Back to Reality: Matt Brammeier writes for RCUK - Road Cycling UK

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Back to Reality: Matt Brammeier writes for RCUK

So the last two days of training didn’t go so well, record amounts of rainfall in LA kind of hampered our bike riding a little. After one 5.5hr slog in the rain done the next day’s group wasn’t so big. In fact only myself and Frantisek Rabon braved the storm and went out. There were a few moans and grumbles but I wasn’t too bothered, I’d much rather be out getting wet than stuck indoors on the trainer !

We headed out to the coast and took in a couple of climbs. The rain was getting pretty bad and was starting to cause a few rock slides, so there were a few dodgy moments in the hills avoiding falling rocks the size of footballs and trying not to hit them on the way down the other side. After a few blowouts on the descent we’d used up all of our tubes and decided to call it a day and head home. With three hours in the bag, I was happy enough with the day’s work.

So that was the last day of my four-day block. I was looking forward to kicking back for a few days and for once looking forward to getting on my flight home and having a good bit of shut eye.

After being in the same spot for a few weeks and riding on the same roads for a while, we ended up meeting a few local riders and got to know them pretty well. They tagged along with us a few days on the bike and showed us a few good routes and climbs. Before we left for home we were invited to one of the guys’ houses for a typical American night of football, food and beer!

We were quite surprised when we arrived at this house the size of a castle and were shown to the “games room”, which was packed full of food, numerous ridiculously huge TVs and our own bar! After over an hour of trying to explain the rules of “football” to a group of German, Slovak, Czech, Belgian and Irish bike riders, our hosts kind of gave up, fed us more beer and wine and hoped for the best. So we enjoyed a night of watching a game none of us quite understood and had a few well earned beers!

Next morning and we were packing up and leaving for home. Most of the guys where flying direct to Germany but Jan Gheselink and I were lucky enough to be passing through London Heathrow, not something I was looking forward too. I checked early in the morning and discovered there were no outbound flights from Heathrow and that our inbound flight was already delayed by five hours. Luckily I checked this before we arrived at the airport, so we had a few extra shopping hours and even time for a relaxing foot massage at the hotel before a day of inevitable chaos!

So we arrived at LAX in plenty of time to join a mob of crazy travellers trying to get themselves home for Christmas! There was one huge line for “London and beyond” and a small line for just “London”. We quickly gave up on getting out of Heathrow before we even got there and decided it would be best to get to London and make a plan when we arrived. So we checked in pretty easy and stress free and accepted that it was probably going to be a bit of a nightmare but there was not much we could do about it.

The flight was one of the best long hauls I’ve been on, one hour in and I was flat out, 30 minutes to go and I was woken by the fasten seatbelt sound! Happy days! Before I left I sent a short email to our team logistics guru and part time magician Greet explaining our flight to Brussels was cancelled. So turning my phone back on with crossed fingers we were hoping for another flight or train to get us back home.

Lucky for us, Greet found us a flight out of London City airport to Antwerp. After a mad dash across London in a rather expensive taxi ride we got to London City and checked in with no bother at all. Homeward bound we were, and after hearing a few horror stories from other passengers of four-day waits in airports, we were feeling pretty grateful we got home so easy!

So from Malibu to Belgium in what seemed like just a few hours. We were in a fair few inches of snow and a few degrees lower weather. I was already thinking about getting back on the bike, I hadn’t ridden for a few days now and was starting to feel lazy and unfit already. So at 1am I was wide awake in the garage building my bike up and getting the trainer out, ready to train the next day. Hopefully it won’t stay on there for long and I can at least get out on the mtb or ‘cross bike and try not too fall off too much!

Even though the weather was pretty rubbish and I’d had a bit of a crazy journey home, I was happy to be back home with my girlfriend Nikki and my favourite cat Gizmo and looking forward to a relaxing Christmas in snowy Belgium together!

Thanks for reading, hope you have all had a great Christmas and stay safe out on those roads!



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