Saturday, 4 June 2011

Hallo from Zichem!

Hallo from Zichem in Belgium! I have been here for 2 weeks now, just living and breathing cycling! What could have been a mission of a journey out here with Ella Sadler- Andrews actually went quite smoothly… her polo turned out to be a limo in disguise enabling us to squash in 2 bikes, 8 wheels, rollers, a year’s supply of food etc etc. The fact that we didn’t get lost is quite remarkable considering we were following internet directions instructing us to ‘head east then do a u-turn!’I have been staying in a house with Ella, Lucy Martin and Katie Colclough owned by a Belgian man who also lives here (it is a bit of a weird arrangement). I don’t think he quite anticipated us literally taking over the entire house, but it is like one big happy family!

The racing out here is a whole other kettle of fish, you really need to sharpen up your elbows and not be afraid to use them so not to be shoved about! We are doing 3 Belgian kermesses whilst out here, all pan flat so you have to really fight to hold your position. The lack of hills in this area is making training for the upcoming hilly races a bit tricky, so I am planning a road trip to find a hill for reps next week! Its ok for training though, although can’t say I am a fan of the compulsory bike paths; constantly having to overtake fat old men pedalling with their legs wide apart to protect their balls space! I have successfully doubled the amount of cafĂ© stops I have ever done in my life, only on easy recovery rides though- I’m still not converted yet!  Cycling is just massive over here; the Belgians are totally obsessed they just can’t get enough of it. They treat you like royalty, demanding your autograph on the start line, taking photos of you and picking up chucked empty bottles from the feed zones.

It’s weird living with other people, it’s been good for me though. Although Ella is a bad influence on me, I treated myself to an entire egg yolk in my egg whites omelette tonight… a whole 5g of fat-imagine that!! It’s a funny existence out here, just riding your bike and chilling. We operate on our own time schedule as well, completely oblivious to what time of day it is. Average day- wake up at 10am, get on the rollers, eat breakfast at 11am, go out training, eat lunch at like 4pm, get in your pj’s, then enlighten yourself with what goes on in the ‘real world’ by watching made in chelsea/ the only way is essex/ geordie shore or some other equally stimulating trash online! 

I came out here after a few weeks of feeling a bit down in the dumps with how I am performing. I had been putting serious pressure on myself to perform and do justice to the amount of work I was putting in, which in retrospect was very destructive. I was expecting such high standards of myself all the time and ultimately setting myself up for failure. Coming out here has helped sort my head out and put the enjoyment back into day to day training and racing. A spell of 30+ degrees heat out here has also worked wonders! Next up, one final kermesse on Sunday, back to England by ferry on Wednesday then off to Lancashire on Friday. I shall be returning home fluent in Flemish too hmmm.

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