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Cyclocross

EuroCrossAcademy: No rest for the weary in Belgium

Henry Rapinz reveals how riders try to maximize rest and recovery during the frantic ‘kerstperiode’ in Belgium.

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During the next few weeks, riders from the EuroCrossAcademy will be writing exclusive blog posts for VeloNews as they race the “kerstperiode” in Belgium.

ECA VeloNews Journal 5
Rider: Henry Rapinz
Hometown: Boulder, CO

In between all the chaos of the races, there are the rest days. Rest days are a time to rest, relax, and recover.

I think the term “rest day” comes from the idea of resetting and preparing for the next race. They are used to unpack from the race day before and also prepare for the race the next day.

Rest days remind me of the little wind-up toys. You have to wind up or prepare yourself to go the next day. These days usually include going to the store, recovery rides, and cleaning.

The recovery rides have been all-time. Whether it’s riding through the towns to the canal or riding the bike paths to the sand pit, there is always a sense of calm. The wind whistles by my ears as I ride along the blissful narrow roads.

The sky is cloudy and there is always a faint drizzle, but I never seem to get cold. I have small conversations with my teammates as we ride along. We always seemingly talk about the same thing each time. It´s usually about that technical part of the course that kicked our butts in the last race or talking about our goals for the next race. With calmness comes an expanded state of mind.

My mind opens up on these rides. I can´t help but ride through the towns with eyes wider than the Grand Canyon. It truly is a peaceful experience and sometimes it feels like a dream.

Rest days are a time for team building and bonding. One way we do that is by walking to the Carrefour (the local grocery store). It is about a ten-minute walk through the town of Vorselaar.

On the way, we look into all of the little stores that line the cobble streets like kids in a candy store. Also, we point at all of the draw-droppingly cool and unique cars that Belgium has to offer. These walks build a little community that is important to help take my mind off of racing.

Cyclocross is a muddy sport, so rest days can´t all be about having fun and being lazy. On rest days, you can´t walk around the house without tripping on the endless pairs of drying cycling shoes or not hitting your head on drying laundry.

Trying to dry stuff here in Belgium is as hard as finding water in the desert. As well, rest days are cleaning days for our bedrooms and vehicles. In a sense, rest days or “preparation days” are useful to unwind from the day before and rewind for the days ahead.

Rest days in Europe should be called preparation days because so much goes on during these days. This is important for the team and me to have a successful race the next day.

These days, we don’t just rest our minds and our bodies. We need to make sure our equipment and utilities are taken care of as well.

The intensity of the races is combated by the calmness of the recovery rides, the helpfulness of the mechanics (Peter and Andi), the amazing cooking from Ash, and the friendliness of my teammates. Without rest days, racing at this level wouldn’t be possible.