Today’s Christmas entry in our USA Cycling Cyclocross Development Camp rider diary is from Gage Hecht.

Hecht is quickly becoming a household name in American cyclocross racing circles.  Hecht was featured in Cyclocross Magazine, Issue 28, and was fourth at last year’s World Championships, his first time at the event, after taking the win in the Junior Men’s event at Koksijde earlier in the season.

Given his numerous trips to Europe over the years, Hecht is no stranger to spending the holidays away from family and friends in the US. Here, Hecht explains how he celebrates this time of year at cross camp.

You can read all the rider diaries from Cyclocross Development Camp here.

by Gage Hecht

After traveling to Europe eleven times, I have begun to see a new side to all this travel. I really enjoy all of the adventures and new places I have had the privilege to visit, but there are some things I have started to miss about always being at away from home.

With many of Europe’s cyclocross racing events taking place during the holiday season, I was not home for Thanksgiving and was not there today Christmas. Although it is nice to spend the holidays with my family and friends in the USA, I have had a great time celebrating the holidays with the friends I have made during these camps.

File Photo of Gage Hecht. He had a ride for the ages, and came one chain and tire slip from a medal. Thankfully, he can get revenge next year. © Mathew Lasala / Cyclocross Magazine

File Photo of Gage Hecht. He had a ride for the ages at world’s last year, and came one chain and tire slip from a medal. Thankfully, he can get revenge this year. © Mathew Lasala / Cyclocross Magazine

During the last cross camp block I was invited to, the group of six riders I was with celebrated Thanksgiving together. For many Americans it is hard to imagine a year without this holiday, but because the holiday celebrates the feasts the Pilgrims had with the Native American people on the new found American soil, there are few Europeans that even acknowledge this holiday, let alone celebrate it.

It was a new concept for Rick, the man who cooks our dinners. He told us all that this Thanksgiving meal was the first he has ever participated in and prepared. Even though this was a first for him, he did a spectacular job in preparing the feast we ate Thanksgiving night.

As Christmas drew near, the streets filled with people preparing for the holiday and enjoying the wonderful spirit. Lights were hung and Christmas trees popped up all around town. The holiday is celebrated very much like it is in the USA. Because Christmas gives praise to the birth of Jesus, the joy is just as apparent here as it is at home.

The group of riders and mechanics that are here currently have decided to get into the spirit as well. It has become a tradition the past few years of the Christmas block of cross camp to create a Secret Santa. For those of you who do not know how this works, everyone’s names were placed into a hat earlier in the week and each of us drew a name. After picking a name, the person who picked it will shop and find something for that person that they might like. This game helps us enjoy Christmas while we are away from our relatives and I was really excited for the celebration to take place.

It has been a great journey so far, and I have enjoyed every day that I have had the privilege of traveling with Team USA. This holiday season has been fun to spend with this great group of riders. As tough as it can be to miss a holiday with the family, it is great to have a group of friends that are close for these trips.

Read each of the rider diaries from Cyclocross Development Camp here.