Mother's day Gift Guide

We all know moms are the best...there is no secret here! 

At 3 years old, mom was nervous when I ditched the little wheels and jumped on my 2 wheels bike for the first time. She ran by my side as I took a few strides and she was proud when I succeeded.
At 8 years old, mom was the one taking me to soccer, ski, swim, triathlon, or dance practice every day. 
At 10, she was the one dressing up my wounds when I crashed and taking me to the hospital for X-rays. 
At 14, mom was there to encourage me to go to swim practice at 6AM on the few morning when I was tired and didn't want to wake up. She was also driving me to practice and would dry my towel so I'd have a dry towel for the next day's workout. Mom was also making sure I did my homework.
At  16, mom was there to make me feel better when I would come home crying from a bad race. She was also making sure I'd wear sunscreen on long runs, and I would brush her off like a proper teenager. "Okay mom..."
At 20, my mom encouraged me to follow my dream and signed for a professional cycling team, even if that meant I would take less classes in school.
At 25, mom is still nervous for my races and she loves coming to see me compete. She helped me buy a house while I was aways racing, and she always listens to me when I come home crying or when I need advice. 

Moms are the best and I think they should be celebrated all year long, not just on Mothers day. They are our number 1 supporters and are always there for us no matter what.  A mother to daughter relationship is very special and we want to highlight how amazing our moms are!

Being an all women's team, we prepared this little gift guide with some of our favorite products from this season. We hope your mom will enjoy them as much as we (and our moms) do! 

Happy Mothers day, and thank you for being so fabulous!

Here's the CLIF Pro Team suggestions for Mothers Day : 

Eva loves the whole Krimson Klover collection, because each piece is unique and stylish. The clothes are cute, bright and colorful, just like Eva's personality!

"I love this shirt. It is perfect for a spring or summer night! Very light and comfortable." - Eva 

 Eva looking cute in her Harbor Long Sleeve sweater. 

Eva looking cute in her Harbor Long Sleeve sweater. 

 Eva, Hannah and Haley posing in their respective Krimson Klover outfits! 

Eva, Hannah and Haley posing in their respective Krimson Klover outfits! 

"The Camelbak Hot Cap is the perfect insulated mug for anything from a quick run to a coffee shop to an epic outdoor adventure with family. Every time I refill my bottle, I feel like I am doing my part in just a little way to help the environment and that's something my mom and I have always enjoyed working on together. I've been really impressed by how functional the Hot Cap bottle is and bring it everywhere I go!" - Haley Batten, aka Lil' Spice

 Haley celebrating with her mom and number 1 fan after a successful race in Fontana.

Haley celebrating with her mom and number 1 fan after a successful race in Fontana.

"Because old ex-racer moms like us really need extra sunblock!" - Marla Streb, ex-downhill goddess and mom of 2.

"As a mom, I'd love to receive a wearable yet actually chic sweater from Krimson Klover that might bring me into this century!" - Marla

 Haley wearing her Krimson Klover sweater on a chilly evening on the beach in California

Haley wearing her Krimson Klover sweater on a chilly evening on the beach in California

  • Garmin VivoActive 3 Watch, from Hannah: 

    "I love my new Garmin Vivoactive 3 because it has all the features I want as an athlete and a female. It tells me everything I need to know about how hard I just shredded the gnar, but it's also sleek enough that I can put on a dress and still wear it to dinner or a conference!" - Hannah 

 Hannah and her biggest supporter after the race in Bonelli! 

Hannah and her biggest supporter after the race in Bonelli! 

"I’m a big fan of Zin. To me Zin is very quaffable. You can sip it alone or enjoy it with a meal. What makes this Clif wine special is where it comes from. I’m familiar with the Howell Mountain. I have seen the vineyard and I walked around. Those grapes are growing in a beautiful area and turn into tasty wine.Your mom will certainly enjoy slowing down and enjoying this wonderful wine" - Katerina 

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"I love good food and I love sharing good food even more! We all know CLIF makes delicious bars, but did you know they also make a wide variety of other food products? Some of my personal favorites are the olive oil, the chocolate covered almonds and some of their fruit preserve. The best is that they are all organically grown and handmade on the CLIF property in Napa Valley. A little package with a few of these products always make a really nice gift! Especially if your mom is a foodie! I know I'd love receiving that if I was a mom haha!" - Maghalie 

 Pictured above: Smoked "Spanish Pimento" Almonds, "Kit's Killer Cab" Cabernet Wine, Olive Oil, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Almonds, and Meyer Lemon Preserve. 

Pictured above: Smoked "Spanish Pimento" Almonds, "Kit's Killer Cab" Cabernet Wine, Olive Oil, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Almonds, and Meyer Lemon Preserve. 

 Here's a picture of the property where the Olives and many of the fruits for the preserve are being grown. 

Here's a picture of the property where the Olives and many of the fruits for the preserve are being grown. 

"I never ride without gloves, because it's only when you crash on your hands that you realize how much you use your hands! Moms do even more with their hands, so they need to be protected! " - Maghalie

We received those gloves this year and I LOVE them! They were made in women's size this year, so the fit is great. They are light and comfortable which makes them perfect for warm days on the bike or for a cooler spring day.

"I love it because it's such a versatile piece, awesome for her daily hikes or for coming to cheer me on at the races because even at 37 she comes to as many races as possible, because she's a mom!" - Catharine Pendrel

"I like the Giro helmet with MIPS because everyone should be riding with this cutting edge technology to maximize the protection to your head and brain; your most precious ressource!" - Lea 

 Lea sure loves wearing her helmet :) 

Lea sure loves wearing her helmet :) 

This is such a great idea from Garneau! What a cool way to tell someone we think of her. A surprise box for the roadie mom, triathlete mom, jack of all trades mom, or the mom that braves the cold! Choose the one that fits you mom the best :) 

Canadian store: https://garneau.com/ca/en/mothers-day-cycling-gift-box

US Store: https://garneau.com/us/en/mothers-day-cycling-gift-box

 This is the "road" box, but there are 3 other kinds of boxes you could choose from

This is the "road" box, but there are 3 other kinds of boxes you could choose from

This year, each of us got the chance to design our own custom kit with Garneau. They are all very unique and could make a super nice gift for someone if they can relate to the themes of the kits.

By clicking here, you can read all about the inspiration behind each riders kit and find the link to purchase your favorite.  

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"If your mom is a cyclocross fan, she needs this unique CX Lover gift. CX Fever Socks, hats, or t-shirts, it is always nice to be able to show the world your passion for your sport." - Maghalie

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 Also available in red :) 

Also available in red :) 

 That hat is also available in black :) 

That hat is also available in black :) 

Happy mother's day to all the moms out there! And thank you, for being so awesome. 

 

"On y est presque. Il reste juste une montée..."

À chaque année depuis maintenant trois ans, David, Réjean (mon père) et moi s’organisons un petit camp d’entrainement printanier. C’est mon père qui m’a initié au vélo lorsque j’étais jeune et c’est une activité que nous avons toujours aimé faire ensemble.

Étant jeune, il m’amenait toujours à dépasser mes limites…notre motto était “Ça passe ou ça casse”. J’avais 8 ans, mais j’aimais bien cette façon de penser. Je me souvient qu’on se cherchait toujours des défis : quel est le plus long escalier qu’on peut descendre en vélo? Ou encore, on se faisait des petites courses dans les sentiers et le gagnant remportait une barre de chocolat…naturellement, j’avais 8 ans et pas un seul sous, alors c’était toujours moi qui gagnais! Tout était sous forme de jeu, alors j’ai rapidement pris goût à faire du vélo de montagne. Puis, j’aimais bien ce lien spécial que cela me donnait avec mon père.

Et puis, j’étais tellement fière de moi quand je réussissais enfin à franchir une section difficile après être tombé 4 fois en l’essayant.  La clé était souvent dans le « momentum » mon père disait… Je n’étais pas certaine de ce que ce mot voulait dire, mais je savais que plus on en avait, du momentum, plus on avait de chance de réussir une section!

L’autre stratégie que mon père m’a sagement enseignée était qu’il fallait refaire une section tout de suite après être tombée dedans, car sinon on resterait avec cette  peur dans la tête. Je me souviens d’une fois où on avait décidé de prendre une piste fermée. À ce moment là, je devais avoir 10 ans environ. La piste était fermée car les conditions n’étaient pas parfaites et cette piste était très difficile. Papa m’a lancé un regard et je lui ai relancé le même regard…pas besoin de convaincre personne, nous allions passé sous la barrière pour essayer la piste. Je suis tombée lors de mon premier essai, alors naturellement, on a recommencé. Je suis encore tombé, puis des adultes qui étaient au bas de la piste ont rit de moi. J’étais tellement frustrée, alors mon père m’a suggéré de recommencer pour leur montrer que j’étais capable. Il s’est mis au milieu de la descente pour m’attraper si je tombais et je suis remonté au sommet pour réessayer. J’avais peur et je tremblais au top de la descente, mais je savais que je pouvais réussir. Ensemble, on avait bien regardé la ligne idéale, alors je savais quoi faire. Je me suis finalement lancé dans la descente et j’ai réussi! J’étais tellement fière et les adultes qui avaient ris de moi m’ont même applaudi!  Ce jour là, j’ai bien appris la leçon de mon père, et cette façon de penser ne m’a jamais quittée; quand quelque chose me fait peur, je prends le temps de l’analyser et je me lance! Si je rate, c’est signe qu’il faut recommencer.

 Aux Jeux Du Québec de Amos en 2005 

Aux Jeux Du Québec de Amos en 2005 

 Avec mon amie Amélie, qui est maintenant Olympienne en triahtlon

Avec mon amie Amélie, qui est maintenant Olympienne en triahtlon

Maintenant, 15 ans plus tard, nous sommes à Sedona à rouler 4-5h par jour en vélo de montagne dans certaines des plus belles trails que j’ai eu la chance de faire. Qui aurait cru, à l’âge de 8ans, que le vélo de montagne deviendrait mon métier et que papa et moi pourrions nous organiser des voyages du genre?!

Eh bien, Rej, lui, il y croyait! Dans le fin fond de moi-même, j’imagine que j’y croyais aussi; je disait souvent que c’était mon rêve d’aller aux Olympiques en vélo de montagne. En fait, c’est probablement celle-là, la leçon la plus importante que mon père m’a apprise; de croire en moi. Plus précisément, il a toujours dit que si je croyais en moi et que je travaillais vraiment fort, je pourrais tout réussir.

Bien sûr, croire en soi et rêver grand est une chose, mais il faut aussi garder les pieds bien encrés dans la réalité si on veut vraiment accomplir quelque chose. C’est trop facile de vivre dans ses fantaisies, mais si on ne peut pas regarder la réalité en pleine face et s’avouer ses plus grandes peurs et ses plus grandes difficultés, on est voués à atteindre un plateau et cesser de progresser. Voilà un point où ma mère et David m’aident continuellement; ils m’encouragent toujours à rêver, mais m’aident d’autant plus à être honnête avec moi-même, puis à accomplir une par une les étapes nécessaires pour y arriver.

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Bref, c’est en grande partie grâce à mes parents et à David si je vis maintenant mon rêve de faire une carrière en vélo de montagne. Mais ce qui est encore plus spécial à mes yeux, c’est d’avoir le privilège de faire de que j’aime à tous les jours et de pouvoir partager cette passion avec mon père et avec David…et bien sûr avec ma mère qui regarde chacune des courses et qui prend le temps de m’écouter quand les choses ne vont pas toujours comme je le voudrais.

Bien sûr, maintenant les rôles sont parfois inversés... Alors qu’avant c’était papa qui m’encourageait en disant qu’on était presque arrivé, c’est parfois moi qui utilise la stratégie du « On y est presque. Il reste juste une montée » alors que j’en ai aucune idée.

Mais peu importe! C’est très spécial qu’on puisse partager cela et j’en suis tellement reconnaissante!

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Not a piece of cake

Have you ever felt like you wanted a second chance?

Take cake, for example. 

You know when you find a super special recipe and decide to take on the challenge because it's your best friend's birthday and you know he/she loves cake SO MUCH? This isn't your typical cake, it's a multiple days affair. But you really want to get it right, because it's for a special occasion. So 3 days ahead of time, you fully dedicate yourself to that cake. You buy all the ingredients, read the recipe at least 4 times and start with the first step. The next day, you keep going with the other step. For 3 days, basically all you do is mix, wait, bake, cool, mix something else, wait a little more, let it rise, let it fall, let it cool, bake it, poke it, smell it, etc. It's quite the process, but you've been following the recipe to the degree, to the second, to the 0.1 of a gram. 

Birthday finally arrives. It's C day! Cake day! At last. You bake it, wait, and finally, serve it with its candles and the birthday song. You are excited. Your friend seems so happy. You cut the cake, serve it, take a bite... The first taste seems promising. You finally swallow. 

And then...? 

Meh. 

It’s a good cake. But it’s missing a little something. There is no spark, no particularly amazing or special taste. It is just an okay cake and it's kind of dry. 

Disappointed is not quite the emotion you are feeling. You’re still happy you are there with your friend, happy to finally taste that damn cake. But you are definitely not thrilled. All you can think is: What the F*** went wrong? Perhaps, puzzled is the predominant emotion you are feeling. 

You kind of feel like you could try again, because you know it could be much better and it seems like you did everything right. Why doesn't it taste better? Where did I mess up?

***

Well, that’s a little bit how I feel about my race at the World Championships. Except that  the preparation lasted a lot longer than 3 days and it involved a lot more people and a lot more ressources than making a cake. My first reaction was to ask myself: "What happened?" I wasn't too sure and I kind of wished I could do it again…Maybe then I wouldn't make as many stupid mistakes? 

But obviously that is not possible.

I feel like the preparation we did coming into the race was really good. My fitness was good, I felt great on the bike and on the course during the week, and most importantly, my mindset was really positive and focused. I had an amazing start, my legs were feeling good, I made some good passes and found myself in 4th. At that point, I was calm. But I was not riding well and I was making a lot of mistakes. Throughout the race, I never quite figured out how to ride the course correctly or how to be efficient on it. I was either trying too hard, or being too tentative. I was running when I should’ve been riding and was trying to ride when maybe I should’ve been running. At some point, I wasn't that calm anymore and that was not helping me make better decisions. 

 Minutes before the start. Ready to go! Photo by Anton Vos

Minutes before the start. Ready to go! Photo by Anton Vos

 Did a bit too much of that... 

Did a bit too much of that... 

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 Photo by Ralph Samson

Photo by Ralph Samson

 The course was brutal, but it was still really fun to try to figure out. 

The course was brutal, but it was still really fun to try to figure out. 

And although I am not happy about my race, I am somehow not devastated either. I’ve been devastated about bad races before, but this time feels different. It’s not like I wasn’t trying; I just wasn’t good enough on that day, on that course, in those conditions. I just feel like I came up short and I so wish I could have another shot and try again. 

I guess that’s the whole point about the World Championships, though. There is no second chance. This race comes once a year and it is the biggest, most important, most prestigious of all (except maybe for the Olympics, but that doesn’t exist in cyclocross). At worlds, everyone has the same goal. We all want to win. So everybody shows up with their most complete tool case, their best preparation, their energy tanks filled to the fullest, and their greatest hopes.  We all fight for the same thing and only 1 person comes out on top.

And I guess that’s the beauty of it all. It’s okay that there isn’t a second chance, because it wouldn’t be as special. It’s also probably the reason why I love World Championships so much and why I always feel so grateful to be a part of it.

 About 4:21 minutes slower than I would have wanted to... Cool photo from Ralph Samson

About 4:21 minutes slower than I would have wanted to... Cool photo from Ralph Samson

Last year I had a great race at Worlds and finished 5th. People ask me if that result affected me, coming into the Worlds this time around. The answer is that it did and it didn’t. It gave me the confidence to believe that I can be up there battling with the best in the world. But did it give me expectations?  No. I wasn’t thinking about any of that before the race on Saturday. Finishing 5th at Worlds is something I achieved last year, and no matter what happened this weekend, it wouldn’t change anything to the fact that I have achieved it. I was never trying to repeat something I have done before. Each race is new and different and represents an opportunity to see what is the best that I can do. The 2017 Worlds was a very special day for me and I often think about it because I want to relive that incredible feeling of fulfillment and joy again, and chasing that feeling is one of my biggest source of inspiration. But “repeating” is not on my mind, because I know that no matter what I do, it will always be different.

So as I am flying home this morning, I am feeling a little bit “meh” about my race, but I am also proud and happy. We had a lot of fun in the preparation process and I feel like we learned a ton. Learned about how to race in Europe, and learned more about how to prepare for big events. I’m also happy I got to experience another world championships and share it with some of my favorite people.

I’ll finish this off by saying thank you to those wonderful peeps. You all know who you are, so thank you for being there, for helping me be the best I can, for sharing those moments with me, for supporting me... And simply, thank you all for being you, because your presence/support on every single day of the year make everything that much better and so much more worth it!

I sure hope #crossiscoming soon, because I already can't wait to give it another shot at next year's Worlds in Denmark. But for now, it’s time to take some time off and eat some good cake...if only I can nail that recipe.  

Thank you for cheering, everyone! 

Maghs 

 Pre riding on course all week with Katerina was really fun. The conditions were constantly changing. 

Pre riding on course all week with Katerina was really fun. The conditions were constantly changing. 

 Pre riding. 

Pre riding. 

 After the last pre-ride. Some of us are more pro than others! Nevertheless, we were both very excited to race the next day. 

After the last pre-ride. Some of us are more pro than others! Nevertheless, we were both very excited to race the next day. 

 What the course conditions look like. Not exactly easy to navigate on a bike or on foot. The spectators showed great dedication that weekend. Also, those boots were awesome - Quinn model from Bogs Footwear. 

What the course conditions look like. Not exactly easy to navigate on a bike or on foot. The spectators showed great dedication that weekend. Also, those boots were awesome - Quinn model from Bogs Footwear. 

 A sea of spectators. CRAYYYY-Z.  

A sea of spectators. CRAYYYY-Z.  

 Always mind blowing to see the amount of people attending the Euro cross races. It was fun to get to watch the mens race with friends and family. 

Always mind blowing to see the amount of people attending the Euro cross races. It was fun to get to watch the mens race with friends and family. 

 Teamwork, once again. Gary helping us clean up after a good cheering session during the men's race. 

Teamwork, once again. Gary helping us clean up after a good cheering session during the men's race. 

 The day after Worlds. No mater hoe it goes, life goes on and you gotta pack it up. In this sport, nothing is possible alone. From training, to sharing ideas, to prepping bikes, to massage, to grocery, laundry, keeping a chill vibe, sharing your concerns, etc. Here is a team packing session. Thanks to everyone on my big team for making it all so much better. 

The day after Worlds. No mater hoe it goes, life goes on and you gotta pack it up.
In this sport, nothing is possible alone. From training, to sharing ideas, to prepping bikes, to massage, to grocery, laundry, keeping a chill vibe, sharing your concerns, etc. Here is a team packing session. Thanks to everyone on my big team for making it all so much better. 

On laundry.

3 days to go before we hit the start at the Valkenburg Worlds. The work has been done and now the rides are short and it's time to rest. Which means, there is a lot of time to kill this week.

3 days...I am so excited that I worry my eyeballs will pop out of my skull.

So I'm trying hard to keep my cool here. 

Luckily, I have good company to help me do just that. No one wants to see one of my eyeball rolling off on the ground. So instead, we just chill. We relax, stretch, read, watch movies, think, talk, nap, drink tea, and all that good stuff.  

That being said, I decided to put some thoughts on paper... 

Anyway, todays thoughts had to do with a very exciting subject...Laundry! 

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Laundry.

It’s a basic activity. A weekly chore that we take care of without really giving it much thought. One of those things you just got to do.

Nowadays, washing our clothes is seen as a necessity, in a world where, strangely, or perhaps rightly so, nudity is not very well accepted by society, and where hygiene standards are so high. 

Sometimes I think that walking around naked would be so simple… I wonder how people would express themselves, their style, their personality if we didn’t have clothes? Would there me more or less judgment of others?

Who knows!

But then again, in the cold European climate, it could be problematic. And I’m sure I would always be dreading the long hours in the saddle. Actually, the short hours wouldn’t be much better. Even worse in muddy or sandy races…Ouch. Just awful. Come to think of it, let’s all keep our clothes on! Maybe society is on to something after all.

Back to laundry…Quite honestly, to me, doing laundry is kind of therapeutic. It puts order into my life, it clears my thoughts, makes me feel more organized. Especially when we are travelling. I make it a point that my suitcase stays relatively organized. It hasn’t always been the case (ask my teammates and my mom), but I’ve learned. It’s a question of respect. Resect for my roommates, but also respect for myself. How can I possibly have clear thoughts if I’m living in a tornado of dirty, unfolded, disparate clothes? How can I make it on time somewhere if it takes me 13 minutes to find a glove? How can I possibly be happy and positive if every time I need to get dressed I spend 15 minutes being pissed because I can’t find what I’m looking for?

Maybe I’m just anal. That’s very possible. But I find a strangely satisfying pleasure and profound calmness in folding my clothes and reorganizing my bag every few days.

Yet, when travelling, laundry can be a challenge. In Europe, most hotels don’t have Laundromats. A trip to the closest city, or a handwash in the bath is often required. In muddy conditions, dressed up showers (or pre-wash) before heading out to the Laundromat is the name of the game. Your hotel room often transforms into a giant clothes hanger. 

Weirdly enough, I kind of like all that. It’s satisfying to take care of your stuff and so nice when you get to wear something clean the next day. It makes preparing for the traing ride just that much more awesome, and easier. But tt’s an ongoing process that truly never fully stops, except for the few hours following the trip to the Laundromat where everything is just at its basic state; clean, fresh, folded, organized…until the next training ride comes along!

 I’ve got some hanging and folding to do now. Cheers :) 

 Waiting for the dryer.

Waiting for the dryer.

 Laundry-ing. Side note: Waldek is awesome. Yesterday, he went in town and did all the laundry for use while we watched a movie. THANK YOU! (Meanwhile, Scott was washing bikes...we are such princesses...) 

Laundry-ing. Side note: Waldek is awesome. Yesterday, he went in town and did all the laundry for use while we watched a movie. THANK YOU! (Meanwhile, Scott was washing bikes...we are such princesses...) 

 Train trip to the city. Just another laundry trip! 

Train trip to the city. Just another laundry trip! 

 Wasbar. The coolest laundromat ever. Coffee shop/laundromat in Ghent, Belgium. 

Wasbar. The coolest laundromat ever. Coffee shop/laundromat in Ghent, Belgium. 

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 Sippin' on beer, lemonade, and coffee! The Wasbar has it all while you are waiting for your clothes to dry. 

Sippin' on beer, lemonade, and coffee! The Wasbar has it all while you are waiting for your clothes to dry. 

 We walked around beautiful Ghent after cleaning our clothes.

We walked around beautiful Ghent after cleaning our clothes.

 Cool looking buildings.

Cool looking buildings.

How do you see the glass?

Sometimes I think people tend to look at things closer when they lose than when they win. At least, that’s what I do.

When we win or when something goes really well, we don’t take much time to evaluate exactly what happened and why it happened. There is stuff under the rug that we ignore, because at first glance, since the result was good, it seems like, and it feels like, all went well. But when you suffer a real setback, you want to know all the reasons why - so that it will never happen again.

The whole trip to Europe that just ended with the World Cup in Heusden-Zolder was a big setback for me. If I’m honest, not many things went well, actually…

But there are always many ways to look at something. Some people like to see the glass half-full, and some prefer to see it half-empty. I usually fall into the first category; always trying to find the positive in every situation...I guess it must come from my dad who is Mister Optimistic in person. This time, however, I choose to look at the glass differently; the way Georges St-Pierre sees it. Simply, I choose to see that the glass has reached half of its capacity. That’s it. No emotion, no interpretation. Just a fact: the glass is filled halfway through.

Looking at the facts and leaving the emotions behind is the only way for me to really learn and see the situation for what is really is. It’s simply the truth.

So here are a few facts about this trip: I was unprepared for the first race (not physically, but racing-wise it was a shock), I got sick the day after the first race and stayed sick for the rest of the trip, I was disorganized, my travel plans were too ambitious, tiring and complicated, I got bored, I missed my family on Christmas, I had very bad results at all 3 races, etc.

 Now that the facts have been stated, though, I can choose to look at them in many ways. The easy way would be to look at it as a series of unfortunate situations that happened. In that scenario, I would feel sorry for myself for being sick and for having bad races. I would get discouraged, use the “f**k it” attitude, eat all the pastries that I so deeply want to eat, and subconsciously put less effort into my preparation for the next block of racing.

The other way is to take responsibility for what happened, and learn from it.  Ask myself some questions and find answers as to why things happened the way they did, and how can I make sure they don’t happen again. Why did I get sick? What did I do wrong? How can I prevent to be sick next time that I am travelling? How can I organize myself better? How can I plan my next trip more intelligently? How can I feel more “race ready” when I come next time? Etc.

Honestly, the first option seems very tempting in the heat of the moment, when all the croissants are looking at me and I’m kind of bummed about my results. But I know it would lead nowhere… Actually, I know very well that it would lead to even poorer performances and grater disappointments. So with the help of David, we made a decision: We would eat one pastry and then take responsibility for what happened and start working on the next block of racing.

While talking about it, we found some great solutions and interesting ideas for future trips. And as much as I make it sound like it was a nightmare of a trip, I’m actually very glad and thankful for it. Every opportunity to do one of these super strong European races is such a great experience. If you give it your all, there is no way to not grow from every one of these races.

In Zolder, for example I truly had a great time... And so did I in Namur and St-Niklaas. Actually, the races, even if my results weren't good, were definitely the highlights of the trip! 

Here's a quick recap of Zolder: 

  •  Start. Spun out, loose a few spots. "Stay calm." Zig-zag my way towards the front. Sitting in the top 20.
  • Crash in front of me. Not fast enough to get around. People are running in the wrong direction.
  • Unclip, get around, get going again.
  • Find myself on the ground, still clipped in. People ride on and over me. “Shit. This is not ideal.”
  • Get going again. “I am very far back now.” (I was somewhere in the 50s)
  • Feel flat. Not moving up as much as I want.
  • “Here we go again... no power!" 
  • About 2 seconds later, I decide to give myself a pep talk: “Okay negative Nancy. Stop it. Think about all the hours spent waiting in the hotel room, only being excited about this race. Now it’s finally happening, so make it the most of it!”
  • The pep talk worked. Luckily, we are still in the first 3 min of the race.
  • Still feeling flat but really digging deep and making all kinds of cool passes.
  • Having so much fun.
  • Hear David telling me to keep passing people. “I’m on it!”
  • Making good decision. Totally focused and into it. This is fun. 
  • Hear Thomas and Milo cheer for me – Extra motivation! (Thomas and Milo are two super cool kids from a wonderful family that we met during the trip!)
  • Keep passing people. Final lap – sprint on the final stretch and catch a group on the line (while someone else passes me) but not enough time to pass the group.  Finish 26th.
  • THAT WAS SO FUN! Chit chat with David, Thomas and Milo at the finish.

I had never had that much fun or that good of a race for finishing that far back. The level of the field at the CX races is really strong right now and you absolutely need to bring you’re A game if you want to be competitive. I really did the best I could with what I had on that day, and I guess you can’t ask for more. I was honestly happy after the race, even if I’m ultimately aiming for a better result…it was still a good performance.

Another thing I’m happy about is that I didn’t let the fact that I was sick play negative tricks on my mind. Before hand, I didn’t want to let myself be mentally affected by the sickness by giving myself an excuse, so I’m really proud that I didn’t do that and that I was still able to give all I have.  
In the end, it wasn’t the best of trips, but I think there is a lot to take from it that can help me for the next time I go to Europe. I’m now off to Tucson to get healthy and train hard to be as ready as I can for the final block of racing in January.

As the saying goes, no matter how well or how badly things are going, you just have to “chop wood and carry water”. In other words, keep doing what you have to do, with your best effort. And frankly, I think that’s all you can really do, anyway.

Cheers everyone!

 Hello you ghost! 

Hello you ghost! 

 Photo by Anton Vos. 

Photo by Anton Vos. 

 "iiihhhhhh" Photo by Anton Vos.

"iiihhhhhh" Photo by Anton Vos.

 One of the coolest thing about riding in Belgium is that you can follow the bike paths (each of them has a number, so you can just follow the number) and sometimes it brings you on awesome dirt roads across farms. 

One of the coolest thing about riding in Belgium is that you can follow the bike paths (each of them has a number, so you can just follow the number) and sometimes it brings you on awesome dirt roads across farms. 

 We went to the beach for a race on December 23rd. Merry Christmas! 

We went to the beach for a race on December 23rd. Merry Christmas! 

 A gigantic ball. 

A gigantic ball. 

 Eva showing us how it's done: Eating a sandwich, while signing an autograph, while cooling down on the rollers just minutes after finishing 3rd in the World Cup. 

Eva showing us how it's done: Eating a sandwich, while signing an autograph, while cooling down on the rollers just minutes after finishing 3rd in the World Cup. 

 "I'd like to have a small beer please." 

"I'd like to have a small beer please."