Last July, just crossed the line, head a blur. It’s unusually hot in Belgium, even for summer, touching thirty-eight degrees. Pull those legs down there, I think they are still attached and working, covered in dust – stuck to sweat, over the saddle. Lean the bike against the wall, disregard shown for the machine that has safely transported you all those kms, through the mêlée, the mayhem. Searching for a bottle of water, a chair to sit down, a towel to mop my face.
The sight of a local cyclist catches my attention, eyes transfixed, he looks like a pro. Sat on his top tube, in leggings and long sleeves. He has me questioning my senses, my eyes – I’ve raced hard, but am I hallucinating?! Nope, this is Belgium.
The idea of keeping your muscles warm isn’t uncommon, it’s probably one of the most basic and well-known principles in sport. However Belgian cyclists seem to take it to another level, and this profi was no different. I tried to reason with myself, in my post race state, leggings and long sleeves, in this weather? I thought he was plain mad…
A summer later, despite over twenty hours a week in the saddle, week in, week out. Despite roasting whilst racing in Turkey, slowly simmering away in forty degree heat. Despite my dangerous obsession of wearing my shorts in exactly the same place. I have no tan. The mix of English, Irish and Scottish blood, freckled skin, definitely doesn’t help. But there is something else.
Switch to a sunny summers day, deep August. An easy recovery ride, spinning through the lanes of Essex. It’s just over a year since East Flanders, I’m a year wiser, a year tougher. It’s a reasonably modest twenty-eight degrees, pretty good for British weather. Clem and Rhys relish the tanning opportunity, as talk turns from racing to possible café stops. The coach says eighteen degrees, but I have taken it further, in fact it feels weird to train in shorts these days. Races aside my legs havent seen the sun for months. Coach would be proud, Belgians quake, muscles are warm. Its long sleeves and tights in the sun.
Thankyou Rapha for your amazing support this season. I have absolutely loved using products like the Classic Winter Tights. Not sure I always wear them in the correct season, but I wear them more than anything!