|It all began in May with a tweet that read "I'm so happy I may or may not have just wee'd a little bit." I had signed with Telenet Fidea for the cyclocross season but it was to remain top secret until the team presentation, 25 September. It was something I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs because it meant I would be able to live and race in Belgium for another winter. It meant my experiment of getting my feet wet in Belgium all last winter had worked. I had highs and lows through that winter but I was noticed and thanks to that investment I can have a re-do and build on all that went right & wrong last season. It was a massive learning experience in so many ways; about myself, my competitors, the variety of circuits, resting, training & racing and simply living, even just sleeping in a foreign country. To race one winter and not return to have another crack at it would be a waste of time. I now have a building block.
I told my inner circle of friends and family and set off on a summer of very structured training. I began working with another coach for the number-side of training. Simon continued with the overall season plan, while Russell Stevenson ofPeaks Coaching and SRM stepped in with the numbers. The training became focused on my numbers which is a savior in my eyes because my perceived exertion is all out of whack. The summer plan allowed me to be at home in Boulder for extended periods of time, interspersed with road-stage races and a few trips elsewhere for new training grounds and to visit friends and family. Truly an ideal summer. This was paired with the massive motivator of my little secret.
The ideal summer flew by. August hit and so did my nerves as I set off on the 10th to St. Moritz, Switzerland for my team training camp. It would be my first meeting with the team, all the riders & staff and the Big Boss. I arrived to Belgium on a Saturday morning and on Sunday morning woke at 5am to get in team car to drive 9hrs to St. Moritz. The jet lag kicked my arse and during the drive I felt a sore throat coming on. I flew all the way to Europe for a bed. Two bedridden days later I was alive again but there was a misunderstanding of where my new clothing and new bike would be. Ah well it was sorted and I was finally able to pedal about gorgeous St. Moritz with the team and really feel part of it. Everything was taken care of - the cooking, the washing, the bikes. All I had to do was eat, sleep and train. Team photos began midway through the camp and all the important people arrived, including Hans, the Big Boss whom I was nervous to meet and hoping to make a good first impression on.
Instead I made an impression on a van. After we had finished filming the instructions were simple; "go these 4 switchbacks and drive & meet the rest of team for photos". I began freewheeling in the draft of a van and soon it's brake lights lit my path red. It became clear the van would stop me before my canti brakes would. The van and bike bore the brunt of the impact with a dent in the VW, a kaput front wheel - hub held in place by a mere 2 wobbly spokes, and the fork legs sheered at the brake bosses. I crumbled to the floor like a judo master and had not a scratch on me nor my shiny new skinsuit. Three hours later, all the while in my skinsuit in the police station, the damage was deemed my fault. We "did a deal" and I was finally set free to more photos and the humor of my new Belgian team. I was very lucky and my head hung a tad bit higher when Danny reassured me "eh they make Ridleys everyday but not amys". I had made an impression alright, but not the sort I was hoping for.
I was less of a sh!t-show for the remainder of camp and came back to Colorado at the very end of August to pack my life up and move to Belgium for the winter. I made my final training preparations prior to CrossVegas motor pacing with Garrett Getter mixed with a couple of races, then I was on my way for a brief stop in dirty Vegas before arriving to Belgium! Now that the team presentation is finished I can unveil my secret. My season with the Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team begins on Saturday in Neerpelt!