Saturday, December 17, 2011


I am just back from GVA Essen - our first real mud race of the season! I finished 13th - again, i suppose its not so bad considering yet another lackluster start. must work on this somehow...
Anyway, since i have to get ready for the Namen World Cup tomorrow BUT wanted to update you on what i've been up to the last weeks, i figured it's easiest to give you a link to my CYCLOCROSS Magazine update online that was just published yesterday. Hope the stories help you to feel you've "been in the basket" through all my adventures including my mid-season trip to southern spain! Here is the LINK.

What wasnt included in the article is a link to the article i just wrote about Orange Babies Cycling Team - a pro cross team that promotes a non-profit (helps pregnant African HIV+ mothers and their babies). Here is the LINK.

And here is another link to the Het Nieuwsblad photo gallery give you an idea what our first muddy race of the season was like. if you look at the photos in the mid-30's you'll see my big head! CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guest appearance in UK Magazine - The Vegetarian

In the UK Magazine The Vegetarian, I got to write about some of the common myths of a vegan diet - always a fun topic for me!
It was published over the summer. The face shot was taken by Russ Wright and the larger one was by Krist Vanmelle - just in case you cant read the photo credits.
If you want to read the whole thing, let me know.

As for my racing, it is finally going a bit better the last two races. I got 15th in Superprestige Hamme-Zogge and 14th in Superprestige Gavere. 

This weekend is Koksijde World Cup then the next day Jonas and i are off to Spain for some mid-season training. I have never done a mid-season training camp so i am really super mega excited! maybe i will even get some color in my pasty white legs.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


CYCLOCROSS Magazine just featured it in their "Pro Bike Profile" category. CLICK HERE to check it out.

by Willem Beerland
As for the racing, last weekend I was on the starting line yet again for the Superprestige Ruddervoorde event. It was a chilly rainy day so i was fairly excited about the conditions after last weekend's disaster in the heat.  I was also excited to race an actual technical course - the harder the better for me it seems.
But much to my disappointment, I awoke that morning with debilitating middle back pain.  It was a constant pain that jumped a few levels every time i took a deep breath - like when trying to ride a bike. Tears immediately filled my eyes. 
I didnt figure out what it was from until Jonas and i were already at the race site 1.5 hours from home. It was from a burn in my throat that happened a couple of years ago when i drank an oversized bottle of SOBE energy drink thinking it was coconut milk. Who would have thought that milk and cream would be in that bright white energy drink. Energy and milk never went together in my mind.
not a good time to
fall asleep
-by Willem Beerland
Anyway, after mini camera crews and biopsy equipment were guided down my throat, it was discovered that the milk indeed left a burn mark on my throat and stomach. unreal.  Well, they do say that milk is toxic and since i hadnt had any in over 15 years i guess my insides were not well prepared for it and i paid dearly.  The burn seems to flare up every eight months or so.
So again in my race, i had one speed which fell just under the knife stabbing pain level - and only good for a finish in the high teens. bugger.  It is amusing to see the photos of myself from the race - in half of them my eyes are closed.  I took a handful of heavy duty painkillers (all legal according to doping control) to see if that would do something - it did almost nothing for the pain but it did put me in a dreamlike state.  Again i heard so many cheers for me - all of which strangely sounded like they were yelled in slow motion. And the faces in the crowd periodically came clear but then in a flash they were gone.  This is why i never even tried pot - i really dont like the feeling of being out of control!
Sleeping on the job
by Marc van Est
Good news is that the doctor put me on some pill i take for a month. Afterwards, theoretically the burn should be completely healed so this event will not be repeated. As of now, the pain is still there but thankfully not nearly as strong.
Friday we leave for Czech Republic for the first two rounds of the World Cup series. Fingers crossed i can ROCK IT!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cooking Demonstration NOW on Sidebar of Blog

If you look to the left of my blog ( ) you will see my cooking demonstration that was recently on tv. it is also with my friend and fellow vegan Tonya Kay. I didnt expect they would make my mini cooking demonstration a "stand-alone" show so it is a little informal - oops. Anyway, i make these when i run out of PROBARs. If you dont know what a PROBAR is, you can see them on the counter while i put together my homemade version.

Kalmthout in a Heatwave

by Brecht Toelen
Last year this course was lined with ice covered in a blanket of snow. But this year the event was held under not just warm sunny skies but held in a full-on heatwave - yes, a Belgian heatwave in October. Completely unheard of.  Usually the heat doesnt bother me too much - i can still function fine. But when it messes with my breathing that is when i go from my peanut version of a superhero to roadkill. Unfortunately this time around i was roadkill.
Within a minute's time, my mouth and throat was unbearably dry and my throat started to close as if it were responding to an allergy of sorts.  It felt like someone shoved a bucket of dusty dirt in my mouth and down my throat. 
From many years of experience, i knew i had two options under these conditions. I can either push above my very real limit and be run off to the hospital if i made it that far, or i could ride just below that limit and have a mediocre result but live to tell about it. I opted for the latter.
It was something i struggled with the whole race though as my legs wanted to ride full out - as did my will. 
by Luc Van der Meiren
You'd think i'd feel a bit sorry for myself but i felt nothing really. What i did feel was a bit stupid that i had let down so many supporters around the course. That broke my heart. I had so many cheers that it was almost a constant string of  "kom on christine" or "allez peanut" throughout the whole race!
With nothing to do about it, i just forged ahead and hoped for a miracle. While that never materialized the way i hoped for, i was able to at least pass a few riders before the end - finishing in 17th.
Just after i crossed the line, my part 2 of the day a journalist covering the race for CYCLOCROSS Magazine. So immediately i rode up to Belgium's superstar Sanne Cant and did an interview - dusty throat and face and all. And i did it in Dutch nonetheless which surprised me considering i was a bit lightheaded from lack of oxygen the last 45 minutes. Luckily she was easy to understand - and remember for when i was back in the press room twenty minutes later.
Directly after my race i did the trainer for ten minutes, a bucket bath for three, changed into my tiniest clothing and sprinted to the press room to catch the start of the mens race on tv. After watching most of the race, i sprinted back out just before their finish so i could catch them for post-race interviews.
Official Christine Vardaros Supporter
jackets courtesy of Marc and Tai Van Est
The first guy i tried to interview didnt work out so well. it was Frenchman Francis Mourey. Either he didnt feel like speaking a couple of words in english or he knows absolutely none. And after spending a season on a French team, i did learn some french but the moment i left the team all my words were somehow lost. Strange how that happens. Oh well. After collecting a few interviews - only one in dutch, the rest in english (i was getting tired), i headed back to the press room to finish the job.
how i looked when i saw the jackets-
photos courtesy of Danny Zelck
On a side note, i must say that the highlight of the day happened in the pre-ride when i spotted a couple of my supporters sporting a special "Supporter Christine Vardaros" jacket. wow, that blew me away. I always thought that would be the COOLEST to have supporters like that - a real genuine Belgian thing.  For the first time i felt like i made it, like i belonged both in the races and in Belgium - no matter my result (thankfully considering lately they have not been so steady). Thanks Marc and Tai!
The next event is this Sunday at Superprestige Ruddervoorde. The weather is supposed to cool down a bit so i look forward to it, although i am not quite ready for ice and snow.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 30, 2011

I'm in Het Nieuwsblad !!!

photo by Danny Zelck
Yesterday an interview of me was published in Het Nieuwsblad. That was super exciting! It was placed on the same page as the feature article on Niels Albert.

For those of you who dont read Dutch, it basically says that i've been vegan for many years and that when i saw all the positive benefits of being a vegetarian i took the next step to veganism. Then the benefits of a vegan diet such as quick recovery and almost never sick were listed, and that everyone can benefit from eating less meat.  In addition, it mentions that i am a journalist and a spokesperson for animal rights. Lastly, they quoted me saying that it was a dream to live in belgium because it is the center of cross and the public is really great!

On another note, i was just invited this mornning to race Kalmthout this  Sunday - yippee! And look for my articles  on the races (both race coverage and personal report) on CYCLOCROSS Magazine.

Oh, and almost forgot to mention that i spontaneously hacked at my hair today. It is now at least 5" shorter - in most places...I must admit that was a few inches shorter than intended.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tour of Belgium: Neerpelt and Team Presentation in one day

by Danny Zelck
And what a long day it was!
First was the Neerpelt UCI race - the international season opener for those of us based in the Benelux (Belgium/Netherlands/Luxembourg) region.  Going into the race, i really had no idea what to expect but helping my morale was the course. If all else fails, i was going to enjoy myself! it was a very heavy course with much of the first half through the woods on pine needle trails. The second half was nonstop short steep hills - some of which were barely rideable and others that were runups - mainly all on sandy terrain.
My start was about average - nothing special. Others were not so lucky - like Hollander Reza Hormes Ravenstijn. She was caught behind a woman in an upside down position, bike perfectly upside down above her. For the first handful of minutes i felt like a rockstar but then i started to fade - maybe is was all the adrenaline from the start wearing off? For those moments of sleepiness, i was passed by a handful of folks - nothing i could do but try to keep up a minimum speed to stay somewhat in contact.
by Luc van der Meiren
Thankfully, my full senses came back in the second to last lap! It was like a turbo shot and i was back to normal speed. I managed to pass a couple of riders but the last one got away. I nipped at her heels for the full final lap, unable to find a spot to safely pass. She is one of the more agressive riders who has no problem elbowing you off the course so after a few tries that ended up almost disastrously i was relegated to finish just behind her in 13th position.
It may not be a victory but i had a good feeling from it - and i learned a lot, mostly what NOT to do in a race. If i had a penny for every lesson learned though...

Trying to get past - by Lucien Duquesnes
After the race, we did yet another 200km of driving to the little town of Aalter on the other side of Belgium for the team presentation. I showed up naturally with wet hair after my post-race shower - yet another lesson learned. When having photos taken that will be on trading cards for a full season, take a bit more care about what you look like. haha.
I was kinda dreading it because you never know what sort of questions you'll get while standing on the stage with a microphone to you lips. But they were mainly ok - nothing i couldnt handle.
by Dirk Bruylant

The MC guy named Chris is actually the tv personality for the Superprestige races on channel VT4. I must admit that i did feel a little uncomfortable during one of the questions when he said "Now that Superprestige is allowing women to race at some of their events, does this make you happy?" Happy? No, it makes me laugh. They were forced by the UCI to take a womens race at their Category 1 events. They had no choice. Anyway, i went on and on and on for many minutes with my speech on the inequality of women in cyclocross - especially superprestige. After a while i remembered that he represents the Superprestige and i added a "sorry about that". Was i sorry? not really. But i did feel bad that he probably had no idea what is really going on behind the scenes. 

Overall it was a great day - during the race i got to see soooooo many friendly faces it was unbelievable. And the cheers i got were tremendous. I will never forget that last lap when i was trying to get around Nancy Bober, a belgian rider. The cheers for me were so overwhelming i almost felt bad for Nancy - but not bad enough not to try still to get around her! I have to add that it was very kind for all the spectators of our race to stick around that late as we raced after the men for the first time!

And in the evening, i was very happy to see yet another handful of friendly faces show up to see our team presentation. That really meant a lot to me!

Normally this sunday is my next race in Kalmthout but it is not yet certain if i am invited. No invitation yet and it is already Thursday. Fingers crossed that last minute email comes through.

Monday, September 19, 2011

SEE sidebar of my blog for video of TV show

by Patricia Cristens
Wow, i dont know how i managed to do technical computer stuff but i got the video of my tv appearance last week on the sidebar of my blog. YIPPEE! Please check it out and let me know what you think. it was a very warm day when it was filmed so please excuse my shiny nose!

After my mini cooking demonstration is aired today, i will keep an eye out for the video version so i can post that on my blog as well.

Add caption
As for my third race of the season yesterday, it was a really positive experience. My final position was 5th but the real good news is that it was on my new STEVENS bike. Wow, what a huge difference from the bike i was on the last two years. For the last couple of years, i was always afraid of taking turns at speed for fear of hitting the ground but the new bike handles like how i would expect of a machine made for cyclocross. I am very pleased. As you can imagine, the race was a sort of experimentation for me. Every few minutes, i would gather the courage to take a turn or a technical section at a higher pace and it worked every time. it will take me a few more rides before i know my limits and become fully effective on the bike, but yesterday was a "tears of joy" moment for me.
by Patricia Cristens

And the TRP CX8.4's actually slowed the bike down - a new experience for me. By the last lap i started to figure out how to use them to my advantage by swinging the rear wheel around into turns to line the bike up for the next section. My tires were the usual Challenge Grifo but this time around i actually felt the side grips in action. Before i was too afraid to lean the bike enough to engage them. I actually felt like a technical rider for the first time in a while - a very strange but exhilarating feeling for me! 

My new Ergoterra handlebar was also something new for me. I didnt hit my bar once with my long limbs - a first for me. and when sprinting in the drops i felt like i could actually manhandle the bike better.

No matter my results in the next races or even for the whole season, I know that at least i am on a top machine. And if i am slow in some of the races, then I can take all the credit. haha.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Bikes & Another appearance on TV

two to go!
This has been a very hectic week for me and Jonas. Directly after my race on Sunday, we headed over to Hamburg, Germany to pick up the BABOCO team bikes from STEVENS. It was over six hours in the car. Worse yet, it rained most of the drive there!
sticker thanks to Christophe Podevin
By the next evening, we were on our way home. With only a handful of hours sleep, we headed back out in the morning to Baboco team manager Steven's house to drop off the goods. By evening, I was wiped.
My favorite Challenge tires with my fav TRP's
It has taken quite a few days to normalize from that stressful trip but i am almost there!  It probably didnt help to continue to stay crazy busy all week with putting the bikes together, working out part compatability issues, get my workouts in - all while catching up on many other projects i'm taking on. I always thought of myself as multitasking queen but i am now realizing i really suck at it!
As for the bikes, they are gorgeous. With Jonas' help, two of the three bikes are ready to go!
Stickers courtesy of Ludwig de Troyer
You'll see a full bike review of my gorgeous machines on CYCLOCROSS Magazine shortly.  And to check out my latest column as well as reviews on all the newest greatest cyclocross parts, race gossip and event coverage, you can subscribe to an online subscription HERE.

As for my next TV appearance, here is the info:
"Recipes for Athletic Excellence with Cyclocross Champion Christine Vardaros & Award-winning Actress Tonya Kay" is airing on Vegetarianism: The Noble Way of Living on Monday, September 19, 2011. Airing Time: 5:30am. 11:30am, 5:30pm - CA time.
Here is the link to see it on internet:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Cyclo-Cross Race under the Belt

by Romina Tierlinck
by Romina Teirlinck
Well, it didnt go as wildly wrong as it did in my imagination the days leading up to the race. In fact it was almost pleasant - i say almost because sunny skies with 30°C temps and strenuous efforts don't really play well. It was a strange feeling to have cotton mouth within thirty seconds of the start of a cyclocross race, especially one in Belgium. Thankfully the temps qualified for bottle feeds, but by the time i made it to the pits my mouth was so dry i was afraid that the watered-down energy drink that Jonas especially made for this weather was going to be too thick. Good thing i trusted him as it went down very well.

Although delerious from the heat by the end, I ended up 2nd. I must admit it felt great to stand on a podium again...and to be joined by two strong gals whom i admire. I was also pleased with my general sensations on the bike. I am clearly not with any real form yet but this event gave me hope that i can have some decent fitness in a month from now for the first two World Cup events in Czech Republic.

by Robert Goedgezelschap
Thanks to all of you who continue to believe in me and a special thanks to those who made it to the race to cheer me on! I felt like a rockstar, albeit a sweaty soggy one!

by Patricia Cristens

Friday, September 2, 2011

First CX Race - present but not ready

Tomorrow i race my first cyclocross event of the season. It is a low-key race  - in fact it is so low key that the organizers can't bother to list the word "women" on their program even though i am sure they like when we show up. But this is Belgium - a reminder that i am no longer in the USA where women racers are given a lot of respect.

Here instead they have a handful of women-dedicated supporters (those who come out specifically to cheer for women or come out early to the races to catch the women take off just before the elite men). There are also a couple of race organizers here who find women worth highlighting.   We females are forever grateful to their support!! And their support seems to be spreading to others who are now taking interest in female racing which of course helps the sport to grow faster.

Oops. I am off the topic. Yes, tomorrow is my first crosss race. Thankfully it is purely just for training as I am not especially ready for the speeds just yet considering i started training again on the bike about a month ago.  I also have not received my new STEVENS bikes yet - they come next week, so i will be racing on my heavy bike from last season. But heavy legs, heavy bike and all, i will be there at the start with my typical goofy smile in place, happy to see all those friendly faces who come out to cheer for me!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

So Random

I just found a photo of myself on a russion website. Very cool!! I only wish i knew what it said.
I know it has something to do with cycling but that's about all i can figure out. Still cool!
CLICK HERE to check it out.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Race to Train

first race by Marc van Est
Now that the summer is almost over i am finally getting in some racing to prepare for cross season. I would have started earlier but injuries got in the way. I was nailed with a nasty 3rd degree groin pull, while the other groin was only 2nd degree. Walking up the stairs to the bathroom became a workout in itself! I was so slow up the stairs that i had plan my pee trips well in advance! Getting back downstairs was a breeze - i was so fast i flew down...headfirst a few times when my legs just gave out.  I used to joke about that chair lift that you can attach to the staircase railing, saying it was the perfect gift for an athlete but for that period of time i was really wishing one would magically appear. No such luck.

Once i was finally able to walk up and down stairs without falling on my face, i was ready for training again! My kickstart back to highered fitness was a training camp end of July in the Vogezen region of France. Jonas and I stayed there for eight days. It was cold and rainy some of the days but i didnt care - i got to ride basically painfree! But how slow was I!! It was humbling to suck so badly but i kicked my own ass knowing that it was for my own good.

Once back, we joined in for a couple of weeks on a collection of group rides for some low-mod tempo rides - the Old Mans ride (although their nickname is beginning to be ironic since they now attack the ride as if it were a race), the Kiek out of my hometown (an evening group ride that does a nice steady low-mod tempo that provides for an almost mindless training), and the Sterrebeeks (yet another steady ride where the hills are the only places they race each other.) 
2nd race - pre-rain- by Jonas Brufffaerts

I knew i wasnt quite ready for training races but with cross season around the corner, i started up. Last weekend was my first race. The speed was super high but with not so many turns where interval training is required, i was able to easily ride it out with the peloton. Considering the last two years i was not able to finish this race, I was pleased.

2nd race (Affligem) by Jonas Bruffaerts
My second road race, which was today, did not go nearly as well as the first race. On paper, my 34th out of 80-100 starters doesnt look so bad, but I suffered badly this time around.  There were just too many tight turns on narrow roads, which meant repeated intervals.  Heavy rains that started up part way into the race did not help. It meant that on every turn, you had to go from now a mere 5kph to 50 in two seconds. That hurt - especially since i was sitting way too far back in the peloton when the rain started.  After many many turns like this, combined with bridging too many gaps left by riders who couldnt hold the wheel, i was completely blown.  It was a good workout but still i wanted to rock it for the folks who were kind enough to come out to support me today!  I had yet again a very large cheering section - super cool!!
2nd race by Robert Goedgezelschap

Next week is yet another chance to dig deep in honor of the upcoming cross season so bring it on - that's what i always say (or at least when the optimism is still there.) :-)

I will have my cross season schedule posted shortly. I am almost done working on it. Hope to see you out there one of these races!!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 26, 2011


CYCLOCROSS MAGAZINE NOW HAS A DIGITAL VERSION AVAILABLE– especially for those who live outside USA or on their computers! Order NOW to get a 12 month subscription PLUS back issues 8-12, for the PROMOTIONAL PRICE of $20 USD (in Euros this comes out to €13.85). Start reading EVERYTHING ABOUT CROSS and checking out the gorgeous color photos TODAY! Thanks! (I am one of the writers by the way)

Show your support by subscribing to CYCLOCROSS MAGAZINE !!!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why should you subscribe to CYCLOCROSS Magazine?

Because rising superstar Nikki Harris is featured in the latest issue of CYCLOCROSS Magazine. Here is the front page, but to read the rest of her very colorful interview, including lots more fun photos CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE. You can also order an online subscription so you have it right away! Instant gratification rocks!!!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

BABOCO Training Camp

The BABOCO Team training camp article is finally online at CYCLOCROSS Magazine. Click HERE to read the article and click HERE to subscribe to the magazine so you dont miss anything like Nikki Harris' Feature Story all about her chameleon lifestyle in the current issue. There is also an option to subscribe to the ONLINE magazine.

Mountain Bike Race #2

by Danny Zelck
Well, result-wise it was not ideal. Even so, i had a great time and an even better workout. On the day before the race, Belgian MTB Marathon champ Kim Saenen kindly took me around the course to show me around. And on the day, Nancy Bober and her husband Andy saved a parking spot for us!

There were lots of other folks that i knew at the race which always makes it more fun. And thanks to all those who kindly cheered for me and took photos. Dat maakt mij heel blij!!

Next week is my first road race of the season. I go to Boutersem, BE Sunday, June 12. The elite men also race there so I expect the crowds to be thicker than normal. It is in an undulating section of Belgium so that should be fun.

The following week on June 18 i am back on the mountain bike for yet another "force-building" workout. It is held in Boom, BE - part of the Belgacom GP series.

On a completely different topic, it finally really rained today. The farmers (and our mini garden in the back) really needed it after a two-month drought. But now that the rain is gone, it is time to get on the bike! Till next post...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Offseason Tales

courtesy of Peter Meere
Sorry it's taken me a while to update my blog. I've been busy with training, going to the gym, random writing projects, training camp, and other time-heavy activities.

(The published story BABOCO Team training camp should be published soon on CYCLOCROSS Magazine . I will post the link as soon as it is published just in case you want to read a funny story on my adventures with an all boys team. )

But of all the events keeping me busy, it feels like the Flemish classes are the most exhausting! It's three times a week for 3.5 hours each, plus the extra hour to get there and back. And once i am back after 10pm, it's hard to go directly to sleep so i find myself up way too late doing nothing but mindlessly watching tv since i am too tired to do anything real at that time of night. bugger. 

The classes are done at the end of June so i cant really complain.  But after taking this one class, i cannot see how people would want to go back to school later in life. Taking tests suck. I always want to be perfect so it is way too much pressure. I have had two tests so far. the first was perfect, but the second had a mistake so naturally i was ready to quit the class. HAHA. (I should be happy considering it's an advanced class, but that doesnt offer any consolation.) It's amazing that i can bike race with my feelings towards being judged. Anyway...

Aside from the classes, i have been training hard while simultaneously recovering from that nagging pelvis/knee injury. Progress is slow but at least I see improvement.

As for my offseason racing, i decided to change it up this season with a few mtb cross country races. I just did my first race last weekend (albeit a bit too early for my fitness level). It was a real shock. I dont know how it happened but i forgot how to ride a mountain bike. Considering i used to do National and World Cup events in this discipline, I am embarassed that i am now a complete neophyte of sorts. 

No matter the outcome of the first race, the workout was great! I can easily see how it can be good cross training for cyclocross season.  With that said, i will try it again this Thursday. The only drawback is that the next race will be in front of a few thousand people instead of only a few hundred in attendance last weekend. Ugh. Hopefully the crowds will be kind...

Curious what other cross racers living here in Belgium are up to in the offseason? Check out my story on Tour of Belgium where i ran into a few of them such as Niels Albert, Zdenek Stybar, Tom Meeusen, Vincent Bastaens, and Radomir Simunek. CLICK HERE for the link.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In the news, on TV and finally back on the bike

As of a few days ago, I am finally back on the bike. It is hard to tell my level of fitness (which I expect is not too high at the moment with three weeks off the bike) but I dont care at this time of year.

Regarding the injuries, they are definitely improving.  I started physical therapy in Leuven yesterday at the same place where Tom Boonen goes from what i hear, so they should be good enough for me!

I told them i no longer want to feel like a piece of wet smushed spaghetti on the bike. They both nodded and told me they had just the plan for me - yippee!!

Today, for the first time since that fateful day in Zolder, I feel hopeful - that i can be great again ;-) (ok, well maybe i was never great but "good" is great with me!)

In the news: I came across an article on where they included some quotes from me. I love their site so that was a huge honor. Click HERE for the link.

AND as for my tv appearance, when i find out more about it, i will let you know.

Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Offseason Blues

OK, well not exactly feeling blue but it is strange to be off the bike for so long.  I don't think it would be as strange if, with the bike, i also abandoned everything that  comes along with it - the routine, habits and lifestyle.

Last night, Jonas called from work during a night shift. His parting words were, "Go to bed on time." Normally the unspoken words that followed were "so you can be fresh in the morning for training."  But without a scheduled training the next day, I responded, "On time for what?"  He tripped over his words and the phone call ended in confusion. 

When i got off the phone with him, I remembered that it was a Saturday night. Shouldn't "Saturday night" have a special meaning during my three weeks off the bike? I read on Facebook all the exciting plans in store for everyone, but i was going to bed on time.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Season is FINALLY Over

By Florent Bouchat

Part of me wishes it would go on, the other part cannot be any more relieved that the pain is over. Some - or maybe many - people think it was silly of me to race with hip pain but now that i have been off the bike for a week with continued hip pain, seems to me riding didnt make a lick of difference. So with that said, i am glad i continued since i had an immense amount of fun the last races!

If you want to read all about my last day on the bike this season, check out my story (with plenty of photos) on CYCLOCROSS Magazine.

A BIG THANKS to Baboco, my teammates, family, friends, supporters, Challenge Tires, PROBAR, Mt. Tam Bikes, Specialized, Concap, Coach Elmo and of course JONAS! The support is so immensely appreciated!!!

As of today i am off the bike for a full nine days. I thought i would go crazy without riding a bike but it's actually been easy.  I've kept myself busy with house projects, writing articles, and catching up on emails and other stuff that's been put off a bit too long. I also finally got a new computer to replace the one that was stolen in Girona last year. It's definitely helped to keep me distracted.  The hip pain also makes it a bit easier to stay off the bike :-(

The last two days Jonas and I have been up at 7am to greet the workers who are installing our new water boiler and "burner" to heat the water.  Once they are done, another set of guys come to switch us over from oil to gas.  A gas line was just installed on our street a few months ago, but before that, gas was not an option. 

I dont mind the early rising but I must admit having no heat or hot water for what will be three whole days by the time the project is over is a bit inconvenient.  I tried to take a "bird bath" this morning and found that after one minute my bitties were numb. Brrrr....

Next week they come to insulate the walls, then the solar panels go up by May. We got extra solar panels so we can heat our water on electricity - green electricity that is! It will also save us a bunch of money on gas. Our new fancy water boiler has a gas/electricity switch so you can decide what you want to use to heat the water - cool, huh.

Thursday i have another appointment for my hip - an x-ray and some other eco-something-or-other test to determine where i am in the recovery process. Fingers crossed all is back in order SOON, especially since Team Baboco has team training camp starting April 7th.  It will be in Benidorm, Spain - the equivalent of Boca Raton but with hills for those of you who dont know the town.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Back at it again...

Since that fateful crash on my hip in Zolder World Cup, it's been a long road back to full health.  Even now I still have a dull pain in my hip and my power is probably not fully back.  BUT i will give it a little tester this Saturday at GVA Trofee Lille here in Belgium.  I figured, why not?  I learned that i wont be doing any further damage on my body and I'll get to play with others on the bike again. I really love racing! I love it more when i am doing well, but it's unfortunately still fun on days it doesnt go too well. 

Before the Peter Schepens
One such day was two weeks ago when i tried to race a bit too soon for my own good in Hoogerheide World Cup, the last round of the series.  Half-ass training on the road is one thing (all i was capable of at the time), but racing against the world's top riders on a heavy course with power climbs and ankle-deep mud is a whole different type of i was completely unprepared for.  After a lap, i pulled out of the race.  But that one lap i really cherished. I had an absolute blast.  A BIG part of the joy was easily thanks to the VERY LOUD cheers i got from a few groups of folks out there!!!! I cannot thank them enough for making my one lap a real pleasure.  THANKS GUYS for your cheers!!!! 

The very next day after this saturday's race, I have a speaking engagement at ECOPOP, Belgium's ecological fair.  I'm talking on the benefits of a vegan diet for the environment as well as for your health.  My friend J├╝rgen started a facebook page yesterday on my talk. Very kind of him!! He runs Organic Athlete's Belgium branch.

Directly afterwards, Jonas and I head over to Aalter to say hi to the team at the "Eetfeestje" (eating party) of our teammate Pieter de Meyer. He races for BABOCO on the road.

Before the weekend, Jonas and I have a very special day on Friday.  In the morning, while i do my training, Jonas will oversee the insulation of our roof.  Our house will be a warmer place!! 

And in the afternoon, a guy comes to give Jonas his prize.  A few weeks ago, Jonas entered one of those random contests where you can win a week in Germany to a case of wine - or something like that.  well, we got a call saying that Jonas gets his prize - and a wine tasting - tomorrow.  Jonas and i have a bet. He thinks it is a legitimate prize and i bet it's a sales pitch.  Anyone want in on the bet???

That's all for now. I gotta get back to working on my speech for ECOPOP and finish editing my feature interview on Nikki Harris for the CYCLOCROSS Magazine. It's gonna be a great read so dont forget to order your subscription to the magazine.  They also have online memberships where you get the magazine online for those of you who live outside the USA.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On the Ground at Zolder World Cup

taken by Chris Claeye
It was "game over" early in the first lap.  Pity because i was actually feeling good about the race despite its treacherous nature as the course was covered with ice and snow.  My slip and fall on the icy pavement damaged my hip, causing me to immediately lose power in my right leg. With only one leg, it was as if i were pedaling only to the right side the whole time. i cannot even count how many walls, barriers, snowpiles, and fences i rode directly into. 

with only optimism on my side, i started the GVA Trofee's Azencross in Antwerpen three days later.  Again, my start was great and was feeling solid as i rode in 15th position until the benefit from all the massages, icings, stretches, and osteopath appointments the last days ran out.  Immediately both legs were without power thanks to an overcompensating lower back.  I quickly slid back in the peloton until i finally called it quits. 

taken by Krist Vanmelle
And again, three days later, with twice the amount of optimism i had in the previous race, Jonas and i headed out to Luxembourg to race the Hotel Threeland in Petange, LUX.  It is more like a mountain bike course - one big uphill, followed by a downhill.  And again, big mistake to attend.  Not even my start was good.  With a heavy uphill as a start, requiring lots of power, i was completely useless.  The downhills were just as bad since the jagged pain in my right him once again made my right leg useless, causing me to continuously turn to the right on straight lines.  i even managed to land in a ditch on one of the laps.  but i did finish - kind of.

the following day, with no optimism left, i sat the next race out.  Pity because it was Fidea's Tervuren right next door to our home.  I did, however, go to spectate.  What i found is that i really do not enjoy spectating a race that i really wanted to contest.  As a very very nice consolation prize, I was awarded with great company that evening.  Mo Bruno Roy, her husband Matt, and Lyne Lamoureux of Podium Insight joined me and Jonas for a nice dinner, drinks and bike race watching. 

My next event is Pont-Chateau World Cup in France scheduled for 2 weeks from now.  time will tell if i am healed enough to go.  If there is any doubt, then i will sit this one out - especially since it is something like an eight hour drive away!

If you want to read the more amusing version of my last week, it is published on CYCLOCROSS Magazine HERE.

Thanks for reading and hope you had a very nice holiday season.