Halte26 – Ibiza

The High-Speed Railway Line called CHANTAL departed earlier this year from Station Blaak, a station which is located in the heart of the city of Rotterdam. Ever since the 23rd of September 2017 the train is painted in the rainbow colours of Worldchampion Chantal! It’s great you bought yourself a ticket for this train trip. 

After the Spring Classics, Chantal went to Ibiza to enjoy a one week holiday…

‘Work hard, play hard! It’s something I had to learn over the years… finding the right balance. I love to train real hard, being occupied with my job on a 24/7 basis. But I also enjoy living. I like nice food, I love socializing, travelling, shopping. My social life gives me energy.

Being a professional athlete and enjoying life… at first sight you would say this does not combine very well. But over the years I managed to find the right balance. I do what I like to do most. I could turn my hobby into my profession, each day I train with pleasure and beside my cycling life I can find time to relax, to enjoy life and the results follow almost automatically.

Like anyone else in life I need to find time to relax to perform optimally. Some athletes are quiet good in lying on the couch all the day long to read a book or to watch a movie. Day in day out. That’s not my cup of tea. 

Of course I’m not spending my time in the pub each weekend, being a professional cyclist means you need to work really really hard. After an intensive training session or after a race you can find me flat out on the coach in my sweatpants for a whole day. I’d be totally exhausted and worn out. Believe me, on moments like these I just enjoy doing nothing. It’s a pattern of days, weeks, months. 

But when my agenda allows me, I like to go out to do nice things… these are the momnents that I truly treasure. I enjoy ordering a hamburger with French fries and mayonaise, drinking a glass of wine with my friends, staying up late or walking on the streets of my hometown with shoes that don’t really fit but which I like wearing just because they look nice hahaha. Day like that are really tiring, but, as I said before, they also give me energy.

It wasn’t like that in the early years of my career. I did try to enjoy life, but it made me feel bad afterwards. I thought I did not live the proper life of a professional cyclist. Things that should be relaxing, just cost me energy those days. I was worried what other people would think of me. This is what I basically told myself: I did not live like a professional athlete and it did not give me pleasure nor energy…  

I forced myself working hard those days… I pushed to do another extra hour of training. Enjoying life? No way Sir! I didn’t allow myself to relax, I found no time for myself, yet, on the very same time, the only thing I had to worry about those days was myself, my own life, my own body… It just made the contradiction perfect. 

Sometimes it was the complete opposite. Thoughts like “Chantal don’t worry… it will all work out fine…” crossed my mind. I found myself lying in bed, worrying about having gained one kilo… then a guilty conscience automatically followed… it was all or nothing… the balance was gone. It is typical of my charachter. I had to learn finding the right balance in life, I had to learn fighting my unreasonable guilty conscience. 

I had to learn that there are more ways that lead to Rome. There are a hundred ways to the top, I just had to find my own. As long as you stick to your plan, be loyal to yourself, as long as you know and realize the things that truly make you happy in life. If you feel well, if you’re relaxed and if you got your minds fixed, you just enjoy working hard. It literally gives you energy, it doesn’t take energy.

It took some years to learn this, but things are getting more easy nowadays. Only a few years back a one week holiday would never have crossed my mind right after the Spring Classics, but lately I find no trouble at all-in packing my bags for a one week trip to Ibiza with my boyfriend Lars.

I worked really really hard last winter. It took blood, sweat and tears. During the Spring Classics I was in a good shape. Winning the Amstel Gold Race was of course the highlight of my season sofar. There’s nothing wrong in taking a break after such an intense springtime. You need to relax. One week without a racing bike. One stress-free week without any worries of training schedules or racing tactics. Just one week of not being a professional athlete but just being Chantal.

It worked really well on Ibiza. I did go out on a mountainbike bike, I truly enjoyed those rides in nature, because I can’t sit still and I love cycling just a little too much hahaha. But it was cycling for fun, which is a huge difference!

In short, I had a great week with Lars on Ibiza. It refreshed my mind and reloaded my battery. After Ibiza I stayed home for one day and then I flew to Yorkshire. Right now I’m in the middle of my training schedule again. I’m full of energy. On Wednesday the 13th of June the Women’s Tour start… I’m looking forward to it!’


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