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Across the pond: Euro 'cross camp V diary
For its fifth consecutive year, the Euro 'Cross Camp will travel to Izegem, Belgium for two weeks from December 20, 2007 to January 3, 2008, with some of America's most promising cyclo-cross talent. Euro 'Cross Camp Director and US National Team Coach Geoff Proctor selected 16 male riders to take on some of the toughest courses and strongest riders abroad and to prepare for the world championships in late January.
This year's camp is taking on a more youthful feel with just two elite riders, Ryan Trebon and Tristan Shouten, joined by eight juniors and six espoirs. The riders were selected based on their performances throughout the USGP Series. Coach Proctor and his riders will take turns contributing diary entries.
Belgium, January 1, 2008
Christmas shopping and Loenhout
Before dinner Thursday evening a few fellow campers and I decided to hit the town on the cruiser bikes in search of some Christmas gifts for people we have put off until our return. I used the excuse that I would be able to buy much cooler and exotic gifts than I would be able to back home.
We of course stopped in to the chocolate shop to feast our eyes upon what we have been told to avoid. Across the street was a trendy women's clothing store, which I had to stop in for a certain someone. At first, the prices scared this student/travelling amateur cyclist, but just as I had seen in other stores, the more reasonably priced items were in the back. It was quite the scene, just imagine getting advice on what to buy a girl from people without girlfriends in a foreign country, with the storeowner coming over offering help (I assume) in Flemish, getting three blank confused stares back at her. Hopefully with three cyclists' fashion wisdom combined will be moderately tolerable for a girl. Then it was back to the house for our pre-race meal.
Friday we left the house before the sun rose, which is a usual occurrence over here. By now, I have gotten into the routine of making breakfast, and preparing the food I will eat at the race while travelling to and from it. Depending on the seat you can get in the van, you can catch a few more Zs on the way to the race.
Parking for these big European races is much trickier than the average USA race. You have to slowly work your way through the sea of people into the team parking area, much closer than where the spectators can park. Loenhout last year was a real mud course because of a tractor pull section, which was wide, and the further you got into it the harder it got. This year's Loenhout was not nearly as bad, with a short section being very muddy, which went from tacky slow grass to Jif peanut butter mud.
This is different from natural peanut butter mud since Jif is significantly more viscous. You were forced to run about 50 metres then up a flyover. The rest of the course was very fast and just a little slick around the grassy corners. From a racing standpoint, it was difficult to move up if you had started at the back because the finish straight is long and into the wind, while the rest of the course is tight and has a zillion turns too close together to pass riders. I played it somewhat conservatively, not gassing it too much on the straights into the wind. It paid off a bit by the end of the race when the group I was in caught racers falling off the pace.
Eitherway, in the mud bog to run up I was redlined every lap, and just trying to recover through the turns. It turns out I was just out sprinted for top twenty; a little more competition than your typical New England 'cross race.
Below is a complete roster and racing schedule for this year's camp.
Ryan Trebon, 27, Kona-YourKey.com, Bend, Oregon
Jaimey Driscoll, 22, FiordiFrutta Elite, Jericho, Vermont
Steve Fisher, 18, Rad Racing NW, Lynnwood, Washington
December 22: Huijbergen, Holland (C1)