At the age of 33 I’m considered grandmother in my sports. But my race experience can be compared with the one of a junior rider. I am a professional cyclist for the Lotto Soudal Ladies with 4 cycling seasons in my legs and a history in sports of 23 years. In other words, you can’t really call me an average cyclist. Becoming a pro-athlete has always been my dream. The way was long but I made this dream come true. Here’s how.
Some of my grace may have left me but I can still do a good ‘plié’. I started my sports career at the age of 6. For 3 years and 2 times a week I studied ballet. Who would have thought that a pink tutu and a big bow in my hair would eventually lead to professional cycling. Back then a bike was basically a transportation tool to school, scouts, friends, art school and back. Looking back, I guess I started developing my pedal speed because I was always late and had to rush.
Alas my dreams of being a ballerina were crushed when I grew out to be 183cm (6 feet) tall.
For the next 18 years the track was my home and my coaches were my 2nd fathers. Athletics made me who I am. Competition gave me fun, discipline, friendship and legs strong as iron.
All those years of sprint training and intervals,… they don’t do a body any good. Running with chronic pain in muscles and tendons became a daily torture.
I Want To Ride My Bicycle
One night in February a had the crazy epiphany to start cycling. Seeing the joy of my friends riding their bike together with the constant fight against my injuries, drove to the bike shop.
On my 26th a red race bike gave me back my courage and motivation. This led me to my first granfondo. And though it was a rainy, miserable day, I had the blast of my life. My love for cycling is now permanent.
The next 2 years I dove into the world of triathlon in combination with a full-time job as a sales rep at a pharmaceutical firm. Yet the bicycle kept calling to me so at the age of 29, I threw away my running and swimming and focused on cycling at elite level.
Like many of us, I fell in love with a man who was more into cycling than I was, who recognized my natural talents and who convinced me to follow my dream to become a professional cyclist for the Lotto Soudal Ladies.
Once an athlete, always an athlete.
From ballerina to cyclist isn’t the most logical evolution, to start professional cycling at 29 isn’t very common either. BUT…
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Just #BeTOUGH and anything is possible.