This last week, I really feel like I got back the rhythm to my training and living that I felt earlier this year; the kind of perfect balance between hard training, relaxation and concentration that I have been lacking since I got to Europe. I’ve gotten back the kind of mental focus that I’ve needed to be where I want to be.
When I first came to Europe in 2014, I walked right into one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. The Supreprestige at Spa-Francorchamps was, literally, my first race in Belgium. I saw more former and current world champs than I could shake a stick at; even more legends of the sport than I can recall. I just remember being awe-struck about the whole experience. That’s not even mentioning how crazy the course was or how I didn’t yet really know what tires to run or how hard I could go in the start.
I got pulled with two laps to go.
This year, I made a last minute decision to race at Spa again. A reshuffle of my schedule meant that I would be here for it and, well, I have some steam building up and, dang it, I need to get back on that horse!
This time was different…a lot different. I did my warm up and rode around waiting for the start. I talked to some of my fellow racers, some of which I would call my friends. Friends can make the difference in any stressful situation, although this time I knew I had prepared well and stress was moderately low. I had faith in my preparation.
I lined up on the front row, got a great start and settled in to the frantic first lap chopping. I lost some spots early on but knew that I needed to be patient on this kind of course in order to get a result. I only went as hard as I needed to; I let myself get dropped when I needed to and made it back up on the descents. I made particular note of all the icy spots and made sure I didn’t fall – Because falling is very slow. I started picking off some riders and made my way forward.
When I rolled across the line with one to go I knew I had a gap behind me and a gap in front. I just needed to do one solid lap without mishap and with good legs. Glad to have listened to my body enough to have the legs to pull off one more good lap, I stayed up right and rode all the features to put it all together. I crossed the line with my best placing in Europe to date. Tenth.
I was, and still am, very happy with the effort and even happier knowing that my preparation work is more dialed in than it has been in the past. I trust in my training and know that, to use a quote I find very enlightening, “You will never soar to your expectations but will always fall on your preparation.”
December 11 – Vlaamse Druivencross – Overijse, BEL
December 18 – UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup Namur – Namur, BEL
December 26 – UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup Zolder – Zolder, BEL
January 8 – USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships – Hartford, CT