Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I'm back HOME now!

Well, i've actually been home for a few days now but just haven't been motivated to write considering the race went exactly as planned - big fat DNF. Of the five days of racing, I finished only 1 1/2 of them. But even though the racing portion of the trip was not too successful, I did manage to have a few laughs along the way!

After ten hours of traveling by train (as all my road season racing stories start out), I arrived just in time for team presentation. In fact, I had to change into the team jersey in the parking lot in front of the building where all the teams were gathered! While we were called up to the podium one team at a time, all the girls mingled. It was a great time to follow up on many of the friendships i've developed during a full season of racing in europe last year.

Going into the event i didn't expect much considering I am very out of shape which means not only am i slow but i have no ability to recover well from day to day. When i lasted the first day, it was a total surprise. AND when i died after 2 1/2 hours on the second day, it was expected.

I do have a few stories to tell, but unfortunately i am a little short on time at the moment. By tomorrow more stories should be up!

Thanks for reading and again I apologize for taking soooo long to post! I'll try to be more regular from now on - I do appreciate the importance of "procrastination websites." At present, I'm regularly using,,, and for my "i-dont-wanna-work-go-to" sites.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Guess who's off to the Women's Tour de France?

Moi! That's right - ME! Yeah, I'm thinking exactly what you're thinking...why would someone who is fat and out of shape think to contest a race like this? Well, the answer is sheer guts, willpower, nerve, resolve and most importantly - team orders. haha. At the moment, I'm quite nervous. But i'm sure that once I'm on the train I'll start to instead focus on how cool it is to be participating in such a prestigious event!

Here's a link to the event -

I leave tomorrow early morning to arrive in Nantes, France for the Teams Presentation ceremony. The good news is that i am actually on my way to great health once again. I now wake up excited to get out of bed - not good news for Tom but he'll get over it. Besides, it's good for him to spend more time propped up on the stage in my living room where he gets to stretch his cardboard legs while enjoying a better view of the backyard.

My newfound energy has helped my cycling as well. My training rides are slowly increasing in length and while the intensity remains at a calm level, the urge to ride hard is becoming stronger and stronger. As long as I am careful and continue to listen to my coach and doctor, I expect i'll enjoy a full recovery from this nagging fatigue soon enough!

Lately the weather here has been hit and miss - one moment it is sunny and warm and the other it's hard freezing rain with winds so strong it's almost dangerous to ride. A couple of days ago, as i was riding with Jonas and Christian, we got about ten minutes from home when the weather turned on us. It was sooooo bad that we all stopped at my house since i lived closest to save ourselves from hypothermia! I lent Christian some dry clothes (pink and blue Velo Bella kit, of course) so he could get back home comfortably. I wish i would have taken a photo of him in the jersey - it really complemented the sideburns!

The next day the three of us again headed out for a ride. We participated in a cyclo-tourist group ride. There are about 50-60 of these every weekend scattered throughout Belgium. This one was called Grote Prijs Sven Nys to celebrate Nys' birthday. After Jonas treated us to the entry fee (3 euros per person), we started to weave our way through Belgium, following the SN marks on the pavement. Half way through the 75km ride, we got bored and hopped on the Canal to take a direct route back to Leuven and have some coffee. About ten minutes into our journey home, we were passed by none other than Sven Nys!!! I didn't realize it was he until Jonas told me and Christian who he was! As we meandered down the canal, he came up behind us seemingly out of nowhere and passed us with ease simultaneously as we were passing two other cyclists while trying to avoid the three cyclo-tourists approaching in the opposite direction. God, that guy is beautiful on a bike!

OK, I'm off to bed so I can be fresh for a full day of travel tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Yeah, you read it correctly! I wouldn't have believed it if i weren't there to see it myself.

Yesterday i joined the old guys group ride for a little rest and relaxation. This ride could always be counted on for 80-110 km of slow, flat spinning. But this time was different. After thirty minutes of predictable speed and terrain, all hell broke loose. The pace shot up AND we crossed the tracks to enter the "hilly" area!

At first, I figured they'd simply found a way to navigate through the various pitches in elevation. As we approached the first road heading in an upward direction, i scanned the area for our turnoff. None existed and up we went! I was in shock - and so was my heart rate. At one point, it even hit 150bpm!

To make things worse, as my body was trying to adjust to the change in dynamic (translation: as i was suffering, trying to make sense of it all) the guy with the HUGEST bier belly came flying by me up the hill. As he passed, he turned to me with a smug grin on his face. In that moment, I wanted to take my bike and throw it off the next overpass. That was...until i saw the most fit guy on the ride just behind beer belly guy sporting the same smug grin while riding one handed - his other hand was pushing beer belly guy! Yeah, they got me good! Very funny!

Still puzzled by the new face of the old guys ride, I turned to my riding partner (no, not Eye Candy - he was a no-show so I magically partnered with a baker...yum!) to inquire. Apparently, the previous ride leaders realized that they were no longer able to slow the ride down to cater to their aging bodies, so they let go of the reins and left the group.

About two hours into the ride, we stopped at an intersection to allow about forty cyclists to pass. As we watched the other group go by, I couldn't help but to compare the two groups. They were both roughly the same age range but completely opposite in their athletic ambitions. My group sported fancy team jerseys and matching race bikes (in fact there are even some former professional cyclists amongst us) while the other wore street clothes and rode town bikes. While my thoughts wandered even farther into the difference between the groups (ie. is it a 'singles' ride since half their group is women? are they riding to a cafe? are some of them looking at us in envy because their husbands dragged them to the 'slow' ride instead?), Mr. Baker turned to me and said, " I bet that's where our former ride leaders ended up." The way he said it nearly caused me to make a puddle in the middle of the street! Thank GOD for ample padding in the bib shorts!

By the way, there is a story behind the banana jersey. Apparently this guy used to carry a banana in his jersey pocket on every ride only to have it swiped by the other guys as a joke. Now he wears a banana ON his jersey so it can no longer be swiped!

I added photos to the entry below - fyi.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

it's not about the race...

it's about everything before and after the race that really gives an accurate picture of the experience!

When i tell people i'm going to france for the weekend to race, I often wonder if their images remotely matches reality.

Here's reality for a typical weekend of racing...

Last Saturday morning at 10am, I was on my way to Chateauroux, France - with bike bag and luggage in tow. After one bus, one taxi, three trains and a van ride to include a gas station and manual car wash detour, I finally showed up at the team hotel at 8:30pm.

Since i was the last to arrive, I was relegated to the foldout cot that must have dated back to the 1960's based on the little remaining cushioning that did nothing to buffer the protruding metal springs.

We finished dinner a bit after 10pm and by about midnight I was finally able to pass out on the Spanish Inquisition bed. At 9:30am the next morning, I heard a bang on the door. Time to hand over the racing license. By 10am, breakfast of pasta, bread, jam and lots of coffee. Shortly after, we all piled into the caravan and made the trek one hour to St. Amand for the race. The heat was rising ever so quickly that by the time we got to the race site, we were scantily clad in our sport bras and bib shorts - still overheated.

After a trip to France's version of a "toilet" - a hole in the ground situated between two outlines of feet, and a 45 minute warmup, the race began. I was given specific instructions by my coach (and thankfully my team manager who is also concerned for my health) to drop out of the race once it becomes too difficult to easily manage. (I am still not fully recovered from a recent bout of severe fatigue) I used the old guy's group ride as a gauge - if the effort became harder than my local ride, then i would abandon.

For the first few minutes, all was well so of course my competitive nature started to creep up. Hmmm...maybe i can finish the race...maybe i can get on the podium! The dream was squashed by a crash in the peloton that caused an instant rise in the pace. With a tiny five second sprint, I bridged to the lead group. Unfortunately my whole team was not present at the front. I drifted back to the rear of my group and spotted a teammate amongst the chasers behind. Dropping myself from the group, I escorted her up to the lead. Once she was safely in the peloton, I went back to survival mode.

I sussed out the largest muur de femme and firmly planted myself behind this human wind shield. It was effective in keeping my heart rate low until a flurry of attacks/counters zapped by heart and my legs. Game over.

Even though it was very humbling to voluntarily drop out of a race, I knew I had to do it. If i would have remained in the race, I may have even finished the event, but my health would have taken a detrimental hit - one that may have required months of recovery!

Directly after the race, I was whisked away to the train station. After 23 hours to include four trains, one taxi, one bus, one car ride, one night of being stranded in Lille, France in a skank motel after missing the last train from Paris to brussels, one escort of a blind woman in the Brussels station, one conversation with random cute french guy on train, three kilometers of dragging bike bag and luggage, I arrived in leuven Monday at 6pm - completely delirious from exhaustion.

Now that you know the details, how close does it resemble your image of what I mean when i say i'm going to france for the weekend to race?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

In Your FACE GEWILLI !!!!!

Dear GeWilli:

I'd like that vegan pizza with broccoli, mushrooms and garlic please - oh, extra tomato sauce.

Monday, June 4, 2007

I just returned from a race in France...

one day late yet one month early. On the way home from Sunday's race, I missed my connecting train from paris to brussels, extending the trip to a total of 22 hours. Instead of spending the night in Paris where I was stranded, I took a train to Lille - a small town in France on the border of Belgium. It was a miniature version of Paris but with a bit of New York City's former Times Square and the San Francisco Wharf thrown in for flair.

I wasn't supposed to race yet since i am still recovering, but the team needed me. In hindsight, it was probably not a brilliant idea for my health, but how was i to know that this trip would be one of those straight from hell.

While I was in France, the team informed me that they may also need me to race in Spain all next week. If I must go, at least I have faith that the trip will be smoother than that of last weekend - not many can top it. OR maybe i am just so exhausted that I am unable to be unbiased yet.

More details to follow once I have had a proper night's sleep - nighty night to all!!!