Monday, January 28, 2013

Racing, Photo Shoots, and Interviews

Rucphen by Dirk Bruylant
My last two races were definitely an ice-skating experience! It is rare we race on ice in a cyclocross race but last weekend we had two ice-riddled events in a row.  Int'l CX Rucphen in Holland was held between a beautiful frozen pond and an indoor ski ramp.  My start was a bit unfortunate. Right after we turned off the track into the dirt, I opted to ride the mini technical descent. The problem was that i was surrounded by gals who opted to run it. The train of runners forced me off the good line and into the deep snow.

By the time i was back on track, I had lost many spots. In my attempt to catch riders, i made many mistakes and slipped out here and there. By the time i put it all together and was powering along, fault-free, it was the last lap - a little too late to make up spots.  Even so, i had an excellent experience - it was a great course and excellent organization. And having that practice of racing on ice was surely going to help me the next day in Holland's Hoogerheide World Cup i told myself!

Hooherheide by Florent Bouchat

The morning in Hoogerheide started off great. I picked up my race packet from the Lanssens Family who help me out periodically with getting my World Cup packets when i have a race the day before. And my Belgian friend who works for the Italian Team kindly saved us a spot just next to the race course. The pre-ride went great. My Challenge tires were gripping nicely and i had tested a few corners to find my limits. I was ready to GO!
just before my slide by Tom Prenen

My start was fairly ok, and the race got better from there as i immediately passed a few riders by pushing my limits in certain spots.  All was going to plan until i reached the first spot where we have to dismount the bikes to run down/up around a tree. By my second footstep, I was across the course, sliding on my ass. Immediately i realized my downfall.  I had opted for long metal spikes in my shoes with the thought that they would simply cut into the ice. Heck, i'd seen it on tv where those ice climbers hang upside down thanks to their spikes. Well, those dreaded spikes had me ice skating all over the place with the end result of me flat on my back.  At least that kept my mind off of my frozen ears and the snow pellets! 

ice runup by Tom Prenen

The second place we had to dismount was running up a hill covered in ice. I had to stop in my tracks a few times when i found myself at that uncertain moment where you know if you make the tiniest move, you're going back down the hill. Every lap these two spots cost me fistfuls of seconds where i lost a few spots here and there. That must have broken Jonas' heart to watch me from the pits seemingly ride backwards during the race.  But at least i lived to tell the tale!  Just after the dreaded runup there was a steep descent layered in ice. In two of my five laps, i had to trackstand at the top to figure out how to ride down while avoiding a crumpled up gal at the bottom.  I was very lucky i didnt have to try and run down on FOOT! Would not have been possible at all with my spikes.

photo by Els Bammens

On my one day off the bike last week, i spent it at a photo shoot for my friend who has relocated her fitness business called Fitness by Farzan from San Francisco to Zolder, Belgium.  She does personal trainings in gyms, people's homes and also over skype.  She is so good at her job that she inspires people to rise to levels they never thought possible.  In the name of  action shots, she had us lift cowbells, do millions of squats, pushups while balancing on some unstable semi-circle, balancing acts, etc.  In true athlete form combined with her mesmerizing ability to get you to gladly suffer, i gave every exercise the best i had - killing myself in the process. Boy was I sore the next day, and the next...but it was worth it!!
modeling my HempAge clothing,
photo by Els Bammens

Lastly, I was kindly interviewed recently by the Brazilian Animal Rights organization and it is now online. To read the english translation, click on the british flag at the top right of the website.  CLICK HERE TO READ IT.

Thanks for reading!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Snow in Belgium - finally!

It has been a very trying month with my collection of injuries on top of one another, especially when they timed themselves to hit just before the Christmas season of racing here in Belgium.  With 7 races in 14 days, there was no time for returning my fitness to normal but rather all i focused on was survival. And that is what i did. I survived.

While i may have had a tough time finding the resources to get to that start line day after day, i think that Jonas had the raw end of the deal.  All i had to do was ride my bike and he did the rest - everything that did not require pedaling, he was responsible for.  We made a good team - but by early January, we were both fried. Luckily we also had a bit of help along the way in the form of Sofie, Jurgen, Ernst, Danny, Peter, Mario, Patricia, Linda and so on!! That surely helped a lot to take a bit of the pressure off.

After a ten day break from racing (which is long in cyclocross), I was back at it yesterday in Otegem's Int'l Betafence Cyclocross today. For the first time since mid-november, I felt healthy and motivated! That was just what i needed to lift the spirits going into the next races.   

Thanks to everyone who has sent kind messages to me and cheered me on.  Very kind of you all!!

Next weekend is Int'l CX Rucphen and Hoogerheide World Cup. Bring it on...

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