I am wearing a hoodie from Holland, a shirt from America, a jacket from England, a bra & knickers from Italy, trousers & socks from Belgium, shoes from Portugal, dragging a suitcase from Germany whilst looking at 2 iPhones - one American, one Belgian. I am in Chicago O'Hare staring at and trying to decipher a tea menu that looks like hieroglyphics and it is simply a menu of tea…nothing else, but it is more complicated, much more complicated than ordering a cake at the bakery in Belgium. I speak in remnants of English that has been butchered and chopped and stirred and juiced and boiled and fried from trying to sound like wherever I rest my head at night. A car crash of American, Irish, and Belgian-styled English which I think I will call Phlemglish. I am a mutt.
Another season has flown by and every year I become more and more gypsyish. Home no longer has the same definition it once had because I once thought that home could only be one location. Now I realize that being at home is simply where I can feel comfortable sitting in pyjamas with unkempt hair and slippers I may or may not have nicked from a hotel. It is a place where I can sleep and dream and wake up the next day and do it all over again. So when people speak of laying foundations in their lives I believe this definition is different for everyone throughout different stages of life. Currently for me, building my foundation means meeting people all over the world and being able to sleep and dream in these places.
I flew back to America today and it seems surreal that the last flight I took to America was over a month ago for the World Championships. Since Worlds I have been floating a bit. It was difficult to find the same motivation after Louisville because it had been a 3 year build; every morning when I woke up I thought "what I do today is another deposit in the Louisville bank". I can only compare it to planning a massive event…you build it, you build it, you meet deadlines, you plan, you sacrifice, you put blood sweat & tears in, you work so hard that when the day finally comes and passes, the next morning you wake up hung over with NOW WHAT. Not everyone gets a World Championships in their home country and Louisville was everything I imagined it to be, so I hope it is understandable that the month of racing following was a bit of an anti-climax. I knew it was an opportunity for good performances, another chance to stand on the podium again and this was motivating, but I felt so emotionally & physically drained after Louisville that the same energy wasn't at grasp. That being said I still had a few really good races, and also a few really bad races.
The first race back in Belgium was Lille. Here I was still in such a fog that I backed my car into a pole then proceeded to run into a pole on my bike whilst on course. At that point I considered curling up in the camper and sleeping the day away. But the fog cleared, I woke up and had a strong race - or at least a strong start and finished 7th. Sunday was Hoogstraten, I was knackered and there was no way of escaping the fog. I pedaled through the motions with little fight and energy and barely held on to 5th. I didn't think the sensations in my legs and mind could feel much worse but the following weekend proved a disaster. Saturday in Middelkerke it seemed I had an alien baby in my tum, couldn't finish and proceeded to puke alien residue up. Sunday in Heerlen was just ugly. Along with the alien, it seemed I had also flushed any and all energy down the toilet. I rode around with my head on a string miles above me whilst churning my pedals backwards. I was going so slow I could see in the mud which tire tread other's had chosen. At one point I thought I saw a 4-leaf clover in the grass, but then I thought better of it - no way did I have that sort of luck today. Quite possibly the longest 40 minutes droned on and then I had one week to get my act together and try to finish the season with good sensations. Two more races before concluding my longest season ever, a mere 35 races. Valkenburg was Saturday and it began with one of my all-time-great starts which quickly turned into a belly dive face plant on the first corner. I was the last to get up & going and my wheel had come out the drops and the chain was tangled like a jigsaw puzzle. It was a slow going first lap and I was intending to pull out when I reached the first pit. But by the first pit I was already moving forward, moving passed people, my legs felt really good and the technical course suited me. I kept on keeping on and was able to finish 5th with the lingering thought bubble of "what if..." With the legs I had in Valkenburg I was optimistic that with a little luck I could have a very good final race in Oostmalle. My start was mega, on the verge of the hole shot but I simply wasn't fast enough to stay with the top 5 and I finished 7th, pleased and ready for a glass of champagne.
I am happy with my season. It was consistent and an improvement on last season. But like last season, I learned a huge amount and am eager to build on that for next season. Thank you to everyone who supported me this season. Thank you to everyone for following along.