The dark days before Christmas have arrived, temperatures have gone down, the streets are full with lights again and the fitness is slowly coming back. Although the next season is a couple of months away, the preparations have begun and I thought it was about time to give you an update about how things are going and how the holiday has been.
After the Japan Cup I took three weeks off the bike to reset both the body and mind. Although I haven’t had many race days and I’ve spent way too many weeks with or my left, or my left leg stretched out on the sofa in a brace, I still felt pretty tired after 2018. Last minute I decided to go by myself to Hong Kong, which turned out to be a great decision. Since I’ve been to Asia a couple of times with the team, I always wanted to go there by myself to explore more of the Asian craziness. So why Hong Kong? First of all, I have a kind of weakness for big cities. I love the architecture, the amount of people and the feeling that the time is never standing still. Furthermore Hong Kong is interesting because it has been a former colony of Great -Britain and it still has an independent government within the People Republic of China. The city is known as the place where East meets West, so it has some traditional Eastern culture but there’s also a big Western influence. Enough reasons to pay Hong Kong a visit.
Some friends of me had a good experience with traveling alone, so I booked a flight to Hong Kong two days before departure without much time to prepare. After arriving there early in the morning, I immediately took the subway towards Hong Kong Island, where the financial district of Hong Kong is based. I first noticed the chaos and the amount of sky scrapers. Because Hong Kong is limited in it’s space, they have to build high. So even a normal apartment building is at least 50 floors high! After spending a night in the social district, where I met some other people traveling alone, it started to feel like a cool adventure.
Since my time in Hong Kong was limited (I only had four days till my flight back home), my days were pretty full with hiking, sightseeing, eating, trying out the local nightlife and so on. I hiked every day a minimum of 15k to see as much of the city as possible. From traditional Asian neighborhoods where I had lunch with the ‘traditional Hong-Kong citizens’, to the silence of the coastal area and the craziness of downtown Hong Kong. There was so much variety that time flew by and down time wasn’t there at all. One recommendation when you’re in Hong Kong is to watch the light show at Victoria Harbour. The skyline of Hong Kong Island will light up and it is the show Hong Kong is famous for. Furthermore I can recommend visiting the coast outside the city, it will give you some calm time after all the craziness downtown. Watching the sunset there was one of my favorite moments in Hong Kong.
After returning towards the Netherlands I kind of admired the fact that streets were looking organized again and the air felt much cleaner (although I don’t know if that’s because of the humidity in Hong Kong or that the air quality was actually bad there). I like being in Asia, but each time I am there I start to appreciate the well structured and organized Netherlands more and more. I had still a few days left to relax before I had to start making miles again in preparation for the 2019 season.
Except for my trip towards Hong Kong I had spent the rest of my off season in the Netherlands, catching up with family and friends and to eat a lot of the Sinterklaas candy’s, which is something I am addicted to.
By the time it was almost mid November it was time to start training again. The first couple of ‘restart weeks’ always feel the same. It’s hard to finish a three hour ride and it feels like the shape is somewhere on the other side of the planet. Actually, I really like the restart period because it includes a lot of variety in my training. Apart from cycling I like to go to the gym and to do some Ice Skating. I have spent the first couple of weeks of training in the Netherlands where the weather was cold, but dry. By the time the traditional autumn rain got back, I flew towards Girona (I was actually just lucky, cause I booked my flights already a long time ago) for some training in the Catalan sun and mountains. The form is slowly coming back and it feels that I am on track to make 2019 a way better year than 2018!
Next week there will be a training camp with the team, close to Girona, where I will hear more about my program for 2019. I will keep you updated about the winter preparations and just when there is something to write about.