Invercargill cyclist Gabby Vermunt will be riding into the unknown when she leaves for a three-month stint in Belgium next week.
The 27-year-old physiotherapist doesn't know much about how the next few months will pan out, other than the fact she will gain some valuable experience in the competitive world of European bike racing.
"If you want to get anywhere with New Zealand (representation) you have to go international to get the racing. I'll give it a go and see how I get on," she said.
"I'll just go over there and see what racing is going on. Sometimes you can get invitations to ride with pro teams and that's how you can break into it. I'm quite in the dark – I've got tickets over there and then I'll just sit down and see what's happening. I'll be looking at some club stuff in the area and then any opportunities to ride bigger races as well."
Vermunt's ideal would be to grab the attention of the right people and score a professional contract, but she's realistic about how hard that will be.
"It would be awesome to ride for a pro team but I don't know if that would happen this season. If I can get a feel for what it's like I'll know what I'm in for if I go back next year."
Vermunt, who is in her fourth season of competition riding having got into the sport as a senior, has been training for the past two months after spending four weeks out of the saddle after an exhaustive programme on the road and track.
She elected to sit out last month's club nationals and is now going about the laborious process of finding her legs again. "I don't have the best form in the world but I don't expect to be able to peak too many times in the year. I'll save myself for later in the year. I'm just working on my endurance base at the moment."