I guess when I started cycling I never knew where it would all end up. It was a simple case of training a day at a time for the next competition and things snowballing quickly from there. I can't really blame Blair for not warning me that rodeo riding would be a damned good pre requisite to cycling, but in hindsight it would have been good! Not until arriving in Holland did I regret not having a few more rides of those mechanical bulls at parties or the Ekka, just to get me a little more used to being thrown around like a rag doll. Something would have been better than nothing! But I guess no one tells you everything and some things you just have to figure things out for yourself.
In Holland I competed in three races each of around 130 k over four days and I learnt pretty quickly that not having a bull riding past would be a definite disadvantage. The race maps indicated we would be cycling over several, 2-3 kms of cobbles but I don't think I'd really call these cobbles. I'd call it something a little more like MTB tracks, grass, rocks, dirt, dust.everything you would find in what would generally be termed as an off road trail. We traversed these paths with our dura ace race wheels and others had all sorts of carbon deep rimmed wheels probably costing around $3000 a pair. It was craziness and what was even more crazy was the number of flats riders suffered during these off road sections. Every cobbled section was littered with riders just standing and waiting to get spares from their team vehicle.The three races ended up being pretty cool and once you washed the dirt off your face, blew the mud from your nose, rinsed and spat a few times and picked the soil from your eyes things looked even better. It's amazing how time heals all wounds! They were all tough days in the saddle for any experienced cowgirl. Tough winds meant we were all single file in the gutter and having to jump over tiring riders all day.
Another great thing about Holland was the hotel our team scored during the racing period, or more to the point the breakfast the hotel supplied for us during the racing period. It was amazing!!! There was everything you could possibly want and more but the best thing about the breakfast was the bread we re-named `golden bread. And golden it was as this bread was some sort of sugary, cinnamon like delight. Once toasted with lashing of butter on top was the best thing EVER!! Needless to say this bread was devoured quickly and the hotel caught on quick smart that they needed to supply a whole basket of this golden bread as the normal half a basket just wasn't cutting it.
Since the racing in Holland is over and I am now back in Belgium there is no more golden bread. Psychologically this is completely devastating but I don't think my body agrees. Too much more of the old golden bread and three weeks later on my return to Oz I'd be smuggling a spare tyre or two through customs! Not a nice look for a cyclist! The other thing is that in the pursuit of toasting the perfect golden bread, things were getting a little dangerous and looked to be heading down the road to my self destruction. On my last morning of golden bread gluttony I found an especially juicy looking piece and jammed it in the toaster while I stood waiting in anticipation of just how good this one was going to be. Unfortunately, once the toaster popped up my piece of toast did not as it was stuck deep in the clutches of the toaster. I had to crawl under the table, unplug the toaster and set to work on it with a knife, levering my sweet golden bread out. Luckily, after much persistence, and somehow not getting myself electrocuted in the process, my sweet golden bread came out but was in all sorts of bits and pieces. To the golden bread's credit he tasted just as good as ever and I lived to see another day in the saddle ridin' the bulls.