Helen Wyman Blog: Is the off-season over already?

Cyclo-cross season starts with #murica trip

It’s crazy to think that we are already into the full swing of the cyclo-cross season. It seems like only yesterday that I did my last race of last season. Yet I have already done my annual #murica trip, raced a world cup, a Superprestige and the first B Post bank trophy is in two days. Seriously guys who pressed the fast forward button??

As has now become an annual tradition for me I started my season in the US of A. God bless #murica. I love it so much every year and this year was no exception. We got to do some extra fun stuff this year too as we arrived a week early. No, green mountain stage race wasn't the fun part, FYI.

Our lovely hosts Jerry and Sabine in Vermont once again upped their game this year. The original meatball (our loaned car, a Volvo, hence Sweden......meatball....) had thrown a 'few' ill timed hissy fits since we departed last year and finally Jerry caved in and upgraded her. So when we arrived at the compound there was meatball one and meatball two. I realise this is a little confusing, however, with 'sausage fest' being the only other name put forward in the naming ceremony, the choice of meatball two stuck!!

Alongside a new car they took us on new adventures too. As it was actually summer, they took us to stay a night on their friends island on lake Winnipesaukee which not only was amazingly stunning and a very cool thing to do, the cabin we slept in jutted out onto the lake, but their friends are husky breeders! I may not have mentioned this enough but me and Stef really want a husky dog, or two, cause all the websites say you need more than one. With our nomadic lifestyle choice this is probably going to remain just a dream however we did start googling it. Turns out they can never be trained, they never tire, they rip up everything, they need huge running spaces with plenty of high fencing and experienced dog owners to manage them. So basically prefect for first time pet owners right?!

Well the island friends actually had the most adorable pure breed husky puppy with them called 'Sugar'. She was sooooooo beautiful and so cute. They told us about the eagle on the island and how they had to keep an eye out so it didn't come after her (cue images of 'The proposal', movie with Sandra Bullock). They told all about how naughty she was, however, this puppy could basically melt the heart Cruella de Vil. So we bought her. Just joking, we actually hatched a plot, involving the eagle, to abduct her off the island without them knowing. Unfortunately Sugar had already left the island before we woke up the next morning!! Plot foiled.

The weather in Vermont was most definitely unusual for that time of year. In fact for our entire trip it was strange. Vermont was crazy sweaty humid hot with no rain, and then it rained in Las Vegas. I didn't even know it could rain in Vegas? At least I’ve never seen it rain on CSI; yes that’s pretty much how all Europeans get their education on current America. I had a photo shoot for my new clothing collaboration with velocio and the photographer, Nick Czerula, actually complained there was too much sunshine, in Vermont, something you’ll never catch me doing. I love the sun, although I want all races to be deep in mud, literally every race.

So Vegas was great, Brooke and his team do a fantastic job and the course had some extra changes making it a great race. Green Mountain stage race was epic, I absolutely loved the mountain top finish on the middle day. Gloucester was as always fantastic and a couple of new additions to this years course really changed it up. Well as fantastic as two punctures and a crash are anyway!!! (Disclaimer all entirely my fault, race is still great). Plus our usual cross clinic and midnight ride midweek race was again so much fun. This year at the midnight ride I got to unleash my inner sprinter Helen at the finish against the Aussie national champ Lisa Jacobs. There’s an epic video on my Instagram, you NEED to view it!!

The racing and catching up with friends are always huge highlights but one of this years best bits was definitely being able to show the two young British girls Hannah and Amira what it is like to race over there. As British Cycling don't have the funds to pay for cross trips to USA the girls had set up go fund me pages (inspired by what the Americans do most years to get to worlds). So huge thank you to every single person who donated towards their trip. They genuinely had an incredible time, they learnt so much and they were able to experience what it is like to race the top Americans in such fantastic races and such a different environment. Hannah took her best ever world cup result and Amira jumped closer to that exclusive top 50 in the world ranking club. We even managed to get them a Ben and Jerry's factory tour while we were staying in Vermont. Obviously as we are athletes Stef took one for the team and ate all of our free samples at the end of tour!!!!

Everything in America is just so much bigger than any other place in the world. Everything. You can not get a small ice cream, its literally Euro extra large. The washing machines are bigger than people (see Siobhan's photo) and it’s the only place where you get bottomless coffee on a breakfast date. But to me the biggest big thing are the roads. Last year when we did our epic road trip from Vegas to Boulder we drove over a 3000m mountain on a six lane motorway (thats 11,000ft on a highway if you're #murican). This year as I had more endurance training than usual I got to explore more of Vermont. This was fun although very different to exploring in Europe. When we moved on from the compound to our next stop at the Smiths house I rode and Stef drove. I had no GPS and just a couple of screenshots from google but I didn't exactly need to worry about getting lost. In my 120km I rode just four roads, I did over 850m of climbing and descending, yet didn't use my brakes for two and a half hours in the middle of the ride. I almost got bored of pedaling ha ha!

So as I have mentioned I am now back in Europe and gearing up to get stuck in here. Unfortunately due to travel I have been sick this week but am sure will be back to fine form in no time. I have Ronse, Belgium this weekend then the 2nd world cup the following weekend in Valkenburg, Holland. Both races I love so will hopefully do well. FYI the B Post bank trophy series now has all of the women's races live on Sporza, starting with Ronse this weekend. So watch it, Hola works, it will be good.

Till then.

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