Thursday, January 19, 2012

TOUR OF CYPRUS - are YOU ready for the challenge???

Want to kickstart your season? Or get perfect preparation for an upcoming Gran Fondo event?  Then this is the perfect workout experience!!

I did this two years ago.  The memories i have from it will last forever which is why i am telling you about it!

It is a three-day stage ride/race from Friday through Sunday, March 23-25, 2012
Day 1 - 80km
Day 2 - 120km
Day 3 - 115km
Click HERE for the maps/charts

They offer two groups to join:

1. Cycling for glory - with timed sections where you can challenge yourself against the clock, claim the win of the day or even win the coveted leader's jersey
Each day, a timed section of about 20km or so is scheduled in the middle of the 80-120km ride.

2. Cycling for personal glory - same routes as the other group but no timed sections.

There are feed zones along the way with standard staples like bananas, etc but they also include exotic snacks that you'll want to stuff yourself with!

You can also extend your visit to make it a long holiday - contact organizer for help with this.

At the moment, flights are cheap to Cyprus so book NOW!!

Click HERE for Registration
Click HERE for more info

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas Period Racing = Overloaded, yet undercharged

GVA Baal by Luc van der Meiren
The last weeks were the toughest of the season for me. I had timed my fitness so i would kick ass during the Christmas period of racing  - even went to Spain a couple weeks previous for 10 days to get in the hard trainings.  But the outcome was not to be the way i had planned it in my head.

Usually it wouldn't be especially difficult for me to have done those 7 races in two weeks (or 9 races in three weeks) as i recover quickly from hard efforts but i unfortunately entered this race period with a bladder infection.  I tried to first treat it homeopathically for a few days with cranberry pills, lots of water, garlic, etc but only found out on the morning of Namen World Cup that my attempt had failed miserably. Not only had i missed out on sleep for a whole week from drinking an overload of water and having to pee every ten minutes through the night, but I 'woke up' that morning of the World Cup with a very strong pain in my kidney. Bugger!  Now i had the infection in both bladder and kidney.

Namen World Cup
And if i didnt feel like crap enough, on the drive to Namen, while the other racers were downing their pre-race meals and drinks, i was sipping at a nasty-tasting super strong antibiotic drink.  Needless to say, the race was a disaster.

Just after i crossed the finish line having only beaten a handful of gals, I was greeted by the sweetest group of folks who patiently waited there for me to arrive.  Their enthusiasm was so infectious (no pun intended) that for a moment i thought that maybe i had done better than I thought.  But alas, they were simply there to offer a bit of comfort to me on a very trying day. I got warm comments like, "Way to finish", "You looked great on the descents".  On top of that, my press and media friends jumped in to take photos and even grab an inteview of me.  I felt like a rockstar, a very sick one but nonetheless special. THANKS TO YOU ALL!!!!  I held it together until i got back to the "Peanut" van before i broke into tears.

Essen by Johan Pelgrims
With only four days of semi-rest till the next race i didnt expect much, and i got exactly what i expected. I was 15th but on a course like that i should have been better if health were on my side. I knew things were amiss when on the first long climb almost the whole peloton passed me at twice the speed.

Three days later was yet another World Cup in Zolder, BE - on a Formula 1 track actually.  Last year i cracked my pelvis on the track on an ice patch so with that in mind combined with my neverending recovery from the kidney infection, my expectations were not too high.  Again, even though the course suited me, the best i could manage was 29th.

Two days later i was back at it at GVA Trofee Azencross (Loenhout). This course is never a good one for me and that day it was no different from the years previous. I finished in 19th and put the experience out of my mind.

Essen by Dirk Bruylant
By this point, I was feeling pretty tired but a bit more recovered from the hit my body took from the infection.  I had one day of recovery before the next event so I used it to check out the upcoming course as it was nearby in Leuven. I was joined by some friends to help me with line choices, etc.  Our party on wheels included of course Jonas, Jo Croonenberghs, fellow vegan Frans Claes, and Jimmy Eecloo.    

The next morning after a night of heavy rain, the Fidea Leuven course was completely different. It was still fun to play in the mud the day previous though.  As for the race, it was a real mudfest.  My start was for the first time in a while not so disastrous. During the race i passed a couple of people and finished 12th.  It was a solid race and even more importantly a good feeling that my fitness is still there and confirmation that i am indeed almost recovered from the tool that infection took on me. 

Zolder by Krist Vanmelle
Again, with only one day of rest, I was at the venue of the last race of the Christmas period - GVA Trofee Baal (Sven Nys).  To celebrate a tough period for us, Jonas and I prepared a bunch of Gluhwein and candy to give to all our friends/supporters/fellow racers.  As we ended up parking 300 meters from the venue, almost nobody saw us to celebrate. Oh well, after the race we celebrated ourselves with a bit of gluhwein and a couple pieces of candy - our consolation party as we were in bed by 10pm the night before - New Year's Eve.

As for the race, again i had a decent start and again i passed a couple of riders to come in 14th. What thrilled me about this race was that for the first time this season i saw riders that i normally never see like Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn, Arenda Grimberg and even sprinted for 13th with Ellen van Loy. I cant say i felt like a superhero by any means, but it surely gave me hope for the rest of the season.  The course was also a good one for me i must admit as it was technical and riddled with heavy mud - something that suits me more than the road-race on cross bikes style.

Namen by Patricia Cristens
With another week until my next race (Liévin World Cup-FR), i took a few days to rest and am now back onto interval/power training and feeling optimistic.

I know i've said it before but i feel like i cannot say it enough - I want to thank you all for your unwavering support!! It really makes the racing experience so much more managable on the bad days and memorable every day - a feeling that I am not alone at the start line but with my extended family of sorts!!  It really means the world to me!!

GVA Baal by Filip François
Thanks Jonas (aka CakePie) for being the best husband ever, thanks to Jurgen Landrie, Sofie Piens, and Ernst van Looveren for being the best crew support, all my facebook/twitter/email friends, Jonas' and my families, all my excellent sponsors like BABOCO, STEVENS, 3T, ProBar, Challenge Tires, Mt Tam Bikes, and BikePure, and of course to all my friends and supporters who stand on the sidelines at the races to cheer their hearts out for me and to take such gorgeous photos of me; i hear - and sometimes see - you all!!!!!