Segregated bike paths seem safe on the outside, the bright red colours sit obvious on the roads of Belgium, but they present their own dangers. This I was always aware of from my first day in Belgium, bouncing on, off, up and around them, the occasional car creeping from a driveway without warning and riding alongside someone else became a skill in itself. I can call on occasions where lads have broken their collarbones and even put an end to the season in the bike path. Not mentioning the odd old dear sweeping her bit of bike path without a care in the world. Still despite my vast number of kilometres it was to catch me out the other week.
Out early with Andy my roommate, we were quite pleasantly chatting about life, out came a car from the left knocking me clean off, unlike England the driver was first to admit the fault and got straight down to paper work. A sharp pain arose in my wrist causing me to think it could be broken straight to the hospital it was. Arm in plaster within a couple of hours, I thought it was time for a break some enforced time off. Aside from the prescribed rest days this was to be my first few days off since January, the physical and mental stress often builds up slowly without you realising and it isn’t till you have some time away from the bike entirely you realise just what you’ve been putting yourself through.
A week or so at home and thankfully a out of plaster was just what I needed freshened up, seeing friends and family and some good eating, made all the difference. I was back in Belgium completely relaxed and the first raced back I felt stronger than I had all year on a tough course to boot.
The season up to that point had shown some good improvements, consistency in my racing was positive and I came to the start a lot fitter than I ever had been. The usual season stories a bit of illness some signs of form the near death etc. But overall everything was on the up the lads at house had been doing well and packing in the results. The team presents it’s own challenge, knowing when your benign flicked is always useful, another feather in the bow. Something every cyclist needs to know otherwise you’re soon to be left behind. A story in cycling as old as time.
I was meeting more people as well stepping out of the little Belgium bubble even if it meant actually meeting the other lads on the Fund. Previous years is never really had the chance as funny as that may sound. A great sense of community was coming about, it had always been there but this year more than ever it seems to brought us all together a bit more.
A few races after the Fietspad was to strike again, a little lip this time, hopping back on caught me out, cash bang wallop landing on my hands and pulling a few layers of skin off, just what you need. Something I’ve done a million times with no problem is what frustrates me the most, my Fietspad riding skills escaped me again today. Another day in sunny Belgium! The rollercoaster of racing your bike never ends, just as much as it is important to learn how to do well it is just as important to learn how to deal with the lows and your emotions with a level head. This something that has become even more evident this season. And something everyone can learn from, a vital skill just as important as my bike path riding.