Katie Compton has been at the top of the cyclo-cross world for a decade, winning more than 100 UCI races, 22 World Cup races and finishing on the podium at the World Championships four times since 2007. But, like all but a few brave Americans, she has stayed Stateside most of the season, making the transatlantic commute to select major races. Not anymore. The Colorado native is gearing up for a full season of living and racing in Belgium while racing near her home at the Colorado Classic.
Despite her wealth of experience and top notch results, Compton has struggled to have a consistent career because of mysterious health issues that caused debilitating leg cramps. Last year, she finally was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that affects the metabolism of an important B-vitamin, and a simple change to her diet has solved the problem. The desired consistency hasn't quite arrived, but Compton feels confident enough in her health to finally commit to moving to her host-family's home in Kalmthout for five solid months of 'cross.
"I will do the two World Cups in the US and the KMC 'cross fest before heading to Europe," Compton told Cyclingnews in Colorado Springs. "I'm committing to a full season in Belgium, now that I'm finally healthy."
In order to avoid the dreaded jet lag, Compton will only come back to the states to race the Pan American Championships in early November and the US championships in January. When she says a full season in Belgium, she means it. It's Belgium from October until February.
"I'll finally get to do some of the races that have been on my bucket list - Koppenbergcross, Zonhoven. It will be five solid months."
Currently, Compton is dabbling in some road racing, having linked up with the IS Corp team for the Tour of America's Dairyland, where she rounded out the last few races in the top 10, racing with the men in some local criteriums, and the Littleton Criterium before starting the Colorado Classic.
Compton's role in the race has been to lead the IS Corp train into the final kilometer for sprinter Skylar Schneider, who a close second on the stage behind Jen Valente (Sho-Air Twenty20). Even at age 38, she's still critiquing her performance and looking at things to correct.
"I'm kind of annoyed with myself for backing off before the sprint. I'm stronger than that, but I've just spent so many years backing off because of my leg pain..."
Regardless of the results, the speed of the road peloton will fill a hole where last year Compton was lacking, having fallen ill after taking her 14th US national 'cross title, and give her a solid base for her season in Belgium where she declares, "more racing will be better".