The world, cyclo-cross and Olympic road race champ rebels a philosophy that’s part Calvinist, part Stoic, but don’t try and call her when she’s on holiday

Yes, everyone in Holland cycles, but not everyone races. Even when I started to race, only 20 years ago, it was still quite unusual for girls to race.

When I want to relax from cycling I’m actually quite boring. I’m not really the sort of person who likes to get really, really drunk and party all night. That’s just not me. It might be boring to say this, but I like to have a drink and a chat and when it’s too loud, well, I’m done.

Although I’m a cyclo-cross rider, I like the sun. And I like to relax in the sun in good weather, that’s like a perfect holiday for me. Whether it’s Spain, South Africa or Curaçao, it doesn’t really matter that much to me.

Actually, I went backpacking to Bhutan a couple of years ago, which was amazing. I was hiking and I went there for the wedding of the king. They didn’t want any royals from other countries there, just different people. So they asked me to come and do some riding clinics and a bike ride – on a mountain bike of course, because the roads aren’t that great.

If I lost my phone and computer I’m not sure I’d be too upset. At home I’m always busy with stuff all the time and in the run-up to a big race I always like to focus. So like for the World Championships in Italy this year I wanted some peace from the media, so I went there early, trained, ate, slept and I really liked that.

When I go on holiday, I turn my phone off. I like to read so if I have a good book and some sunshine, that’s fine. And I prefer real books, I don’t have a Kindle or anything like that.

Sometimes, if I want to treat myself I’ll go out for a good dinner with a drink afterwards with friends. I don’t really like the idea of shopping. If I think I have to have something I see in the window, like a nice watch, I always end up thinking, yeah, but when I have it, will it make me more happy?

My parents always told me that money doesn’t bring happiness. Of course you need it to live, but everything over and above that? Well, that’s not going to make you more happy. And I think they’re right.

I still get a little bit star-struck. Last year, in London, during the Olympics, I met Chris Hoy and that was pretty cool. And I was in a queue behind [swimmer] Michael Phelps getting himself a coffee. I didn’t ask him for a picture, though.

This article was first published in the November 28 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!