For me, this year's EuroCrossCamp was about doing Belgian races, where I knew what to expect. Until now, every course I had done on my past two trips was a brand new experience. I didn't know what to expect around the next corner. This time, I knew Namur would be crazy technical, Loenhout would be a tractor pull and Beernem has a dangerously tight start. Now I could apply what I had learned last year to both the races and the lifestyle in general.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a warm and sunny Belgium. I had come from temperatures of around -20 degrees F, so it was practically tropical and riding outside felt great. The first few days in Belgium were relaxing.
Three days into the trip was the Namur World Cup. This was my favorite race last year. With its insane drops and brutal uphills, it really is a primal course that favors a rider who can handle their bike and the pain that comes along with such an intense race. I made sure everything was in line for me to have a perfect race. Pre-race meal, check. Pre-ride, check. Warm up, check.
The thing with 'cross, though, is that any control you think you have over the outcome of a race is usually an illusion. Immediately off the start there was a large crash that I got caught behind and, just as I was starting to recover from it, I went over the bars and crashed really hard on my shoulder. I had to ride the rest of the race with one arm until I was pulled.
A few days later, all the EuroCrossCamp kids and I had the honor of a Q & A session with the world champion Sven Nys. Meeting him in person was a great experience and we all got to ask, arguably, the greatest cyclo-cross racer of all time any question we wanted. He is the embodiment of a true champion. Confident, Humble, and disciplined. I learned a lot from him in just half an hour. A big thanks goes out to Geoff for arranging this and Sven for taking the time out of a very busy schedule to talk to a bunch of aspiring American kids.
It didn't take me long to recover from my Namur crash and, just a few days later, I was ready to go at it again in Beernem. It's a local race, smaller and not UCI registered, so it's not limited by any safety constraints. As a result, the course is dangerous. Right after a really long and fast start, you are constricted into a two-meter wide alleyway. There are several high speed corners where you will go into the creek if you don't make the corner, and various rocks and roots strewn about the course just waiting to give you a flat. It's a fun race though, and I had a good time placing 11th.
The next race on the schedule was Loenhout or, as I like to call it, the tractor pull with whoops thrown in. I feel like this adequately sums up the entire course. It's not a well suited race for me, but I still had a decent day and pulled a 23rd.
I was supposed to race Diegem, one of my favorites. It's a super cool course with lots of climbing and unique features. Alas, I woke with a sore throat. I went to the race course to see if I could still race, but could barely breathe in the pre-ride. I decided to opt out and try to get healthy for the last race in Baal.
Despite some disappointments, EuroCrossCamp has been a lot of fun and a great learning experience. It's an honor to attend this camp once again. Thank you so much to all the staff for making it smooth and hitch free. Thank you also goes to each and every person who made it possible for me to attend.
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EuroCrossCamp Director Geoff Proctor will lead the eleventh annual cyclo-cross camp that will run through late December and early January. 10 juniors, four U23s and two elite women will make the journey to Belgium to train and race over the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
Racing for the campers will begin on December 22 at the Namur World Cup and run through the Baal Bpost Bank Trophee on January 1. A few of the EuroCrossCampers will stay a bit extra so that they can also compete in the Rome World Cup on January 5.
The camp has previously helped the careers of racers like current US National Champion Ryan Trebon, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll. Read these diaries for hints of who may emerge from this year's crop of racers as America's future 'cross stars. Coach Proctor and his riders will take turns contributing diary entries.
2013-2014 EuroCrossCamp XI Roster
Elle Anderson, San Francisco, CA, Cal Giant Berry p/b Specialized
Courtenay McFadden, Bellingham, WA, Bicycle Bluebook/Rock Lobster
Andrew Dillman, Fairdale, KY, Sophisticated Living p/b Bob's Red Mill
Cody Kaiser, El Dorado Hills, CA, Cal Giant Berry p/b Specialized
Tobin Ortenblad, Santa Cruz, CA, Cal Giant Berry p/b Specialized
Logan Owen, Bremerton, WA, Cal Giant Berry p/b Specialized
Grant Ellwood, Boulder, CO, Boulder Cyclo Sport Devo p/b BJC
Peter Goguen, Hopedale, MA, RACE CF | racecf.org @racecf
Lance Haidet, Bend, OR, Bear Development Team
Gavin Haley, Louisville, KY, Red Zone Cycling Elite
Chris Key, Boulder, CO, Boulder Cyclo Sport Devo p/b BJC
Ian McShane, Louisville, KY, Sophisticated Living p/b Bob's Red Mill
Ethan Reynolds, Boise, ID, Hot Tubes Development Cycling Team
Austin Vincent, Simsbury, CT, RACE CF | racecf.org @racecf
Josey Weik, Wrenshall, MN, Red Zone Cycling Elite
Cooper Willsey, Hinesburg, VT, Cyclocrossworld.com/Cannondale
Thursday, 19 December – Riders arrive in Belgium (fly in to Brussels)
Sunday, 22 December - Namur WC
Sunday, 22 December - Waremme (for racers not racing in Namur)
Thursday, 26 December - Zolder WC
Thursday, 26 December - Beernem (for racers not racing in Zolder)
Friday, 27 December - Loenhout bPost bank trofee
Sunday, 29 December - Diegem SuperPrestige
Wednesday, 1 January - Baal bPost GP Sven Nys
Thursday, 2 January – Riders depart for U.S. (fly out of Brussels)
Friday, 3 January – USAC Selected riders fly to Rome
Sunday, 5 January - Rome WC
Monday, 6 Jan – Riders depart for U.S. from Rome
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