Michael Owens has gone to USA Cycling’s Cyclocross Development Camp three times prior to this year’s edition. So he’s no stranger to the action on both sides of the tape in Europe. This season, before this stint in Europe, Owens won in Gloucester and stood on the podium at Ellison Park Cyclocross and both days of CXLA Weekend, Long Beach edition.
Read about 17-year old Owens’ ride at Azencross as part of the Junior Men’s squad.
by Michael Owens
It’s 7:00 AM and my alarm begins to sound.
Throughout the years I have tested numerous alarm sounds to determine which was the most effective in waking me from my deep slumber. As the disgusting siren that resembles that of a sinking submarine rings from the speakers of my phone, I sit up in bed and rub my eyes.
I make my way downstairs and look outside and see the beautiful orange sunrise and, for a brief moment, I forget I am in The Netherlands.
This being my fourth USAC Cyclocross camp, I am no stranger to the typical rainfall that continuously pours onto the landscape, resulting in muddy cyclocross races. This trip however, has been dramatically different from the rest. For the ten days I have been here, there has been almost no rain, making for some “American Cyclocross Races.” An example of this was our most recent race, Loenhout.
Last year, Loenhout was one of the muddiest races I’ve ever seen, with more than 25% of the course running through thick, and in the earlier races frozen, mud. This year however, if you were hopping the ditches and barriers, Loenhout was 100% on the bike. This led to some extremely interesting and fast-paced racing with the Europeans.
Despite being dry, the race started like any other, with a fast aggressive start that leads into a sharp turn. Anyone standing at this corner heard the symphony of screeching brakes. I managed to avoid most of the chaos at the start, and after the first corner I was sitting in the top 20, with most of my USA teammates in sight.
As the race progressed, I passed more and more people moving my way into the top 15. When the 4th lap rolled around, I was heading into a long straight away with a lot of speed and could see the next group up the road. And as I turned the next corner, I saw that the marshalls had opened the course crossing up, and a lone lady stood right in my path.
I immediately squeezed the breaks and ended up getting up close and personal with the Belgian grass. By the time I got my head straight I had lost about 15 places. I ended up finishing 32nd on the day, which wasn’t the result I wanted, but it was motivation to get better results in races to come.
This year was my first racing Loenhout, but I was in on the action last year as I helped in the pits. While I missed racing in the epic mud that was present last year, the course was still extremely fun this year, and I hope to see what next year has in store!