During whole month of February, I was at home. No wait! I went to visit the Specialized headquarters in Morgan Hill, California. Morgan Hill is a small town south of San Francisco, which is big into cycling. No wonder why! It was only a very short visit, during which I tested some new, exciting products.
I am always amazed at how the Specialized technology progresses. Products are getting topped year after year. Last season you might have thought this is the best thing you can have, and a year later, it seems almost rubbish compared to the new thing.
Normally February is always one of the hardest training periods, especially for the head! I have to do my "love-hate" intensity sessions in the cold, the races are still far away, and I have only been training since mid-December. But this year, it felt very short and ever changing, plus I felt very good on my bike, too.
Sure I had some days that I was not motivated at all. Going out two hours later than I planned can make me feel shitty, but as soon as I am pedaling, it is ok, and I always do the ride I aimed to do.
I feel particularly bad if I come home way later, and my lunch was eaten on the bike instead of at home. I usually make myself a sandwich "to go", or I stop at a bakery, buy a pastry and eat it while I am sitting on my bike's top tube.
The weekends have been great. I went backcountry skiing with my mom and friends. I used to Alpine ski all the time, but I think when you get older, you appreciate more the walk up to the top of the mountain rather than queuing up in front of the lifts. The view from up top is amazing and to ride down in what is hopefully fresh powdery snow is thrilling. After a coffee refill somewhere in the valley afterwards, I usually ride back home with my bike.
All those winter stories feel like they happened so long ago already, although I have only just arrived here in Stellenbosch, South Africa, a little more than one week ago. Since my arrival, I have done five road races. First the Giro Del Capo, a four-day stage race, then the Cape Argus, the biggest timed cycling race in the world. 35,000 riders were racing or riding around the beautiful Cape Peninsula. For this entire road racing period, we formed a Specialized South Africa team, and it was great to be part of it. Burry Stander raced super strong, and he always finished top four, plus he wore the Giro's leader's jersey for two days!
The Sunday's Argus was pretty hectic with Lance Armstrong racing, too. It was new to me, seeing bodyguards guiding a bike racer to the start of a race. The Argus is always the coolest road race of my season. We start in darkness, then there's the sunset along the beach, amazing scenery and all the spectators and breakfast at Camps Bay afterwards - which all makes it so special. Luckily the wind this year was only half crazy compared to last year, where sunglasses started to fly, riders were blown over, Toi Toi portable toilets fell flat on the ground, and lonely bikes slid over the roads!
Now I am really looking forward to Cape Epic mountain bike stage race! I wish we would have more stage races, which create as much hype as the Cape Epic. Also, it will be very special to race in the Songo.info jersey, the charity I formed with a friend three years ago. Basically we started a BMX and mountain bike program in the township of Kayamandi, located near Cape Town. We definitely changed the lives of many young kids, who do not have the opportunity for play that we sometimes take for granted. More information can be found at www.songo.info.
Special thanks must go to Specialized, for donating so many bikes and allowing Burry Stander and myself to race in the Songo.info jersey. It is a special motivation not only to race for your fans, sponsors and yourself, but for the kids and a positive story of good.
Thanks for reading,