Charting the course for an unknown horizon
First of all, I hope that everyone who is reading this is safe, healthy and tries to stay inside as much as possible. The situation in Europe is pretty bad in some countries but for me personal the situation is still pretty good. Over the past years I’ve been social distancing myself already if I was working towards important goals or during really hard periods of training. During these times your body is working much harder recovering from the trainings and if you’re in top shape the line to get sick is very thin.
Of course, it is hard to make the connection of being in top shape towards a certain goal and trying to avoid the risk of catching something. For me this meant hardly going to classes at the University, and if I went, I always showed up early or late. 99% of the time this meant showing up late and finding a spot to sit alone and not to close to others. Furthermore, during my peak in the season, I never shake hands if I don’t wear riding gloves and I can hear a sneeze from a mile away.
That we are all under a big threat of the corona virus is something that we can’t deny and the outcome this lies in the hands of all of us, no exceptions. I trust in everyone who reads this as people who understand what is going on and that we are all in this together. It is just like the trail code that is normal in mountain biking, if you see someone with a problem you stop to help, and you will never put danger unto other people with your actions.
As an athlete these times of uncertainty are very hard on the mind. In some European countries being outside to exercise is also prohibited so some of my friends have been locked inside their flats for over two weeks already. The only option then is to do exercises with whatever you have at home and make the best out of it. In the Netherlands and Germany it is still allowed to be outside for exercising but then you should go on your own. My own flat is less then a mile over the border with the Netherlands. I live in Germany but for a few weeks I am back on the countryside of the Netherlands all the way in the North. As soon as Germany started to close its borders with surrounding countries I decided to leave while I still could and go back to my parents home.
I am now already 4 weeks back in my old bedroom sleeping in my old little bed. My parents are two wonderful people, but I have to admit that it is hard to adapt if you’ve left almost six years ago and have been living alone ever since then. I remember them looking confused when I asked them, ‘’why are you talking so much to each other all day?’’ But that was just me not being used to that anymore. Now a few weeks have gone by and being on the countryside in times like this is a good thing. The village is almost as quiet as it always was.
I am still training almost every day but there has been a big change in the program. In the garden behind the house I managed to build a home gym in which I can still keep doing all my exercises and use some good weights. The amounts of hours on the bike has been decreased a lot. The last week before the Covid19 outbreak in Italy I had a nice week with over 30 hours in the books, but my current weeks are all around 18 hours.
For me personally, it is important to have goals to work towards. This allows me to take that extra step, ride that extra mile and complete all my trainings no matter how bad the weather might be. All of that is gone now and that is something I feel is effecting my mind a lot. Where I normally always roll out to train in the morning around 9:00, I now leave for training after lunch. And my biological clock normally wakes me up every morning between 7:30 and 7:45, but if I now look at my clock at the moment, I open my eyes it has not been before 9:00 in the last two weeks.
With the cancellation or postponing of all the European gravel races I would have done all my goals over here have disappeared. For now the Dirty Kanza isn’t cancelled, but they will come with the decision on the first of May. Even without official cancellation of the Dirty Kanza it isn’t possible for me at the moment to fly to America because I am not allowed into the country.
Setting new goals
So currently all bike racing, and basically all sports events are on hold. As an athlete it is extremely important to at least stay fit and then you can think about training to improve.
Therefore I changed all my goals and focus towards the new cyclocross season, which starts in September. I truly believe that we will be racing again this winter and this thought keeps me motivated to keep training every day and stay focused during the days I am at home. With my new goals being set far in the future I am currently maintaining my fitness and that is all. As soon as things are starting to clear up again it will be much easier to adapt and to increase the training and make it more specific again.
I want to finish off this story with a little side story to end this all with a smile:
Being back at my parents’ place and sitting at home for many many hours has brought me to the attic where I found an old box of pictures. In there I traced back the first proof of a moustache already excysting in my family. In the photo above you see a picture (second from right), which is over 100 years old, of my great-great-great grandfather Klaas Land. This picture was taken just before the first world war started in Europe and in the Netherlands, they set up an army of 200.000 people. My great-great-great grandfather was a really skilled carpenter, so he had to help built the trenches and defenses. Luckily the Netherlands managed to stay neutral during this war, but unfortunately not during the second one.
A bit about Gosse from his website: