The Journey Part 2: Exploring the world of cycling

In my first blog you have ridden how I started cycling. If not, it is worth reading as I was actually not into racing at all. After my crash (through dog shit) I did not quit cycling immediately. I did quit road cycling after one year and went mountain biking instead. I enjoyed riding through a forest and challenged myself with small climbs (small because in The Netherlands we don not have mountains). Unfortunately I wanted to enjoy other thing in life too and stopped riding my bikes.

As a teenager I wanted to party and party, and party. Of course I did not like the hangover the day after but I thought it was worth it. For a few years I did not ride my bike, but I could never leave the cycling scene. I always knew I was a sporty person who did enjoy endurance sports. As I still had some contacts in cycling I went volunteering at a race one day. I felt the excitement of the participants. They had trained all season to have the best performance during this race. That moment, when I saw those riders, I knew I was missing some real adventures in my life. It was time to discover who I really am and what I am capable of.

Of course I could not enter races immediately. I needed to get back in shape first. So I just started cycling again, entered a club and joined a group twice a week. I did not set any big goals yet. I wanted to be sporty and enjoy cycling again. But I really loved to see progression and I became a bit more serious. I did make sure the quality and quantity of my training sessions made sense.

At one moment I knew it was time to set real goals and work for it. I went to a coach that winter and made sure I was verified to race at the elite woman category when the season started. My goal? Finish races with the peloton. Of course the first months of racing I missed a lot of speed. After a few races the speed was not the problem anymore and goals where changing also. I registered myself to race the World University Championships. I took some spare time and created a special training program with the coach. We did tests every 2 months and the result was showing so much progress.

There was not enough time to prepare myself for this race. I was only training for a few months and I also had some trouble to keep my schedule. It is very hard to change your total life from zero to cyclist. But I definitely enjoyed working for it. That summer I joined the World University Championships. I went to Braga, Portugal 7 days earlier to getting used to the warm temperature. I made some amazing trips in the area and also explored the trail of the race. I did never race in the mountains before, so for me it was a totally new experience. At the race day it was 40 degrees Celsius. So hot!! I do not know how I made it to the finish line anymore, but I made it and became 13th.

When I went back home I felt my body was sharp. The week in Portugal did do something good, probably the mountains. So racing was going well and I wanted to explore something new again. That’s when I tried Fixed Gear Racing in the end of the season. Why in the end? Well, because you do not have breaks on a Fixed Gear bike. I did not want to risk anything. I tried one race and it was fun! So why not joining the Redhook Crit in Milan, Italy? In fall that year I flew to Milan to go crazy and race one of the most amazing crits of my life. The crowd was yelling, I was in a good shape and the trail was wet. I loved to take a few risks and became 11th in the semi finals and 24th in the final out of the 80 woman. Well I was stoked about this kind of races. Too bad for me, but after that race the season was over. All I could do was waiting for the winter to go by and a new season to start.

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