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Finally … the moment of truth had arrived!
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They call me the ‘King of Zwift’,
as I was training most of us all
on my spinning bike during our training weeks
for the EY Cycling event.
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So now it was time for the real action on the road this time.

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EY Stars
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We all left EY Diegem Friday morning not knowing what would come our way, although everyone was well prepared, a lot of us didn’t cycle more than 140 km a day, which we would exceed on 3 of the 4 days now, with one stage of even 200 km’s long.

We lived during the long weekend as professional cycling stars, arrived in hotels where our luggage was already in our rooms, no need to check-in, our bikes were cleaned, etc….

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Warm Welcome(s)

As real heroes, we were welcomed in all our offices. Most of them even surprised us so much that we forgot our tiredness.

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Teamwork

Our most important goal was to start and finish together in Diegem which we maybe didn’t realize for real due to the unfortunate fall from Niels in Bruges, but in our minds, he was all the time with us during the last day. In this way, we would like to wish Niels a speedy recovery!

Anyway everybody did a fantastic job during the 4 days, stronger riders helped others when needed, everybody was enthusiastic and excited all the time, which resulted in a very strong performance from all of us.

With pride, I can tell you that the complete team achieved to complete the EY Cycling Tour 2021

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Thank you

 

We would like to thank EY for this fantastic experience, especially Olivier and the supporting partners for the organization, Yente and his Pulso team for the guidance, Marcel from Belgian Cycling for all the technical support, and our PR team for all the logistic support!

 

Steve Saelens.

The road to recovery

I started this journey without any stamina or strength due to a hip fracture and was doubting myself if I could finish this journey. My first medical test at Pulso-Preventielab also confirmed my doubt, however, my trainer convinced me that with the right training I would be able to recover and finish.
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And so it began.
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After a couple of months of training, solo or together with my training partner (Olivier Loosvelt), I felt stronger and better on my bike. This was shown through speed, higher wattages, longer rides, lower heart rates, lower fatigue, …

My next medical test at Pulso-Preventielab showed a big increase in, well basically everything. At that point I able to complete this journey with little difficulty, however, the right training was still necessary.

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My trainer convinced me
that with the right training
I would be able to recover
and finish.

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The final stretch

After six months of training and battling snow, rain, wind, and enjoying the sun, we started our four-day journey throughout Belgium and conquered 635 kilometers.

Day 1 – Diegem to Hasselt

We started our first day with an easy ride from Diegem to Hasselt. A ride of about 91km and a moving time of 3 hours and 45 minutes.

This ride was a good start for everyone. We were able to get to know each other and adapt to riding in a group.

Day 2 – Hasselt to Gosselies

Day 2 was cold, gray sky and some rain. Too bad, since we were in the HARDennes, which is a nice place to cycle with a blue sky. Anyway, we moved from Hasselt to Gosselies with a stop in the Liège office.

A journey of 175km and a moving time of 6 hours and 38 minutes. This journey allowed some of us to climb the Wall of Huy. This was an opportunity I could not resist.

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Day 3 – Gosselies to Bruges

As from day three we were really lucky with the weather. Bright sky, nice temperatures, and very nice roads from Gosselies to Bruges. We were almost halfway through our 4-day journey and conquered 201km with a moving time of 7 hours 23 minutes.

This was my first time cycling 200 kilometers with my bike, and I had a blast doing it with this group!

Day 4 – Bruges to Diegem

Here we were, the actual final stretch of the EY Cycling Tour. One last time, going from Bruges via Ghent to Antwerp and back to Diegem. A journey of 169km and a moving time of 6 hours 33 minutes.

Overall I had a great time getting to know colleagues I would never hear of nor communicated with. After four days of spending on our bikes, we all made it to the Diegem office with great pleasure.

As a final word, I would like to thank the organizers and the complete team with who I spent four days for the great experience and care!

 

Greetings,

 

Bjorn Gossye.

The EY Cycling Tour team kicked off from the Diegem office, with Els Degroote Office Managing Partner doing the final countdown until start.
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Check out how they started off with the challenge!

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At the end of November, I signed up for the EY Cycling Challenge 2021 very enthusiastically, without giving it too much thought. Due to the pandemic, all sports events were canceled and I was ready to take on something new. At the end of December, I received the happy news that I had been selected for the challenge.

My Tacx became my best friend
during the harsh winter months.

 

In  January we were expected at Pulso Lab for a fitness test and a (confrontational) body scan. There’s work to be done!

My Tacx became my new best friend during the harsh winter months. Spent hours “rolling” in my bedroom, watching Netflix and growing calluses on my bottom. This in combination with weeks of unpredictable rain showers, pushing against persistent wind and layers of thermal underwear.

Last week we were FINALLY spoiled with true cycling weather.

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Last week we were FINALLY spoiled with true cycling weather. Just in time for a motivational boost, because Friday is THE day. I have cursed my enthusiasm from November several times and will probably do so again a few times the coming weekend 😊 But I’m very excited with healthy nerves whether I will be able to stand my ground in the pack of (mostly) male colleagues.
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Now, 5 months and 78 bike rides later
I am ready, we are ready!

 

Now, 5 months and 78 bike rides later I am ready, we are ready!  I want to thank the EY sponsoring partners already for this journey and all EY colleagues that have joined us for the virtual challenges for Make-a-Wish foundation.
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Let’s do this!!
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Greetings,

Hannah Van Mael.

………………..GRINTA

Vallen en sterven op de Galibier (Falling and dying on the Galibier’).

That is the title of a book by Willy Van Neste.
He is a relative of mine who received the yellow and green jersey, after winning a stage in the 1967 Tour de France.
He came 5th in the final results of the 1968 Giro, too, after a strong performance on the slopes of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, a stage won by Merckx in apocalyptic conditions.

This iconic yellow jersey hangs in the Museum of Cycle Racing in Roeselare,
which I visited last weekend with Willy Van Neste himself, a relative of mine.

………………..

This iconic yellow jersey hangs in the Museum of Cycle Racing in Roeselare, which I visited last weekend with Willy.

I have been fascinated by cycle racing since I was a boy, when I was allowed to  listen, in my father’s bicycle workshop, to juicy anecdotes from the book ‘The rich life of Flemish cyclists’ (Het rijke Vlaamsche wielerleven) recounted by cyclists such as Marcel Kint (The Black Eagle),  Briek Schotte (Iron Briek), Jos Hoevenaers, Guido Reybrouck and many others.

There I heard how their preparations were back then: ignorant, Spartan, intuitive, on their soigneur’s (trainer’s) orders, which were sometimes shrouded in mystery and sometimes a case of not knowing any better.

Trial and error, or rather

Falling and dying on the Galibier.

What a difference, if I compare that now to the support and guidance we received from EY and the whole entourage around it, exchanging data and monitoring schedules.
Top professionals like us rate such values highly in our everyday activities.
A big thanks for this wonderful initiative and allowing us to participate.
Because of this, I think my sporting performance, my general condition, my wellbeing have reached a level that resembles a certain GRINTA again.
Eager to succeed, eager for the team spirit, eager for a sense of pleasure, eager for mental resilience.
It will be a unique experience that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

The former yellow jersey wearer still cherishes his experience today and his eyes twinkle when you ask him, what was it like in your day?
I hope that later on we’ll be able to tell our story with a twinkle in our eyes, too, when people ask us, what was the EY Cycling Tour in 2021 like?

Falling and dying on the Galibier.

………………..GRINTA

Looking forward to it.
See you next week,

Rainer.

Raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling, falling, falling, ….. but there’s one thing, I know, they won’t defeat me and It won’t be long till happiness steps up to greet me, i.e. the ultimate satisfaction of finishing cycling rides.

Training schedules do not take into account weather conditions. The kilometers have to be done and the only choice is whether you do it on ‘the rollers’ or outside.

Some impression from my diary last weekend …

Saturday

Cycling outside is out of the question, still, work to do and the weather is challenging. Subsequently in the early evening ‘on the rollers’ to grind some kilometres. Virtual riding in other words or 2 hours ‘on the rollers’, enjoying the view from the roof window and the sun coming through after a whole day of rain.

Enjoying the view from the roof window
and the sun coming through after a whole day of rain.

 

And yes, for virtual rides, I am banished at home to the top floor so as not to bother my housemates and to set up this space as my torture chamber. Isn’t cycling a great sport ….

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Sunday

In the year 321, the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great decreed the Dies Solis (Day of the Sun) as the official day of rest in the Western Roman Empire. Sunday is named after this day which in Roman times was dedicated to the sun and the Goddess Sól or Sunna, but not today and certainly not for cyclists.

I was so brave to plan for a ride to the sea after Saturday’s virtual ride. After all, we a 5 hours training planned. It would be a Flandrien ride that was for sure. Already in Maldegem, the first showers came, luckily I could take shelter there.

Dark clouds hung over my head ready for the next shower.

 

Dark clouds hung over my head ready for the next shower. Is that not enjoyable? In the end, I arrived in Ostend, took a breath of fresh sea air and headed back to the Ghent area along the water.

But let us not be pessimistic. Cycling is a wonderful sport, it puts your concerns aside, clears your head and you come across fantastic panoramas.

Apart from a few more splashes of water and a flat tire, it was a beautiful ride and I enjoyed it. An effort that I gladly make for the good cause, and for the team spirit that we have built up with the EY cycling group in recent weeks. I’m also glad that I’m slowly getting back to normal after the Covid perils that cost me a lot of energy.

Greetings,

Tristan Dhondt.

One of the items on my bucket list was participating in a biking challenge. So I did not hesitate to subscribe to the EY Cycling Tour, which seemed more challenging than I thought.

No worries, I decided to wait for the result of the medical testing and the fitness test.
The first screening learned me that there were no medical issues but also that, after the winter stop, there was a lot of work to get in shape. My coach ensured me that a lot of training could get me in the right shape for the challenge.

Due to the bad weather, I started the indoor training with my best friend “Netflix” on my old school Tacx (no ZWIFT experience for me). After a few weeks, the weather got better and I could start my outdoor training in the “Vlaamse Ardennen”.

Thanks to Covid-19 (the only good thing)
I got a lot of weeks extra to get in shape.
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The second fitness test learned me that I could cycle a longer distance at a higher cadence with a lower heart rate. Good news, but still a lot of training is needed for the big challenge!

Thanks to Covid-19 (the only good thing) I got a lot of weeks extra to get in shape for the challenge in June. Let’s go the extra mile! Together with the support of the team, I hope to concur with the 615 km.

Greetings,

Carine.

We all can handle an hour of cycling, just as much as we can handle a busy week at work. But what if the challenge becomes 615 kilometers in 3 days or a lifetime career of 45 years?

From my experience,
I believe that resilience is key.
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Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from an effort or difficulties.
Here are some personal insights that apply both to endurance sport as to our career at EY.

Keep a healthy work-life and train-rest balance.
This sounds obvious and is often repeated, but is not always that easy in practice. We easily get swallowed up by work and are too tired by the time we are closing down the lid of our laptop to do anything else that day. What I’ve been doing now for the last couple of months is taking regular lunch-sport breaks. This not only breaks the day in two but also gives me energy for the afternoon and puts my mind at ease as I already had my hour of sports. Also, our coaches for the cycling event have stressed the importance of sufficient rest. We need to schedule at least one day off per week, and one easy training week after three intense weeks.

Be socially connected.
Resilience means building strong and positive relationships with people and not being afraid to ask for help, even when under pressure. In our cycling mission, we are encouraged to train with others as well. This helps to stay motivated and to wrestle through those 5-hour training on the weekend.

Develop a growth mindset.
Without being ambitious and being open to new experiences, opportunities, and training, you won’t get far both in your career and in your ultimate sports challenge. Know that you will have setbacks and spend some time anticipating what could go wrong and how you will cope. I love going faster and further and was already able to increase my VO2 max (maximum amount of oxygen your body can use) from 54 to 58 mL/kg/min. After the EY Cycling challenge, I want to go even further and complete August the full ironman of Vichy!

Thijs.

Last week the weather was against us: rain and wind every day, a lot of wind with peaks up to 90 km/h. In certain moments, I was almost not able to continue riding on my bike or I almost flew into the stream. So weather conditions for the real ‘Flandriens’. We are not real ‘Flandriens’ at all, but when we ride our bikes through all weathers, we do feel a bit like a ‘Flandrien’, even when I am standing on the side of the road with a flat tire without any support vehicle behind me. Fortunately, I found a bicycle repairer nearby who could help me to continue my training.

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After a conversation
with our coach
it turned out that the hard work
of the past weeks has not
missed their goal.

We will never achieve the wattages that kick the ‘Big 3’ (Wout, Matthieu, and Julien), but every one of our group has noticed that the training sessions of the past 7 weeks do not miss their effect. The duration of the training sessions on the weekend is gradually increasing to 4 hours a day and more, as well as the average speed. After 7 weeks it was also time to do a status check at Pulso-Preventielap where we were subjected to a new body scan and exercise test on the bike. With healthy tension, we headed for Zwevegem and after a conversation with our coach it turned out that the hard work of the past weeks has not missed their goal. However, we are only halfway through and the toughest training sessions with the necessary altimeters are still ahead of us. All this with only 1 goal: to reach the finish of the EY Cycling Tour together with the entire group as one team.

This weekend is again all about cycling: cycling the necessary kilometers myself and of course, watching Milan-Sanremo on Saturday to see the ‘Big 3’ and outsiders at work.

Greetings,  Steve Gilis.