Caleb Swartz is a Trek Cyclocross Collective rider from Madison, Wisconsin participating in the USA Cycling Winter Euro Cross Camp. Swartz traveled to Europe for a leg of the Euro Cross Camp earlier this fall where he got the opportunity to race at Zonhoven and Valkenburg. He has been blogging about his racing career for several years, but sent in this post for Cyclocross Magazine about Sunday’s UCI World Cup race at the Citadel of Namur.
This current trip to Europe is actually my second this season. My first trip was earlier this year to race the Valkenburg World Cup and some other events. I didn’t accomplish what I wanted then, which really motivated me to train hard and come back for some great results.
Leading up to Sunday’s race at Namur, things were relaxed but focused at the USA Cycling compound. We stay in what was once a psychiatric facility which has been turned into an Olympic village-style training compound. With a bike garage, dining hall, full cyclocross and mountain bike trails, weight room and more. I have everything I need to live and train like I would at home in Wisconsin (except for the snow, of course).
On Saturday many of us drove to Namur to preview the course. It was a little surreal to drive up the switchbacks around a castle surrounded by dense fog and finally see the famous course. Pre-riding the course at Namur was amazing. I felt great and tried to dial in the slew of technical sections.
I watched as many YouTube videos from the race as I could, but of course, it was completely different ripping around the course in real life. Many sections of the course consisted of slick mud and pavement along with rocks, roots, and gravel, which made it very treacherous.
Caleb Swartz’s Namur Cyclocross World Cup Course Recon Video:
On the way home I started to feel what I thought was motion sickness. When we arrived back in Sittard I was still feeling nauseous. I laid in bed until 9:00 pm, when I finally gave in and headed to the bathroom. Having just lost everything I’d eaten that day, I cooked some eggs and went to bed for a restless night of sleep.
The next morning my stomach still felt a little off, but I refused to miss this opportunity and piled into the van at 6:00 am. During warm up I could tell things were not going to be pretty. Not only were my legs completely empty but the rest of my body was utterly exhausted and devoid of energy.
I lined up ready to suffer, but when we hit the steep cobbles on the first lap, I was already in the box. From there I slid back through the field until I was waved off the course by an official after lap four. I was definitely disgusted and disappointed in my misfortune and result but there was nothing to be done about it. Although things didn’t go my way, it was still an amazing experience and I am grateful to have even made it to the start line.
Our down time this week leading up to Diegem has consisted of trips into town, excessive ping-pong and plenty of Netflix. We have lots of fun, but everything is structured around our training, meals and race prep. I am stoked for Diegem and especially Zolder!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next installment.
I’d like to give a huge thank you to USA Cycling for making this trip happen and facilitating everything. Big thanks to my coach Joseph Maloney, my family, and my team, Trek Cyclocross Collective for all the support! Also many thanks to my sponsors Trek Bicycles, Bontrager, SRAM, Englewood Grass Fed Beef, Mike’s Mix and Honey Stinger for all their awesome support!