I was driving down the runway of a Belgian airfield. The sun was setting, my body was tired, and my heart was full after finishing the last race of my cyclocross season. 162 days had passed from my first race in Iowa City to the last in Oostmalle, Belgium. I drove back to Oudenaarde in silence, considering the highs and lows of the journey I had just completed. In that moment, I was glad the season was over.
When the plane touched down in Dallas, I was excited to be home and enjoy some down time. Being away from home for six weeks and in “racing mode” for six months meant that I had plenty of catching up to do with friends and family alike. And while I enjoyed my time off, a fire had been lit deeper down.
In my first racing trip to Europe, I had learned more in those six weeks than I had in the previous three seasons of racing cross at an Elite level. The gains were not just experiential, but also mental, knowing that I managed to (somehow) make it through round one in the Thunderdome that is European Cyclocross. Many warned me that I was going in too deep, that racing in Belgium would break me, that I wasn’t ready or that I should get better on the domestic scene before testing my legs in Europe.
I ignored their caution, dove in the deep end, and came back to the surface alive and motivated.
Here we are again… closing out another domestic season on the UCI cyclocross circuit, one that has been more successful than I could have hoped. From a couple of top 5’s, to starting my own program with some amazing partners, I could finish out the season with a smile on my face. But… the season is not over yet.
After crossing the finish line in Louisville this weekend, I will be heading back to the Thunderdome for another round of European racing. From December 20th to February 11th, I’ll be living and racing in Belgium, training in familiar places and taking in new races, including those of the famed Kersteperiode.
Let’s just hope I can survive Round Two!
Yours in Belgian Toothpaste,