Dubba, KP and I made our way to Walloon, home to the French speaking part of Belgium, and home to Eddy Merckx (although the Flandrians would probably brawl me on this topic). Today's plan was to ride before the rains came on a medium paced ride to keep the legs turning and enjoy the stunning country side. Our tour guide having been born and raised in this region: Michel Bajorek, long time friend of Dubba, master mechanic, movie star, and bike racer but most importantly like an insta-brother to us. As you'll hear about in a moment, this is a guy who's been raised right by a mom whom we spent time with today whom I feel is the re-incarnation of my own mom, Elizabeth.
We got on the road for our hour trip from East Flanders to the Walloon region about noon for a 1:30 ride. The countryside is as you see it in pictures: rolling, vast, church strewn and beautiful. The wind was howling Belgie style on this beautifully sunny morning. Destination: Michel’s beautiful house. We BOMBED through little villages that had one-laned roads. We knew we were in Walloon when the signs become French….so you see less of ‘Duisbergstraat’ and more ‘Rue du Fromage’.
Pulling in to Michel’s house, the garage door is open and a man is feverishly working on bikes. It’s Stu Thorne from CyclocrossWorld Dot Com dialing in a gaggle of Ridley’s, Cannondale’s, Mavic wheels, et al. Michel is the wrench for Lyne, Tim and Jeremy whom are all staying at Chez Elizabeth et Michel. We come in and say our hellos and all are having some lunch lovingly prepared by Elizabeth. We chat with Stu, Lyne, Tim and Jeremy for a bit as they are taking a WELL needed rest day after yesterday. If you haven’t met Tim Johnson, you need to. He less interested in us asking him about his time over here but more of him and his wide open eyes asking us how OUR time has been. “How were the races??” “How are you guys going??” “What was the Holland race like??”. Tim, you are a human Labrador retriever with your tail always waggin’. Props.
So we say adios to the folks and wish them the best on their trip to Brussels for the day. For us: the Eddy Merckx tour of Walloon. Holy crap on a stick. I am a cyclist reborn. Michel takes us on one of his favorite loops that took us on a 2 hour tour of the region that was the ‘fo shizzel. Belgie to the core. Envision all your World Cycling DVD’s and put it on steroids. Rolling hills, narrowed cobbled streets, 12th century castles and churches. Like buttah. Michel and I got our tempo on in the wind all the while talking of FMB’s, his pit and mechanic antics, racing, family….you name it. As I said: Insta-brother and I am indebted to your hospitality today, Michel.
I’ll show you what the ride was like below in film and video, but here’s the talk of the day: Michel’s Mom. Mom, I know you read this crappy blog of mine, but I met you today. Born in Poland and fluent in French, Dutch and her native Polish, she is CRUSHING her English skills which have gone from zero to better than most NATIVE English speakers in 2.0 years. After our ride, Elizabeth had:
· Towels and shower stuff prepared for us
· Hot and delicious tea
· Delicious home made soup and crepes with NUTELLA (my first time having that devil’s food)
· The warmth that only a mother can provide to her boys that have been out training.
“What do you think of the cyclocross here in Europe, Greg? Hard? The Americans need to train some more, no? 2 hours training today? I think you do 4.Now have this soup and get warm.”
You are the best Elizabeth and I know my own mom 2000 miles away when she reads this will know that at angel was met today. You will never be forgotten. Ever.
So the adventure continues, my peeps. Today, the biking was epic, but the bonding with family was exponentially more present in all of us.
And now the digital video and celluloid:
Yo, I knows where a buncha like cool bikes are. You want one?
Lastly, as a side note, if you have time, read the Pez article on British Cycling Tim Harris. It is his house we are staying at here in Blauberg. Cool read.
Living the dream here in Belgie, my friends.
You WILL be here next year. Write that down, pin it up and see it once a day through next year. You, me, all our buds. We've seen the 'pro' movies about the pro lifestyle. You, me...we are the ones who need to experience this as well. It is not a PRO thing. It is special if you consider yourself a cyclist. It must be experienced. Start planning now....