Don’t even know where to start. Sweet summer smells of mountain air, fresh rain on freshly cut grass, and lots and lots of European coffee. This has by far been one of the most amazing summers I have ever had. Let me take you back through it.
As we know, staying in one place can drive you nuts. So I decided to take myself to Europe and train there, but sadly on a return flight. My 8.5 week adventure started in Spain where I got to visit my family and have outstanding views everywhere I trained. Oh Benissa, you beautiful thing. I won’t go into too much detail as I once again have not kept this blog up to date and want to get through 3 months of blabber.
Next stop: Heerenveen. I have only been to Holland once in the summer, briefly in 2012, visiting a friend for a few days. This time I was there for just over a month, and it literally took a village to get me to leave. I fell in love. I fell in love so hard partly because I have been feeling the urge to get back to where I grew up and where I come from – small town (lived in Terherne during my stay), bike riding, coffee drinking, Euro land. The best part of this all? The perfect training environment, and being surrounded by professional athletes every day, made my stay there even more enjoyable as I got a taste of what it is like to truly be a pro. The new Thialf building glows in the sun rays in the morning, and in the evening with the sunsets, which we dont really see in the wintertime. My coach, Gregg, also joined for the last 2 weeks of ice training. Overall, t’was nice to also catch up with my skater family and actually see them for longer than 2 stressful days which usually happen during the Fall World Cup. Within my European stay, I also got to visit my dad who lives in Germany, and of course got to go see Aerosmith (11th time..crazy, I know) in Cologne, as they were touring Europe at that time.
Training began in April but the real stuff started in Europe where I tagged along with Team China’s younger rising stars (Peter Kolder’s Team) whom I learned from and truly enjoyed having a fun team again. A few earlier group rides (as well as my first serious bike crash where I flew over a bridge, head first, haha!) with Team Afterpay, where I did suck big time as I haven’t ridden in a group in 8 years, but that soon changed.
Flying home to Canada, I knew training was going to be intense as I was joining the National Chinese Sprint Team here in Calgary. Before all that started, I took off to Penticton to get over my jetlag by riding for 10 days in the heat, and also to do my first ever GranFondo. This year I am very excited to welcome The Axel Merckx project to the family. I am grateful to have Axel and Jodi’s support throughout this Olympic Season. As you know, financially it is the absolute worst right now considering the country switch, but like I said before…never letting that be the only thing standing in my way of the main dream – PyeongChang 2018.
Fourth Stop: Calgary. Home sweet home…ish. I think of it now and see it all flash before me. Came into this new training group of elite athletes and so stoked to just get to work. Sitting now on the couch writing this, and thinking I never expected to be where I am right now. It’s been intense, to the point where it reminded me of the year I had when I trained with Okazaki in Japan, and she just gave me a run for my money. Countless days of legs giving up, or feeling full, and not sleeping and recovering more than I knew I could. Countless days, of laps on laps on laps…on laps. And countless days of smiling every single day, and absolutely loving what I do, all over again (and still counting )
We had a couple of races already, and as it is too early to judge anything, I can safely say I am somewhat content with my results but hungry to always race more because there is so much more in my tank that I feel I don’t leave on the ice yet. With Yu Jing as my training partner, I have pushed it beyond what I expected, and that is what made this summer so great; not thinking, getting out of my head, and just staying focused on the little things you can work on, day in and day out. I am so grateful and excited for this opportunity to team with coach Xiuli Wang, as well as my coach, Gregg Planert and push it all into the unknown this Olympic Season.
Next stop is the first Fall World Cup, in Heerenveen, Holland. Followed by Norway, then on home soil in Calgary for the first three days of December, and finishing it off in Salt Lake City, USA. By then I will have posted another blog post on what is to come, so please stay tuned.
Lots of love, Xo Alex