It has been a year ago since I posted a blog. A lot of things have happened since . Basically getting back on the bike after the crash was the first step. Then back to racing and dealing with a whole new aspect to racing. First the big question was ; why I am doing this ? I think in the beginning I wanted to prove to myself that I could still race and get on with my life and show to the world it was possible after almost being dead .
I won the Green Mountain Masters race and few Cyclocross races during the fall and then 2nd at the Masters Cross Nationals and 3 weeks later 3rd in the Masters Cross Worlds . Training went spot on since the 2012 Italy camp and no real set backs. A nice progression week after week mentally and physically with a pretty structured program of a lot of training – a lot more racing that I ever thought I would be doing , gym and motor pacing .
The plan for 2012 was to be at my best in Jan 2013 and with the help of my wife and my business partner Christoffel driving the scooter we just did that . The question was always in my back of my mind ; am I what I used to be ? I could almost see all the time that the answer was No , but could I get there ? I am 3 years older than I was in 2010 , lost 12 lbs from the accident , I was not racing pro 12 races with the extra mileage and intensity anymore , did I already reach my peak of my cycling career before the crash ?
I have seen this before with other riders , they used to dominate and win tons of races , but as the years go by they are not that competitive any more and the usual answer is that life took over with family , work and etc. Is that really the answer or just the excuse for slowing down . How long can you be competitive and race week after week 10 months of the year ?
I am not looking for any excuses , I was never the guy that had an excuse why things did not go as they should have , I knew why it did not go as planned , but I was not looking for an excuse .
I love cycling and I live , eat and sleep cycling . Cycling is on my mind 24 hours a day , I know most pro rider’s names on todays circut , I watch You Tube cycling videos in Dutch and Italian . At the same time I am always trying figure out why I should ride 3-4 hours a day and race every weekend .
If I am not the best I can be why race ? If I do not race why train ? If I sit in front of the computer I stiffen up and and all the effects from the crash that are still lingering show up . I need to be moving and I think that is something that most guys in their mid 40’s or older feel even they do not have any nerve damage or any unexpected muscle contractions , it is just better to be moving to feel better when you get older. Then there is the recovery . I have done more 20 hour weeks than I can count. The recovery is not the same anymore , it was like I aged 10 years over night. When you are really fit you recover better as well , I can see glints of that still , but it is not the same .
It might sound like I am complaining about getting old and not being the same anymore , but my point here is that it is a fact . I do not complain , just like I do not make excuses. In fact I want to prove a point that this can happen to anybody and that is life . Pros feel the same , they get older and can not get any results or be motivated to ride their bike every single day anymore and they retire and a lot of them do not ride a bike again.
I can understand that part when it is a job and when it is over it is over. It does not have to be like this way though , we can make adjustments. Riding a bike everyday is a passion , a healthy thing as long as you do not fall down. All your friends rides bikes , you do not really have any none riding friends , it is an outlet when you are stressed out and owning a cool bike is like driving a Mercedes for some people . Riding with a few team mates or friends is special and you can relate to them and always have somthing to talk about for 3-4 hours staright. Riding your MTB in the woods and not seeing another person for 3 hours is very special.
This leads me to the camps I run and particularly the Italy Camp . That is something special . Yes they cost money , but being away for a week and all you really think about is riding your bike is well worth it and kind of jump starts your love for riding again, it changes you physically and mentally. It is not just the riding ( you can do that at home ) it is the people around you , they think the same way you do , the culture , cycling is part of life and a religion for everybody you spend that week with.
A camp is always a little competitive , when you have 2 guys on bikes it will always be . Riding up Stelvio or Gavia and putting a good effort in with a group and seeing the Giro that day almost feels like you are in something big and it is a feeling you can never describe to someone that does not ride. It is not just riding up a big mountain , the guys you watch on TV, You Tube and read about in Velonews have done it , 50 years ago they did it and they suffered just like you do and felt the same competetive feeling riding next to other riders . This experience always has blown me away and I am not even racing officially, it is just a fun cycling camp . This almost motevates me more to train these days than being competitive in a local race . The funny thing is that no one else even cares and probably think there is something wrong with this picture . A grown man with a family spending a week with ” his buddies ” in Italy riding his bicycle 40 hours in 9 days. I am not trying to sell my camp , well a little , what I am trying say here keeping riding your bike , that should be a life long passion and that makes us special people . If you have to make adjustments it is not the end of your cycling career , there are a lot of exciting things out there , masters racing which is plenty fast and super competetive – no shame racing guys your own age , Grand Fondos , Italy Camps -;) and you can still be the best you can be years to come, all you have to do is find a reason why you love riding your bike.
I will try to write more blogs more often now , I kind of like it and maybe you guys like to read or relate to them as well.
Until next time ,