by Helen Wyman
The U.S. ’cross bubble is done for another year. Two great venues and organizations, but sadly we didn’t get cyclocross weather. Jingle Cross is one of the best and most versatile courses in the world, and the Trek CX Cup was a really fun course I’m pleased to have finally got the chance to ride. Neither got to show the world real cyclocross conditions, but both stood up to the World Cup challenge.
Waterloo had the sprinkle of magic that was equal prize money for men and women. It’s the first time it’s happened, but we need to remember when we stand and applaud Trek, it’s still a one-off, and in a few weeks, when the World Cup starts again back in Europe we are back to grim old days where women are perceived to be less worthy than men.
Here are two little Flemish lessons to help you move forward with your language skills:
Prize Money: Prijzengeld
Thank You Trek: Dankjewel Trek
Rethinking the Internationalization of Cyclocross
While away, I read an article featuring Christoph Roodhooft—director of the Beobank-Corendon team—with comments about the costs of racing in the U.S. and even saying just having races there isn’t actually bringing about internationalization.
I have to say I agree in part with this; I’m a huge fan of the U.S. ’cross scene, I always have been, but to really achieve internationalization, we need a situation where all riders want to go the USA, and elsewhere, rather than just diving in and out as quickly as possible because they have to.
The benefits aren’t being seen in events other than the World Cups themselves and in some cases the calendar clashes lead to other events struggling. I think arguments about the cost of taking bags to the U.S. isn’t a strong one and we hear it every year, but let’s remember how hard it is for American athletes and teams to come to Europe on multiple occasions each year, on far tighter budgets than a European powerhouse of a team. To achieve true internationalization, I believe we need a re-think of how we approach cyclocross racing outside of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Helen Soaks in the Midwest American Culture
Despite only being in the U.S. for two weeks, it’s always a pleasure to adventure into new places. We’re blessed with amazing friends who open their houses to us each year. This year we took over the Van Der Weide house for ten days. I do mean that, took over. Two bike riders, two partners, one photographer and a never-ending pile of bikes and wheels.
Not forgetting the brain ache we gave them trying to listen to English people rattling away at them. Fortunately, Gabby Durrin was a convenient translator for us. We couldn’t do these trips without the help of these amazing folks, and it’s so much more homely than having two weeks in hotels.
As my career has progressed, I’ve made sure to investigate towns and hunt out cool places to see. High on the list are coffee shops of course, where you need to avoid the cake that would rarely pass my nutritionist’s high standards. This year we pretty much had homegrown coffee thanks to Grimpeur Bros, who sent me the first Helen Wyman coffee ever produced. I’m not going to say my future is going to be in coffee distribution but never say never.
I also visited some antique stores, the strangest of which had a pile of Playboy magazines from the 1970’s; something not high on very many peoples’ shopping lists, I would imagine.
U.S. to English translations:
Soda water – Sparkling water
Semi – Lorry
One of the great things about ‘Murica is the massive choices you get for absolutely everything. For example going to buy a sandwich goes along the lines of:
“Please can I have the turkey sandwich?”
“Would you like that on sourdough, rye, brown, multigrain, white, gluten-free, ciabatta, baguette, English muffin?”
“Would you like spinach, lettuce, onion, tomato, cucumber, peppers, pickles?”
“What dressing would you like? We have …”
As amazing as I find the choices, Stef starts to panic and usually tells the server to make it as they would if it were for themselves. If you ever want to confuse a server in Subway, tell them this and watch their response!
I learned some new tricks on this trip, especially the use of tights to make ice socks to help keep us cool before and during racing. There was a small cultural issue when trying to purchase said tights, as I went through all the words I knew when asking the shop assistant if they stocked them: tights, stockings, pull-ups. Thankfully Stef tried “panty hose,” which broke the language barrier and got us the needed product.
It did leave me wondering how he knew, but he assures me it’s all innocent.
Panty hose – stockings/tights/pop socks/knee highs/pull ups
There Was Some Bike Racing As Well
I should talk about racing, I guess. It went a bit like this: Good, average, experimental, poor. So it’s fair to say it had up and downs, but I know my form is good and I have confidence in my approach to the season. It’s just a case of keeping my head down and believing in myself.
I’ve never been a September star, and that isn’t going to randomly change now. I’m not going to lie, it’s really bloody hard to get back into the swing of things after almost a complete season out. I’m acutely aware that every pedal stroke matters for my future in the sport. Being able to attract sponsors depends on my performance and people judge you on results and only results.
When you start on the third row, second at best, it’s incredibly hard to get to the front without blowing a huge amount of energy that would be better spent on trying to get a result at the pointy end of a race. But it is what it is. I’m out of contract on January 1st, there is nothing I can do about it, other than racing every race like it’s Worlds. Stressful it is, hopeless it isn’t.
Watch this space for news of better results over the coming weeks (See that positive vibe right there).
Until next time,
Follow Helen on Instagram (@cxhelen) for video diaries from her races and cyclocross travels this season. Miss any of Helen’s Wyman Wednesday diaries? Check out the growing archives here.