Friday, August 24, 2012

USAC Cyclocross Development Camp

Tour De Rimouski was my last road race of the season. Once I got back home it was time to start preparing for cyclocross season. My cross bike from last year was a size 52 (centimeters), so I put together Dad's cross bike (Thanks Dad!), which was the next size up, a 54. After a few days of being home we packed up the car, put a cross bike and a mountain bike on top and headed out to Montana with broken air conditioning in the VW.

The drive out to Montana was relatively uneventful, if extremely sweaty. Dad decided to drive through the night so we wouldn't have feel the heat the next day. We cleared out a area in the back of our Jetta wagon so I was able to sleep flat. I woke up to the beautiful mountains of Montana. The reason we were headed out to Montana was that I had been invited to the USAC Cross Development camp in Helana! The camp was put on by Geoff Procter.

Once all the kids arrived later that evening we all got together in the classroom and Geoff did his introduction
The purpose the camp was #1 to prime riders for the up and coming cross season, #2 To teach high level cross skills to the riders, on and off the bike and #3 to serve as a way for Geoff to get to know the riders. This is important because Geoff puts on another camp called Eurocamp where he takes a even more select group of riders to Belgium and race World Cups. He stressed the fact that he would not not judge the performance of the riders at this camp because it is not at a time when we are rested up and race fit. As a result the atmosphere was fun and professional.

On the first day of camp we woke up bright and early at 6:15 to go running. The sun was just peaking over the mountains and the air was fresh and chilly as we started our run. We just did a short 15 minute run and headed over to the bleachers to start our strength work. We did several rounds of bleachers and several different strength routines before heading back to the dorms to shower. After everyone showered we all walked out to the cafeteria to eat. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food, it wasn't nearly as bad as it had been at Rimouski. After we ate, we headed back to the dorms and got dressed for our first ride of the day. There was two rides each day, one an hour and a half long and the other three hours. The first ride was skills practice. We rode up to the mountains to a cross course and practiced all kinds of skills. It was really fun. After we rode back and showered up it was designated nap time. I was quite tired and fell asleep right away. After a half hour nap I got up and got ready for our long ride.
Be Pro...

Dorm life...

The first part of the ride was a blast, I was having lots of fun on the brutal, hilly little jeep roads with all the other juniors. We did tar roads, dirt roads, jeep roads, two track and single track. After going down a sweet single track descent we hit a tar section. As we were going down the mountain side I looked down, for what reason I do not remember. The rider in front of me hit the brakes and I hit him. I slammed on my brakes, to late as my wheel skidded out and I was slammed to the ground with the force of sledge hammer.

To put it in perspective, Imagine stripping down to just your shoes, underwear and T shirt. Then jumping out of a car at 40 mph. I rolled several times, crushing the back of my helmet in the process. I flew into the ditch and got up to my feet almost immediately. For a split second I thought I made it unscathed when I look at my wrist. Broken, twisted out of place.

I freaked out quite a bit on the way to the emergency room, but Geoff was really supportive and I calmed down once I got to the room. We had to wait about 40 minutes before the Doctor arrived. I received a pain blocker shot and he popped my wrist back into place. It hurt far more then anything I have ever felt, but it was much better once it was in place. My wrist was still broken, so he put my arm in a cast.

After I got back from the hospital, I asked Geoff if I could still stay at camp, "of course!" he said. Staying back at the dormitory for the three hour ride was hard and going to the cross practice and watching everyone was even harder. I still had fun though. After the first day of having my cast on I continued to attend the morning run and bleachers/strength work. As I said before I still went to the cross practice and watched everyone. It was tough, but I'm glad I did as it held a lot of important lessons. Also, I went to the evening class each day. We talked a lot about Cross there, analyzed videos, learned from Geoff, and had a pro mountain biker come over and talk about racing in Europe and being a pro.

Chillin' out at the Cross Course

I learned a lot at cross camp and am very grateful for the opportunity to go there. Thanks to Geoff for putting on this awesome camp!
Read the Cycling News article about camp HERE

Read Cyclocross Magazine article about camp HERE

Read Helena (local paper) article about camp HERE

Photos by Tom

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