So it’s April and the never ending 'cross season did eventually end. As I’m into fascinating facts I’ll lay one out for you. There are only 4 people in the world who rode the first and last UCI cyclo-cross races of the season; Nittany Lions and the GVA Oostmalle. These 4 hardy souls being Tom Van Den Bosch, Ian Field, Joyce Van der Beker, Gabby Day and me.
It turns out doing this long a season does actually puff a person out just a little. Although further experimentation next season will be needed in order to quantify exact 'puffed outness' on a grading scale that 'crossers could use in the future to gauge the best start time for a season. I may even turn it into an iPhone app, make millions and buy the biggest pimped up motor home to park in front of Sven Nys at every race.
Anyway back to the point. After the last few races of the season I treated myself to what I would call a truly deserved month off with exciting non-bike-rider-related things. The very next day after my last race I went to the Utrecht motor bike show to see a friend who races motorbikes professionally, Bradley Smith. I took the chance to point out all the pink moped accessories telling Stef he would look good wearing them whilst motor-pacing. There were also a lot of very 'interesting' typically Dutch key fobs/ornaments that most Brits point and giggle at, which we obviously did.
I managed to fill a lot of the time eating cake, cleaning my house and visiting my family. In cleaning my house I mean a Monica from Friends style cleaning job, including window cleaning, something I have never done before in my life. It took a ridiculous amount of time and even I was getting bored of it by the end but wow my house is shiny clean now.
As it’s the thing to do on twitter I'm also going to try to start a hash tagging trend across all social media including blogs. So as to the cleaning statement #eatyourheartoutagifromcleanhouse.
Apart from the cake eating, the most exciting thing I get to do on my time off is catch up with all the family. This in itself can be more exhausting than training, although probably a good thing to wear off some of the excess cake. My sister-in-law came over to Belgium with her husband and 3 delightful children. I call them many other things when they wake me up at 6am, however after 8am they are actually quite fun.
Stef did manage to convince the oldest one that the toy shop was magic and got bigger the longer they stayed in bed; this helped for at least 2 days. We even managed to get Ian playing football which made it a very competitive affair eventually leading to a hand injury and the subbing of the goal keeper (me) following a rather violent goal attempt.
Back in England with my brother and his children we took the annual trip to bewilderment world; a huge kids adventure playground in the woods which you take a short boat trip to past a crocodile, called Matilda the crocklebog that sprays water at you. It’s in Norfolk which probably explains a lot! My parents seem to eat less as they have aged which is good for them however sometimes when visiting we get a little hungry. We have a secret code, when we say 'oh I really want a newspaper' this means we can go to the corner shop and buy more food. This code has only failed me once where Stef actually only wanted a newspaper, to my disappointment. Turns out my 10 year old nephew has a similar code meaning when grandma says can you get me milk he jumps at the chance coming back with a secret stash of Haribo, which he generously shared with his little sister later in the day #proudaunt.
I got to catch up with my university friends which this year included a rocking bake off. At this point you have to look at the picture of my amazing cup cakes. They are cookie monster blue cakes with fluffy fur style butter icing and actual cookies in their mouths. My friend may have won on taste but I won on style and ability to make children high from food colouring.
So after the cake eating it was time to get back on the bike. Much harder than you would think maybe due to the cake and starting running and the gym at the same time. But I did manage, in the first week back, to do the last 30 minutes of a 2hour ride with a 180bpm heart rate thanks to Bradley (Aforementioned motorbike rider) putting me in a hurt locker. Gotta love being unfit. Bradley has since been repaid so fear not friends equilibrium is restored in the world again.
As I don’t like to stay in one place for longer than 56 hours we headed off to Limoux in the South of France for the Matrix Fitness – Prendas team training camp, which I managed to tag along with, perks of being married to the team director. It has to be one of my favourite places to train. It’s so pretty, you can ride for hours without seeing a car and the weather is always warm and sunny. This year being no exception, with the first 5 days reaching 24°c. I may have become addicted to a sweet champagne style wine called Blanquette, however if rumours are true Phillip Gilbert doesn’t mind champagne after training. If it’s good enough for him......
The team had contacted university of Hertfordshire physiotherapy department to find a couple of physio students who wanted to work with the team to learn how to be a soigneur. So every evening they led different structured sessions, like stretching, core stability and Bosu ball work. I helped in these in my role as a team mentor and was able to pass on some bike specific knowledge to the young riders. If you’re not sure what it is, the Bosu is like half a gym ball mounted on a plastic board. It is really lots of fun except that the first time we did it turns out Stef has more balance than me #notimpressed. So I haven’t let him use it since and I have been practising like a mo-fo until I have the balance and grace of Darcey Bussell during a Swan Lake performance, and the endurance of Mo Farah. Needless to say I'm not quite ready for a rematch yet.
So this brings us neatly up to date. Back in training and looking forward to the races starting in may. It’s been a great break, as per usual I’m a little sad to put the cakes back on the shelf again for another 11 months but equally as excited to start racing. I promise to update again very soon.