So it's been a while since my last blog. I would say this relates to my life just being non-stop. However as I am a full time bike rider I realise you would find that statement hard to believe (I did once have a real job so have the vaguest of memories of what it is to actually be busy). Well at least I have been travelling a lot around Europe.
After the European championships we set off to Monaco for some training and to get the Kona van re-registered in its native land. If you ever want to make a Belgian stare to the point they will walk into things, then get a Monaco number plate, set the video camera up, sit back and chuckle.
I tried my hardest to find Philip Gilbert when we were there but he just didn't seem to be doing my routes. Monaco is a very cool place with an obviously extreme amount of wealth mixed up with an extreme number of house cleaners. The coolest things about the place were the millions of flights of steps and public lifts (that's an elevator to our north American cousins). You could cover a 1 km walk in 3 lifts, genius! Oh and the training was amazing too.
After we got back from Monaco I did a couple of races including the Koksijde World Cup, which as we all know will be worlds this year too. I do really like the course, had a satisfactory result and am getting more and more excited by the minute.
With only 10 days back in Belgium it was time to go training again. This time last year the weather was atrocious in Belgium, freezing cold and damp which ultimately led to an extraordinarily amount of time training on a turbo. So this year we planned ahead and had found a cheap place to stay in the south of Spain between Malaga and Marbella, also loving renamed as little Essex within our first day there.
We had all of the four standard British TV channels on our TV, the local shopping precinct had a supermarket with British foods, the hairdressers was called 'the English cut' and there was a British fish and chip shop, complete with Pukka pies. The weather was outstandingly good, it rained once in 18 days and on the coldest day was 'knee warmers'.
One of my cycling friends once named me 'Dora the explorer', the well known childrens cartoon character based on my ability to discover new roads while training and inability to turn around when aforementioned roads turn into gravel tracks/single track/muddy fields. I will say that 99% of the time they do turn back into road eventually.
A few years ago I tried one of these roads which turned into a single track small mud bath/river crossing and back into a proper road. Unfortunately at the time I had Speedplay pedals which lock up with a spek of dust so weren't conducive to stepping into the mud bath. I got my foot back in but couldn't unclip until I got home, took my shoe off and got Stef to use brute strength to yank the shoe out of the pedal.
So while in Spain, for the above mentioned reason I found myself in the middle of a golf course being chased by a cigar-wielding English man in a golf buggy trying to tell me I shouldn't be there. Eventually when he caught me, I was very surprised how quick buggies go uphill, he stated the obvious. 'You shouldn't be here', to which I replied 'I realise that, I don't know how I got into here and so can't find a way out'.
This may have been a slight exaggeration of the truth as I had actually dropped down a steep hill onto the course and had little intention of going back up it to get home. After giving me a slight look of 'argh poor little women no good with directions' he softened slightly and showed me the way out, instructing me to be careful as I wouldn't want my pretty face hit by a golf ball as I would have to cross the 10th hole. After five minutes and a short pause for a group of slightly bemused Italian golfers on the 10th hole and I was back on a proper road and on my way home.
Having decided that maybe the road pros have the right idea in living in places with guaranteed better weather than Belgium for their winter training it was time to pack up the suitcases and head on home to our beloved Belgium where the water table had been getting higher and higher in our absence. Since our return I have actually seen little streams, that I didn't even remember being by the side of the road, full to bursting with lying water.
Back in Belgium it was pretty much straight in with three races in four days, Christmas followed by another block of racing. Unfortunately the worst possible time to get sick, which I, along with a lot of other riders judging by the mens pre-race interviews, have done. After unsuccessfully trying to compete at the top level with half a lung I've decided to get healthy instead.
So my next blog will be with much better news as I will be healthy and back to the top level taking advantage of the great training I have been able to do. So till then