Euro Cross Camp: Joe Dombrowski Interview

Dombrowski on his way to winning Schooley Mill 'Cross

Those that raced cyclocross this past season in the Mid-Atlantic already know Joe Dombrowski. The eighteen year old Haymarket Bicycle/HomeVisit rider could be found in the front group of most MABRA races he entered this year. He usually finished on the podium and captured some impressive victories along the way.

While most of us have hung up the ‘cross bikes for the season, Joe is spending his second consecutive Christmas in Belgium racing bikes against the best cyclocross competition that the world has to offer. As an invitee to Geoff Proctor’s Euro Cross Camp, Dombrowski is living in the Team USA House—along with a group of U-23 and junior racers, as well as a handful of elite riders—and competing in up to nine races in 14 days.

We caught up with Joe to see how his second season is progressing, learn a little more about racing in Belgium and get some insights into life at the Team USA house.

How was your travel to Belgium? I saw where Jeff Bahnson’s bikes didn’t make it on the same flight as him. Any similar issues for you?

The travel was rough. Belgium was getting snow that they haven’t seen in years. I spent 14 hours in the London airport, which made for a total travel time of 37 hours without sleep. Jeff and several others were missing bikes, wheels, and various other pieces of luggage.

Take us through a typical day in which you are not racing. When do you wake up, train, eat, etc. How do you spend the downtime?
The Euro Cross Camp wheel stash.

Geoff comes by each room and wakes us up in waves. Juniors first, U-23s next, and Elites last. He wants us to be on the same schedule on non-race days as we are on race days. I usually get up at 8:30.

Training starts after breakfast. It doesn’t get light here until 9:00, and we usually are on the bikes around 11:00. After training, I just try to keep the legs up and get a nap in if possible. Els [Delaere (House Directress and Head Chef)] cooks a delicious hot dinner each night.

With another year of racing under your belt, is there anything about Euro Cross Camp that is easier than it was in 2008?

I came into this year’s camp with a better perspective on the level of racing. It’s a bit of a shock when you first start doing big races here; this is definitely not a forgiving place.

Guys at the camp are racing juniors and U-23, right? Do you all travel to the race together? What’s the pre-race routine like?

The camp is mostly juniors and U-23s, but we do have three Elites as well though. Each group travels to the race together, and comes back together. If it is a late race, usually we are on the rollers in the morning keeping the legs loose. If the race is earlier in the day, we will grab breakfast and jump in the van and go to the race.

Usually we can get back from our race in time to watch the Elites race on TV. Continue reading “Euro Cross Camp: Joe Dombrowski Interview”


A Chat With Joe Dombrowski

Dombrowski at the 2009 Charm City Cyclocross

Joe Dombrowski (Haymarket Bicycles/HomeVisit) may only be eighteen years old but he has already made his mark on the Mid-Atlantic cyclocross scene. He currently leads the MABRA ‘Cross series in the elite category and is coming off a nice win at last Sunday’s Tacchino Ciclocross at Rosaryville State Park, Maryland. Joe only started racing cyclocross in 2008, coming from a mountain-biking background to the road. Although his time in the sport may be short, he has crammed in a whole lot of experience in that time. This includes a two-week stint of Euro-style cross in Belgium, where he raced against some of the best young ‘crossers in Europe.

I talked with Joe about racing, training, and his experiences in Europe. Here’s one takeaway for those among you that are easily offended by a slight touch of wheels or getting squeezed off your line. That ain’t nothing compared to Belgium. As Joe explains below, if you aren’t chopping, elbowing and shoving, you’re just not racing.

Thanks for reading.

You come to cyclocross from an MTB background; do you consider either discipline your primary focus?

At this point, I think I am a little to young to specialize in anything.  However, I think I will probably focus more on road and ‘cross in the future. The switch to the road would be purely because of support; there are not nearly as many opportunities in mountain bike racing.

What do you think your strengths are as a cyclist? Do you think this favors MTB over ‘cross or vice versa?

I definitely excel at climbing, particularly on the road. This is probably more beneficial to mountain bike, and some road racing than cyclocross though. Unfortunately bike racing isn’t all uphill time trials. Continue reading “A Chat With Joe Dombrowski”