If I raced for money, I would have stopped long ago!

Here we go again, more talk about equality…
No, I´ll spare you that this time!
Money has never been a issue for me when it comes to the sport I love.
I have always raced with my heart and the honor and satisfaction from winning a race has always been enough. If the flowers a real (non plastic or fake ones) is enough 🙂
You´re laughing…?!
In the “old” days fake flowers was quite common and my very first flowers that I won in a kermesse race in Belgium were plastic. Good thing was that the supporter I gave them to could save them forever.

Not the plastic flower, just another great trophy.

On Sunday it´s time for the second WWT race in Drenthe and like every other race I have a nice memory from there too.
Not only did I start my career in Hoggeveen where the race has their finish.
In 2009 my husband also proposed to me just before the team presentation. To top it all I ended up winning the race. My very first World Cup win!
The cherry of the cake was the price I won that day; A vacuum cleaner!!! Oh how I love it!!! Everytime I use it I remind everyone around me (mostly Martin) how I got it and of course how good it is!
Laughing again?!

It is a true story 🙂

Throwback to WC. Drenthe 2009

I wonder who will create their favorite race memory today?!

I will follow, like always!

But first I will take out my trophy from 2009 and make my house shine 🙂

Emma

LIVESTREAM PLEASE

First racing weekends is out of the way and one thing is for sure: I´m not dissapointed!
2018 is going to give us many good battles and I love following all the races from my sofa.
Weather conditions have been hard and I think that what I witnessed during Strade Bianche on Saturday was probably the worst I have ever seen the female peloton race in?!
To start at 9 AM in light rain with a neutral zone in a descend is harsh… Then hitting the first muddy gravel section already wet and frozen!
The two years I raced that one was also cold but no where close to this years edition.

Photo (www.sbs.com.au) from when I made the podium in 2016

To be honest I was happy not to be there even though I know that conditions like that was something I used to be really good at.

In both men’s and women’s race you could see riders coming in one and one. The race against themselves was probably the hardest on that day and in my opinion everyone that finished deserved a medal.

Like always it was good live broadcasting from the men´s race and even though we hope every year that it will be possible to watch the women´s too it is still not happening.

Equality is the hot topic these days, but it takes time and we need to be patient.

Looking back on all that has happened in and with the female peloton since I started my career on the higher level in 2005 the changes are massive. Teams are working more professional, riders are smarter and racing more as a team. You don´t see “unfit” girls in lycra anymore and the speed is higher. That they deserve to be live on TV too is clear!

The WWT (women’s world tour) is a step in the right direction getting closer to how the men´s peloton is working but still there is work to do.

Before when I was racing myself I didn´t really care whether it was possible to follow my race live or not but now, being a supporter myself, I totally see what everyone is complaining about.
A recap some hours after the finish it definitely not enough.

To be patient is definitly not my strongest point, so please give us more female cycling LIVE soon!

Emma

Two sides of a medal

Lately it has been a lot of talking about mental burnouts. Especially about Jenny Rissveds and how she has struggled since her Gold medal in the mountain bike event in Rio 2016.
For some of you it might seem surprising how a athlete that seems to have everything can´t find the right balance. The limit between success and failure or burnout lies very close to each other.
I´m not surprised at all.
I was there to watch Jenny win that medal and, in the evening, we celebrated with cake together.
It all reminded me so much about my first medal that I won in Bejing 2008.
You are completely out of your mind and feel like you´re flying over the clouds. Nothing is too much and you gladly answer YES to everything. Not knowing what that will mean until it´s too late.

On a rainy day In Beijing the 9th of August 2008 I woke up as Emma, the unknown rider that only got one question at the pre-race press conference.  I had no idea that some hours later I will be “SilverEmma” with the whole of Sweden.
Everything happened so fast and I could not believe it when I crossed the line as second. Silver at the Olympics!
After that it all happened in a blur… the official press conference, more media outside the hotel where we stayed, a fast shower, even more media during dinner (that had to be shuffled in as we had more appointments), a long travel (where I was on the phone the whole way giving interviews) in to the center of Beijing to visit the Swedish Television studio, and of course media waiting outside both before and after the visit.
When my head finally hit the pillow that evening, I could not sleep. It was too much to take in. What had just happened?

As I still had one more event, with the time trail a few days later I woke up to a “normal” training day. Just that on this training we had a media car following us during that whole ride. Everything had to be documented. Quick shower and then off to the Swedish embassy to get celebrated together with my teammates. I was promised it would be a quiet event for sponsors without press and media. But as the car finally reached our destination I was surrounded by hungry media people once again, every one of them wanted their story. That´s when the panic slowly started to appear…
30 hours since I finished the race and I had been going from one thing to another. Still hadn´t had a chance to even talk to my family nor understand what happened.
Back at the hotel I finally found time to call my little brother who were home in Sweden. When he said he had been on the phone more or less since the finish of my race with media wanting to know more about me, I could not believe it. They had been calling my family, friends, old boy friends, my 85-year-old grandma etc. for information. The fact that the sports magazine had more than 10 pages only about me was terrifying.
My husband and coach, Martin, looked at me and told me to hang up the phone.
– Emma, we need to have a talk: Is there anything that I should know about you? Are there naked photos of you somewhere? Have you been to jail? Have you cheated? Please tell me now because I don´t want to read about it in the newspaper tomorrow…
Suddenly I went from being above the clouds to crying on my bed wishing this medal never happened.
Martin took action and cancelled everything that was on schedule the next day. I needed rest as I still had to race… Time trail came and I should have been better not to start. No good result after those busy days and finally it was time to travel home.

What Martin did that evening when he took control of the situation was probably what saved me?!
We talked about how the medal and my break through will change my life, and I had to make some decisions about the future.
For me the most important thing was to keep riding my bike fast. With that in my mind I could easier turn down tempting offers and events. I turned down bigger contracts to be sure I would be in an environment where I could feel like home and grow as a rider. Most years I have chosen not to go to the Swedish sports gala as it was always in the middle of my annual training camp period. Just to name some of the decisions I made…

People might have thought that I was weird and anonymous and I guess I was.

My whole career has been colored from this episode and even though it was hard then, I´m very grateful for it now. I learned so much about myself, what I care for and whom I want to be. But most important, I learned to stand up for myself!
Thanks to Martin it never got to a burnout and I really wish that Jenny and everyone else who struggles will find THEIR way to handle it.
As a top athlete, you have good balance between training, food and recovery. You are prepared for winning, but what comes along with the medal is beyond your knowledge.

Emma

Spring classics

©David Rietbergen

Spring classics coming up and I know that feeling so well.
Nervous, excitement, stress, happiness…
Will I be good enough and how strong will the others be?!
What will the weather be like? Rain, wind, snow, sun?!
In reality the season have already started in Australia, but that´s different.
In my mind the real start and the big test is Het Nieuwsblad. Weather conditions in Belgium in the end of February are hard and already there you know who has done their job right this winter and who hasn´t. Of course, you have riders that don´t like this type of races and choose to start in the stage race Setmana Ciclista Valenciana (22-25 Feb.) this weekend instead or later.
But that was not me, I loved them!

Even though I retired after the 2016 season I still get the same feeling in my body around this period and it´s like I´m getting prepared even though I´m not.

Or maybe I am?

In fact, maybe I am preparing for the biggest season ever?!
All my experiences I have in finding balance between training, resting, knowledge and guts feeling comes back to me.
A normal February for me is to make the last preparations and to recognize the different courses that we will bring on once the season starts.
Last week that was exactly what we did when we went to the hospital for a visit. Knowing where to go, how it looks, the smell, the people (opponent) and when to attack…
All these aspects are important to me and to be well prepared was something I was really good at. Preparations like how to pack my bag before a race was what made me calm and gave me confidence.
So while following these first races “to prepare well”  is what I´m going to bring with me in my different kind of spring.

I have won Het Nieuwsblad two times before and I know it will never happen again. But that’s ok, this year I´m aiming for something even bigger!

©Dailypeloton
©Dailypeloton
©dailypeloton
©Dailypeloton

Emma