We go to races all year long, races around the corner from our homes, throughout the U.S. and even all the way to Europe. Every race we go to, we focus on racing and doing everything possible to give our best effort once the gun goes off. But we very rarely get the chance to enjoy watching a professional race, let alone getting to watch the best of the best duke it out during the Holy Week of CX. Yesterday, after a tough race in Loenhout, I was fortunate enough to stay and watch those guys put the hammer down.
Our race had some "heavy" conditions that only became worse as it kept raining. But right before the start of the elite men's race the slight rain turned to pouring and the course became super-slick in the corners and extremely thick on the long "tractor pull" sections. Watching Sven and Stybar power through that course was impressive. I knew what it took to get around the track and they made it look so easy.
When we are back in the U.S. we get the ability to watch these races over the Internet, while listening to a Flemish guy rattle off words that sound like gibberish, and then possibly a name we recognize followed by some more Flemish. We don't get to listen and feel the vibe that the Euro fans put out at the races. From the Neil Diamond remixes to the wild dancing and massive amounts of beer, these fans know how to party. Getting to walk the course and interact with them was awesome.
The one thing that these races have that no "stick and ball" sport has, is the fan interaction with the athletes. During a baseball or football game you can't get onto the field and be right next to the players. In cyclo-cross you are at the edge of the course tape, if not reaching across the tape and cheering, screaming in the riders faces and feeling their effort as they go by. And, you can do so from anywhere on course. There are no VIP-only sections on the major parts of the course, there are no skyboxes or any of that. Anyone from anywhere can come and be a fan.
The whole experience became escalated because I was walking around with Drew Dillman dressed in an American Flag Morph Suit. We made sure to take a detour through the beer/disco tents and get the full fan experience from girls dancing on tables to guys barely able to hold the cigarette in their mouth. The more drunk the fans were, the more they loved him. Everyone wanted pictures with Dizzle and wanted to talk about the huge number of Americans that were racing today. Most, if not all of them, really enjoy seeing more of the U.S. riders making the trip across the pond to dive into the fray of European cyclo-cross.
I am so thankful to be a racer and have the opportunity to come and race in Europe but I really enjoyed being a fan for the afternoon and soaking in that experience.
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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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