Press Pause

Press Pause

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
December 7th-17th, 2016

Photos by Niels Musschoot

I found a break in my racing schedule and did not hesitate to jump on a plane to land on an Island. I had my bike in tow, naturally. This was not something I had done before, let alone done in the middle of the cyclocross season. Ten days of sun, sand, ocean, training and resting felt like I was cheating somehow, or maybe it just sounded too good to be true.

The first few days felt like I was dreaming, that’s for sure. It’s hard to explain the sensation of sun warming my skin for the first time in many months; the feeling of the sharp rocks on my bare feet; the breeze tugging at my hair. What a difference compared to the normal winter behavior of putting as many layers between me and the elements as possible.

Belgium felt very far away which I discovered was exactly the point. On Fuerteventura I found the time and space to think outside of the tight bubble of cyclocross racing. I could press pause, rewind, and then reprocess the last few months in the European racing pressure-cooker.

When it was time to return, I stood in line for the airport security thinking of the World Cup start line in Namur just 24 hours away. From the outside, I looked just like the other tourists going home, a sun tan and a winter jacket tucked under my arm. But I felt a bigger change underneath.

More than my legs, my mind needed this trip. Walking across the expanse of white sand in the dunes, staring down into a volcanic crater, scanning the waves for good surf brought the present moment into sharp focus. The self-critic and the over-thinker faded away.

The extreme contrast between Fuerteventura and Belgium disrupted the pattern and cleared the page to start again. The great adventure continues.