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On the road!- 22.08.2013
Remedy to a DIY overdose; a roadtrip. I packed up the car and left my building site of a home behind, heading over the pond to my second home; Belgium. I had plans to tour with the bike into France or Germany and these plans were realised. In fact, I think I may need a holiday to get over my holiday!
Visits to friends sandwiched my cycle tour, I even convinced one of them to keep me company on the bike for the later part of the tour! Thanks Dieter, hope that you don't regret it! The tour took in the Ardennes, the Eifel, the Mosel and Hunsruck region ending up in Neustadt and der Wijn Strasse before heading back along a similar route; it's so beautiful there it's worth doing twice! There are so many little villages and towns in these areas that have so much character; Bad Bertrich, Bern Kastel-Kues, Schonberg and Mussbach were just a few that made an impression on me. I had some epic days with reserved hotels being shut, several diversions and one seriously heavy down pour, but luck was certainly on my side; not one mechanical or puncture for 900km, 9000m of climbing over 5 1/5 days. I can highly recommend the area for cycling; quite roads (use the minor ones) and drivers who have the patience of angels. Each time I tour I become more an more enthusiastic and adventureous; it's is the best way to travel by far.
I returned to England and took a couple of days of rest near Brighton but am now back on the building site which is actually no longer so bad; the hard work is beginning to pay off.
I look forward to a busy term of teaching and the opportunity to cram in as much as possible in the precious little time that I have. First job is to sort out all the prints and artwork ready for the Christmas build up. Cheltenham and County members will be in with a chance to win one of my paintings on 7th September but keep an eye out for opportunities to purchase prints too.
Enjoy the pictures:
Two of the three murals created in July in a community nursery.
Cycling along the banks of the Mosel, the steep banks are blanketed with vineyards.
Bern Kastel- Kues; more vineyards shadowing a characteristic town.
Frequently no cars for more than an hour, great surfaces and beautiful weather for 99% of the tour.
I'm still alive!- 25.07.2013
Four months; it’s far too long I know! I have not had much time to think in the last 4 months and have decided that it is time to do just that! Though not for too long; that would be bad for me!
Since quitting full time riding and returning to the UK in September I have fitted in more than most would dare to attempt. The PGCE in itself was a huge undertaking. I am glad to say that it is over and I passed at a level that only I could settle for ;-) ! I am looking forward to my new job which will start in September. However, alongside the course I have managed to fit in a few other things. Prior to Christmas these things were all on the website; paintings of riders, delivery of one of these to Zdenek Stybar himself, a small operation to implant a monitoring device for my heart issues and a trip up to Yorkshire to visit family.
So since Christmas what has there been? Work for the PGCE has dominated my life but I did manage to fit in buying and moving house (like you do)! I am now undertaking a huge amount of work on the house but enjoying making my mark on it! I am determined to do the vast majority of work myself but this is a mammoth task and I am feeling in need of a holiday!
I recently volunteered to create a mural in a nursery for a housing charity last week too; a wonderful opportunity to fulfil the ethos of ‘Serve the City’ (http://www.servethecity.net) here in Cheltenham. I am now on Twitter and you can see the pictures of this mural by following me @CyclingSilvers .
In between all of this I have managed to continue to ride; not to the level I would like, but I knew that something had to give! I did the best I could with the time that I had to build up to my first ever Gran Fondo; a great event in the Dolomites over 220km with 5200m of climbing. This was a fantastic experience and I was pleased to come in as 8th female and 1st in my age group! Who knows where I might get if I did a few more of these. Thanks to those kind people who continue to support my activities on the bike; naturally my team Paxx Global Cycling (http://www.paxx.stosiosport.be/) and also Shock Absorber (www.shockabsorber.co.uk). My strength in definitely in longer distance events and I hope to do some more Fondo’s in the coming years.
Just before the Fondo a blood test diagnosed an underactive thyroid so I am currently experiencing some excessive tiredness and competing at a high level for the coming months is ruled out. Never write me off though!
Lastly I should mention my cycling art! It is now featuring on an art website Etsy. The Cav ORIGINAL is available to buy here: http://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/156054897/framed-original-cycling-artwork-another?ref=sr_gallery_2&ga_search_query=Mark+Cavendish&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=GB&ga_search_type=all&ga_facet=Mark+Cavendish It went live last week so if you are interested get there quick! Since moving house I have resolved to sell a lot of originals; this includes the likes of Millar, Wiggins, Pantani.... if anything on the website takes your fancy please mail me; I may well sell it!
I hope to head to my second home in the coming weeks; Belgium, watch out!
RVV sales- 26.03.2013
With the RVV on the horizon I thought it an ideal time to bring some of my older paintings to the fore; lots of great ideas for gifts and 10% of all sales to Cancer Research UK.... Just mail me firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. The prints are fixed prices (see online shop) but the originals are open to bids! The originals are mounted and framed. The originals are below. Go to the online shop for signed prints of Merckx, Nuyens and another one of Devolder.
Devolder wins RVV 2008. Framed and signed by Stijn Devolder.
Eric signing the original below.
Eric Vanderaerden wins in 1985. Signed and framed.
I'm Here!- 09.03.2013
What has kept me away for so long? A full life I guess. The few times that I have had a moment to stop I have been physically and mentally incapable of doing anything remotely constructive! However, I am loving life (well, every aspect except the essay writing) and wouldn’t have it any other way. I have just begun a new placement which gives a real meaning to the word resilience; I am working at a Pupil Referral Unit in Gloucestershire.
So away from work? Yes, of course I find time to ride my bike! Outdoors only ever on a weekend- I can normally fit in 3-4 hours on a Saturday and 5-6 on a Sunday; a nice base but not so useful if you take 5 rest days in between! However, I am slowly accepting that cycling ‘is not what I do anymore’, consequently, my expectations must be adjusted accordingly. I have certainly maintained a respectable condition and have my sights set on a goal of a Grand Fondo in late June in Italy. The club here is setting up a women’s section (see www.cc-cc.co.uk) which I also hope to help out with a little. My involvement with cycling is certainly is a huge part of my part, just no longer ‘my life’! I intend to pack a few events in during July and August- races, sportives and charity event with my team (http://www.paxx.stosiosport.be/).
I have decided to build up a new bike (virtually from scratch!) for commuting and touring; something I have always wanted to do but just never got round to it. Thanks to kind donations of parts from friends (Paul and http://www.bourneclinics.com/) and the assistance of others, I hope to have this on the road pretty soon and perhaps doing it’s maiden voyage over Easter!!!
Even in all this mayhem I have picked up a paint brush. The satisfaction I gain from painting hasn’t diminished, even if I did feel a little out of practice. I definitely hope to produce a few more of these murals over summer, so if anyone is interested please do make contact. The friends who asked me to paint Pooh and Piglet on the nursery wall absolutely love it! Remember, it’s unique, inexpensive and 100% personalised. I produced this one in one day so it’s even possible to have one done as a surprise if you get your ‘target’ to go away for a day or two.
Pooh and Piglet, for little Gilbert.
New jersey, look out from the Kappel on top of the Muur of Geraardsbergen.
Change, it beats rest. 26.12.2012
It’s been so long since the last update but, to me, that’s not really surprising. No one or nothing could have sufficiently pre-warned me about the sheer volume of work incorporated in the PGCE. During the last week at work I am not quite sure what kept me going; looking beyond the single hour that lay ahead of me was all that I would be capable of. I have finished my first placement on a high and been fortunate enough to experience several ‘rainbow’ moments (picture a classroom full of children and all of them engaged and enjoying the learning experience) to convince me that this is where I am meant to be, at least for the next few years. Those ‘magical rainbow moments’ rival winning a race; you put in so much hard graft to witness everything coming together to produce a result that you strive for on a daily basis.
But that is enough of real work, let me talk cycling. I sometimes wonder how I possibly managed to fit in cycling around all the work, but I also know that if I had not managed to keep on riding my bike I would have quit the course long ago! It keeps me sane, along with my friends and family. 10-11 hours a week has hopefully been sufficient to maintain a good base that I can continue to build upon throughout January and February. I have a break from work studies and work over Christmas and the New Year, though do have a research assignment for company to make sure that I do not forget how to work.
On top of all that I am happy to have completed and delivered one commission (since starting the course). I know that it was gratefully received, just as I was grateful of the very understanding customer who allowed me 3 months to complete his request, even though it should not have taken more than a week! Since it should now have been given as a gift I can display it here!
The first 4 days of my holiday were amazing, thanks to great friends I was so entertained and distracted that I did not once think about the looming assignment, or the past weeks of teaching. I fully appreciated the benefit of a change, rather than a rest. How exactly did I spend the last few days? I would like to say that what I did was immaterial, the company was the deciding factor. Within an hour of driving into Belgium I was meeting friends and didn’t stop until Friday evening, when I thoroughly enjoyed a homemade mince pie; no, not a Belgian speciality but a bonus if you have an English friend living in Belgium! After a solid sleep of 10 hours (I had almost forgotten how good that feels?!) I was ready for another fun packed day; my first ever experience of Cross in Belgium. I should add here that my day began on a high; coffee with a great friend and supporter in Tienen, thanks to them I slept like a princess on Saturday evening in Aulnenhof, near Landen, worth a stay if you are in the area. But back to my day. No, I wasn’t racing, though hats off to those riders in Essen; mud bath acquired another meaning for me on 22nd December! My purpose for being in Essen was not solely to see the Cross though (really, I could quite happily have swapped the persistent pouring rain, ankle deep sucking mud and alcohol intoxicated maniac crowds for a sofa, a coffee, a duvet and a flatscreen). But the reality was that I would go from the Cross to a warm restaurant in great company to meet, in my humble opinion, the best athlete at the race that day; Zdenek Stybar. The idea was born long ago (April to be precise) to present a painting of Zdenek to him in the presence of the whole ‘Stybi team’; verzorger, doctor, mechanics, sports psychologist, trainer... Fixing a date had proved very challenging but persistence paid off and we all thoroughly enjoyed a relaxing evening chatting about anything and everything; great to share thoughts and ideas with like-minded people.
My second memorable experience while in Belgium was another trip to the Cross, this time the World Cup in Namen. Thanks to more great friends I was saved from the mud fest and this time and could view things from the VIP tent :-)
My last day allowed me to visit even more people close to Tienen before heading to the hospital for a check up on the small USB implant that has now become a ‘normal addition’ to my body! ‘All okay, no irregularities observed in the last 2 months!’ :-)
Now I am back home with family in Yorkshire where I will remain until Friday. Happy Christmas and all the best for 2013 to everyone. x
With Zdenek and images of Annie Last.
And now hold that breath, for 6 1/2 weeks!- 06.11.2012
The last BLOG was actually written from a hospital bed. Upon admission I was convinced that I was to undergo a rather trivial procedure so hadn't really made fuss; how wrong could I have been. After 4 local anaethetics, some distressing inducement of super fast and super slow heart rates, a confirmation that the abnormalities that were been observed were not 'dangerous' and the implant of a small monitoring device I could return home feeling rather bruised, battered and 'in shock'. The later kicked in as I realised the implications of this implant! Anyway, enough said. I am happy to say that I am recovering and healing, and have even managed to get out on my bike. :-)
Cycling has been made possible so soon after the 'operation' thanks to two innovative cycle/sports clothing manufacturers. The implant sits in a very awkward place; a sports bra strap and a bib (from standard cycle shorts) run right over the implant (and soon to be healed wound). Rather than resign myself to not cycling I approached things in the only way that I know how; it's an obstacle to overcome! Cue centreline shorts from Decca and Dry Advantage sports bra from Shcok Absorber. Having the implant has really made me stop and think about women who undergo breast/breast related surgery and have to live with the discomfort of a wound in a similar position, these two products are (unknowingly) perfectly designed to cater for women in such situations. Check them out if you are interested girls; both bits of kit are really worth investing in.
http://www.decca.be/en/dealers/detail/14 this takes you to the dealer in the UK for Decca. Decca produce shorts specifically for women. They feature a centreline bib and a unique magnet fastener at the rear; no more lengthy pee-stops. Naturally the position and shape of the chammois is also women specific. They are the best female specific shorts on the market without a shaddow of a doubt.
http://www.shockabsorber.co.uk/products/ultimate-range/ultimate-dry-advantage/ this takes you to the page featuring the Dry Advantage. It's adjusters at the front allow me to relase any pressure from the exact spot of the wound that would have been present with other sports bras. However, it has loads of other super features that make it perfect for cycling; seamless edges so no digging in when you are cycling for long periods of time; no 'separate' underband so it's perfect for putting on over a HRM- it doesn't slip off the monitor or interfere with the monitors functioning; ultra thin and lightweight so not creating even more bulk in addition to base layers and jerseys.
I have been back at work for a week and a half now and am still loving it, even if I have absolutely no free time to relax and paint! The challenge if fitting everything that I need and want to do into one day never loses it appeal to me!! Though I would be lying if I said that I do not know just how many weeks I have to do before I get another school holiday ;-)
And, breath!- 21.10.2012
It's half term!!! That means time to catch up on non-PGCE items. I can not quite believe just how busy things have been over the last weeks. I manage to ride my bike on a Saturday and Sunday- invariably a brisk 120k each day. If I am lucky there will be one opportunity to commute to work in the week too, but this reliies on an ultra organised Em as well as a not too tired one! Getting out with the group on a weekend is great though; the terrain here is so varied and challenging. At least one of the rides will be a hilly one when we will always clock up well over 1200m of climbing. Taking time out to ride the weekend mornings simply means that I am a slave to the books in an afternoon; the latest commission has been sidelined (to be tackled this week) and the prints simply filed for a short while until I can do both things justice! I should add that a portion of my time has been spent helping out www.n7evenbikes.be as they look to launch their new range; I highly recommend that you take a look!
So the prints! It's not all cycling; 'Snow Leopard' was one of a series of black and white drawings that I completed as a teenager! About 6 years ago I had 10 prints made to sell at an exhibition; all 10 sold in one evening. Since then feedback and requests have prompted me to release 10 more numbered and signed prints. To see this image follow the link to 'Art Gallery' and scroll RIGHT to the bottom of the page. Prints are £35 each including P&P with £5 from each print sale going to Cancer Reasearch. If you are interested and want to ask more, or wish to order a print please mail me- email@example.com
The second image that has been taken to print is that of Vinokourov. This is an A3 sized colour print. £33 inc P&P. Again, plese mail if you are interested.
I also have prints of Wiggins and Millar available but prices and charity donations are yet to be finalised here. They WILL be limited edition sets so if you are interested please to not hesitate to express this interest; it will be a first come first served basis. I will also take the image of Cavendish to print if sufficient interest is expressed.
I hope to get another BLOG on here before I return to the mayhem that is the second half of term! Since finishing full time riding I have received some really touching messages via e-mail and I would like to say thanks to everyone for all their kind words! Enjoy the pics that were taken just before I left Belgium; thanks Krist, as ever, great shots.
Shots by Krist Vanmelle
It's been a REALLY busy week but I somehow managed to do two more paintings, my last for some time I think.
It's over!- 13.08.2012
For the last two weeks I have sat painting in the living room with the olympics on TV; pure inspiration! But it's over! With the games over and a few other pressing things on my mind (like all the friends that I want to see before leaving) I am not so sure that the coming week will be quite as productive as the previous two! Naturally there is the Vuelta on the horizon but by then I will be in the throws of moving. I feel like a famous artist passing from one phase to another ;-) Perhaps when I'm dead my work will sell for thousands of pounds ;-) Dad, you just have to out live me :-)
Enjoy the latest work below and remember that you can see pieces on the bank holiday weekend in Cawood www.cawoodcraftfestival.co.uk and the first weekend in September in Vissenaken www.vissenaken.co.uk I will be in Cawood for the festival, but not in Vissenaken.
Racing? Don't get me started, the frustration is just too much :-( Instead I am making sure that the last weeks and indeed the coming ones are not ones that I look bad at and say 'I wish I had used them to better effect'. No regrets! :-)
Congrats to Anna on her european time trial title, and to Evelyn on her road title. Two girls with SERIOUS talent, both of whom I am so proud to have raced alongside in Sengers colours.
Wiggins bags the win
Vino framed ready for a happy customer!
Inspiration for one more remaining!
I just deleted some old BLOGS and had to smile to myself at the sense of deja vue! I am still out of action on the racing front so there appears to be some kind of conveyor belt established in the living room; a production of artwork on a previously unknown scale!!!
If I begin to talk about my situation with regards to racing I become overwhelmingly frustrated; so I won't talk about it! :-)
Instead you can just look at my art work as I call out: 'Volgende'... :-)
Keep looking for updates and please do not hesitate to make contact should you be interested in any of the originals or prints... firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Birthday Dad!- 30.07.2012
Still no green flag to race, but I’m allowed to train.:-) The latter I am keeping to a minimum, preferring to pour my energy into more creative activities!
With the Olympics in full flow I am taking much inspiration from the images capturing so much emotion and passion, the sort that can only be found in sport.
Watching Lizzie take silver on Sunday was a high point of the past weekend. Lizzie and myself had contact some weeks ago, although then the pressure was already building she remained the same old Lizzie that I got to know more than 5 years ago. She is such a great role model for aspiring athletes as she has maintain a perfect balance between professionalism and ‘reality’; a sense that her sport isn’t what defines her or all that there is in her life. So wonderful to see. :-)
My time here in Belgium is rapidly running out; my planned date for return being 22nd August. I leave behind several pieces of art work featuring Belgian riders for an arts and crafts exhibition here in Vissenaken. I hope to have some new work completed in time for a similar festival in Cawood (the village where I was born and brought up), now a well established event in it’s 30th year. Look at the dates/locations for both events via the following links.
A double dose- 09.07.2012
A BLOG for the last two weekends then I am up-to-date!
I am keeping busy in the bike shop and learning something new each day; a priceless and enjoyable experience.
Also another finished piece of artwork; no prizes for guessing anymore! Just bids accepted for purchase before the big man at Belisol gets his hands on it!
After two races last weekend I was back to being a zombie so just managed one training ride in the week. I went into Sunday’s race on a mission; ‘to show to myself what my body was capable of’. The team were willing and I rode an aggressive race; the strongest that I have felt since the heart troubles, I finished 12th. That feeling left me a little this weekend but I could still race aggressively on both days; 6th and 5th respectively. The last place from a break away groups, but for once I am not being too hard on myself; 3 months ago a hospital bed followed by 4 weeks off the bike. I think I have come a long way in 8 weeks and am determined to simply have pleasure without pressure during my last 7 weeks here in Belgium.
Thanks to all the encouraging supporters out there who have never applied any pressure but have only encouraged me on the road back; I am a good way along that road now. :-)
The photos say a lot to me over the struggle of the last months; special shots. Thanks Krist and Bart.
I am really grateful to personal sponsors who have stayed on board for 2012; Specialized http://www.specialized.com/gb/en/bc/SBCExperience.jsp?eid=4927&menuItemId=10837 , Shock Absorber www.shockabsorber.co.uk Citrus Cycling www.citruscycling.co.uk , Althletic Mind www.athleticmind.co.uk and www.cyclingnews.nu . Without personal sponsors I simply could not continue to pursue this way of life; THANK YOU!