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USAC CX Devo blog: Christmas Overseas

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Lance Haidet rides an off-camber section.

Lance Haidet rides an off-camber section. (Image credit: USAC Cx Devo)
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Cyclo-cross and Christmas look different in Belgium.

Cyclo-cross and Christmas look different in Belgium. (Image credit: USAC Cx Devo)
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Lance Haidet readies for a race in Belgium.

Lance Haidet readies for a race in Belgium. (Image credit: USAC Cx Devo)

Decorations, lights, festivities, family and the scent of foods that definitely won’t make you any faster. This is how I think of the Christmas season back home. My family’s Christmas tradition has always been to have dinner and make gingerbread houses at my grandparent’s house on Christmas Eve. And then have all 10 of my family members spend the night in order to open presents early the next morning.

However, the past two seasons I have been spending Christmas over here in Belgium with, who I guess you could call, my cyclo-cross family. Unlike in the United States, there aren’t Christmas lights and other decorations lining the streets. Here in Vorselaar, there isn’t much more than a couple trees with lights draped over them and then maybe a Nativity Scene or two at the church in the town center. It really is something else compared to home. But even though the atmosphere around town feels slightly as if the Grinch has made a stop here, we are doing a pretty great job at having a good time.

Due to the multi-day gap between the Namur World Cup last Sunday and Zolder World Cup this upcoming Friday, you would think the past couple days have been pretty simple. Well, this has definitely not been the case. Our days have been consumed with the hard work that it takes to have the best presents possible for the famous Secret Santa, and the occasional game of pool every once and a while. This sacred swapping of sick presents is bound by extremely strict rules: the gift(s) in total must cost less than, or equal to, €10, they must be wrapped, and they can be bought or handmade. These rules set the stage for an array of possible gifts, ranging from cobblestones to water bottles. Based on my experience from last year, I can say with much confidence that this upcoming Secret Santa will be one of the more memorable events of the two weeks we spend here in Belgium.

Compared to the usual snowy, yet sunny, Christmas weather back home in Bend, Oregon, in Belgium there is definitely a significant difference in climate this time of year. However, with the amount of rain that has fallen lately, if the temperature was about 10 degrees (F) colder, we would probably have a solid eight feet of snow right now. That would definitely make for some interesting racing. This Friday is our next race at Zolder, and I am looking forward to it.

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In its 12th year, Geoff Proctor's EuroCrossCamp has now been made part of the official USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Development Program. Designed to develop the next generation of American cyclo-cross talent in the categories of under-26 women, under-23 men and junior me, its primary focus is on international competition including World Cups and the World Championships. The program now supports three blocks of racing overseas for the development riders. The third block is based in Vorselaar, Belgium and includes the Bpost Bank Trofee series event in Essa, the World Cups in Namur and Zolder, Superprestige Diegem, and Bpost Bank Trofee events in Loenhout and Baal.