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 ninth installment provided by 17-year-old Samantha Scott. In the women's junior race at the GP Sven Nys in Baal, the Californian finished in 8th place. For updates from the ECA, follow on Instagram: EuroCrossAcademyIG; Twitter: EuroCxAcademy and EuroCrossAcademy.com.
As I stood on the side of the Namur World Cup course, I watched as everyone around me successfully made it down the famous off-camber descent. My face burned with jealousy. I had already taken multiple attempts down this section, none of which were successful. Watching my competitors succeed made my mind jump to the idea of not being selected for the Worlds Team. I had never felt this overwhelmed for a race.
Later that night, I consulted with my coach. We went through my accomplishments thus far that helped me get selected for Namur. He told me that everyone is going to make mistakes, but I can surprise myself by racing my own race.
This was a turning point for me. From this moment forward, my confidence improved alongside better results. Throughout the trip I have come across multiple situations where I was overwhelmed, but this motto to race my own race resets me.
I applied this mantra to Zolder’s elite women’s field. This race went really well for me because I didn’t get caught up in who was around me. The start was hectic, filled with 120 of the top racers in the world. After I saw the green light, I navigated through the pack. This was a big moment because I only worried about where I was instead of who was around me. I didn’t come into this race with a goal in mind which took off tons of pressure as I was able to focus on my own ride.
I then brought this positive momentum into Baal the following weekend. This time I lined up with 36 of the best 17-18 junior women in the world. While this was one of the smaller races we did, it was one of the most difficult courses I've ever done. Instead of getting overwhelmed like I did at Namur, I tackled the course one section at a time.
Over the course of this trip I have found my rhythm in racing. I have learned how to overcome mental blocks by focusing on racing my own race. This is something I am looking forward to applying to my racing back home. I'm not only here for possible Worlds selection, but to learn and be the best I can be.
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