2020 has turned everything backwards and upside down, but it is strange what you start to get used to. Since August, the normal rhythm of the season is non-existent as we complete the races in reverse order. Racing the spring classics in the fall suddenly doesn’t seem so strange anymore. The weather conditions are similar to the spring, and they are still the same roads, and the racing just as fierce.
We learn to associate so many things with a specific time of the year, it can be disconcerting when that rhythm is disrupted. Fall is one of my favourite times of the year. Normally I would be home in Canada by October and enjoying the off-season. I would go mountain biking, maybe attempt running, catch up with friends and family, and hike to enjoy the gorgeous colours of the leaves changing in my area. I would visit markets and go apple picking to cook and bake all of the delicious things from the fall harvest. I welcome those cool and crisp days out on the bike. These days remind of growing up as a cross-country skier in Winnipeg and longing for that first day of snow to mark the transition from dryland training. As a roadie, I don’t long for the snow in the same way, but that change in the seasons still evokes good memories and the anticipation of winter fun.
As I’m now still over in The Netherlands while the racing continues, I’ve found that the change of the seasons feels very similar to Canada. There are a few more rainy days than I would like, but all the more reason to curl up in a blanket with tea and soup after training!
We still face a few more weeks of uncertainty of this season and the future, so I’ve looked to small things to bring joy and motivation. I’ve managed to cook up a storm from the fall harvest in between races. The Dutch are excellent farmers, and the Limburg region where I’m based has an abundance of fields and orchards that I ride through every day. My favourite find this month were some free pears out on a ride!
My teammates and I continue to do our best to navigate the racing while staying safe. We interact with as few people as possible, wear masks, wash our hands and limit outings. More teams are now experiencing positive cases as numbers rise across the continent, leading to numerous riders missing from the startline of each race. There is still a cloud of uncertainty about this last part of the season, but we are trying to make the most of it.
2020 is the year that everything changed, but we can take some comfort that the seasons are still the same, while the circumstances are different. Winter will come, then the spring, and maybe the classics will be held at that usual time next year.
I’ll be back soon with an update of the last month of racing, until then you can follow me on Instagram @leahkirchmann and Twitter @L_Kirch.