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!
The week just gone saw my first camp as a rider of the Olympic Development Programme, followed by this years first round of the Revolution Series.
Me @ Revolution 33 ©Copyright Ben Dando @ Cycling Shorts.
The hills around Huddersfield and Denshaw set the scene for my first ODP camp, it was a tough four days, with Mountain Bikers and Track and Road riders under one roof. By the time Track League on Manchester came around, Tuesday evening, I was shattered, in fact everyone other than Super Sam Lowe seemed to be, he dished out the pain, whilst I started the long process of hammering myself into a junior rider. The legs where falling off, although its not surprising just back from my winter break, plenty of time to get the legs going again.
After a few days of recovery, it was back up to Manchester for the first round of Revs representing Rapha Condor Sharp, I was hoping to do a good ride, infront of a packed out crowd, with my sponsors names on my chest. However today was one of those, thankfully, pretty unusual days when I felt absolutely shocking! The highlight of my night was an attack in the opening scratch race, with Luc (Luc Hall, Maxgear), however it was not to be. I put in another effort to try to lead out Jack Hoyle, my first year, sprinter – (he wont mind me saying it!) team mate, however I was pretty gassed, he pulled out a 4th, good result for a first year, but we can both do better!
Another highlight of the night was talking to Jens Mouris. The Vacansoleil rider rode all the big classics this year, and is making a big move to the new Australian GreenEDGE team next year. His eagerness to have a chat and share some knowledge was really great and I will be defiantly looking out for his name in the results from now on!
Jens Mouris about to ride and win the Australian Pursuit at Revolution 33 - ©Copyright Chris Dando @ Cycling Shorts.
I will be hopefully riding the next Revolution on November the 19th. The new World Road Race Champion Mark Cavendish is also riding so im sure the crowd will be even more nuts that usual! Plenty of miles to get in the legs between now and then, English Coursework to get on with tonight. One last thing, what do you reckon of me in RCS kit?!
This is no new phenomenon, however in a time filled with GPS, smart phones and devices to make life that bit easier, its one of the most underrated bits of kit.
The beauty of it is it doesnt matter, you ride, then find your way home, on or off road, it makes no odds. Being able to head out, no worries, and trust yourself to get back to where you started, it takes a lot of trust, but ultimately leads to brilliant new discoveries; lanes you would never previously dare venture down, farm tracks, always leading you somewhere new – giving you a new route. It makes riding in areas you dont know so much easier, to be able to switch off, just ride. Its the freedom on the bike you enjoy, choose any route you like, relish how much better it is when you live in the moment.
Tao - Le Stagiaire
I have been resting (off the bike) for a week now, and to put it blunty, I am absolutely dying to get back on! It’s a different type of rest to that of the pro riders, I am in school seven hours a day studying for my A levels, however hopefully it still makes a difference! Other than work at school I have been sorting out my sponsorship for next year, with a few new things also on the horizon (hopefully). I had some brilliant news on Friday, of my acceptance to the British Olympic Development Programme. This is a really great news, a big step in the right direction and to be honest I cant really put into words how much it means to me. I have been building up my winter bike over my break, and with only a few bits to fit, it will hopefully be up and running by this weekend!
Get down to Condor, if you cant, get on the phone, this book is really worth having. Anyone at all interested in the history of the shop, checkout Past Present Future.
I think it looks brilliant!