Friday, November 13, 2015

TAIWAN KOM Challenge - crazier than all rumors combined...

I found out the hard way! Wow, what an experience. And that climb was unreal! For all those who
top of KOM Challenge by Bauyung Gao
like to challenge themselves on the bike, this hillclimb race should be on the top of your "to-ride" list! It is 105km total, with the first 17km flat neutral along the Pacific Coast before turning inland and upwards, a 87km climb that drops you off above the clouds at 3275m altitude, with the last 10km crazy hard, repeatedly reaching gradients in upwards of 30%!  Just reaching the finish is more than a feat in itself. This year, with ideal weather conditions, only 75% of the riders made it to the top. is their website if you want to read more about it.

There is also an organization that does training camps - road, mtb, and cyclocross - as well as bike tours there in Taiwan. Website is

Since my experience there in Taiwan was soooo overwhelming, here are a couple of links where you can read all about it.  Here is a version in Dutch:

And in English, with lots of photos, here:

Going into the Taiwan race, i first competed in a few cyclocross it is cross season! :-)
Kermiscross Ardooie (Belgium) was the first on my list.  I had a very slow start since i was completely not used to going that deep so many times in a 45 minute period. But my last two laps were great which gave me hope.

Next up was Valkenburg World Cup in Holland.  I remained optimistic up until two minutes into the
Valkenburg World Cup,
foto: Luc Wilms
race where my saddle pointed skyward when i remounted.  My own fault.  I tried to lower the nose of the saddle a few days previous to save my bitties from the constant saddle-smacking but clearly I didnt tighten it enough.  My husband Jonas was pretty pissed off, to say the least. The one time i touch my bike i manage to screw it up big time.  When i passed him in the pits, in completely last place since i took much time trying to make the saddle rideable, i could tell he wanted to wring my neck but he held it in like the pro he is.  By the end i only managed to pass a few riders since i was sitting so far behind.

Next up was a back-to-back weekend of  Kruibeke CX (Belgium) and Grand-Prix de la Commune de Contern (Luxembourg.)  In Kruibeke, I was unsure that my back would hold out since it has been very bad lately but it turned out that this was a non-factor.  Instead what took me out was chain-suck - THREE TIMES in fact! The third time when it happened I was simply too far from the pits to run my bike, so I stopped.  The crank had to be removed to get the chain free - something I couldn't do on the fly unfortunately, as much as I tried.

In Contern, I found a course that was totally my thing. And in following with my season luck so far,
Kruibeke CX, foto: Jo Groenevinger
my back completely crippled me where I was riding slower than a grandma with a filled picnic basket attached to her handlebars. Somehow I managed to finish top 10 but I couldn't have been more disappointed. 

If I didn't have to fly out to Taiwan very early the next morning, I would have tried some intervention for my back to get me through the Taiwan race.  Unfortunately I traveled to Taiwan on a bunch of pain pills and a prayer - that I would make it to the finish. 

Since returning to Belgium from Taiwan I have been to the hospital to have a facet-denervation done
Valkenburg World Cup,
foto: Bianca van Nyen
on my lower back, where they literally burn the nerves.  It takes up to 6 weeks to see if it works.  Fingers crossed.  And in the meantime, I am back to training - to try and bring my fitness level back up. Not sure if it will come good in time for Koksijde World Cup on 22 November but I'm doing everything I can to make it happen.

Thanks for reading! xxx

Sunday, October 11, 2015

What have I been up to in the last year??

Wow, i cannot believe i didnt update this blog in a year! So....Here's my quick ditch effort to get you up updated.

My 2016 offseason started off very well with a 3rd place at Paris-Ancaster Race in Hamilton, Read all about it here - as well as our colorful travels to NYC after.
Paris-Ancaster, foto: Jeremy Allen
Canada. I headed over there again with Ellen van Loy. I really had decent legs but made a critical tactical error that cost me 2nd place. Was happy to hold onto 3rd thanks to Edgar Aspe when i blew high from going too deep. I'm pretty sure that even if i would have rode a perfect race, Ellen would have taken me at the end for 1st. She is sooo strong, and too nice to hate. :-)

I am especially proud of my 3rd place since i endured much pain trying to train in spain for 3 weeks leading up to the race, having to often stop a few times up each climb to stretch a bit in an effort
Visited my "2nd parents" ruth/bill in NYC
to alleviate some of the pain to make it to the top.

After that i basically suffered the rest of the summer with crazy back area pain which meant almost
no riding. Even sleeping at night was not so easy due to the nonstop pain. Instead, i tried my best to relax over the summer. Got some hiking in and some very very easy riding whenever possible with my pain.

Jonas and I hiking in hard rainy Ardennes
BUT 4 weeks ago i finally found a surgeon who could identify the cause of the main pain i had. And 3 weeks ago i was back at the hospital to have an infiltration done (with crazy large needles into my back). Well a week later (2 weeks ago) i could train again! I immediately joined my friends at Bertem for their last hard ride of the season and it went way better than i thought. I was teary-eyed at the end of the ride!

A week later i tested myself again at the Zolder track with the Bertem boys and at first it was above my limit but eventually i came good. Still LOTS of work to do before i reach a decent fitness level but i walked away feeling quite optimistic.

Last Thursday was my final test. It was again at the Zolder track. I immediately found a nice group to ride with and when it was my turn to ride at the front we eventually hit the one steep short uphill so i kept the pace high to the top and only one guy could follow. I was soooo afraid that since i am only a girl riding against guys that i would go too slow in the climb. Well, on the way down the hill a guy passed me and told me that it wasnt a race. pfff.

I waited until the last of the group passed to jump back in...without realizing that I had blown the group soooo wide that the last riders of the group were actually dropped. i jumped from guy to guy to try to reconnect with the front but to no avail.  Instead i passed the time waiting for another fast group by riding with a crazy strong guy. Eventually 4 other racer kids joined us, making the pace very hard.

On one of my turns at the top i really gunned it hard, burying myself in the process. When i finally elbowed for the next guy to come around and looked behind, i was shocked to find 30 guys single-file, strung out on my wheel. 

Thankfully I had something left to jump on to the group as they passed. Soon enough i recovered and was able to ride in the front again.  When i pulled off, i saw only FIVE guys left in the group!

While it gave me a confidence boost for sure, I am very much aware that there is still WAAAAY more work to do before i am competitive at the international level with the  gals. I did my best with what i had to be ready to race. All i can do now it race my heart out and keep the faith that it should get better as the season progresses.

I did do 2 UCI international races in China end August/beginning September which were a disaster
China - Ricoh Riot Photography
due to that relentless back pain. BUT since they were a nightmare, i am choosing to forget them (while holding onto the wonderful memories of course) and award myself a do-over for the season.

Before i get started with racing i first traveled to London to speak at VegFest UK festival yesterday. It was an amazing experience - wonderful audience and a great event! My next talk is VegFest Glasgow 5 December, followed by a talk the next week in Belgium at a Medical Professional's Conference. It will be my first talk in FLEMISH!  I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

With that said, my first races are Ardooie Thursday 15 October, Valkenburg World Cup Sunday, 18 October, Kruibeke (Belgium) 24 October, Grand-Prixde la Commune de Contern (LUX) 25 October, and Taiwan KOM Challenge 30 October.  The rest of my season is still yet to be determined. x

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cyclocross Season off to a stinging start...

literally, as i almost died at the opening race of the season in China.
Necklace i got from
the China Race
Click HERE on PelotonPost to read all about it, as well as the rest of my bizarre exciting adventures there. The article includes LOTS of colorful photos so you'll feel like you were right there with me!

The day after we returned from China, it was directly back to work with a Derny race in Edegem, Belgium organized by fellow racer Katrien Thijs. Before the race, all the gals were treated to body jewelry tattoos made of gold so we'd have that girly touch while kicking each other's asses.  It definitely was a shock to the system to get back into cycling after taking a few days off the bike to recover from the China incident, especially considering it took me a lap to find my derny.  Luckily Loes Sels offered me her wheel until i found him.  Afterwards, Jonas and I got to catch up with our friends Ellen van Loy and Tom - always nice when you can combine your passion with a bit of socializing!

Two days later, it was time to re-test the cyclocross legs at Hofstade-Zemst
by Leske Staes
where they held a separate women's race, thanks to organizer Jean Schoovaerts.  Otherwise we'd be having to duke it out with the juniors which is typical here in Belgium.  Once the gun sounded, it took me no time to get myself into 2nd position, on the heels of Ellen van Loy.  My first thought was that my legs were indeed as good as i thought they were in China where i didnt get to really test them. My second thought, though, was SHIT, my difficulty breathing from China hasnt gone away yet. I knew i was taking a gamble to race so soon after having such a close brush with death, but still wanted to give it a shot.  Eventually i faded to spot 5/6, crosssing the line in 6th in a sprint. 

The next weeks were occupied by my job as spokesperson for In Defense of Animals, The Vegan Society (whose logo is on my ass of my cycling clothing), and PCRM.  It took me to Luxembourg mid-september where i spoke at International Animal Rights Conference, then again to London for Vegfest UK at the end of September.  At both events, i spoke over my own experiences on a plant-based diet as well as tips and trips i've learned along the way to get the most out of my body through the use of nutrition.  Her is LINK to my talk at Luxembourg.
Talk at IARC Luxembourg

Once back from London, it was all focus again on cross.  I kicked off my return with a win at the 6de Grote Prijs Cyclocross Viersel in Belgium. Although it was a small event, it felt GREAT to lift my hands in the air across the finish line.  After the podium ceremony, i was interviewed in Flemish where i got to talk all about my job as spokesperson - was a very cool experience!

Next up is my first big back-to-back racing weekend.  Saturday (tomorrow) is Grote Prijs van Brabant  s-Hertogenbosch NED (they even put photos of the gals next to their names!) and Sunday is BPost Bank Trofee Ronse, BEL.   I know my legs are much stronger than the last years thanks to hard work with my new kinesist to resolve my lingering hip pain, but not sure how the nerves will be - or even how I will handle the constant intervals.  What I do have going for me is lots of excitement to be at both these races! No matter the outcome, I expect I'll have lots of fun!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cyclocross is just around the corner...

OK, well in my case it's on the other side of the WORLD as my first race is next weekend in CHINA!

Ninove crit by Yves Schollaert
Yes, you read that correctly.  I'm heading over to China with my good friend Ellen van Loy and Jonas is coming as our support guy! We are also partnering up with Thijs Al, his girlfriend and their 7-month old baby when we're there.  It is to race the first UCI cyclocross race of the season - a Category 1 event.  I expect it will be the strangest experience ever!

We leave Wednesday, arrive Thursday, race Saturday and then check out China, in particular The Great Wall and Beijing for the few days after. Ellen, though, heads directly back the day after the race. I'll be sure to take a lot of photos and do my best to send updates along the way.

Over the summer, i did a few races to keep in touch with race pace. Every time i do this, i am always

Lille Derny by Tom Debruyn
surprised by how fast women can propel their bikes!! Super cool to see - and of course to experience!  I did a couple post-tour criteriums including Ninove and the derny race in Lille as well as the Beneladies Tour on my birthday in July. 

My last hard effort was yesterday where i took the start at the Feesten Beert Kermiscross against the "elite" men.  I was 17th out of 48th at the end. That number doesnt really say anything but i can tell you i was thrilled to even get the opportunity to race! I went to the event with my friend Christophe. And without the usual Peanut van, i packed lightly. Apparently i was too light as i showed up without racing shoes!! By some miracle, a kind man lent me his spare pair of shoes so i could race. I am now hoping i didnt beat him to the finish. ;-) But it was a very good practice where i could work on my mud skills, climbing, descending, staircase descending, curb-hopping, log-springing and even

Flemish interview in Lille by Bianca Nyen
ramp jumping. Was a very interesting yet extremely fun experience! The announcer loved that there was a woman in the race so much that during the podium ceremony they were looking for me to award me with my very own prize - 2 oversized bottles of Kriek Boon - 1 oude (old) and 1 new. I kept the old but gave the new to Christophe as a thank-you for helping me put it all together before the race when i was busy trying to get the shoes to work. Was very thankful for that!

After i returned home with the racing high, i immediately hit rock bottom when i heard the news of Annefleur Kalvenhaar.  Dead. WTF. She hit a bridge wrong in the World Cup MTB Eliminator last weekend and the rest is history. Breaks your heart. This is someone i saw most weekends during the winter, a real up-and-comer at only 20 yrs old and always sweet to me. I didnt know her well aside from the races and as facebook "friends" but it hurts nonetheless to lose one of our own. pfff. I wish strength and loving vibes for the close friends and family of Annefleur.

On a more positive note - as life for the rest of us must go on - i have some GREAT news to announce soon enough so stay tuned....

As for my upcoming events, I'm speaking at International Animal Rights Conference again in
Luxembourg 12 September so stop on by if you can!!!

Next up is my talk at VegFest UK London 28 September.  They expect a crowd of 10,000 at this
event!!  I'm a guest speaker for The Vegan Society - they are being honored at this event for their 70th birthday. What an honor it will be to speak on their behalf. To find out more about it, click here!

As for my next races, I'm racing the day after i get back from China at Derny Edegem on 5 September (organized by Katrien Thijs), then after that i'm not yet sure regarding my cross schedule so stay tuned for that as well!!

Thanks for reading! x

Monday, June 2, 2014

Everything you wanted to know about my unique team and bike!

Ever wondered how...or new team came to be? 

Koksijde World Cup 2013
Photo: Kevin Remmerie
Ever wondered what I ride and how i dress it up for big occasions?

Read ALL ABOUT IT on a team/bike profile on me published on CYCLOCROSS Magazine!

From Canada to Belgium - with lots of love

In the last weeks I've raced the infamous Paris to Ancaster race in Ontario, Canada held on April
photo courtesy of
27th   followed by the Lotto Cycling Cup Houthalen – a UCI International race in Belgium. 

As for my experiences in Paris to Ancaster, it was simply unreal - an amazing adventure!  Not only did Ellen van Loy and I stay in a gorgeous house located right on the legendary Bruce Trail that’s 930km long, but we got to experience so many other local attractions such as Niagara Falls. By the time it was race day, we were so psyched up and ready to go! 
The competition was incredibly stiff but we held our own. Ellen placed 2ndand I was 3rd. Podium baby!  We were beaten by a pro mtb racer with the international LUNA MTB team. Even so, it felt fun to be on the podium again.
To read all about it, you can visit my personal diary on CYCLOCROSS Magazine.  I also got some nice
foto: Jeremy Allen
media coverage from it as well - some in Dutch and some in English.


Next came the Lotto Cycling Cup Houthalen.  As it was an international race i could not ride it as an
individual so I guest rode for Team Isorex - a wonderful team to represent! Against many of the best road cyclists in the world, I thankfully held my own.  I was happy to finish the race considering I’d picked a tough one to begin my road racing season with.  By the end of the 2hr45minute race, we had an average 40kph with 520 altitude meters.
(Photo courtesy of Tom Prenen)

Here are a couple of press/media spots on my race experiences there:

I am now back to more hard training for my upcoming racing block on the road – the exact race schedule is yet to be determined.  I am also putting more time into my writing these days. I just recently took on another freelance writing gig for a new cycling magazine and wrote my first article (all about myself ;-) ) for Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine.

I’m also busy working on my presentations for two upcoming events – International Animal Rights Conference in mid-September located in Luxembourg, and VegFest UK London end of September.
Thanks for reading!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Off to Canada to race the infamous Paris 2 Ancaster!!

After a long hard trying cyclocross season with an excellent wrap-up cookie party (see party video

Foto: Lydia van de Meerssche
 - courtesy of, I took some much needed time off of the bike.  Usually my rest would last 5 days before i'd have to start training again for my yearly pilgrimage to the Tour of Cyprus. 

But with the race canceled for this year, I went a whole 3 weeks without the bike to fully decompresss, recover, regroup and re-humanize.  It felt great!  I would have taken even more time off if i hadnt received a fantastic invitation to the infamous Paris-Ancaster bicycle race in Ontario, Canada to be held on April 27th.  It is an offseason point-to-point cyclocross, a kind of Canada equivalent of Paris-Roubaix.

I'm traveling there with rockstar Ellen van Loy from April 23rd through 28th.  To make the trip even more exciting, we're holding a women's only cyclocross clinic the day before the race.
Here is the press release of the event on CYCLOCROSS Magazine.
And for those who read Dutch, did a nice piece on Ellen's trip to Canada.

As for other aspects of what i've been up to, I am now an official supporter of The Vegan Society.
They just changed their logo to celebrate their 70th anniversary as you can see in this photo! You can check out their site here.

Their old logo can be seen on the butt and collar of my skinsuit as shown in the photo here.

GP Sven Nys by Tom Prenen

Oh, and I've been interviewed by none other than THE cyclocross superstar Sanne van Paassen! What an honor!

Click HERE to read the interview on her website.

I finally got my new trading cards! The focus was on "nature" to reflect my earth-friendly sponsors such as T. Strong Transportation, a green transportation company based in Texas, and HempAge clothing company out of Germany.

Hope you like it!

I'm sure there are lots of adventures/happenings that i am forgetting to mention but if i remember any that are particularly interesting, I'll be sure to post it here!
Thanks for reading!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Interviews, advertisements and cyclocross kit!

Finally after a long while, my hip problem was diagnosed. That meant both a relief for me but also

Hasselt by Bart Knops
many hard workouts with the therapist to get my body back in fighting shape. The last couple of weeks I've had some heavy sessions but it's only pain, i tell myself. In the process a few races were sacrificed. I still showed up at the start but with heavy legs. I must admit, though, it was still a blast! I really do love to race cross!

This week has been a busy one.  I wrapped up my interview articles on Jonathan Page and Lars van der Haar and turned them into CYCLOCROSS Magazine to be published in their next issue. 

In addition to my therapy workouts and normal trainings, i gave a cross clinic to a few Belgian kids i've been working with for a few weeks now.  They are the cutest, sweetest, most enthusiastic boys ever! A pleasure to teach them.  We reviewed on/of, jumping barriers, bunny-hopping barriers, tight muddy turns, stretching, and a bunch of other things that i could cram into two hours' time.  One of them, Yoni, competes in the provincial championships this weekend and Belgian Championships shortly thereafter. So excited for him.  If nothing else, he will look GREAT on the bike. Of that I'm sure. I was lucky to have my Coach Elmo teach me from scratch so it feels good to pay it forward.

My busy week continues straight through today where I was training, stretching, eating a bunch (pancakes are for dinner, i decided), packing for tomorrow's World Cup race in Koksijde, Belgium, and packing a teeny tiny bit for Spain. We leave monday for 12 days to Benidorm.  Hoping for dry weather, and if I'm lucky, a bit of sun on the bare gams! The day we return will again be a packing day as the following two days are race days in Scheldecross and Overijse.
article by Joyce Verdonck

In Benidorm, we're staying at Fiesta Park Hotel so if you're in the neighborhood...

On another topic, I am in the current issue of Belgium's GRINTA! magazine. YIPPEE!!! It is an article about those who ride throughout the winter. AND i did my FULL INTERVIEW in Flemish!!!

yes, i am in physician outfit
A couple months ago i did a photo shoot for SBB, the newest big sponsor of the Superprestige Cyclocross series so now i am being spotted in booklets and on the giant billboard TV's at the races.  Pretty cool I must admit!

Lastly, my new kit finally arrived!!! It was beautifully designed by PinkOliv out of Belgium where they GOT how important it was for me to have a kit made specifically for cyclocross, while capturing my "green" lifestyle.  Hence, the clothing is mainly black with a sea of faded CX's where CrossVegas swims, and with a light green trim. Totally LOVE IT!! You'll also notice that there is the official VEGAN logo on the collar and the ass, courtesy of The Vegan Society.

foto by Juan Plowy
The sponsors are STEVENS as bike sponsor, T Strong Transportation - a VERY bike-friendly green transportation company out of Texas, Challenge Tires, 3T Cycling, Vermarc clothing, BOOOM! nutritional energy supplements, HempAge - maker of earth-friendly comfy casual clothing,  and CrossVegas baby!!! 

Now to get back to packing for Koksijde!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Today I gutted myself...

to finish the motorpacing workout that Amy Dombroski never got to complete two days ago.  
Even though I can only dream of having the talent that Amy had, I rode faster today behind that scooter than I had ever ridden.   By the end, I was completely empty – both physically and emotionally. 

My upcoming cross season is dedicated to Amy.  As I tackle almost all the races she had on her schedule, I will keep her  in my thoughts.  Every pedalstroke I will be sure to relish - in her spirit of “play”.  This is the very least I can do for a truly exceptional person -  like no other.   

When she was first planning to take on the Belgian cross scene a few years ago, I happily helped her out with some of the logistics as I had been there…done that.  We had a special bond as two of the three Americans (the 3rd is Jonathan Page who helped me in fact) who sacrificed lots to follow that dream of being Belgian-based for the cross season.  As I know how difficult it can be to make that happen, I had much respect for her courage and conviction. She fought hard and remained strong, even when it got tough and lonely here on the other side of the world.   In such a short period of time, it was amazing to see what worldwide impact she’s had – all the folks she’s touched - while following her dreams.   xxx

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cyclocross Season is FINALLY here...

and i am not feeling ready. Hate when that happens! The STEVENS bikes are finally put together and are absolutely DREAM MACHINES!! I never imagined riding a cross bike could feel like this.  It also helps that they are spruced up with 3T parts and Challenge tires! I'm a lucky girl.

Over the summer, while i mainly "relaxed" i did get a chance to spend much time in the hills.  After two weeks in Cyprus,  I went directly to the Ardennes (hilly part of Belgium) to spend time with Jonas and his family on their yearly holiday. I rode the bike a few times, including a couple of laps of the Belgian Championships course where my former teammate Liesbet De Vocht took the title a few months later. Yippee!!

Haaltert crit by Johan Pelgrims
Next up were a couple of road races to keep in touch with the speeds of the peloton. It was also fun to see some friendly faces again (amidst the grumpy bitchy ones you find in the Belgian peloton i must add.)

In June, I took off for France for a dream job as a Tour Guide. My job was to ride 10 stages of the Tour de France for a private tour.  There were 3 clients and 9 of us in support. Every day, we got to ride the most beautiful terrain through France then come home to mind-blowing accomodation - one day a castle, the next a villa, and so on.  The experience was surreal. It also helped that the clients were a dream to work with. It may be hard work but it felt like a pleasure to do it - a job i really loved doing.

Ronny and me
After that trip i needed a bit of recovery (I snuck in a couple more road races but just sat in with the peloton - that counts as recovery, right??). Part of that recovery included a visit to see Ronny, one of my all-time best friends. He lives in New Jersey, just over the George Washington bridge to NYC. Almost every day of that week we rode into Manhattan to "cruise" as Ronny puts it!  I also had a chance to again see Frankie, another top friend, as well as two very special folks who are like my second parents - Ruth and Bill. They are two of the most amazing people i know. Married about 60 years and in their 90's!  They just returned from a trip to Iceland. They also still work and go to their country house on the weekend. They have more energy than me most times. 

Ruth and me
The day i returned from NYC, Jonas picked me up at the airport on the way to Vermarc - my new clothing sponsor. A bit after we returned home, my friend Claire arrived to spend the night as we were taking off early the next morning for training France.  We were able to stay for a couple of weeks at her team's apartment located in Valmeineir, high up in the Alps - 1850m to be exact. 

The first few days were amusing with the altitude, combined with the super long-ass climbs! Coming from Belgium, i was in shock. 

every day a heatwave
And every day, after our rides, we still had to climb back up to 1850m.  Once showered, we made tasty ginormous veggie meals with all sorts of goodies i brought from our garden back in Belgium.  In the evenings, we walked 150m down to "town" where we sat in on silly entertainment with all sorts of performers geared to keep kids engaged. I fell asleep during one of them. oops.

A few days before we were to depart, Jonas showed up for the festivities. He may have suffered like a mo'fo the first few days of riding - going from not riding AT ALL to directly riding the Galibier, Telegraph, Croix de Fer, etc with us, but after a few days he was starting to really move. His best climbs were most likely Col du Glandon and Alpes d'Huez.  Proud of him.

Jonas atop his first climb
Then it was time for Claire to head back to Belgium to contest the big UCI road events, Jonas and I took off south to meet up with Nancy for a week in Mazan, just next to Mt Ventoux.  She left us only a day after our arrival as she decided at the last second to go to Austria for a one-day cycling event, but even so it was great to see her! She can be proud that we used her little apartment to its fullest.

Every day we went on an adventure. One day up Mt Ventoux, another to Avignon, then to fontaine de vaucluse, and so on until it was time to drive back to Belgium at the end of August.

Last weekend was my first race of the season and while I had a great time over the summer, my racing definitely paid the price. The race was Soudal Classics Neerpelt - an intervalfest, something I

hadnt focused on yet. In fact my first real interval was in the pre-ride on the trainer. I thought i was going to die.  I was warming up alongside Ellen van Loy and and after her interval she looked about as worked as i did so i figured i didnt miss much in terms of the pain feeling any better. But i did miss a bit of fitness I'm sure. She went on to finish 4th while i was back in 14th (not that i would ever be able to finish 4th in a race like that on such a high level but maybe top 10?) No worries, though. I have a full schedule until the last week of February to give it a go...again and again.
my new kit
 This year around, I started my own team. My sponsors are STEVENS Bikes, Go-T-Strong (a super cool "green" transportation company out of Texas), HempAge (casual clothing), Challenge Tires, 3T Cycling (wheels, cockpit), BOOOM (energy bars/gels/drink), Vermarc, CrossVegas, SHEEX (performance bedsheets and pajamas), Tam Bikes out of Mill Valley, and Specialized (helmets, shoes, gloves).  I also added a bike pure arm band on the jersey as well as the official Vegan logo on my collar and ass.  It feels GREAT to be able to once again hand pick my sponsors who parallel my beliefs.  Unfortunately my new clothing isn't ready yet, so until then i will be sporting the STEVENS factory skinsuit.

My next races are October 12-13 in Grote Prijs van Brabant (s-Hertogenbosch, NED) and BPost Bank Trofee Ronse (BE.) Not sure how they will go but i can tell you one thing...I will be excited to be there racing my heart out!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tour of Cyprus adventures now posted on CYCLOCROSS Magazine

I am now back from Cyprus for a while but still dreaming about my time there - what an amazing
posing with teammie Marie Claire Aquilina
photo by Hesham Sweed
land, amazing folks and an unforgettable Tour of Cyprus.
CLICK HERE to read all about my adventures there in cycling paradise. Hope to see you there with me next year!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Now onto road season - 1st up is Tour of Cyprus

It has been a busy February with six races left on my calendar.  To read about my adventures in the events, click HERE. It will take you to my published article on CYCLOCROSS Magazine. The article is aptly called, "Bring on the cookies and jenever."

After my last race on February 27, the Cross Masters Waragem (set in the middle of a town where we rode around swingsets set in sand and down the main drag that runs you through the city center), I took a full 3 days off the bike. The first day was the best of the three. Jonas and I spent the day at a spa, courtesy of his sister and her husband.  The package also included an "aprodite" massage where they first put you in a bathtub filled with rose water for 20 minutes, then they lay hot stones on your back and finish you up with a tender back massage that feels more like a feather than a massage.

Part way through the massage part, i mentioned to the guy that i usually get my legs, not my back, massaged. After a couple minutes of talk, i got the message across that a real massage would be more appropriate for my body type. How excited was he! It turns out he hates giving silly feather massages and had even studied sport massage and is a soccer player.

Well, half way through my massage it was my turn to get excited, or rather more nervous, when i felt him spread my legs. My first thought of course was, NO, that is not the massage i signed up for! But then i realized he was preparing to massage my legs. SCORE! Legs were not even part of the massage package so it was a bonus - MY kind of bonus, that is. And it was very welcome considering i had just raced the evening prior.

After my three days rest, i got going again to be at least semi-ready for Tour of Cyprus.  It is the perfect kickoff to spring training for me.  We travel through the most picturesque mountains, visit quaint traditional towns, get treated to all the delicious delicacies that Cyprus has to offer - all on two wheels!

This will be my third time taking part and it is, for me, an event not to be missed. This is why i get back on the bike so soon after cross. While i doubt i will be race-ready by the end of March, my goal is to at least have a basic level of endurance and climbing so that i can better enjoy all that is up for offer. Each of the three stages is 1200 -2000 altitude meters, which is always a shock coming off a cross season where the most we did was 200. But bring it on! My mind is at least ready for some warm sun on the quads after sitting in dark, cold, snowy, rainy Belgium where we saw the sun maybe once in the last six months. I'll be gone from March 25 through April 7 to make the most out of the trip.

In preparation for the hills, I did a trainer workout that simulated the Black Forest terrain in Germany. For three hours i powered up those hills and by the end my quads were on fire, literally. I felt electrical sparks! That was my key to get off.

As it continues to snow here, making the roads too dangerous to ride most days, I am often relegated to the trainer but i doubt i will be doing any more of those 3 hour rides. My legs -and ass - can only handle so much.

Upon final reflection of cross season, i want to thank everyone who has made all the diffference in the world for me. A big thanks again to all my sponsors such as BABOCO, STEVENS, 3T, Challenge, HempAge, Tifosi, PROBAR, Mt Tam Bikes, and Specialized for excellent support, to Jonas for doing more than humanly possible to keep me on track, to Jonas’ mom for dropping off meals at our house after the races, to my coach Elmo for repeatedly patching me back up enough so I can stand at the start lines, to Peter Meere, Sofie Piens, and J├╝rgen Landrie for serving as my on-hand support crew, and to everyone who cheered for me, read my blog or even had a kind thought about me over the last six months. I appreciate it all!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I was interviewed by SlowTwitch

foto by Tom Prenen
If you ever wondered what i am really like, here is a link to the article by that will enlighten you :-) . Be ready to laugh, maybe cry a very little, but mainly experience what i went through to make a life for myself in Belgium as a cyclocross racer. Hope you find it entertaining.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Racing, Photo Shoots, and Interviews

Rucphen by Dirk Bruylant
My last two races were definitely an ice-skating experience! It is rare we race on ice in a cyclocross race but last weekend we had two ice-riddled events in a row.  Int'l CX Rucphen in Holland was held between a beautiful frozen pond and an indoor ski ramp.  My start was a bit unfortunate. Right after we turned off the track into the dirt, I opted to ride the mini technical descent. The problem was that i was surrounded by gals who opted to run it. The train of runners forced me off the good line and into the deep snow.

By the time i was back on track, I had lost many spots. In my attempt to catch riders, i made many mistakes and slipped out here and there. By the time i put it all together and was powering along, fault-free, it was the last lap - a little too late to make up spots.  Even so, i had an excellent experience - it was a great course and excellent organization. And having that practice of racing on ice was surely going to help me the next day in Holland's Hoogerheide World Cup i told myself!

Hooherheide by Florent Bouchat

The morning in Hoogerheide started off great. I picked up my race packet from the Lanssens Family who help me out periodically with getting my World Cup packets when i have a race the day before. And my Belgian friend who works for the Italian Team kindly saved us a spot just next to the race course. The pre-ride went great. My Challenge tires were gripping nicely and i had tested a few corners to find my limits. I was ready to GO!
just before my slide by Tom Prenen

My start was fairly ok, and the race got better from there as i immediately passed a few riders by pushing my limits in certain spots.  All was going to plan until i reached the first spot where we have to dismount the bikes to run down/up around a tree. By my second footstep, I was across the course, sliding on my ass. Immediately i realized my downfall.  I had opted for long metal spikes in my shoes with the thought that they would simply cut into the ice. Heck, i'd seen it on tv where those ice climbers hang upside down thanks to their spikes. Well, those dreaded spikes had me ice skating all over the place with the end result of me flat on my back.  At least that kept my mind off of my frozen ears and the snow pellets! 

ice runup by Tom Prenen

The second place we had to dismount was running up a hill covered in ice. I had to stop in my tracks a few times when i found myself at that uncertain moment where you know if you make the tiniest move, you're going back down the hill. Every lap these two spots cost me fistfuls of seconds where i lost a few spots here and there. That must have broken Jonas' heart to watch me from the pits seemingly ride backwards during the race.  But at least i lived to tell the tale!  Just after the dreaded runup there was a steep descent layered in ice. In two of my five laps, i had to trackstand at the top to figure out how to ride down while avoiding a crumpled up gal at the bottom.  I was very lucky i didnt have to try and run down on FOOT! Would not have been possible at all with my spikes.

photo by Els Bammens

On my one day off the bike last week, i spent it at a photo shoot for my friend who has relocated her fitness business called Fitness by Farzan from San Francisco to Zolder, Belgium.  She does personal trainings in gyms, people's homes and also over skype.  She is so good at her job that she inspires people to rise to levels they never thought possible.  In the name of  action shots, she had us lift cowbells, do millions of squats, pushups while balancing on some unstable semi-circle, balancing acts, etc.  In true athlete form combined with her mesmerizing ability to get you to gladly suffer, i gave every exercise the best i had - killing myself in the process. Boy was I sore the next day, and the next...but it was worth it!!
modeling my HempAge clothing,
photo by Els Bammens

Lastly, I was kindly interviewed recently by the Brazilian Animal Rights organization and it is now online. To read the english translation, click on the british flag at the top right of the website.  CLICK HERE TO READ IT.

Thanks for reading!!