Entries in Za Trip (25)
While I am in the zone, I wanted to get these up for you all to have some look sees at the various daily goings on from our trip. You can always go to my PhotoBucket Site to see originals.
OK, I'll let you in on our secret training. This is how we got utterly amped for our races. Who needs EPO? I used to listen to Rage, but have moved on...
Here's Dubba at Fort 6 Sunday. Ha! Sunday. I can't believe I was racing my bike in Belgium last week. Sweet.
Dubba had a very strong race against heavy contracted hitters at Fort 6.
So there you have it folks. Some vid and stills from Za Trip. I can NOT thank you all for reading and commenting religiously. It made me smile. I think I got my points across about the trip and the impact it had on many levels. I can't wait to hear other people's stories of their trips next year. START PLANNING NOW! That is my only advice. Again, Brandon and I are scheming a slide show at Boulder Cycle Sport for local folks and have some beers and give you some color commentary on the experience. I'll post something in the coming days.
Place: Wilrijk, Belgium
As I type these characters, I have a warm flush rushing through my cheeks...partly due to the work today in the mud of Fort 6, part due to the work apres-race cleaning and packing of ALL the equipment for our trip to the airport but a LOT due to the Westvleteren Yellow Cap hitting every friggin happy-nerve synapse in my body. Yes, it is an incredible beer.
My beautiful friends: Za trip. She is done.
I want to write. A lot. At this moment I have so much to tell you my 'crossing brethren but in sum, I can only say: I 'saw' it. You know those album covers or posters made by computer generated imagery...e.g. the ones where if you stare long enough you see Jesus or the Led Zeppelin signs or maybe a fish? Well, it didn't take much proverbial squinting on my part to see what they have here in Belgium. By that I mean how this sport is Belgium and Belgium itself as a society and a culture is lived out each weekend on these muddy pastures. Field riding. Veldrijden. And that is the slightly hazy imagery I started to see come into focus with each and every race, and each and every experience here in the Motherland.
In Belgium, when a crosser is seen on the parcours with hands on hoods, head focused forward, jaw clinched, rooster tail of mud and grass spitting out the back, the Belgian silently watching is not watching like you and I watch a cross. Indeed, there is the sport of it all they are interested in, but beyond that, it is a communion of all that they are as Belgians and it is inherently known by the spectator there lining the tape on these fields. They're born into it. Grit, determination, nature, heart...they are watching a communion of their boys with the same earth and fields and conditions they call their home. It is not like what you and I know when we watch cross. We've made a spectacle out of it. And it's fun, do not misconstrue what I am saying, but the essence of that person and how the person communes with their birthplace is something we do not yet have the history to embrace and have sunk in.
They, my friends, are harder than us. But we are fast. Faster than you think.
Please do this. Please race over here and talk with as many people as you can about it when you return....but talk about it in the RIGHT ways. Please ask them their opinions on their racers...on their local courses, on their local beers. You will be taken in.
OK, enough of that. It is what it is over here, and what it is, simply needs to be experienced as a racer if you truly feel you are a crosser and you truly want to understand its roots. That was my mission and I call it complete. And the completeness has me staggering on how I want to build courses and involve town committees, and....well, you get the picture.
On to the day, peeps. Today was the Fort 6 Cyclocross literally within the city of Wilrijk, just outside of Antwerp. I'll get right to it and say: 18th folks. Out of the money (15th was the cut off for za prijs). It was inexplicably hard for me today and no excuses. Seriously. I am better than that but I've never felt more empty. Zero in the legs after truly leaving my corpse on the sands of Zilvermeer yesterday. Absolutely nothing. Let me give you a bit of a taste of the day.
We got to the course, went to the inschrivung, said hello to folks we've seen at the registration TONS already, and grabbed numbers. We then kitted up and jammed out on our B bikes. We could immediately see that today equaled MUD. When we got onto the parcours, holy God, tough. axle deep mud, slippery single track that pitched up at 45 degrees and equally down at vicious pitches. Dubba, as always, has us totally dialed, bringing our A rigs to the start, collecting all our crap to keep us focused.
So, we got the 5 minute to race time TWEEET! and we all queue up. I was hoping for a good call up but it wasn't to be. they called up 1-30 and the' De reste!" which means the rest should fall in. Literally last row. I was bummed! After pre-riding and knowing that the legs were not turning over the way I needed them to, I knew I was in for it.
"Ein minuten!". Again the tension then TWEEEEEEET! The whistle blows....
We roll down the pavement into a 180 switch back into mud and from mud into a mud uphill. Dudes are squirly and I am fighting to get past as many as I can. We climb this muddy fire road up onto the 45 degree pitches. LITERALLY, people are standing still so I run through the woods to get around some of these foolios. More climbing. with whoops and off camber slippery mud. Dodgey. On this one downhill chute, there is hesitation. I dismount and run past 5 guys (literally) to ensure I am safe and out of their schwag.
The course demanded unbelievable power which I was not in surplus of today. My 42 x 12/25 really needed to be a 42 x 12/27....
So I ground it out and got 'er done. I had Richard Groenendaal in my head as I had to dismount and cross country run through the fields and up pitches to stay within contact of my competition.
I changed bikes once to lighten up the mud and eventually came in on the lead lap about 4 minutes after the winner today who was flying.
It is late here in Belgium and I've got to finish up so I can get some Z's. I will post on Brandon's race tomorrow or Tuesday when I am States-side which was great! I have a TON of photos as well. Arne won today amongst a pretty impressive field. Tim Van Neuffel looked uper strong early on but faded and big Arne just dieseled this mud with inexplicable power. You really have to witness it.
Oh, we met Mario De Clercq today after our race who was pitting for his son Angelo and we chatted and it was really fantastic! It confirmed the communion I speak about above when you see a 2 time world champion working his son's bike over in the muddy pits, running across the fields in the mud to get to sections to cheer him on. Awesome.
The dream has been lived. More to report in the coming days so you can see some more digital celluloid. Brandon and I are talking about a slide show between our numerous photos and videos to talk you through our experiences. Likely at Boulder Cycle Sport in the coming weeks. We'll bring the beers. Stay tuned.
Lived the dream. You will too. 363 days.
Tick tock tick tock....
Place: Zilvermeer Strand, Belgium -
MASTER'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, BABY!
Ladies and gents: She's in the books. The UCI Master's World Championships age group 1968-1973. I will say this before I dive into the gory details: I left every single solitary ounce of myself out there on the sand, pavement and single-track today. It is done.
So let's get to the day, shall we? We rolled out of Blauberg at 11AM for our 45 minute drive to Zilvermeer. We passed Dubba on the way as he's getting his training on today. All those 'nice' days we had caught up with us today with pissing sideways rain and windier than a mo fo out there.
We get to Zilvermeer and look out out the course...
It's gonna be brutal today. We proceed to inschriving (registration) and it is like a well oiled watch. You walk up, fill out a form, show them your UCI license and they take care of the rest. Oh, and they all speak perfect English.
While there, I was able to meet with Phillipe (did not get last name, but the gentleman in the middle below in the pic) who is the MAN. He literally runs the show. We chatted and he is an incredibly great guy who was as excited for us to be there as we were. Thanks Phillipe!
I finished up and grabbed my numbers for the back and arms. I got Bo Jackson'd today. Sweet.
So, let me tell you a bit about the atmosphere. In the summer, you could see how this place must go off with a bunch of pasty white dudes with banana hammocks hanging with their kids and tanned brides. it's a full on beach play land in the middle of nowhere. Today, only the hearty, not afraid of sideways rain and fashion faux pas with a set of Wellingtons on came out to line the Visa tape of the course. There was cheesy 80-'s re-mixed music blaring (e.g. I could NOT get Hall and Oates out of my head...STILL can't: "I can't go for that. Nooo, no can do.") and lots of cross fanatics from EVERY place in the EU. Sick. So many languages it was incredible. I spoke more German today than I have in 10 years.
Dubba was our FULL ON mechanic, soigneur, coach...you name it today. Brandon, thank you my brother. I tapped into so much of your calmness and advice this week. I am indebted. Dubba dialed us in on our pits, spare bikes, etc and came to the start with all the other North Americans (thanks Dave, Tom, Henry, Gannon and Kathy....and CONGRATS KATHY ON YOUR WIN TODAY! Sweet! American's rocking the dark blue and stripes. So g.d. good).
OK, stay on topic, Greg. So KP and I were able to pre-ride about 3 laps between races. The course had changed significantly in my opinion within the woods...the sand being exactly the same as we rode it yesterday. What changed were the berms and more importantly specific drop offs and the like within the woods. This was significant enough to keep you on the bike in some sections versus running them or taking totally different lines we trialled yesterday. So net net it was great to get at-speed laps on before our race.
We kitted up and headed to the start. Everybody is circling and then the UCI officials head down to us with their clipboards and watches. "TWEEEEEEEEEEET!" Whistle blows and the racers flood up to him. He starts announcing names and numbers in the language of the racer! Sweet. 1, 2, 3, 4 people called up. Then "No. 34, Gregory Keller, U-S-A." Holy shit. I GOT IT! I got the front row call up. I shit you not I had dreamed it two nights ago and today it materialized! I let out a gutteral sort of shout and Dubba gets me back in the game. Focus grasshoppah! It gets better. "No. 35, Kurt Perham U-S-A." What the??? YES! KP got called up next. This was TOTALLY odd as they were calling TOTALLY random numbers a la Bingo. 1, 22, 46, 51, 7, 17....you get the picture. The fact they had two numerically sequenced numbers was mad.
In our midst today were ALL the big big guns. German master's national champ. 2 or 3 previous multi-time world master champions...the list as we were told by a local was fairly mad. I will do some research and maybe do a post on some of these guys. Lined up directly behind KP was the winner of our Schriek Grootlo race last week, Bert Vervecken. Sicko...but cool guy.
"1 minute gentlemen!"...then the 30 second count down. I am gonna f-ing drill this mo fo. Taro is in my head saying: "GK, don't win the hole shot. Save it hombre." but there are exactly 52 other dudes back there who want to tear my legs off. I can feel my tire being bumped in that empty silent space between the 15 seconds and 5 seconds to go eternity. Then I remember: Look Up, man. I looked up at the sky and smiled. Smiled and closed my eyes once I knew I realized where I was and where I'd been and what sacrifices have been made by more, WAY more, than just me to be here.
TWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!" 'Cross fans, we are OFF!! Check this sheeit out caught by Dubba "Graham Watson you've got nothing on me" Dwight.
Your fearless blogger won himself the hole shot to the beach with Bert and I plowing through the sand. I followed his wheel through the wooded section past the pits and on through the woods itself. 5 guys came past and I hung on to that group until I was absolutely cross eyed. I was drilling the lines, nailing the run ups all PRO like but the BPM's were in the 180's.
We get to the pavement and the last guy on the train LITERALLY waves me in. Sort of like a "hang in here in this group" gesture. I put my wheel like 2 cm's from his and these guys get it in the 46 x 11's...click click click click....down their chains go to the 11. Almost like the sound of a hammer on a revolver being cocked back before it is released to hit the primer on the bullet that will launch into my head.
I follow this group of 5 about 10 seconds back from Bert onto the beach again. One guy bobbles and forces me to and dismount. "whoosh whoosh whoosh". Belgies flying past. Like 3, maybe 5. Frieght trains. Back in the woods and we're rolling. I am so loaded but doing everything I can to dig ever deeper and spin fast. More dudes bridge, drop me. I stay on for dear life. My eyes are crossed and I am starting to lose composure. Lines are taken not the way I want, power is lost on the flats. I need to collect myself.
The race then is attrition. I swear to you I am drilling it as deeply as I ever have in my life. I am saying to myself: "Dude this is the master's f-ing worlds. Go f-ing faster". On the pavement I literally ran out of gears in my 42 x 12. The whole bike was a mess of sand. All the gears worked miraculously but I did consider changing bikes, The problem was that the racing was SO TIGHT with dudes around, I did not want to risk losing spots. No one was changing. It was just WAY too fast.
2 laps to go. I know I am in the 20's. And I STILL can not believe I am in a cluster of dudes. People are shouting at them in every language. I am being yelled at by every language. F-ing crazy.
Klang klang klang klang! Laatste Ronde. I'm in the woods and I can here it. a 1/2 lap down on the leaders. I guess I can't complain. I am literally closing my eyes in the woods to eek out more power. I am drilling sections and am so inexplicably loaded in the legs...but I am still rolling. I am way smoother now and decide to attack in the woods. I drop one guys and another follows. He comes past me, I wait, then attack him past the pits on to the pavement. This is exactly when that happened:
Folks: It's in the books. AM I stoked? Absolutely. Could I have ridden any harder. Absolutely not. Taro had me at the absolute fittest I could be. I rode my heart out and left nothing in reserve. I raced as smartly as I possibly could have. Could I have ridden smoother? Absolutely. You have NO IDEA how gifted and experienced my competition was today.....and frankly during my experience here.
I am so tired as I write this. We made a dinner at home and I downed some Leffe Browns. Dubba handed me chocolate with a smile. Hard earned.
Living the dream folks. One more to go tomorrow. Wish us luck.
Details at 11....
Living the dream.
Place: Zilvermeer (near Mol) Belgium
Zaterdag! Zaterdag Zaterdag! T-minus 24 hours until go time, monster truck, er ah, 'cross fans! We pre-rode the course op het strand (on the beach) today. Yum. Another AWESOME course, if not super short. All the details coming up below.
We packed up the Vito with all the bikes, tires, etc and got to Zilvermeer in about 45 minutes on an overcast morning. There were tons of people out from ALL sorts of places: France, Great Britain, Slovakia, Canada, The Netherlands, Belgium....and of course the good 'ol U.S. of A. Great to meet you, our Kansas City and Idaho brethren!
We parked, suited up and made our way from the parking lot to the beach. We dropped off our extra stuff at the Materiaal Post (the pits) and I dialed in the FMB's to try out. I documented the course fairly well below but I'll give you a couple of sound bytes about it:
- Sandy: Duh, but it is ever present not only on the beach but features itself in the woods, in the corners and ultimately presents its own challenges outside of just riding through it, running over it. Tire pressure ,tire pressure, tire pressure. Find the balance grasshopper.
- Technical: This course reminds be a lot of Schriek Grootlo in that is is well suited for riders who like to power out of the corners on very tight turns. Out side of the sand features, it has plenty of run ups (2) that are technical in nature in themselves and S turns and 180s everywhere. No barriers on the course but plenty of other features make it challenging and fun.
- Short: This mo fo is very short. In 85-90% effort trials, the lap times where between 6:40 and 6:50 minutes. This means one of two things: The course designers messed up (nope) or the course designers have it dialed and know that the sand will be the attrition spot that will likely accordion the group lap after lap (yup).
- Start position will be EVERYTHING: When is it not in 'cross but seriously, this course will demand it as the recovery sections will be reserved for just that. In no way am I setting myself up here 'just in case' but ANYONE will say (including all the various nationalities I spoke to today) that start position will be everything tomorrow. If you're on the back, well, it'll be a tour of the beach.
- Start on pavement for 300 meters
- Bang SHARP left into a 50 meter slightly down hill sand slog
- Hard left turn on sand for along-the-beach (harder packed sand) for 175 meters
- Into the woods for tight S turns
- Past the pits...
- Up and over the first log run up...
- More wooded S turns
- Around an S an apex into a small bump of a hill and there is a sheer drop off directly into sand. IMHO, it's gonna be WAY faster to run...
- More wooded S turns into 2nd log run up
- More woods, S turns and past the pits again, onto pavement
- Past start finish.
So, let me 'show' you the beginning of the course at least with the magic of YouTube. Sorry I only got the beginning of the course because I crashed filming this mid way through and gunked up my camera! HA! I need a film crew....
Into the sand....
The 50 meter initial slog...
Some choose to ride...some run...
From the sand, into the woods...
Some action through the S's....
OK, now that you get a sense for what the course is like in video, here are some stills for you in sequential order of the course...
Awesome view from above of entry (on the left side) of the sand trap in the woods...
The sand trap from the racer's view...
Oh, one last thing: Our house owner is tight with the Doping Control leader and I've put in a petition to get tested so I can blog that sheeit! HA! I hope the Nutella doesn't trigger anything. Stay tuned...
Wish us luck! Tick tick tick tick....
Living the dream. You will too in exactly 364 days. Write it down....
Place: Leuven and Brussels Belgium
I am over the hump of the racing trip. Exactly 3.5 more days remains including 1-2 more races and I will be on the big bird back home to see my beautiful wife and children. I am not going to take up pixels and bytes here to discuss this side of the trip, but it a very real side of the trip...in fact holding UP the trip and making it possible. It should be obvious to you, my loyal reader, that I am a husband, father, worker and racer....in that order....and truthfully this is the longest I will have been away from my family and my growing boys ever since their birth nearly 6 years ago. 11 days is tough with young boys who need their father more than the father needs the racing but I thank my wife for every second she is manning the home front while I live this out and taste the earth that I have dreamed about for so long.
OK, I will move on now but if any of you have children and a wife you respect as much as I do and try and ride the razor's edge of life balance with your passions (especially those that are by their very nature very self centered) you will know what is going on in my head. I am the single luckiest man in the world (broken rental car tail lights and all).
So, what went on today? Dubba, KP and I went on a light one hour spin to keep the legs open before our training day on the Mol course tomorrow. Riding that sand and the course dialing in bikes and tire pressures will be quite a lot of effort, so we went super chill today on a route that was magical. It was super twisty and back road-y that I tried to get it down on Map My Ride buy it was just a bit too hard to remember. We were literally on big roads, one lane roads, single track....you name it. Again, the weather totally cooperated and it was down right beautiful out, if not a wee bit cold.....
After the ride, we scrambled and threw some clothes on to do a sortie out to the cities of Leuven and Brussels. We drive to Leuven first, parked then immediately grabbed a train to Brussels which is pretty close. Brussels as you can imagine is a major city with all walks of life, French is the predominant language but everyone and their brothers speak perfect English. We tooled around and took in the City walking up and down the narrow streets, grabbing some schwag for the fam and shooting pictures of the City....
Students posing or za Americans
This one was Dubbas from his favorite place. We all had the banana and chocolate. I will be fatter leaving here than when I came...
Way too cool for Belgium
Tin Tin...the patron saint of Belgium
The famous Manneken Pis
I'm big here in Belgie
Seamus! Look! Like-A-Bikes!!
Literally in the middle of this cobble stone street was a table set up with this. I suspected like a large rat trap so I only gingerly went around it without touching.
And then, we found it....
The "Wall" of beer.
We found AND purchases exactly 3 Westvleteren Yellow Caps (e.g. their dark Trappist). This beer is INCREDIBLY hard to get and voted the BEST Trappist beer in the world. Yes, 7 Euros a piece....
So tomorrow is Mol training. I'm hearing the course is super fun even with its sand. It will ALL be about the start positioning....which means luck as it is a lottery start.
I miss you my beautiful family and every day when I hear this kids playing at the school directly next door to our house in Blauberg, I smile an intense smile to myself.
Living the dream. You will too in exactly 365 days from this post.
Place: Tongerlo, Belgium
That's right Boulder 'cross fans! Dubba and I dragged the crew out for a TRUE international edition of the Wednesday Morning World Cross Championships - Belgium Edition. Today in our ranks we had Two US National Champions (Dubba and Kathy Sarvary (50 to 54), a few Masters hard men (Me, KP, and our new friend Dave) a master US 'cross course builder, frame builder and race promoter (Tom Stevens) and one of the 3 Canadian representatives to the Trevisio 'Cross Worlds and our house mate, (Osmond Bakker). Truly and international crowd.
We started our day in Blauberg and pedaled the 10 or 12 k to the sporting complex in Tongerlo where a cross was held a few weeks ago. Weather dot com indicated rain (as always but we hhevn't seen a drop. In fact it's the perfect temp and tackiness out today.
We show up and with Os' help, reconn our course. This is not your average Elk's club, Boulder-ites. This is tight, twisty, wooded, bermed and slick single track with laid down trees for double speed barriers, open speed grass sections. Absolutely fun.
After the reconn and course set up, we shed the big coats and get our race faces on. JUST like home, Dubba calls out... "New England start, folks. Could happen anyti...GO!" We're off. I uncharacteristically blow a chain off the cassette at the start and have to literally stop and put the mo fo back on! I bite the handlebars to motor and bridge up to KP and Dubba. The Os has clearly been racing in the Super Prestiges and World Cups during his time here (he's got Hoogerheide coming up this weekend so he can thank is for chasing him today) and was off to the races. Brandon dispatched KP and I mid way through and attempted to bridge with KP and I doing our groove thing through wooded single track. Epically fun. We can OFFICIALLY say the Wednesday Worlds has gone international.
So, just to ensure things felt EXACTLY like Boulder, as we are kitting back up with jackets, an official looking lady comes trudging across the field and starts talking to us, indicating..."You know, this is private property and you need a reservation to use the sporting facilities here." Just like home indeed. Classic.
We then did some tempo work for a bit through this insanely muddy/forested trail network, then back out on the roads for our ride back to Blauberg.
Some digies of the people from the Wed Am Worlds ride. No vids today folks, SORRY!
We showered up and had a destination in mind: 4 Bikes in Westerlo. This shop apparently is the bizomb but we wanted to go in and see for ourselves. It definitely had all the bling with one of the most immaculate service bays I've ever seen. KP and Dubba are hooking up the free cappuccinos from the Saeco machine when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye like a shiny Gnome all dressed in white:
The limited edition Selle Italia Flight saddle. Hmm. Looks like I'll be back on Selle's next year as I gave up hope in the US trying to find any of the white goodness. Oh, and check out the ka-bling shoe covers I scored. White sex to cover the white sex.
Lastly, house owner Jocelyn and our old friend Rachel Lloyd showed up to say hello and wish us luck. Rachel is prepping for Hoogerheide this weekend and the Worlds in a few weeks time. Go Rach!
Place: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Super brief report for today as we are on a total rest day. Back on it tomorrow but the boys became zupa-tourists today.
We got on the road from Blauberg to Amsterdam about 10 bells in utterly classic Northern European weather. Tree-bending wind and rain. No wonder why the folks who live and train here are some of the best cyclists.
We arrived in Amsterdam, found parking fairly close to the center (a rarity...) and donned our rain coats. By 50 meters were were getting damp but the spirits were high. KP and Dubba have never seen the city before so we had smiles as we navigated around all the tight canals, ancient crooked buildings settling after 100's of years, the Red Light District's sad state of affairs for sale in its windows, and so on.
The weather was atrocious but we found are way around, hitched rides on the tram like vagrants and finally found our way to a pub and had some food to warm us up and some dark beer to fill the gullet.
Here's some digital celluloid to give you a bit of a view on the day.
Lastly, GET WELL MOM!! Proud Mom just had knee surgery so put a thought out to the strongest woman on earth as she gets herself some pain relief from some over used knees.
Living the dream.
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....