“Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short, as you feel. But ride.” - Eddy Merckx.
This is motto, which follows our very special Legend - Christophe Gino, perhaps because of that he becomes a legend for the second time. Let's take a look at his story - how he did it.
Greetings, Chris! What is your home country and town where you spent your childhood?
I was born and grew up in a small village in the North of France. Except for Flanders, which is a “bit” hilly, the rest of the landscape is quite flat. Then, I moved for my studies (engineering in aeronautics) to the middle of France.
Please, could you describe your story of getting acquainted with cycling and your first bike?
As I lived a few hundred meters from the primary school, I went there on foot. But when I was 11 years old, my secondary school was 4 km away. So, my parents offered me a new yellow road bike with three gears and a race handlebar! I was more than happy, and proud of my bike! I rode - 4 times a day, 6 days per week - to school, and on Sundays, I was riding 30-40 km with older people in the “cyclotourism” club of my village. During my childhood, I discovered the freedom a bike can give you, and the pleasure you can find with bicycle riding. Nowadays, I’ve got plenty of bikes: 3 race bikes, 3 mountain bikes (hard-tail, full suspension, 26‘‘, 29‘‘), 2 beach racers, 2 fixies (only one “street legal,” the other one having no brakes at all), 1 time trial bike, 2 city bikes and, of course, another road bike dedicated to the trainer! And for the last few years, I have been considering buying a fat-bike (although where I’m based at this moment, there is less snow than where Larrie T. (another Legend) lives)! You know the rule: “N+1” !!! - ;-)
Nice! Where are you based at the moment?
I now live in The Netherlands! It's nearly impossible to find flatter, and it's definitely a problem for someone who loves climbing - and descending! But, we'll come back to that problem a bit later.
What are you doing outside of the training room (workplace)?
When I'm not training (I did not say “outside the training room”!), I work in an organization in The Netherlands! And, first of all, I commute between home and work every day by bike (20 km in total), whatever the weather.
Besides my work and cycling indoors, I do other things, like outdoor cycling. You understand perfectly well that the bikes cited above are not there just for making a nice collection! And for me, outdoor cycling means road, off-road and beach, all of them during training and competitions, during the day and, from time to time, during the night! I also like skiing and swimming.
In the past, I did some other activities, like scuba diving and motorbiking. At that time, these were my passions. I had a hypersport motorbike 1000cc with more than 170 hp for the road, and a few off-road motorbikes: an MX (motorcross) bike, a trial bike and an Enduro KTM. I participated in competitions in Belgium, Sweden, France and, of course, The Netherlands, where, several times, I did the Dutch Championship Enduro. I trained in motorcross parks (mostly Gouda and Bleijswijk NL). I learned a lot about finding the best track (off-road, but also on the road), jumps, curves, obstacles clearance, managing (high) speed (sometimes above 240 km/h), developing the sense of anticipation, and I acquired different techniques/skills on the road, gravel roads, mud, sand, stones…
On the other hand, scuba diving and apnea (with a PB in the swimming pool for static apnea of 06:21) gave me the opportunity to improve cardiovascular, endurance and breathing, to relax and gain better control my emotions.
I also did yoga for 15 years, in order to improve my fitness, flexibility, mental and breathing (with pranayama exercises).
All of these activities helped me as well to define and assess risk, without putting myself in danger.
I'm very lucky at the moment to live in The Netherlands, where there are a lot of beach races organized during the winter season. I do around 7 competitions per year. It's always tough and challenging due mostly to the weather conditions (hard wind, freezing cold, rain and, sometimes, snow) and the soft sand. I did the world´s longest beach marathon 5 times (135 km from Hoek van Holland to Den Helder, NL). It’s a wonderful experience to cruise at more than 50 km/h on the beach with a strong tailwind, if you're lucky on that day! During these beach races, I can sometimes really see the pros in action (as there are, at the moment, no special races only dedicated to them). When you see Tom Dumoulin, Sebastian Langeveld, Thijs Zonneveld or Johnny Hoogerland passing you with at least a difference of 10-15 km/h, you realise how powerful they are; they command respect and your effort suddenly becomes extremely relative…
Beyond cycling, I'm also a runner (from short to long distances, such as a marathon, both on road and trail), and practice fitness in a sports club (strength works for power, without gaining too much mass, and core works for preventing back strain). I've learned lots of things doing marathons, such as regularity, consistency (training and training!), how to go deep inside you to find your inner strength when everything hurts. That same year, I clocked 2:53 in Paris and Berlin, and 2:52 in Amsterdam.
I learned, as well, that in order to progress, you should not only focus on distance, but also on intensity. To avoid the diesel effect, it's definitely important to train very hard for short periods of time. That's why I do, for instance, running competitions from 5 to 42,1 km. The same applies for cycling activities.
My "PainCave" looks like (bikes, trainers, accessories):
I have, in fact, two paincaves: one here in The Netherlands (my garage, solely for me) and another one in France. I have a permanent bike with triathlon saddle and extension dedicated to indoor training.
An anecdote: I had a Trek 1.9, 20-speed till 2nd stage of the Giro 2018 Challenge, where I literally destroyed the bottom bracket box on the aluminium frame! There is, in fact, a lot of torsion in the bottom bracket with a direct-drive trainer when out of the saddle! So, fortunately, I could swap with my Scott Addict before the 3rd stage. As my Scott is not intended to be used indoors, I found another frame and rebuilt the bike with a 22-speed.
A Wahoo KICKR first generation completes the equipment, and I opted for the Rouvy Desktop App with ANT+ pairing and Ethernet connection combined with a 48'' flat screen.
I added two heating/cooling fans at the feet level and one cooling fan for the body! On my right side, there are some spare jerseys and towels, as I can sweat a lot! And on my left side, there is a cupboard full of dried fruits, cakes, bananas, bottles, sweetened condensed milk, fruit marmalades and pastes, nuts, pepernootjes (only the Dutch and Belgians can understand this!), chestnut spread, candies, and so on...everything which is forbidden for the kids!!! ;-)