Saturday, December 22, 2012

Been a rough few weeks but i see the light!!

If you want to read about my last few weeks of digging myself into a hole, click HERE to be taken to my online diary at CYCLOCROSS Magazine.
Post-Scheldecross by Ilse Hendrickx

Friday, November 23, 2012

Superprestige Gavere article live on CYCLOCROSS Mag

foto by Kris Claeye
If you want to read all about the Military Domain of Pain, click HERE to read it on CYCLOCROSS Magazine.

Latest Article in CYCLOCROSS Magazine

Here is my last article in CYCLOCROSS Magazine. The magazine is now available in digital format - click HERE to check out a free preview!  If you are happy with what you see and want to read more, click HERE to subscribe.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wanna know what i've been up to?

Gavere - by Bram van Lent
Oops.  I promised myself i'd be better at updating my blog but I fell off the job. 

I am now two months into the cyclocross season and it has already been filled with highs and lows.  It started off solid with a 4th, 10th, and 12th at the first three events of Hoboken CX, Soudal Neerpelt, and Bosduin Kalmthout.  (The 12th was bittersweet for me as I had a mishap two seconds into the race where my chain bounced off to the outside of the chainring, putting me in  2nd to last place.)  Although the early season is usually a bit trying for me as I need a few races to get into the rhythm, I was pleased with my form. 

Niel by Patricia Cristens
Expecting every race to get better and better, I was surprised to find that the following race took a bit of a turn for the worse where I placed 13th in the Ruddervoorde Superprestige event.  The following couple of weeks were spent in the Czech Republic where I contested the first two rounds of World Cups that were held in the towns of Tabor and Plzen where I placed 30th and 28th  respectively.  A few days later I was back at it again at the opening round of the BPost Bank Trofee series – Koppenbergcross where the race course is held on the infamous cobbled Koppenberg climb made famous by the Tour of Flanders, one of the two greatest one-day road races. There, on a course that suited my sinewy climbing legs, I placed 19th so I knew that it was time to take a  much needed rest.

Gavere by Bram van Lent
For the next week I rode no more than 20 minutes a day in an attempt to recharge the body.  Thankfully it worked because the next weekend I came out fighting again at Soudal’s Niel event.  My start was excellent, putting me immediately in top six in the beginning of the race. Unfortunately I took myself out on a manmade ramp, wrapping myself and my bike around a pole when I slid out on a muddy bit. Chasing back from almost last place, I made it up to 9th by the finish.  Job well done. Most importantly, that experience left me feeling optimistic for what is to come in the next months!

Gavere by Robert Goedgezelschap
Even though I may not have won any of these races, the supporters on the sidelines – and on facebook, twitter, etc – treated me as if I were a superhero.  It is a very special feeling to hear a steady stream of folks cheering your name at every single event.  I am very lucky to have so many wonderful people who believe in me no matter my result. 
If you'd like to read all about my trip to Czech Republic - including my trips to places like Prague - check out my post on PelotonPost
And to read all about my latest race last weekend at Superprestige Gavere, you can shortly check it out on CYCLOCROSS Magazine.
Gavere by Tom Prenen

For the next few months I race at least once per week, with a 3-week holiday period filled with 3 events per week. In two weeks, the World Cup events resume with Koksijde, BE and Roubaix, FR - one after another.   after that it is around two-three races per week through first week of January. Then one race per week for the rest of january, followed by two per week through end of February.  Fingers crossed that my future results match the motivation I am feeling right now!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

First Belgian CX Racing Weekend Completed

Neerpelt by Johan Pelgrims
In Belgium, a country that seemingly revolves around cyclocross, the first big weekend of the season is always filled with much anticipation for both the riders and fans.   While the riders are curious to test out their offseason training, the fans are equally occupied with thoughts about the riders as well as with their own preparations for the long season ahead.  Just like racers, the fans’ work begins months in advance, with tasks like making sure to equip themselves with the newest supporter clothing, readying their winter gear, clearing their calendars for their favorite events – even if just to watch it on TV which is equally important, creating facebook pages for each event where they can check in with others about the race, and solidifying plans with their friends and supporter clubs on where to meet at the event as well as their game plan once there.  Just like the racers, the fans show up a few hours before the start of the event. They use that time for meet-and-greets, giving their favorite riders a few encouraging words before the event, collecting photo trading cards and setting up their ideal spot to watch the excitement.   

Neerpelt by Jozef Cooreman
Now that the first big weekend has come and gone, it appears to me that it did not disappoint.  While some of the riders and their fans may have been dissatisfied by the results, the festive atmosphere clearly remained intact.   

The weather may have helped the atmosphere as it was atypically sunny and warm for Belgium at almost 70°F.  The riders could luxuriously parade around in their short sleeve skinsuits while the spectators could enjoy a nice cold beer under blue skies.   The weather also led to swelled crowds, adding to that party atmosphere that was felt by both rider and spectator alike.   

The first up was Soudal GP Neerpelt (formerly known as FIDEA Neerpelt).  The course was very interval-intensive which proved to give many athletes a test of endurance, including me. The first half of the lap was mainly mini semi-sand where you have to either power ride or run up, then immediately descend to the base of the next one. For the ones we had to run, the trick was to clip in the moment we remounted before shooting down the bumpy, loose descent. Otherwise it was a scary ride from what I discovered the hard way on one of the laps. The second half was mainly flat winding terrain with an out-and-back sandpit close to the finish.

Neerpelt by Lesley Staes
I had only done one training race before this weekend so I felt a bit underprepared.  My mind, though, was keyed up and ready to go.  I stood there at the start line feeling confident as I watched the giant LED screen above the start-finish strip that was to signal us when to take off.  As the five red balls that spanned across the screen lit up one by one, I knew it was a brief moment before all five red balls simultaneously turn green which was our signal to GO!

As every cross racer knows, the first few minutes of that inaugural race is always a shock. It was no different for me. While part of me was overwhelmed with excitement to hear all the cheers of my friends and supporters, my legs and lungs were screaming in pain. It turned out to be worth the suffering when I crossed the line in 10th place – a first for me in over a year at one of these UCI events in Belgium.

The next day I was even more motivated to race, with the goal of besting my 10th from the day previous.  I am usually better on the second day of racing so it was perfectly possible that I could make it happen.  The course was mainly winding singletrack – the kind that reverts even the toughest badass into a free-spirited kid as he shoots out of berms at rocket speed.

Start by Robbe Jochems
The first two seconds of my race played out perfectly.  I nailed that elusive instant “clip-in-and-go” and was powering my way to a solid run down the starting straight.  But it was that third second that shot me to the ground – almost literally.  Out of nowhere, my right leg jerked straight to the pavement with an explosive force that left my bike uncontrollably wobbling from side to side.  Magically I was able to keep it upright. Once steady, I took a peek below to see what was off. My chain.  It had bounced off the big ring and onto the crank arm.

I soft-pedaled for a bit while trying to tease the chain back on. Just as I slipped it in place, the last place girl came by and kindly gave me a push to help me on my way. I still am amazed by that unbelievably kind gesture.   On such a course with single-file turns every few seconds, I had a trying time moving up in the field. By the time I got four gals in sight who were fighting for 8th through 11th, I was fried.  Game over.  I rode through the finish in 12th, feeling both dejected yet optimistic for the races to come.

by Victor Zandbergen
The flipside to my race was that I put in a good show for those who came out to watch me (HEEL ERG BEDANKT VOOR JULLIE AANMOEDIGINGEN!!!).  I may not have made it anywhere near the podium but my supporters managed to make me feel as though I were just as spectacular as Sanne Cant, the well-deserved winner of the race. 

The next race on my schedule is Sunday, the first round of the Superprestige Series to be held in Ruddervoorde.  As of this week, the cold rainy grey skies are back in action here in Belgium so I expect it will be a Limus kind of day – mud, mud, and more mud.  It may have been easier to be a cross racer in California when it comes to the weather, but I must say there is nothing like being inspired by tens of thousands of folks at every race – even when the weather turns to crap.   The Belgian tradeoff, I suppose.


Monday, September 17, 2012

I'm a HempAge Girl!

For those of you who are linked to me on my facebook account , you already read about my partnership with HempAge, a super cool clothing company that makes clothing out of HEMP!

AND for those of you who have already asked if i plan to smoke my clothes, just thought you ought to know two things, 1. Hemp clothing IS made of weed, BUT another variety that is not smoked, and 2. Even if it were the same variety of hemp that you get a high from, I doubt that i would smoke it since i never smoked pot - ever.  Hard to believe considering my past lives, but, hey, we all have to have something strange about us!

To read all about the partnership between me and HempAge, CLICK HERE on CYCLOCROSS Magazine's website.

Link to my radio interview with Radio Ara

You can hear a mini recap of my speech thanks to Radu Burtescu at Radio Ara who interviewed me at the International Animal Rights Conference.

CLICK HERE , then click on download at the top right.

It will also be aired again live on the Luxembourg Radio Ara station on Thursday, September 20 from 3PM to 5PM, Belgian time (+1) via live stream by clicking HERE. 

Combo-trip of Ardennes training and Int'l Animal Rights Conf.

pre-talk meal
Last week I was back on the road again - but this time for "pure pleasure", yeah a bit of work done but had a BLAST!

Since we had to be in Luxembourg for my talk at International Animal Rights Conference we combined it with a couple of hilly training days in the Ardennes.

We went to La Roche en Ardenne so we'd have a cute town to walk through in the evenings.  Our apartment was just a few meters from town.  Everything in our housing arrangement was great except for two things. The first was that it was spider-central.  Every few minutes i would encounter one of these creatures from the flying variety to the big thick hairy ones.  The first night i had spider nightmares - no sleeping to be had.  It could have also been partly due to the bed, which was the second thing wrong with the apartment.  The bed was more like a U-shape, where the sag in the middle was big enough to get lost in, or to be a great hiding place for yet more spiders. 

La Roche en Ardenne Castle
Thankfully Jonas came up with a way to minimize the sag by placing the spare blankets on top of the metal sagging beam. It wasnt perfect but at least we didnt have to struggle the whole night to crawl out of the hole.

As for the training, it felt fun to be in the hills again where i could interval myself into the ground.

International Animal Rights Conference was a unique experience.  Instead of giving a talk to random folks who were maybe vegetarian, i was speaking to a room full of animal rights activists (obviously all vegan) with maybe the odd vegetarian here and there. 

It was great to hear that my talk was appreciated and valued.  Based on the questions and comments i heard later, it seems that some of them even memorized my key points!  Again, i totally forgot to record my talk to share with those who couldn't make it there. But i was interviewed by a cool Luxembourg radio station shortly afterwards.  I will post the link here shortly!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I am about to start yet another season of cyclocross, but first wanted to do a shout-out to  PROBAR, my energy bar sponsor for SEVEN YEARS.  All the accomplishments i have made as a pro cyclist in those years - all the wins as well as World Cup/Championship appearances representing USA - could not have been done without my PROBARs to get me through the workouts as well as the races.  Even now, more than seven years later, I am still amazed by how well the bars work for giving me quick yet long lasting energy while taking care of my health needs.  AND most importantly, I am still excited by every bite - especially with the PROBAR bars as every bite is completely different from the last!
PROBAR represents on bike

To give you an idea of how much i rely on PROBARs, during the 8 hard days of climbing during my last training camp in France a couple of weeks ago, I ate 16 PROBARs (good for long, easy rides), 23 Fruition bars (good for racing or other hard efforts...and snacks), and 17 HALO bars. Not once was i bored with my snacks - which is the first time i can say that about an energy bar line.


PROBAR bike (foto:marc van est)
Just for the record, my current favorite flavors are: Superfruit Slam PROBAR, Cherry Fruition, and Nutty Marshmallow HALO

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Training Camp - Peanut Style!

Just back from 11 days in the Vogezen - a very hilly, beautiful region in France - for a pre-cross-season training camp!  It was such a wonderful experience! Not only did it get to climb forever every day but the pre/post playtime was just as rewarding.  Before every ride, Jonas and i got to sit outside of our camping right on the lake (xonrupt-longemer) enjoying our breakfast of fresh coffee, fruit, and bread (baguette of course) with a bit of muesli.  And after our ride, we'd head into the water to play. 

On one such afternoon, our neighboring camper named Bernd treated us to an impromptu windsurfing lesson. That was simply TOPS!

I still have to accurately calculate my ride details but for my 8 training days in the mountains it is something around 31 hours to cover 650km with 16,000 altitude meters.

More stories to come to cover the rest of my trip to NYC and NJ as well as my trip to France. But first i have to go out for pizza at our favorite restaurant where they make the ideal vegan pizza with fresh arrugula on top.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back from USA

Dessert at Franchia Cafe NYC
Before i start gushing about my trip to NY i first want to let you know that another interview of me was just posted on the Earth Balance website.  They make some of my favorite vegan products!
Click HERE for the link to the article.
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

From post-Tour crits to NYC

Kapellen by Luc van der Meiren
Well, I (mainly) successfully completed 5 races out of 6 days. the first was 10th, the second i did a few too many time-wasting efforts in the first round and suffered for the rest so I 'm going to forget about that day, the third was 17th place and feeling better, the fourth was also solid and finished again in the peloton sprint, and finally by the fifth race i was feeling completely comfortable with the pace of the race and finished 22nd i think in the bunch sprint.

The evening of my last race, Jonas and I had a great time hanging out with a great bunch of folks to celebrate the end of my mini-overload of racing.  I lived large with a ProBar in one hand and a Zen Republic Energy Drink in the other!

Haaltert by Linda de Brauwere
The next morning I was on the plane to NY. Going through London was not as crazy as i thought it would be. I think the folks at the London airport were also expecting a mad rush considering the dozens of "information" workers patrolling the terminal in an effort to herd the masses.  They were so bored that i was accosted by a few of them begging to help me find my way - which was unfortunately not necessary.  One such woman ran up to me as i was entering the security baggage check area.  She said, "Hello, are you in a rush?" I replied, "No. Did you want to talk?" She looked confused. It was then that i realized she was just trying to offer me the fast-track lane through the security check.

Wolvertem -by
Lydia Van de Meerssche
On the long flight from London to NY i sat next to a guy flying back from India. He pretty much slept the whole way.  When we did talk for a few minutes in the beginning, I found out that he was 50 years old; I was shocked. he looked about 35.  but when his "special meal" arrived i figured out his secret - a vegetarian! Not only was he an easy flight companion but he proved to be a very kind one as well. We walked to customs together then onto the baggage area. When i attempted to pay for a cart to carry my bike and bag, my Belgian Master Card didnt work - all five times i tried it. I still havent figured out why that happened. But anyway, the stranger treated me to a cart -a whopping $5. How kind.

Ronny and I heading over GW Bridge
The next morning Ronnie and I took off from NJ and rode our bikes over the George Washington Bridge and all around Manhattan. We also stopped off to visit Ruth and Bill who have been like parents to me for a few years in my early 20's. They are my heroes! At 89 and 94 years old, the two of them have such storied histories. What impresses me most about them is that they are more active and living life more than many folks i know.  They still work fulltime doing what they love and every weekend they still drive to their country house to enjoy their downtime.  We are meeting up again with them on Monday for dinner when they return.
Bear Swamp, NJ
The next day Ronnie and I went offroad riding. He took me to Bear Mountain area on some really rocky steep technical trails.  I loved it...until the black flies found me and stayed by my side the whole time.  And just when I am climbing the steepest of all climbs on a bed of rocks, one handed so i can use the other hand to swat the flies, Ronnie yells to me, "Keep your eyes out for black bears with their kids." Shit. I suppose if i would have remembered to lower the tire pressure before i went offroad it would have helped my situation that fraction of a bit.  

Me with Ruth and Bill
That evening we headed back into Manhattan for Afgan food on St. Mark's place.  It was strange to be back in my old stomping ground.  I used to live on St. Mark's Place between 2nd and 3rd avenues where all the grunge wierdos paced back and forth.  Now the block is more like yuppieville with a bunch of chique restaurants and tattoo parlors.  As we passed one of the tattoo parlors, the guy said, "Step inside. We have fresh muffins...or not." If he would have said the word "vegan" i may have given it a gamble.

love the food options in NYC
But instead we headed down the block for dessert to a vegan bakery called Whole Earth Bakery. I opted for the Chocolate Chip Chewy, which looked like a brownie.  How disappointed was I. There was nothing chewy or even tasty about the dessert. it was rather like eating cardboard.  I only had time to visit one bakery so i didnt have a second chance.  Luckily we passed a pizza place on the way home where i could get a garlic knot (with a spot of tomato sauce) and an italian ice for dessert. wow, that tasted unreal. I got the pina colada flavor. 

people have fun with their bikes in NYC
Today we are going for a nice long ride somewhere - not sure yet. The temperature is still hovering around 96°F (36°C) so you can bet my pockets will be filled with water bottles. I cant even remember the last time i was this warm.  Actually i just did.  It was a while back when i raced for Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam.  We drove to France for the Tour de Limousin stage race in a heatwave.  When it came time to suit up for the time trial, we were all almost crying when we had to put our socks on - it was that warm!

Thanks for reading! I'll try to keep this blog updated so you can follow along on my silly adventures.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Just found out i finished 10th today at the Herentals Criterium. Considering there was only one girl behind me at the finish line our peloton got real small by the end. Either way, TOP TEN BABY!!! I'll gladly take it - especially considering i lost a pile of salt to get that result.

Just finished race 1 of 5 this week

Wow, that was a shock. After a tough recovery process from ripping my back muscles 6 weeks ago, having to do intervals again was a fairly unpleasant experience. 

Luckily, as the peloton got smaller and smaller i was able to stay with them. I may not have won the race (as that honor well deservedly went to Kaat Hannes) or even placed second as that went to little miss powerhouse Ellen van Loy. BUT i did finish the race with the group and that was enough to put a smile on my face!

Thanks to all of you who came out to cheer for me!! Ik heb jullie allemaal gehoord!!

Tomorrow's race is Bambrugge - with a hill. I'll be able to see if my legs held onto any climbing form from Tour of Cyprus or Benidorm Training Camp with the BABOCO boys earlier in the year. fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Almost "ready" to race..

I say "ready" because racing is nothing like training. And when all you do is train, it is hard to have an idea how a race will go. The good news is that my injuries appear to be healed and i am back on Coach Elmo's training program putting in lots and lots of hours on the bike in an attempt to get back to where i was a month ago.  Bad news is that Belgium's weather has really sucked lately but even so, i have been showing up outside to do the work so i'm ready to race again.

I have exactly two weeks before i am back at a start line again. Once back, it will be busy, busy, busy - just how i like it.

My next races are:

July 26 Herentals Post-Tour Criterium

July 27  Bambrugge Road Race

July 28  Wolvertem-Meise Post-Tour Criterium

July 29  Haaltert Road Race    

July 31 Kapellen Post-Tour Criterium

If you are wondering what Post-Tour Criteriums are, they are a collection of "show" events held just after the Tour de France to show off the tour riders to the spectators.  They also invite some other folks to attend who are known to the public such as cross racers like Bart Wellens, Tom Meeusen, etc.  For the women, space is also by invitation only so i am lucky enough to be invited to these events.  Hopefully my legs will be in order enough to put on a good show.

As always, thanks for reading and thanks to those who sent me well wishes when i broke myself a month ago!! That really helped a lot for motivation!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Today was Old Mans Ride

With cyclocross season on my mind, i have naturally been motivated to get back into a solid training routine after my crash three weeks ago in a race.  Today the plan was to try my luck with the "Bakkers" group ride tonight out of Zaventem so i could gauge where i am in my recovery.  While it is called a ride, it is more like a controlled race where they drive each other into the ground.  It is mainly either racers or unnaturally fast dudes who show.  If i could hold on, then I'd be theoretically ready to race.  As i was not sure if i could do it, i enlisted my friend Kenny to "babysit" me for the evening so that way he could keep me in the group if i have a bad moment.  Kenny is one of those freaks of nature who rides 2-3 times per week at most but somehow remains the guy to watch in a group consisting of crazy fast guys.

But with rain scheduled for tonight, i changed my plans and joined the Old Mans Ride this afternoon instead.  While i didnt get the full test i did get enough of a teaser to have an idea of where my fitness is at the moment, especially when they were pushing the pace at 44kph (27.3mph) for a while.  It took myself out of the line of riders so i could do the work with full wind in my face.   I am pleased to say that, while it didnt feel completely comfortable, it also didnt put me in the red.  I could tell, however, that if it went faster i would feel pain from breathing harder.  And standing on the pedals doesnt work yet without pain - i found out today, again. But it's coming along, and that was the purpose of today's ride - mission accomplished. 

While riding on the Old Mans Ride, i couldnt help but think about how far they've come over the years.  The first time i rode with this group out of Kortenberg located in the center of Belgium was six years ago.  The group consisted mainly of 60-85 years olds (hence, the nickname that a bunch of us use for the group) and rode no faster than 30kph (18.5mph) - ever with an average speed no higher than 26kph (16mph) by the end of their flat tour. But for the last two years, the "Old Mans Ride" nickname has become a bit misleading.  It's still mainly the same guys but now they are fast old guys. Today's ride, for instance, was average 31kph (19.2mph).  When you take into consideration all the turns, stop signs, stop lights, etc that they encounter when riding through a country consisting of little towns that connect to one another, it is very impressive.  They even enjoy playtime where they take turns attacking each other.

As an American, i can't help but to find it bizarre to watch a group of old guys killing each other and periodically exploding with full fireworks coming out of their heads when they go too deep. But i must say that i am inspired by them. I really hope i can be that fast when i am their age.

Today we passed a group of guys who were about the same age as our guys, but the others were all on upright town bikes going about half our speed.  I couldnt have been more proud of my Old Men as we zipped by the other old guys. It is a common occurence here in Belgium to see older folks killing on the bike but i couldnt imagine groups like this in USA. I remember in California and also in NYC, the group rides I knew of (and joined) were basically mainly racer dudes with a few older folks who were mostly former racers.  I must say that it is a nice feeling to know that no matter my age or speed level, here in Belgium i can always find a group to ride with. That is...if i remain in the country long enough to reach that age.  The thought of eventually moving to Spain or southern France still makes me happy - to be warm in the winter is not such a bad thing, i think.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Still in the Neverending Healing Phase

Well, it has now been 2 1/2 weeks since my crash in Aalburg. And as of last night, the torn back muscle pain (that decided to spread completely around to the front of my chest where it deposited a collection of blood bruises) combined with a nasty case of whiplash has diminished enough that i can just now get away with simple "over the counter" pain meds.  How happy am I!! It looks like I'll actually get a full night of sleep at some point in the near future.

With diminished pain, i even got in a couple of rides outdoors although i found i definitely have a limit to how long i can ride.  After about 40 minutes or so the discomfort starts jumping up quickly. I did however figure out a way to cheat the breathing part of the injury a little bit.  If i go faster than a very easy pace where i have to breathe a little deeper, the pain is sharp. But i found that if i just push a bigger gear (haha) it takes a slightly higher speed before the breathing pain kicks in. 

Yeah, sure it's a bummer that it happened but at least i can see now that there can possibly be an end to this where i can start training normally again.  Cyclocross season may still be three months away but this period of the year is really when i needed to be getting in some real training for optimal preparation - so its good to see that i may be "normal" soon.

At least my bike is mostly in good condition, although the wheel took a lethal hit from the gal who was catapulted into me from the domino effect that seemingly started on the other side of her.

Hopefully my next post will be a bit more cheery. And thanks to all of you who sent me well wishes! That really meant a lot!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tomorrow is X-ray Day

and this is how i felt!
I earned that honor of subjecting myself to a set of x-rays when i behaved inappropriately at the doctor's office this morning.  My doctor had me lift both arms so he could put his hands on either side of my torso. But when he lightly squeezed, instead of telling him whether or not i felt anything untoward, i sprung across the room to hide behind Jonas.  Well, it was either that or a punch in the face due to my natural "fight or flight response". 

He tried to coerse me into coming back over towards him but i was in such pain I couldnt quite make out his words, although i expect it was something like, "come on over little girly, wanna piece of candy? I dont bite."  It didnt work.

In hindsight i realize that my response was a bit bizarre but at the time it felt like the smartest thing to do.  At least Jonas didnt get up out of his chair and pound his fists against his chest in my defense as i firmly hid behind him. haha!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wanna know what it's like....

to be at a training camp as the only girl in a boy's cyclocross team?

CLICK HERE to read all about the ins, outs, ups, down, highs, lows...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Shot for the stars but landed on my head

start of Begijnendijk by Peter Schepens
The first of my scheduled four races went quite well. At the Begijnendijk road race in BE i sat comfortably in the peloton, finishing 29th in the bunch sprint out of 70 starters.

As my next two races located in Holland were UCI international events, where you need to be part of a team to participate, I guest rode for the  Green Coaching UK team

Valkenburg RR by Anton Vos
The first was Valkenburg Hills road race.  It was unfortunately not as easy as my last road race which i expected considering it was a higher level of competition.  With little peloton experience this season i found myself too far back when the neutral section ended and we were dumped at the base of narrow climbs at the start of the race.  My "excuse me, pardon me, can i get by" only got me so far - ok, well actually not one gal moved out of the way at my request. So by the time i got to the top of the narrowest climb, the gaps were already formed. Considering it is not possible for me to ride faster than or even as fast as the fastest gals in the race, i was pretty much relegated to my position.  I was, however, able to move a few spots up over the next kilometers to somewhere around 80th (out of around 150 riders) but since they only counted up to 72nd position in the official results, you wont find me and the rest of the gals who came in after the cut. 
me, Jonas, and Claire Fraser
The second race of 7-Dorpenomloop Aalburg was significantly worse than the first considering it left me in agonizing pain and covered in itchy welts.  This time around i got to the start line early so i didnt have to fight to get near the front during the neutral section before the race started. Somewhere after 10km into the race, i thought to myself, well this is going well. I feel nice and comfy. BUT shortly thereafter I was smacked into by an out-of-control cyclist. She hit me so hard that two of my spokes were crumpled. I had a split second to choose if i land in Nettle bushes or on the pavement and i chose the former. Still not sure if i made the right decision as i sit here, not even able to breathe without pain - and the itchies from head to ankle surely dont make things easier. In addition to the Nettle poisoning, i severely tore the muscles in my back in the rib area. If i find a comfy position and dont move, then i only have pain from breathing. Otherwise, if i make a wrong move - or almost any move - i have a stabbing pain in my back so strong that at times i come really close to the lights going out. Ugh. 

I know this too shall pass and i should consider myself lucky considering it could have been worse (ie. Marianne Vos broke her collarbone in Valkenburg Hills) but it doesnt seem to make the pain go away.

With all this said, I am sorry to say i will be sitting this weekend out from racing - no Belgacom Antwerpen MTB for me.  My goal is to try and get on the trainer by the end of the week - fingers crossed.  I miss my bike already.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Summer Race Schedule - in progress

As i have not received a team mountain bike this season (and my current bike is 10 years old and half falling apart), i have changed my whole race schedule around for the summer - now focusing more on road races.   But as i am changing it all around so late in the season, my racing will be limited.  I will try to throw in a few mtb races here and there because it's so much fun, although my current mtb may not be so happy about this!

My next 4 races are:

Begijnendijk  18 May
Valkenburg Hills Classic (UCI event) 25 May 
7-dorpenomloop Aalburg (UCI event) 26 May
Belgacom MTB GP: Antwerpen (UCI event)  2 June

Tour of Cyprus reports

Sorry...again...for being so lax on my blog updates. Just to catch you up quickly, here are links to two stories i wrote on my Tour of Cyprus race experience almost a couple months back.

For CYCLOCROSS Magazine's coverage, click HERE.

For 's coverage, click HERE.

They are completely different stories from different angles, by the way. One is more of my goofy view of the trip and the other is more of what it is was like to be in Cyprus.

Happy reading!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Viva la Vegan Magazine's interview of me is now online!

Check it out by clicking HERE!
And later today I'm being interviewed by a radio station - so looking forward to it!! 
I gotta remember to say everything correctly the first time around since it's not so easy to edit on radio - :-)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Stories from my last races of cross season

Leuven by Krist Vanmelle
Since last i posted in January, i have raced a couple of World Cups where i finished 26th and 34th (Liévin, FR and Hoogerheide, NL respectively) and a handful of other races mainly with results in the teens.

BUT more interestingly, here are links to my rider diary on CYCLOCROSS Magazine detailing the last two races of my season :

Celebration Cookies at Oostmalle

Cycling under disco lights

I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as i had fun living them!

Thanks ever so much for your continued support - and for reading my blog!!! It means a lot to know that I am not alone in my adventures.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jersey Auction for 7-yr old kid

There is an Ebay auction of top CX stars' signed jerseys for a physically challenged 7 yr old boy so he can have a special bike and know what it feels like to ride like the wind like we all do!!! 

Want to help him to know the feeling you get every time you get on your bike?

Help to get him out riding!

Check it out and bid! Jerseys of ME, Margriet Kloppenburg, Gabby Day Helen Wyman Sanne Cant Marianne Vos Daphny van den Brand, Jonathan Page Christine Vardaros Sven Nys, Zdeněk Štybar Niels Albert and many more!


Thanks in advance for  your help!!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

TOUR OF CYPRUS - are YOU ready for the challenge???

Want to kickstart your season? Or get perfect preparation for an upcoming Gran Fondo event?  Then this is the perfect workout experience!!

I did this two years ago.  The memories i have from it will last forever which is why i am telling you about it!

It is a three-day stage ride/race from Friday through Sunday, March 23-25, 2012
Day 1 - 80km
Day 2 - 120km
Day 3 - 115km
Click HERE for the maps/charts

They offer two groups to join:

1. Cycling for glory - with timed sections where you can challenge yourself against the clock, claim the win of the day or even win the coveted leader's jersey
Each day, a timed section of about 20km or so is scheduled in the middle of the 80-120km ride.

2. Cycling for personal glory - same routes as the other group but no timed sections.

There are feed zones along the way with standard staples like bananas, etc but they also include exotic snacks that you'll want to stuff yourself with!

You can also extend your visit to make it a long holiday - contact organizer for help with this.

At the moment, flights are cheap to Cyprus so book NOW!!

Click HERE for Registration
Click HERE for more info

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas Period Racing = Overloaded, yet undercharged

GVA Baal by Luc van der Meiren
The last weeks were the toughest of the season for me. I had timed my fitness so i would kick ass during the Christmas period of racing  - even went to Spain a couple weeks previous for 10 days to get in the hard trainings.  But the outcome was not to be the way i had planned it in my head.

Usually it wouldn't be especially difficult for me to have done those 7 races in two weeks (or 9 races in three weeks) as i recover quickly from hard efforts but i unfortunately entered this race period with a bladder infection.  I tried to first treat it homeopathically for a few days with cranberry pills, lots of water, garlic, etc but only found out on the morning of Namen World Cup that my attempt had failed miserably. Not only had i missed out on sleep for a whole week from drinking an overload of water and having to pee every ten minutes through the night, but I 'woke up' that morning of the World Cup with a very strong pain in my kidney. Bugger!  Now i had the infection in both bladder and kidney.

Namen World Cup
And if i didnt feel like crap enough, on the drive to Namen, while the other racers were downing their pre-race meals and drinks, i was sipping at a nasty-tasting super strong antibiotic drink.  Needless to say, the race was a disaster.

Just after i crossed the finish line having only beaten a handful of gals, I was greeted by the sweetest group of folks who patiently waited there for me to arrive.  Their enthusiasm was so infectious (no pun intended) that for a moment i thought that maybe i had done better than I thought.  But alas, they were simply there to offer a bit of comfort to me on a very trying day. I got warm comments like, "Way to finish", "You looked great on the descents".  On top of that, my press and media friends jumped in to take photos and even grab an inteview of me.  I felt like a rockstar, a very sick one but nonetheless special. THANKS TO YOU ALL!!!!  I held it together until i got back to the "Peanut" van before i broke into tears.

Essen by Johan Pelgrims
With only four days of semi-rest till the next race i didnt expect much, and i got exactly what i expected. I was 15th but on a course like that i should have been better if health were on my side. I knew things were amiss when on the first long climb almost the whole peloton passed me at twice the speed.

Three days later was yet another World Cup in Zolder, BE - on a Formula 1 track actually.  Last year i cracked my pelvis on the track on an ice patch so with that in mind combined with my neverending recovery from the kidney infection, my expectations were not too high.  Again, even though the course suited me, the best i could manage was 29th.

Two days later i was back at it at GVA Trofee Azencross (Loenhout). This course is never a good one for me and that day it was no different from the years previous. I finished in 19th and put the experience out of my mind.

Essen by Dirk Bruylant
By this point, I was feeling pretty tired but a bit more recovered from the hit my body took from the infection.  I had one day of recovery before the next event so I used it to check out the upcoming course as it was nearby in Leuven. I was joined by some friends to help me with line choices, etc.  Our party on wheels included of course Jonas, Jo Croonenberghs, fellow vegan Frans Claes, and Jimmy Eecloo.    

The next morning after a night of heavy rain, the Fidea Leuven course was completely different. It was still fun to play in the mud the day previous though.  As for the race, it was a real mudfest.  My start was for the first time in a while not so disastrous. During the race i passed a couple of people and finished 12th.  It was a solid race and even more importantly a good feeling that my fitness is still there and confirmation that i am indeed almost recovered from the tool that infection took on me. 

Zolder by Krist Vanmelle
Again, with only one day of rest, I was at the venue of the last race of the Christmas period - GVA Trofee Baal (Sven Nys).  To celebrate a tough period for us, Jonas and I prepared a bunch of Gluhwein and candy to give to all our friends/supporters/fellow racers.  As we ended up parking 300 meters from the venue, almost nobody saw us to celebrate. Oh well, after the race we celebrated ourselves with a bit of gluhwein and a couple pieces of candy - our consolation party as we were in bed by 10pm the night before - New Year's Eve.

As for the race, again i had a decent start and again i passed a couple of riders to come in 14th. What thrilled me about this race was that for the first time this season i saw riders that i normally never see like Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn, Arenda Grimberg and even sprinted for 13th with Ellen van Loy. I cant say i felt like a superhero by any means, but it surely gave me hope for the rest of the season.  The course was also a good one for me i must admit as it was technical and riddled with heavy mud - something that suits me more than the road-race on cross bikes style.

Namen by Patricia Cristens
With another week until my next race (Liévin World Cup-FR), i took a few days to rest and am now back onto interval/power training and feeling optimistic.

I know i've said it before but i feel like i cannot say it enough - I want to thank you all for your unwavering support!! It really makes the racing experience so much more managable on the bad days and memorable every day - a feeling that I am not alone at the start line but with my extended family of sorts!!  It really means the world to me!!

GVA Baal by Filip François
Thanks Jonas (aka CakePie) for being the best husband ever, thanks to Jurgen Landrie, Sofie Piens, and Ernst van Looveren for being the best crew support, all my facebook/twitter/email friends, Jonas' and my families, all my excellent sponsors like BABOCO, STEVENS, 3T, ProBar, Challenge Tires, Mt Tam Bikes, and BikePure, and of course to all my friends and supporters who stand on the sidelines at the races to cheer their hearts out for me and to take such gorgeous photos of me; i hear - and sometimes see - you all!!!!!