If you saw our gallery of the Junior Men’s race at the Namur World Cup, you saw images of Spencer Petrov, who finished fourth, his best result ever in Europe. This third rider diary from Cyclocross Development Camp is from Petrov, who doesn’t share his take on the race, but the moments after the race, both with others and later when he was alone and had time to reflect.

As for the the result, that shouldn’t come as too much of surprise. After all, Petrov took the win in the Junior Men’s race at the Pan-American Continental Cyclocross Championships this year.

Not on an international stage, but every cyclocross racer has these moments after a race. Maybe not the autograph signing, but the other things Spencer talks about. We’ve been there.

Enjoy this read and stay tuned for the next rider diary from Sittard, Netherlands.

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

by Spencer Petrov

Monday. I wake groggy. Because all night I was tossing and turning, pushing snooze on my alarm for when I would have to wake up. Later. Later.

Earlier the day prior, I was decompressing from the morning’s race. I had a good race and I’m super happy with the result. But like any top athlete, they aren’t content until they achieve their goal. For me that goal is to put myself on one of the three steps on the podium.

Sunday I was mere seconds off that step, the spot for third was so close the mud coming off his wheels was being kicked into my face as if it was a taunt me with what could have been. We crossed the line and he was waved into an opening that took him to the podium. As he went through and the gate was slammed shut, I was pointed the other direction where everyone else must go.

Spencer Petrov bested all but the podium at Namur. © Bart Hazen

Spencer Petrov bested all but the podium at Namur. © Bart Hazen

As I coast into the mob of mothers, brothers and soigneurs, emotion quickly overtook me as I finally had time to think of something other than “GO.”

After this, and having been tenth in the Valkenburg, it was good to know that I’m getting closer to where I want to be. But my heart rate hadn’t even begun to go down and my competitive side was aflame with the hunger to do better. I put my tights and jacket on and begin to drink to aid my recovery as I soft pedal back to the van.

As usual, we went through the normal post-race routine of telling each other our battle stories on the rollers while cooling down. The thoughts of what could have been drift away as I share anecdotes with friends.

There is usually a group of people surrounding our USA “compound,” and we hand out rider cards. It may sound dorky but it’s one of my favorite parts of a race. It makes you feel pro as people from another country eagerly ask you to sign your card as if you’re some big shot. And it doesn’t matter how you do, you could have had the worst race of your life and they will still be there, smiling and happy.

After, we packed up and headed home to catch the pro men’s race on TV. The rest of the day seemed to blur by and then I find myself alone with time to think before bed.

A moment to reflect on the day's racing and the effort given. © Bart Hazen

A moment to reflect on the day’s racing and the effort given. © Bart Hazen

This is my personal time to reflect on what happened that day, from the moment I woke up to when I finished my recovery drink after the race.

Having had my best result in Europe ever, I’m very proud. This whole year has been about small steps to success. It’s nice to know I’m right there. But you can’t say, “I did good, yay! I’ll just do that again next time just a tad better.” So I began to pick my race apart lap by lap, trying to find the seconds that could have gotten me to the podium.

What seems like minutes turned out to be hours and I had to shut off my mind to let my body rest from the stress I had put on it that day. I’m ecstatic with my result. And I’m ready to tackle the fast and hard course I will see this upcoming week at the Zolder World Cup, where I will have another chance to reach my goal.

Stay tuned for other rider diaries each day from Cross Development Camp.