Amy Dombroski went to Belgium to be the best cyclocross racer she could be. She met great success, although it is an enormous challenge to leave country, family, language, and customs to pursue one’s dreams. And that’s saying nothing about the level of competition and difficulty of the courses. But that’s really the point, isn’t it? To challenge oneself to become the best you can be amongst others who are the best they can be. And what if you fail? Well, at least you know. The bigger question is, what if you succeed? In her blog, Amy reflected on her first European podium experience in Leuven, Belgium,
I imagine my first European podium will remain a vivid memory for a long time as well. I am thankful I had Carina, one of our soigneurs to basically hold my hand through the process as it was all new and foreign. She led me to the podium tent – something I had only seen on the telly, where the vedettas go to get clean & shiny & beautiful & warm and talk to the camera about their successes.
Before the success comes the process of overcoming the challenges. Immense challenges. Amy also wrote about the challenges, long before she wrote about the successes. In a 2012 interview, Amy recalls overcoming the challenges of racing in Belgium:
I loved everything about racing in Belgium. It was the most challenging season I’ve ever had and I learned so much that I believe it would be a massive waste to not return this winter. The course variety and challenge was one aspect of it. I got in the habit of watching prior year’s races on YouTube because I didn’t know what I’d be facing at the race—sand, hills, woods, running, barriers, obstacles, etc. Another aspect I learned through error is how to balance it all. It’s a metric shit ton more races than I have taken on before, so to learn how to balance training, rest, racing is an integral part of the equation. A third aspect I noticed was the deepness of the competition. Don’t get me wrong, the competition in the US is wicked fast. We have Katie Compton and Katerina Nash racing in the US regularly and they have both won World Cups and finished on the Worlds podium. But the level drops off quicker and all in all is much less aggressive. I had to sharpen my elbows and growl more—whether I was racing for a top 10 World Cup finish or simply trying to finish and not get lapped when I was ill (and shouldn’t have been racing). You will battle the entire time for a top 3 or a top 40 and I think that pushed me more every weekend. I fully intend on spending the winter in Belgium again, if no other reason than for the bakeries.
There remains a connection between the Belgian cycling community and the Amy D. Foundation because of who Amy was, the challenge she sought, and the success she found. In fact, the former Amy Dombroski Supporter Club in Heist-op-den-Berg, bestowed a check for a $1000 in support of the Amy D. Foundation programming.
The Amy D. Foundation was created to provide opportunity, to foster personal development using the bicycle as a literal and metaphorical vehicle. Consistent with why Amy Dombroski went to Belgium to race her bicycle, the mission of the Amy D. Foundation is to inspire the celebration of healthy challenge and empower the confident pursuit of lofty dreams. We are proud that the jersey of Amy D. is again flying in Belgium, this time on the back of Amy D. Foundation’s Rebecca Fahringer, who is actively pursuing her dreams while experiencing for the first time the challenge of Belgian cyclocross. Becca raced to a phenomenal 11th place finish in Saturday’s race at Zonhoven, an infamously challenging course (as an aside, we encourage you to read Amy’s own words about the race at Zonhoven here and a year later here). Becca’s reaction to Zonhoven?
Zonhoven is a UCI C1 race that is a part of a series called the Superprestige. And as it turns out, this is not an ideal race to be one’s first Belgian experience. It is a physically grueling race with surfaces and elements unlike almost any other. ::shrug:: Not knowing what to expect, I was told top 15 would be a very solid result. Bar, set.
Bar set, bar surpassed. Rebecca Fahringer continues to make the most of the best opportunities we can provide. We ask no more than that. Thank you to the community who has made this opportunity possible. Becca will complete her introduction to European cyclocross with races at Kermis Cross, Niels Albert CX, and Valkenburg. Expect to see more of the Amy D. Foundation in Europe. We build opportunities for women who dare to dream big.