Our sixth rider diary entry comes from Eric Brunner. Compared with some of the other USA Cycling Cyclocross Development Camp riders we’ve heard from thus far, he’s a name you may not be as familiar with. This is his first season racing in Europe. But he’s no stranger to success on course. Riding for Boulder Cycle Sport/Boulder Junior Cycling, Brunner won the Junior Men’s race on day 1 at the US Open of Cyclocross back in October and was on the podium both days at the Derby City Cup this season.
Here Brunner talks about getting into the life of a European-based rider and living his dream.
by Eric Brunner
While this is my sixth season of racing seriously, it is my first season racing in Europe. It’s been a long time coming. And my years of work are paying off well.
I got my first UCI win in Boulder in October, followed by racing my first World Cup at Koksijde in November. This development block is a huge step for me. Namur was my best World Cup result so far, 24th in the junior race. I rode in the top 15 for the first half of the race but faded heavily at the end. It was both satisfying and disappointing, but now I know that I have the potential for a better result in Zolder this Saturday.
Riding at this level has not come easily for me. My progression in the sport has been steady, and a significant reason that I have continued to devote the energy to cycling that I do is that I can see tangibly the improvements I am making.
Right now, I am living my biggest accomplishment yet. It has been on my mind for years to race against the best in world, but I couldn’t clearly see it happening until recently. It is almost surreal to be taking this huge step towards competing at the 2016 World Championships and possibly riding professionally.
One aspect of the camp that I have enjoyed immensely is the people here. Most riders at the camp I hadn’t met or didn’t know well. Over Thanksgiving, I enjoyed getting to know the other riders and living with like-minded athletes. This week, I’m happy to be back in the European rhythm and bonding with other new people.
We have a lot of time between races to train and relax, and it could easily get boring trying to fill the days with not much to do besides an hour or two of training and day-to-day chores. We keep busy with different TV series and movies, reading and homework and downtown Sittard is a short ride down the hill.
The atmosphere of cross camp is focused on racing, but relaxed in other regards. It feels like a team training camp, where riding is the main activity and there aren’t the distractions of everyday life. It allows me to conserve mental energy and devote my mind fully to racing.
I’m getting into the European life and enjoying every day of it.