Hi, I’m Mily and I’m excited to have been asked to write a column for The Chain Gang website.
I’m looking forward to sharing my cycling journey with you and hope to inspire people to get out on their bikes (Obviously following the current social isolation guidelines!)
First, a little bit about me. I’m 19 and am a full-time cyclist riding for a Belgian Elite Women’s Racing team called Isorex No-Aqua. Until 2 weeks ago I was based in Belgium for the season, I had planned to document my experience of living and racing in Europe, but overnight things had to change.
Obviously, all of us in Belgium were aware of the devastation the Corona Virus was causing in China, Iran, etc, but none of us could know just how badly Europe was about to be affected. Literally overnight it was made clear to us that we needed to leave for home.
My Teammates and I arranged our homeward journeys in a bit of a daze, Kerry booked a flight to Australia, Antonia to Sweden, Ellen back to the UK, and then of course me!
I squeezed all I could into my Fiat 500 and left early the next morning to catch the train home, having not done the 6 hour journey home alone before I was a little apprehensive, but knew I just needed to get back to the UK whilst I still could, it wasn’t long before Belgium went into total lockdown. I had a full tank of fuel, and Belgium waffles for the Journey.
As I drove home that day feelings of disappointed and disbelief began to creep in, I’d waited so long for my move to Belgium, having fought hard to get back to fitness after suffering terrible side effects of a medication causing me to lose an entire season. Also, working and saving hard all winter, then the wait and elation upon hearing I had been selected to receive support from the incredible Rayner Foundation. My aspirations of being a full-time cyclist were becoming reality, finally, on the 26th February I was packed up and left to start my new life in Belgium, which lasted a total of 2.5 weeks…….
In the space of 24 hours my goals, plans and new life had to change. However, I was safely on my way home, unlike some of my friends in other parts of Europe, who didn’t know how or when they would be able to return to the UK!
Back in the UK, any feelings of disappointment were quickly replaced with feelings of gratitude for being home, sadness at what was happening around the world and disbelief at the enormity of this Pandemic. I’m not sure many of us understood just how bad this was going to get.
So, what now? My Belgium race calendar and U.S summer track racing trip will now be replaced with solo road rides and several indoor sessions; I am keeping my long-term goals at the forefront of my mind and remain disciplined. Whilst my time in Belgium may have been brief, I learnt quickly that discipline was vital.
Most of all I remain grateful that so far, my Family and I are untouched by this terrible disease. My Parents are both Key Workers, them having to go to work during this difficult time helps me maintain perspective, the disappointment of losing part, or perhaps all my first year in Europe pales into insignificance in comparison. Luckily, we live in a world of technology, so keeping in touch with friends and teammates is easier than ever.
By working together, we can beat this. It may be a few months; it may be next year but one day we will all be allowed to race again, and I plan to be ready.
Till next time : )