Riding for an American team I always start my season across the pond on the east coast of the USA. This year we went pretty much straight to Vermont from our Alpine training camp and gave ourselves a couple of weeks to settle into time zones and American breakfasts before the first race.
We always stay with Jerry, Sabine and their lovely children Noah and Benji. I'm pretty sure they enjoy having us too as we always join in with family life. This year I successfully retained my jenga ninja skills, made a child cry with the amount of vegetables I put in every meal and battered a 12-year-old at Words with Friends. All proud, proud moments for me! We also helped Jerry get a Strava segment behind the moped and challenged Noah to do 10 sit ups and press ups at every commercial break in an American football game. (For non-Americans that’s roughly 1000 sits ups!)
As always for race reports check out my website, but just for information I raced Green Mountain, Charm City cross, Gloucester and Providence. So after Green Mountain we stole meatball (Jerry’s Volvo) and cracked on to Baltimore.
I really love Baltimore as it’s got a great vibe and this year was no exception. We were able to stay with Suzy and Joe again, where I always learn a new vegetarian recipe, to Stef’s great delight. After the race this year we went for the 'ice cream challenge'. There’s a place in 'downtown' where they sell a colossal ice cream. It’s basically a round Belgian waffle (size of a plate) with 12 scoops of ice cream pilled on top followed by a huge dollop of cream and roughly 500 grams of syrup covered walnuts. It’s safe to say I went with a smaller option while Stef took up the challenge. As every one at the table failed to finish including my little portion we asked about the success rate. Apparently in 6 years only 2 people have been victorious.
After Baltimore we went onto stay with our Scottish friends in Acton for the Midnight Ride race and 'cross clinic. That is correct I said Scottish, I guess in foreign countries we are allies! The clinic was awesome as always and it was great to see people use the things we had covered with them in the races. One of the guys even got second that evening.
From there it was a short drive to our final host house on the coast just south of Gloucester. This is good, as meatball threw a hissy fit and required some coaxing to limp her way through the remainder of our trip. The weather was crazy hot. We even went paddling in the Atlantic Ocean in 29c heat at 4pm; it was truly beautiful.
We were really enjoying our final week in the USA until we heard the terrible news about Amy Dombroski. It's devastating when you here news of bike riders being killed while out doing there job, but never has this been so close to home. I was chatting to Amy just the previous weekend. Many of my friends were incredibly close to her and obviously every one in our tiny little racing community knew Amy. The following weekend was definitely a tough one and the lap of silence we did at Providence was one of the hardest things I have done. I may have been particularly 'huggy' that weekend, but I guess it just reminds you that life is so very precious and to let people know they are special everyday, just in case.
At Providence we saw the great side of life too as the 'little bellas' were doing their first 'cross camp for under privileged young girls from the local community. The girls got to borrow bikes, go riding and try out a miniature course set up next to the track before ending the day by asking questions to the 'pros'. Having heard my accent the girls just kept asking me to say stuff to them so they could copy. Definitely made my day. If you don’t follow them already they have a website and are on twitter too.
From here we came home to Belgium via England for the first European races. The weather is turning autumnal and has only briefly stopped raining in the last week so may the season continue as it started, muddy, cool and a lot of fun.
Next up are the world cups, Nacht Van Woerden (the cheese race), Ruddervoorde, Koppenberg and the European championships before I get a little break. I will definitely update soon.