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.