2015 starts very well for you, with a new win at the nationals. But after that victory the results were a bit “less”. 21th in Hoogerheide, 27that the Worlds. How did you cope with it?
For the past two season’s I’ve been struggling with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aka MRSA infection. I had to take two very strong antibiotics to treat the infection. They both happened during the Cyclocross season after the saddle I was riding was causing me some irritation and inflammation that developed into very painful infections.
I had to go to the Doctor to have them drained so I couldn’t ride my bike for a couple weeks. Unfortunately the strong antibiotics made me more sensitive to my allergies which are pretty bad while I’m in Belgium. I’m really allergic to mold, in-particular black-mold.
My stomach was off all season from the antibiotics so I was so tired all the time and I couldn’t breathe well so my season kinda just sucked. It took me another couple months to get my stomach back to normal after taking a lot of probiotics.
Were there also any doubts in your head?
Doubts are part of being a professional woman’s cyclist. We don’t make a lot compared to the men and who knows who long it will last. I’m lucky I have a really great sponsor with Trek. It’s been really fun working with them to develop their cyclocross bikes.
+/- Two years ago you were the leading-lady in women cyclocross but now it’s a bit less and there are more opponents. How do you feel about yourself now? How do you see your position now?
Well I’m pretty happy with where I am considering how bad my summer went. I developed another major infection in the same location on my butt where I sit on the saddle during a trip to Iceland for Trek in early June. It went what we call in the US “nuclear.” I developed another major MRSA infection from the last one that had encapsulated into a small nugget that continued to irritate me every time I rode my bike.
The infection burst when I returned from Iceland just before we got to the ER. They drained the infection and irrigated it then sent me to see a Wound Specialist the next day. I had a 5cm by 5cm hole in my body with 8cm of undermining which is like a tunnel that exited from the hole into my body.
I made a deal with my Doctor that I wouldn’t go on antibiotics unless I really had to go on them. Fortunately I was able to beat a MRSA infection without antibiotics but I had to have my wound packed with gauze every two days for the next three months until it finally healed. I didn’t ride my bike all summer and to be honest I thought my career was over.
I started training for the cyclocross season 10 days out from the first World Cup in Vegas. That was the first time I could sit on a bike. Four days out from Vegas I got a really bad headcold so I felt like shit at the race but I was pretty happy with my race considering what I’ve been through.
I have no base riding to fall back on so I had to start from zero. Making the World Cup in Koksijde was a good day. We arrived a day later that we wanted but our flight out of Colorado Springs was cancelled so we had to fly out the next day. I can feel I’m making progress and I’m getting back to my old-self. The power is coming back which makes me happy as a bike racer.
Are you happy with the results you already have this season?
Considering my summer I’m happy with what I have and I’m looking forward to future races. I think this is where all mentally healthy athletes will naturally fall into this state of accepting what you have and looking forward to the future races.
Still a few days before we’ve 2016. Are there things you want to change in 2016?
I can’t change what is beyond my control. I can accept the things I can control and accept those I can’t control. It’s life for all of us. Nothing different. Racing our bikes doesn’t cure cancer or save dogs without homes. In the big picture we are simple actors in a very large world that has little influence other than being good people and white simply helping other people along the way, whether it’s bike racing or finding something in their life that makes them happy and thriving.
There’s also the World championship in Zolder in 2016. You’ve a lot of victories on your list of achievements only a victory at the worlds is missing now. Do you still believe you could win the worlds?
I’ve spent a lot of years very close to taking the Worlds Jersey. For health reasons and simply there’s better riders better than me on the day it’s something I’d like to win but I’ve won a lot of races and made a career at racing Cyclocross to be the best ride at the sport all season. I like that fact I’ve won races all season-long for all of my career.
I’m happy with my accomplishments despite my health issues along the away. I spent most of my career dealing with leg pain issues that can take me off the bike for up to three weeks at a time with an incredible amount of intense pain for all three weeks.
I have a medical file that is as thick as a book with all the blood tests and medical tests. I finally solved my leg issues myself even after seeing so many medical specialists for so many years. Believe me this takes a toll on your body and your motivation.
Quite simply I’m happy with what I’ve achieved despite being handicapped with the long travel to Europe. The very difficult transition to European timezone. European riders got a small taste of this when they came out to Las Vegas for the first World Cup for one trip.
I get to do this four times a year. You lose a lot of training because of the travel and time changes. It’s pretty amazing I’ve won as many World Cup races despite of these challenges my competition never get to experience.
So when it comes to Worlds, sure I have the potential to win but for now I”m quite happy not to have the pressure to race Worlds without what I’ve experienced this year. I’ve shown I can be the person who can challenge the best riders all season and win and be the person who is at World and be the competition.
What’s your biggest goal in 2016?
To be healthy and happy. To continue to love racing my bike and to continue to enjoy this journey with my husband. If I can achieve this whatever else that comes to me won’t change who I am. A bike racer.