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It's my life: EuroCross Academy blog

Marcis Shelton racing in Baal
Marcis Shelton racing in Baal (Image credit: Cyclephotos)

After a one-year hiatus, the Euro Cross Academy (ECA) returned to Belgium this week, with 10 junior riders from the United States embarking on a near three-week racing stint to get their first experience of European cyclo-cross.

Cyclingnews is running a blog from the camp, with riders contributing throughout their Belgian adventure and the latest installment is provided by 17-year-old Marcin Shelton. He raced at the Namur World Cup and the GP Sven Nys in Baal. For updates from the ECA, follow on Instagram: EuroCrossAcademyIG; Twitter: EuroCxAcademy and EuroCrossAcademy.com.

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Dr. Alban once said "it's my life."

I only did two races, one at the very start of the three-week block and one at the very end. Something both of those races had in common was the song "It's my life (Remix)" blasting at the start line. Europeans love themselves some Dr. Alban.

Even though I didn't get to race much due to the flu, I still learned so much. Everyone talks about how different the racing is here but it's not just that. Getting used to the style of life, the roads, and the weather is all part of the challenge. There is no elevation change here whatsoever, so the rides are completely different from the ones at home, which also takes a lot of getting used to.

There's also challenges about racing in Europe I didn't even think about before I went. It takes a long time just to settle in due to the change in sleep schedule. I got here four days before the Namur World Cup and that still wasn't enough time to race at 100%. 

In the future if I'm here for one big race like Worlds, I would come a week before to get on a good sleep schedule. Racing in Europe is important to any rider's development. It's the ultimate goal of any cyclist from America to be eventually competitive in Europe and make a career here. Staying here for weeks was a taste test of what it takes to be a full time cyclist here.

The only difference is that we have an amazing team already here to support us. I realize why it's so hard for people not from Europe to do well here. It takes so many things to happen and immense dedication. It also takes a team of people. Doing this by myself would be impossible. Europe is a whole new world and there's so many untapped opportunities here.

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