Dag!(Hello), I hope everyone is ending their season on a good note and learnt lots this year as I have. Last night I slept immediately as it hit 9pm because I was told by fellow compatriots in the house that if I fell asleep any earlier they would bang pots and pans to wake me up. I am a man or rather a young adult who loves his sleep especially when Im tired. So the idea of a bunch of teenagers and u23 guys with farmers tan banging pots for my entertainment was not a desirable scene I’d like to put myself in. I slept for nearly 12 hours and laid in bed reminiscing about last years experience racing with the juniors. One thought came to mind, PAIN! So I can only imagine the hell I’ll have to put myself through racing u23’s with pro contracts and elites with pro contracts. As it hit 11am sharp, the director banged on our doors since this is the designated time of awakening. We all woke up, and went down a set of stairs that spiraled down to the living room and then finally into the kitchen. We all ate breakfast and discussed the days plans…….when I heard there was a open pro kermesse today, I got excited.
Initially the plan was to race the Pro kermesse but since we “Americans” didn’t have official Belgian licenses….we were unable to do the race. However since there’s around three races you can do per day, everyday of the week. We found a kermesse that was 116km in distance, for all you using miles on your computer or daily lives back home this is around about 72 miles. Three guys and myself hopped on a train that took nearly a hour and a half. We transferred three times in order to reach our start/finish location. The registration was a bar filled with both elderly and young men and woman who were avid cycling fans.
As the race rolled off, I immediately felt myself feeling constricted. By constricted I mean my lungs felt like they were unable to take in as much oxygen it normally would be able to. However I was not disappointed with what I expected from the race. It was extremely aggressive and I was hitting 60km on a flat stretch throughout the race, in fact the entire race was flat and exposed to wind. The course was extremely technical, nearly 20 turns within a 8km course. After several attacks the pace settled down but only for 5-10 minutes and then it went ballistic. I found myself sitting on the rivet for the rest of the race, grinding my 53-12. All I remember about the race was staring at the backside of cyclist’s bib and legs that have about a pound of embrocation or baby oil on them. Eventually a 50 year old man won the race in a break with himself and another Belgian. 50 is not a typo. I wish it were but the way he was riding, it made me seem like I was a toddler riding a tricycle.
After the race I was starving and the first thing I saw was a cart selling frites and bratwurst. It took me a few minutes to finally decide that this was probably not the best recovery food but by the time we arrived at the train station I was desperate. I saw a vending machine that sold a loaf of bread, not the cheap wonder bread you find at supermarkets but artisan bread probably baked that same morning. I digged through my bag and pockets for some euro but only found two, so my only option was Coke-Cola with real sugar and a twix bar. I figured I deserved it after the mayhem I put myself through today. Finally our train arrived and we hoped on the train for 5 minutes and had a transfer at Gent but it wasn’t for another hour. So we decided to dine at a bar across the street.
We sat down and a Belgian waiter greeted us, asking us what we’d like to drink. I got myself a glass of Leffe blondie as did everyone else. Being the ripe age of 19 did not prohibit me from ordering beer since the drinking age here is 18. Which I believe it should also be in the states. As we waited for our food, the unavoidable smell of second hand smoke was beginning to irritate me a bit and time was ticking away. At this point, 40 minutes have passed and when the food arrived we had 5 minutes to either devour the food or steal the plate and grab a fork. I created myself a ice cream cone like shape out of some table paper and contemplated stuffing my pasta in it. I was not about to waste this since I was starving. I ate and ate eventually finishing the plate in 2 minutes. The others were unable to finish and begged the waitress for a take out carton. We stuffed it and also were able to steal ourselves a fork in the process. Since the three compatriots I was with were of American and South African decent, I figured they probably weren’t accustomed to eating with their fingers, not that I have anything against that. So stealing the fork was a last resort. But enough ranting, more rest. Im cooked and about to fall asleep as I probably should. Stay tune for more. Also I’d like to use this opportunity to apologize to the waiter we stole from. Maybe he reads this and forgives us?…… Je suis désolé
Day # 3
Greetings again. Today was another great day in Belgium. Weather has surprisingly been quite spectacular, none of the rain and drizzle that is often if not always around. Again, today was the same routine as far as the morning goes, eating breakfast and talking about the days plan. However, we all decided that we shouldn’t race today as the race was nearly 3 hours away from East Flanders, where we’re staying. I was quite jubilant when I heard this since I wasn’t feeling great after yesterday’s effort.
So today did not involve much excitement. All I did today was relax, call up my family and get in touch with some friends leaving for college this week. Once it hit noon my stomach began to growl and I suddenly had this urge to eat some pastries and get a cup of cappuccino. So I went with one of my roommates down to the town square on some old authentic Belgian town cruisers to one of the many cafe’s situated in that area. I found myself gazing through the glass as I drooled over all the scrumptious pastries that was presented upon me. You name it, they had it. But I decided if I was going to devour a 800 calorie pastry, I might as well have some good fat along with it too. So when the woman over the counter asked me what I desired, I found myself concentrated on her rather then the food…..let me stop. This is PG rated. So I ordered a salmon panini with tomato, mozzarella, and some arugula. Accompanying the panini was a cup of cappuccino, floating upon the top of the glass was a tiny squeeze of whip cream along with chocolate shavings. To say that this is the best cup of cappuccino I’ve ever had is an understatement. In fact if I were on death row, this would be the concoction of choice. However Im not, cudos to me. The pastry I bought was a creamy one, one that looked like a sandwich, in between it was berry jam with loads of whip cream, topped with chocolate and of course a cherry on top. Immediately, I started to have orgasmic sensations as I dived right in. The cappuccino accompanied along with the pastry was to die for. Enough about food, Im not Anthony Bourdain, however he is also one of my role models. No Reservations on the travel channel is great, especially his recent ones. The Rome episode was probably my favorite.
For training, I had a couple hours of recovery. So I headed out with my roommate to the Koppenberg, Paterburg(the steepest ascent in Belgium) and some other cobble roads that were unbearably harsh not only for me but my bicycle. That poor thing must be bleeding from the inside out, luckily Im not. Actually throughout the ride we followed the route of Tour of Flanders. It was spectacular but at the same time incredibly stupid, however I did feel good, better then I thought I’d feel on the bike. After the ride was done, we opened the door to the smell of burgers cooked by our director who is also a French trained chef. Yes, I apologize for the frequent topic of food on this blog but damn it, food here is just better. Maybe it’s because it all natural and full of fat. None of those diet fads like no carb diets, no fat diet, etc. etc.
For tomorrow, I am thrilled to say I will be touring around the historic town of Brugge and not racing. Everyone here seemed to be tired and need a bit of rest. From what I hear from everyone in the house, It’s amazing. So we’ll be spending an entire day touring around, relaxing and just enjoying life because that’s what it’s all about really. Then the next few days will be racing kermesses. Also we will be saying goodbye to one of the South African kid’s leaving the house tomorrow, Kyle. Great kid that has stayed here for two months racing kermesses. Hope his experience here has taught him how to suffer, if it didn’t he should go to the torture chamber. That’s all for now updates about tomorrow along with photos to come….
Hi everyone, last night was a bit of a drag as the jet lag has taken it’s toll on me. I made a stupid decision to take a nap during the afternoon yesterday since I felt that maybe napping would aid my recovery and help me feel better overall. Although it did, I paid for it later in the evening. I tucked myself in at 11pm sharp and all of a sudden random thoughts began wandering through my mind, consequently causing me to stay up for hours before I actually fell asleep. It was only after 2 hours until I found myself awake, starring into the pitch black night as cars whizzed down the street that connected itself to the highway. As each car passed, I became impatient and irritated. Eventually I found myself walking out of the room and down the steps, into the living room. I sat there for a couple hours before I attempted to fall asleep again. But again, an epic fail. So I gave up and watched television until 6am and dressed up to get in an early morning ride since we were all going to Brugge later in the morning.