Persevering through a rough patch

Belgian racing weekend on tap, then a trip to the UK

Right now the rain is coming down sideways and soon it will be snowing. Cori's parents are visiting which is a good start to the holiday season.

The Koksijde World Cup wasn't much fun. After the start, I felt like I was going backwards. I fell, and it was enough to knock the wind out of me. I was out of contention, but continued to race since the UCI points will help make sure I get onto the U.S. Worlds team.

Immediately after Koksijde, the whole family drove 7.5 hours to Hittnau, Switzerland for a race I was contracted for there. It was Cori’s birthday that night, and we arrived just in time for her to celebrate with a glass of wine. We had real winter 'cross conditions in Hittnau. It was snowy and freezing cold in Switzerland. There was a ton of stuff coming up off the ground, and I finished the race frozen like a popsicle.

It was so cold I ended up wearing a rain cap over my Sommerville Sports skinsuit and tech-wear for most of the race. Winter clothing is a funny amalgamation of tried and true items, and constant experimentation to find the proper mix of gear. I ended up wrapping myself in several ‘Buffs’ from Competitive Cyclist. The ‘Buff’ is a neck and head warmer piece that comes in handy in all sorts of situations. They proved really useful in Switzerland. I don't have a sponsor to feed my glove fetish, so I rely on a tried and true pair of Seal Skins that I’ve been using repeatedly for years. They have an effective waterproof barrier in them, but have been washed so many times they get bunched up on the inside. Every time I use them I have to knead the glove’s knots out of my hands in a time consuming pre-race ritual.

I like racing in Switzerland. Unlike Belgium, where last week's results are the most important factor in getting a contract, the Swiss have a better attitude towards riders who have a strong history. There is still a lot of pressure to perform well, but the race organizations are generally more respectful to the larger peloton of professional racers.

At Hittnau I came down with a stomach bug, and after the race it blew up into a full on gastrointestinal issue. It was ugly. After the race we drove to Saas-Fee, which is a carless ski resort village. I wasn’t able to enjoy it much since I was ridiculously sick, but Cori, Milo, and Emma had a good time skiing, while Pearl and I tried to stay out of trouble. Pearl had to help me out of some awkward situations when I had to visit the bathroom at a few restaurants. She made a good distraction. My original intention was to do some altitude training, but that plan was shot as my stomach issues worsened.

When we got home, I had a full analysis completed. It was not much fun and very graphic, so I will spare you the details. Everything checked out, so I was able to start training again. After feeling like a zombie for several days I was just happy to learn I’d live.

We had a Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house, and I had to leave quickly since I was still having trouble keeping anything down. That was a low point. Cori had worked hard to get a turkey and prepare it American style, and I felt like I wasted it. It used to be hard to even find a turkey, and when we got it, we had to beg them to pluck it. Now, we are able to get one on short notice, dressed and ready to go, all wrapped in a bow. We also found two butternut squash, pompoenen-pumpkin in Dutch, so we were pretty pumped about that.

Recently I have been working closely with an old friend and mentor. I believe in him, and he in me, which is really motivating. I have been able to do a lot of good and hard work for almost a week now, and hope to continue that in the run up to the Belgian Christmas races and Nationals. I have renewed confidence that things will come together for Nationals, Worlds, and the end of the season.

This weekend I have SOUDAL Scheldecross Antwerpen, and the Vlaamse Druivencross in Overijse. Antwerp is a great city for a race, and the Overijse race runs over the side of a hill, which is a cool race feature. The following week I'm heading to the U.K., for a race in York. It will be the first time I go to the U.K. and I'm excited to race in an English speaking country again in the U.S. championship colors.

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