Twenty-three degrees (C) and that amazing feeling when the sun kisses your face as you walk off the plane. It’s been a cold, rainy, cloudy and busy time back in Belgium, and like much of the ’cross peloton, I’m back in Spain taking the chance to pack in some training before a big four weekends of racing. January kicked off with the kit reveals on 1 January and progresses to two championships and two World Cups. Not a time you can screw up without consequences, so no pressure I guess.
So on the subject of reveals, I’m glad the news is finally out there that I’ve got the backing to keep chasing my goals in cyclocross. The sport is as exciting as ever and it’s going to be great to be a part of it. Monday’s GP Sven Nys race in Baal was a big day revealing Xypex – Verge Sport, but my left shoe didn’t want me to have a dream start as my cleat broke. Strangely it was the only bit of kit that I used that day that wasn’t brand new. Still, it’s no disaster and I’ll just need to get back on track over the coming weeks.
Shoe Cleat: schoenplaatje
I had to take the back seat in getting things set up, and to be honest right through October and November I didn’t know if I’d carry on, but I had to train as though I would. December I knew we had a green light, but then you’re flat out with racing and training. So not only did the sponsors step up, they also went above and beyond to accommodate tight deadlines to make a launch actually work. Wouldn’t have looked that good if I didn’t have bikes and new clothes!
I’m now officially an individual in cyclocross, and I see that being a bit of trend in the way the sport is evolving both in the U.S. and in Europe. When I first headed to ‘Merica as part of a team, there were so many teams on the scene, it was quite an exciting vibe. But with only a couple really now flying the flag, it’s kind of a hard sport for aspiring riders.
However, hopefully with what we’ve managed to do, alongside many others, it shows that there is life outside of the team structure and riders can take many routes to the top. I honestly think all you need to do is set a goal, and just like your training, work backward to the current day.
New Courses for the New Year
Going back to racing observations, when you follow a very similar program every season, you often don’t notice the differences in courses you are racing each year. Having effectively missed a season last year, the changes and evolutions in the courses are much bigger. Baal has changed a huge amount since it became home to the Sven Nys Cycling Centre. It actually makes it a little more interesting and makes me want to hit some new venues next seasons.
Suggestions are gratefully received! (See the form below)
Having raced a lot of races, I sometimes get frustrated (never bored) when courses don’t evolve at all. It sometimes feels like designers pull out last year’s course map, update the date stamp and then start the build. It really wasn’t like that in Baal, and over in the U.S., that’s always been the case at events like Charm City. I like it when you get a surprise at the course.
Off to Spain
What will the next two weeks look like for me? Firstly, it’s training and that’s all super-secret right? Well, it isn’t really, but it’s also very individual, so not much point sharing too much of that.
I’ll be getting a broken tooth fixed tomorrow. The Malaga area of Spain is basically a small sunny region of Britain, and I’ve put a call into the British dentist to put an end to the pain I’ve had for the last week. Part of living life out of a kit bag is being adaptable and finding people to make running repairs to your body until the season ends is just part of the game.
I absolutely hate the dentist; I’ve only ever had one I liked and she was in Tielt-Winge, Belgium. She was really gentle and kind, although we communicated in “Belgish.” Luckily we are spoiled with English-speaking folk here, so at least I can be fairly confident she’s going to attack the right tooth tomorrow. I may even get my haircut at The English Cut hairdressers next door afterward!
Other than teeth, hair cutting and training, it will also involve a lot of nothing. After so many races in such a short period of time in Belgium, it’s time to not only train, but also to recover. Feet up, Netflix on and when possible drift into the land of zzzz, in that elusive lovely sunshine for at least part of the day, obviously. The bonus is I’ve just found Season 4 of Peaky Blinders on Spanish Netflix, so that helps get the next few nights sorted out at least.
I’m excited about the next block of events with so many big opportunities, but the depth of talent is just so huge right now. A top 20 in a January World Cup is a seriously legit result when you look at the start list. The gaps between 20th and 1st could be tiny and might be defined by one bad line or one slip up. It’s time to be on your game, and show the new colours at the pointy end of some big events.
Anyway, I’m off to lie down. That’s for the huge support during #TheBigReveal a few days ago, it meant a huge amount to me.
Til next time: tot de volgende keer