Place: Blauberg, Belgium
The Eagle has landed. Even after all of the drama from United the day before, we are here, safe and ready for action.
So, after after the cancellation and ticketing drama previously reported about, Brandon and his beautiful fiance' Heather picked me up Thursday AM in the Boulder Cycle Sport war wagon and we rolled and chatted all the way to DIA.We get to the United Check In and start the whole process. I am prepared to be REAMED for all the bike stuff. The lady says: "Oh you guys are Premier Execs so you get 7o pounds for the bike bike and three pieces. Brandon, like the gangasta street wise Masshole, he is, props his foot under my 70+ pound box to ensure it reads 65 pounds. Genius. All free. We get our tix and we're rolling.
The flight was the best kind: Uneventful and we slept like babies. The big bird landed in Brussels ahead of schedule and Brandon and I got in almost exactly the same time as Kurt via Munich. We all convened at the baggage carousel and waited for or stuff. Everything comes 'cept the bikes. Sweat. Nether regions start to pucker. I go on a hunt and actually see the bike boxes. I make contact with a 'native' and after confirming he speaks (perfect) English, he says "Come vit me, guys." We go into a back room (I think he's going to mug me) and there they are. Our bikes in a TOTALLY different place. All safe and sound. The other boxes I saw, identical to ours...down to the USA Cycling stickers... were of course weren't ours, just the other 7000 people coming to Belgium to ride. In the rain. In January. Chrissakes, we are sickos for this sport.
So the guys says, "Bikes, eh? You mountain bikeeers?"
"No actually, cyclo-cross" I say.
Let the talking begin....
"What?! Veldrijden? I am a HUGE Nijs supporter!" The guy is visibly excited. A bead of foam materializes around his lips along with that spittle in the corner of his mouth....you know the kind when people get excited and start talking incessantly. We chat, and he sends us on our way saying...
"Don't let the Belgians treat you zat bad, OK? You just race hard, OK?"
The AIRPORT BAGGAGE guy is like the proverbial grim reaper. And a sick 'cross fan.
So with our stuff KP, Dubba and I meandered our gypsy-like caravan of double-bike cases, bags, duffels , etc and we went looking for the van. I separate from the guys, find it, the guy anonymously hands me the keys and I go BACK in search of the boys.
"SON OF A!" Driving to find them, I am spat out of the car rental garage on to the motorway! I loop back (twice) and finally say "F-it". I am parking HERE! I stop the mighty Mercedes Van in the middle of now where and YELL to Dubba an Kurt: "Let's go, let's go!" Within what seems 60 seconds, they run with everything, we chuck it all in the van and with people honking behind, we get the beast moving and we are on our way.
We make it to Blauberg basically uneventfully and find Za House no problems. We come in and are greeted by our hosts, Vicki and Mark who give us a brief tour and introduce us to the other 6 sicklo-crossers here staying for the racing. We go back outside to extract our bikes from the beast, and we see some damage.
So we get into the house and make introductions. There are a FEW people here. Oh, we found 'them': The North American 'cross junkie. They are here. 6 of them other than the three of us. All in this house. They come to Belgium. They learn Dutch. The drink good beer. They know how to glue tubulars with precision. Obsessive 'cross fans and racers.
A bit about the house we are at:
It is owned by former Festina rider (yes, pre, '97), Tour de France, Paris Roubaix and Classics rider...oh and British National Champion Tim Harris. The first thing we see:
So we finally were so excited to get out...some from being in Belgium, but frankly lots because we were bound of from planes and needed to release. We rolled for an hour to get the legs loose and smiled as the spit from the other guys bikes and rain splattered my face. Perfect. Some digital celluloid.