Once again, a select group of juniors and U23 racers have headed over to Europe to take part in Belgium’s Christmas Week. We asked the attendees of EuroCrossCamp 2012 to share some of their experiences via photos, text, video, whatever medium they wanted to. Here, we present the amalgamation of their efforts, and we’ll be linking to our race coverage so you can see how our boys are doing as the trip goes on.
Thursday, December 20
“Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that the first day of camp has officially begun. All the riders have arrived, built bikes, and are ready to race!” –Josh Johnson
Friday, December 21
Manny Goguen sent us some great shots of life in the EuroCrossCamp house, as well as some sight-seeing snapshots.
Logan Owen shared some first day thoughts:
So today we got mostly everything settled in to the new house, one EuroCrossCamp has never used before, and went for a ride. All the bikes from every rider had arrived and got put together OK, which was a huge surprise being that there are 16 riders at camp. We all ate breakfast and headed out for a ride at noon. Many guys went for a ’cross ride but Justine Lindine, Nick Torraca and I rode for 1.5 hours on the road to spin out the legs. Then we came back, cleaned ourselves and our bikes and played pool until dinner. Jim Anderson will be cooking us dinner every night which is a huge help! After we ate Geoff had the first official meeting of the camp going over house rules, the way race days were going to go and any other questions we had. From what I heard it sounds like the rest of the camp is going to be great!
Josh Johnson shared some brief thoughts and a photo slideshow with us:
Enjoyed some nice Belgium weather today (40s, no rain, and a bit of sun), almost did a bit of suntanning. A group of us decided to head over to some nearby trails that our mechanic had told us about, I believe the trails once hosted a Superprestige race. We were all hoping for some fun trails to get a bit of skill work in before Sunday’s race at Namur; the trails did not disappoint. After a bit of riding and a bit of goofing off, we rolled back to the house to eat and relax for the rest of the day.
The atmosphere so far has been great! I think everyone (including myself) is getting excited for the first race over here, which will be here in just two days. Once we kick off the racing at Namur, things will be crazy! Race, recover, race, recover will be the only items on the agenda.
After a good day of training, a group dinner and meeting, this guy is ready for some quality sleep.
Dave Lombardo caught us up on his travels and life in the house:
Camp has been really fun so far; the house is really nice and modern. The travel here was a little long but for the most part it went by rather quickly. I was a little bit nervous that all my stuff wouldn’t make it, but luckily it all made it to Belgium. After getting my luggage, I was picked up, and we took off to Vorselaar. It was a about an hour drive but we kept ourselves plenty busy with lots to talk about. After getting to the house we all put together our bikes and everything went rather smoothly. Everyone went out for a ride: the riding here is amazing, even though we only went out for an hour we saw a lot of Vorselaar and neighboring towns.
After getting back from the ride and getting cleaned up we hung out and played some pool. After hanging it for a little bit we had dinner, which was some chicken soup and some salads. The food was really good. After dinner, a couple of us went out to search of the grocery store. We got pretty dang lost on our way there. When we got to the store, we wanted to find some Speculoos, which is like a butter type thing that taste like frame crackers. On our way back from the grocery store, we got even more lost and had to ask for directions – luckily we found someone that spoke some English. When we got back we all went to bed because we were all very tired from the busy day. The next day was a lot more relaxing. After we got up and ate some breakfast most of us got ready to go out for a ride.
The ride was a lot of fun, half of us went out on the road and the other half went to this course that we found. After I was on the road for about 30 minutes, I headed back to the house and got some PDX’s to go over to the ’cross course. The course was really cool: flat, but pretty technical, so I had a blast there. After we got back from the ride, we all had a big mess to clean up. When we were all finished with the cleanup, some of us went over to the Laundromat to do some of my laundry. After starting the laundry we went down into town to get some food to get some snacks. The choice from the store was some waffles and some more Speculoos. We then headed back to put our clothes into the dryer. When we then finished with that, we went and just traveled around and then headed back to the house for dinner. Dinner was some rice, chili, and veggies once again everything was very good. After dinner, we all just relaxed. Looking forward to the start of racing!
Even Christmas Eve won’t stop these guys from being in full-on racer-mode. So while you’re off from work, take a few minutes to check out what Logan Owen had to say about his win at Namur yesterday, and check back regularly for more goodies!
Josey Weik shares his Namur race report:
After being in Belgium for a couple of days, it was time to race. At five ‘o clock, eight bleary juniors stumbled from their beds and began the process of preparing for the first race. For some of them, like me, it was the biggest race ever. I had packed everything the night before, so I started by making breakfast for my self and trying to get my head wrapped around the fact I was going to race against a world-level competitive field on arguably the hardest ’cross course on the circuit.
Three hours later, we walk out of the car having arrived at the course. It’s on top of a huge hill in the middle of town, the site of a old fort. Everything is sloped, especially the windy road that brought us to the top. My state of mind turns from a surreal, anxious anticipation to a sort of frantic, hyperactive state of overdrive. Things run through my mind at high speed. Gotta get my bib, do I have my passport? Don’t lose the passport. Get your number. Find somebody to pin you number! Quickly, it’s time to ride! Get your bike. Dial the pressure. Find some to to ride with. Get on the course. No one is taking care of you now, there is no room for error.
It’s just now getting light now at 8:30 in Belgium. I race at 10, so it’s time to ride the course. I know this course has a lot of hills and a lot of drops, but I am unprepared for the sheer audacity of its blatant brutality. You start up a cobbled climb about a minute and a half long and shift into a downhill/technical section. You go past the pits, then drop off the edge of the world. Then you do it again. And again. And again. With a nasty off camber and the mother of all run ups. I opt to ride my HED Ardenne wheels with Challenge Limus tires. The aluminum braking surface was braking much better and the wheels were solid enough to take hits from the numerous rocks on the course and the tires were the highest traction I had. They hooked up perfect!
I will admit, I was scared for the start of the race. The course was insane, but the real thing was I didn’t know what to expect … I didn’t know how fast everyone was going down the hills, or up them. I was pretty nervous when I lined up, the last out of thirty to be called up.
The start was going OK until I tried to pass some one up the gutter. It was cobbled and wet so my real wheel skidded. I was dead last up the first hill. I raced hard though and despite losing four spots, finished 11th. Logan and Curtis had great races with first and second place! Congrats to them and thanks to Geoff, Jim, Dave, and all the other Eurocamp staff.
“Yeah, it just feels so great to know that I’m capable of being on the podium and Plzen wasn’t just a fluke. I have to keep working harder and harder if I want to challenge Van Der Poel in Louisville though!” -Logan Owen
Justin Lindine on his Zolder World Cup race: “Well, today I officially battled my way onto the lead lap of a World Cup ’cross race … it was fast, slick and I wasn’t always pretty, but I feel like that’s a milestone of a kind. Yeah, 36th place!”
“The race today really helped me take another step towards challenging Van Der Poel in Louisville. I finally finished within a minute of him and I finally was able to beat Hermans. They both have been super strong this season but I am getting stronger and stronger heading towards Louisville. Hopefully I can challenge Van Der Poel in Rome and hold on to my second place overall in the World Cup standings.” -Logan Owen
“It’s mentally tough to bounce right back a day later from feeling so disappointed about my bad luck at Loenhout, so I feel pretty good about rallying for Diegem today. It’s great to come back to some of these races that I did the last time I was here and have better performances … sort of reassuring even if I would like to be doing even better.” -Justin Lindine
“I came here to finish these races. I didn’t know how well I would do beyond that, but I did not want, as I had done the last time I was here in Belgium, to get pulled at all of my races. I needed to know that there were tangible benefits being made in my fitness, in my ability to race these big races. I needed to know that I wasn’t just tilting at windmills.” – Justin Lindine
Great results to be sure - and big ups to the guys for a fantastic ride - but that wasn't a World Cup race for the Juniors. Pretty important to note, especially given absence of entire Dutch team, including VdP, don't 'ya think?