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Cyclocross

EuroCrossAcademy: Adapting on the fly

Ellen Davis shares how learning to adapt to adversity helps her ride better.

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During the holiday racing window, riders from the EuroCrossAcademy will be writing exclusive blog posts for VeloNews as they race the “kerstperiode” in Belgium.

ECA Journal 9
Rider: Ellen Davis
Hometown: Missoula, MT

Racing cyclocross in Europe is all about expecting and accepting.

Whether you have a bad start, get cut off by another rider, have a mechanical, or crash, no race is completely perfect. You will make mistakes and there will be challenges.

The racer who performs the best is the one who expects and accepts these challenges. They aren’t accepting failure by any means, but they are accepting that the race will be hard, and bracing themselves for those challenges and moments of discomfort.

They are ready and prepared to battle through the challenges that come their way. This sort of mindset on race day encourages adaptability.

Also read: EuroCrossAcademy: The lessons are never-ending in Europe

If there is one thing I have learned from racing in Europe, it’s that you have to be able to adapt. You can make one simple mistake, and just like that, you have given the riders around you numerous opportunities to take your spot.

But by quickly adapting, making a note to not take that line the next lap and getting back on your bike, you limit the amount of spots you give up.

At my race in Koksijde, being quick to adapt was the name of the game. Having only practiced riding sand in volleyball courts back home before this race, the massive sand dunes infamous to Koksijde were intimidating.

As we pre-rode the course, I started to realize that with sand, you can never take the same line. Your bike almost carries you through it, and it feels like you have no control.

Adapting to this new type of riding was essential to feeling confident for the race. While I wasn’t perfect at riding the sand, I gained knowledge and skills that would be helpful on race day.

Each lap unfolded differently in the race. Sometimes I would be able to ride farther through a sand section than I had the last lap, while other times I would have to run a section that I cleanly rode the time before.

Knowing when I was losing speed and it would be faster to run, taking different lines to avoid getting held up by other riders, and being quick to get up and dust myself off after crashing were all lessons of adaptability during the race.

Looking back on the race, I am proud of my effort, but more so of how much I learned and grew throughout the race.

It seems like there are endless takeaways from that race alone and my time here in Europe. Namely, that cyclocross isn’t just about a result in a race, it’s about the small battles it takes to get there.

Learning with each lap at Koksijde and its infamous sand. (photo: @stoked_spokes)