It’s almost a year since I moved back to Belgium after spending 15 months in Australia. It’s been a good year with a lot of time spend on the bike – both mountain and roadie – riding in the Alps, around the Mediterranean and on the cobbles of Flanders. Good times, but both me and my Aussie girlfriend were getting a bit ‘homesick’ so we have decided to move back to Australia after the December holiday period. Needless to say we have spent a lot of time these last months on planning and going through all the paperwork; house hunting, searching for a job, organising my visa and getting all the forms signed for our puppy to move to Australia with us. This has been taking up a lot of time and effort. We’re looking at moving early January so just over three months to go now, the countdown has begun.
But besides getting all this paperwork done, I’m also trying to get to Australia in a pretty good shape. Road season ends in two weeks and I still have a few races planned. One or two elite races and a pro race in the town of Zele in East-Flanders before the roadie goes into hibernation. Last week I raced in Berlare, only my fourth road race of the season (my very first pro race ever) and I must say it was pretty cool to sport the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com jersey between all those pro roadies. It was a typical and fast Belgian kermess race with an early breakaway and a chasing peloton, then everything coming together again after two hours and a few riders managing to escape from the peloton in the last laps. Winner was Koen Barbe from the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago squad, riding the 162 km with an average speed of 46 km an hour. I spent most of the race in the middle of the bunch, it was a perfect high speed-training for me and exactly what I needed after a lot of mountain bike riding all through summer.
Now the leaves are falling in Europe and once the road season is over, the off road season starts again. My biggest goal this winter will be the Hoek Van Holland – Den Helder race, also kown as ‘The World’s Longest Beachmarathon’, a 130km beach race on the 4th of November. Many top riders will enter so I have three of my best mates to help me take on this event. Mike Mulkens, who will be in a great shape after riding his fourth Crocodile Trophy, Joeri Calleeuw and Tom Vandenbussche, two roadies born and raised in Brugge and them too in an excellent shape as they will only just be back from riding the epic Tour du Faso road race in West-Africa. As for me, I will be working my ass off during my last three months in Belgium, balancing between my job, my training, all the .gov.au paperwork and my little family.
Oh yeah, before I forget to mention, I’ll also be coaching Aussie cyclo-cross rider Lewis Rattray on the European pro circuit in December. Hopefully he can surprise the Belgian riders on some of the races this year!