my own family will be a part of the camp as well. And I couldn't do it without the critical logistical support from Marc Gullickson, Jim Miller, and Andrew Hawkes at USAC. Finally, I'm indebted to all the great US clubs, teams, parents, fans, industry contributors like Castelli and Challenge, and the USAC Development Foundation and the Mud Fund scholarship programs. These entities are to be thanked a thousand times over for their vision sharing.
Imagine for a minute taking a group of aspiring young Belgian basketball players and bringing them to the US to compete against the very best US talent. That's what EuroCrossCamp is in reverse. It's a tall order, but that's the deal. And these young American riders? They commit. They're hungry. This is meaningful for them. And my role is to make meaning out of that in the form of leadership, clear thinking, and input.
At the end of the day, I like the shepherding and the patience it takes to work with young riders, the delayed gratification. When you see so many older riders doing well who've come through the camp like Jeremy Powers, Ryan Trebon, Danny Summerhill, Zach McDonald, Yannick Eckmann, Justin Lindine, Curtis White and so on, it's rewarding. It's motivating to feel like you played a small part. That's the coolest thing about development, making a contribution.