Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gossip from Belgium AND birthday party photos

Tommeke, Tommeke, Tommeke...what to do with Tommeke. I bet this is what Quick-Step Team Manager Patrick Lefevere is thinking right about now.

After a tour stage a few days ago, a reporter told Boonen that Lefevere said he is not good enough. Boonen replied, "Has Lefevere said that I am not good enough? Then he may come sprint himself." ("Heeft Lefevere gezegd dat ik niet goed genoeg ben? Dan mag hij zelf eens komen sprinten.") In response to this, Lefevre responded, "When i get paid a salary of Boonen, i would go there and sprint myself!"
I wonder what team he will ride for in 2010. He is Belgian National Champion, so surely there will be lots of offers coming in. Heck, if i had a team i would hire him myself! He's a colorful rider who can produce - just three months ago i clearly remember his hands in the air in the Roubaix track. He also won Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and a stage in Tour of Qatar.

On the cyclo-cross side, Bart Wellens is STILL trying to shake his jokester playboy reputation he acquired many years ago. While guest-hosting one of the Tour's post-stage discussions on TV, Wellens assured his fans that he is working extremely hard for the upcoming season, taking it very seriously. Everything he does is for cyclocross. All he wants now is for his fans to acknowledge his hard work and drop his old image once and for all.

Regarding the Tour, while watching Saturday's stage on Belgian TV, the race announcers were very confused by Garmin's move to the front of the peloton n the last 15km of the stage. They finally decided that there was no reason for them to be up at the front. Was it an American thing? Did they not want Hincapie to take yellow? i suppose only the Garmins know the answer.

"The Boss is boos" (angry in dutch) - was the title of the sports section of the newspaper a bit ago. I can say it clearly applies to Sunday's stage as well. If Armstrong really had the legs, he would have gone with Andy Schleck or the handful of other guys that jumped away from him after Contador was long gone. I wish Armstrong would have given permission to Andreas Kloden to ride his own race so he could have at least improved a bit on his GC ranking. I was glad to see Armstrong acknowledge Contador's supreme prowess. Armstrong may not be the strongest guy in the race but he did a very good job of bringing his fitness back up to the highest level after so many years off.

On a completely different topic, yesterday was my birthday. Here are photos from my birthday dinner at Jonas' parents house. His mom made a completely vegan meal. We had stuffed zucchini, salad, rice, champagne, wine and two apple tarts with soy whipped cream and soy ice cream. One of the tarts was made by her and one by me - can you guess who made which? Hint: mine was sugar and fat free.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'm a Big Garden Now...

Less than a month ago, we planted a garden in the backyard. But shortly after looking at other gardens in the area, i quickly realized that starting most of it from seeds may not work considering everyone else's veggies were as high as an elephant's eye.

Even if we were off the back in planting the garden, it finally GREW. The first two weeks almost nothing happened, but once the rain came it just took off! So far only the radishes are ready but fingers crossed that the rest will be edible before the weather turns for the worse. Here in Belgium you never know when that could happen.

As for my ride today, we went out for an organized bike tour of 125km. I expected the ride to be relatively easy but after the first two kilometers, my hub had other plans. It decided that if i stop pedaling to coast, it will blow up. So the next 123km was constant pedaling. High speed turns were the trickiest. After the ride, my legs were so sore I had to ascend the stairs to the bathroom on hands and knees. Humbling.

Next race is this Wednesday in Arendonk - many towns away. I have a feeling the next days will be easy on the bike so they are well rested to be tortured again.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 10, 2009

I am an Official Vegan Voices Around the World

There is a website that lists all influencial people in the Vegan movement and i was just added yesterday! It isn't the same as having a star on the streets of Hollywood for all to walk on but, then again, I'd take being acknowledged for promoting veganism through sport over being acknowledged for my acting skills any day. Heck, I can't even lie well!

If you want to check it out, CLICK HERE and scroll down to the V's by last name.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I may not have won the race, but...

I bet i enjoyed it the most! My last road race was almost one full year ago so naturally I entered this one with much trepidation. After taking many months off of racing and hard riding for therapy and rehabilitation, I had no idea what to expect.

Sure, I'd done the work leading up to this race to be theoretically fit. They say that if you put in the work, results will follow. But does that always pertain to bike racing? Or is bike racing a whole different level of reality... What if you put in the work but you're building on a shoddy "base" or pedaling many hours while seated in a poor bike position? I'd expect in those cases what you'd get is a whole lot of wasted time with no results.

I wish fitness buildup for bike racing was as clean and neat as a mathematical equation. Maybe that is why i've always been into science - did you know i was pre-med at Columbia University? I espoused the career path of becoming a doctor so fully that even my own father couldn't accept that I'd give it all up to be a bike racer.

He finally let go after watching me in a cyclo-cross race in Southampton, NY. I sometimes wonder that if i didn't win the event, if he would have written the bike racing off as a tiny hobby and continued pestering me about my former career path in medicine. I surely dont miss the family reunions where all the little kids - and even the parents - would line up to ask me about their aches, pains and strange symptoms.

But back to the road race, within a few minutes I realized that my months of hard work were thankfully not wasted. I rode easily with the peloton with fingers up my nose - as they say in Belgium - at average speeds of over 40kph and even as high as 57kph. The only time i was at my limit was when i tried to chase down my former Lotto-Belisol teammates Liesbet de Vocht and Kim Schoonbaert. I suffered and failed. But i still enjoyed the moment so much that i started to laugh at myself to think i could bridge to some of the strongest racers in the world - and in my first bike race nonetheless.

When the peloton finally whipped by, it took a little fighting to get my body to lift and match the pace of the peloton. I would like to think nobody could physically see i was struggling since that look would not have gone well with my fancy white SCOTT Addict bike with pink and blue trim and my matching SCOTT Contessa Line outfit - white with silver trim (thanks to Eddie and Dries).

With about four laps to go, fellow cross racer Helen Wyman jumped with one other gal. They stayed away until the end with Helen lifting her arms in glory!

I may have only placed 40th of 78 finishers (I've never been much of a sprinter), but i am truly satisfied - and of course immensely thankful - that it felt easier than i ever imagined it to feel based on previous experiences. For the last two years, it took many races before i could stay with the peloton until the end. And even then i suffered so badly the whole race!

I expect that some of the upcoming races will feel a lot worse than my first one, but i welcome the pain if that is what it takes to be the best cyclocross racer i can be this season!

On a side note, I'd like to thank some my fellow racers for their kindness and support. I even got a few "you're doing great" comments during the race! It was also special to see some friendly faces in the crowd like Ronny, Pannekoek, Jonas - of course, his mom, and the guys from the Zaventem group ride and Old Mans Ride who help me train and came out to specifically cheer for me.

One of the guys from the Old Mans Ride even kept me company - or rather heckled me - at the start line. Since i too am a jokester, i joked back. After two minutes of our playtime, i looked up only to see a few of the racers staring at me. At that moment i realized it was because our conversation was in Flemish and they'd never heard me speak it. I still have a long way to go to semi-master the language but it felt good to be able to understand good heckling when it is aimed at me!

My next race is scheduled for 15 July. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for reading AND thanks to all of you for your support over the years!

photo credit: Ria van Looveren

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Need Your HELP in Winning VegNews Contest

I need your HELP in winning the 2009 Veggie Awards. I have been nominated in two categories:

1. Favorite Athlete (page 5)

2. Favorite Column. (page 6)

As you know, i have worked super hard to earn these nominations and would LOVE the opportunity to be acknowledged for this. The additional exposure can help me to reach even more people with correct information (aka the Truth) on health/nutrition/fitness.

Please take a few seconds to click on this link to vote for me:
You can vote as many times as you want and you DON'T have to fill out any identifying info if you choose not to.
Just go directly to PAGE 5 and PAGE 6 and vote for me in the two categories if you are short on time.
THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!! It will be very exciting if we can make this happen. I This may just be the first thing I win (outside of a bike race!)

In order for your vote to count, you must vote for at least 50% of the categories. If you need any ideas, here are some of my favorites:

Page 1: Favorite Vegan Cookie: The Inspired Cookie
Page 2: Favorite Energy Bar - PROBAR
Page 3: Favorite Accessory Line - Vegan Queen
Page 4: Favorite Veg Event: Veggie Pride Parade
Page 5: Favorite Athlete: Christine Vardaros
Page 5: Favorite Cookbook Author: Colleen-Patrick Goudreau
Page 5: Favorite Website:
Page 5: Favorite Veg Forum:
Page 5: Favorite Podcast: Vegetarian Food for Thought
Page 6: Favorite Column: VegFitness (Christine Vardaros)

And one more thing - each submission is entered into VegNews Magazine's Grand Prize Drawing to win fabulous prizes. Read below for more details on that.
Welcome to the 2009 Veggie Awards™, the largest survey of its kind in the world. By voting, you and thousands of other VegNews readers will choose today's hottest vegetarian people, products, and places. This annual celebration has become one of the magazine's most anticipated features, with winners announced in the November+December "Best of Vegetarian" holiday edition of VegNews. Need an extra incentive to vote? All submissions will be entered into our Grand Prize Drawing to win insanely fabulous prizes including:
Grand Prize: TROPICAL GETAWAY FOR TWO Experience total tropical bliss on this unforgettable getaway for two. Included is roundtrip airfare courtesy of JetBlue to whisk you away to Deer Run Bed and Breakfast in Key West for a relaxing five-night stay. Spend your days lounging on the beach with a Hit-the-Tropics care package while nibbling on a dozen Coconut Key Lime Cookies from Allison’s Gourmet. Before or after your stay, you’ll be treated to an intimate dinner at Florida’s renowned vegan restaurant, Sublime.
First Prize: HIS & HERS URBAN BAGS Fine-tune your fashion sense with two ultra-chic designer bags by Matt & Nat, full of sophisticated loot for the style-minded guy and gal. “His” holds a signed copy of Skinny Bastard, a LiViTY Fedora hat, and luxurious LUSH shaving cream. “Hers” offers a signed copy of Skinny Bitch, a chic cosmetic case from Micio Mambo, and LUSH’s Dreamwash Shower Smoothie.
Second Prize: VEGAN ICE CREAM STARTER KIT Create the ultimate dairy-free fantasy in the comfort of your home with this stellar starter kit. Salivate over every page of your signed copy of The Vegan Scoop before taking one of the gourmet recipes for a spin in your brand-new Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. Dole out a double scoop in a Daisy Dog Studio ice cream sundae bowl, and top off your masterful creation with a drizzle of Chocoreale sauce, delivered in a trio of mouthwatering flavors. (two winners)
Third Prize: CHOCOLATE SMORGASBORD Indulge in the definitive vegan chocolate goodie box custom designed just for the Veggie Awards by Pangea Vegan Store. Guaranteed to fulfill your dark-chocolate desires, chocolate-covered sandwich crèmes, rich chocolate candy bars, chocolate peanut butter cups, rocky road bark, chocolate-dipped pretzels, and white-chocolate chips make for one decadent experience. (three winners)
Plus, Weekly Giveaways! PIZZA KITS Turn your kitchen into a pie-tossing pizzeria with Follow Your Heart’s Pizza Kit. Included are one perfect pizza crust, mouth-watering pizza sauce, and two packages of Vegan Gourmet cheese. Throw on your favorite toppings, bake, and bask in your culinary creation—the ultimate vegan pizza. (four winners)
The Details: Ballots must include identifying information and be at least 50% complete to qualify for prizes. Entries must be received between July 1 and July 31, 2009 at midnight. Nominees are based on the companies receiving the most votes in the 2008 Veggie Awards, and we encourage you to submit write-in votes. Happy voting!