Today marks our last day in Belgium. This month of travel and racing has gone by in what seemed like a blink of an eye. It felt like every day was filled with a new race in a different part of the country and the time not spent on a bike was occupied with travel and comatose sleeping . European cycling is something that is hard to describe with words but ill do my best. Picture your local bar on a tuesday afternoon. Fill it with middle aged men casually sipping on they're 9th beer and throw in 5 men wearing suits sitting behind a long table at the end of the bar. No one really seems to know what goes on but as long as money is exchanged for race numbers (throw in a couple coffees or beers, whatever floats your boat) the race seems to take place. Hundreds of racers hope to impress local amateur and pro bike team and flock to these races rain or shine. Races range between 90 to 140 km ( from anywhere between 10 to 25 laps of a course). Just long enough for the old men to grab a beer between laps so they can yell and cheer the racers on as we fly by.
Now, i think the biggest canadian race we have ever attended had around 130 participants but on average they range anywhere from 9 (good old alberta racing) to 50. Navigation through a group of 10 for myself is a struggle, a group of fifty is a nightmare and i can't even think of a word to describe the troubles associated with moving though a group of 150 bike racers. Throughout my stay in europe, my learning curve for bike handling and pack riding skills have gone through the roof. Riding 60 km/h beside a guy who has both hands off the bar casually removing his jacket no longer gives me the urge to have a minor seizure.
As far as results go, we are still on the hunt for something worth writing about but i'm sure the fitness i have acquired while racing here will transition smoothly to canadian racing. Im quite excited to get home and recharge the batteries while watching good old canadian playoff hockey.
I have so many stories that are worth writing about but here are the highlights of the trip:
- First Nations Cup: after a latvian rider does not pull through to ride the front, a french rider rides up alongside him and casually spits on him. Note to self, europeans take they're cycling seriously.
- After finishing a kermess, we discover that Brad has digestion large amounts of cow poop (which was scattered all over the road) and and now has a stomach virus.
- the all you can eat buffet in Holland. No description needed
-Singing happy Birthday to Stuart Wight
-Staying in a Castle in the Ardennes
-Traveling to Portugal for some well deserved rest
-Singing 70's tunes in a Belgian Bar in Brussels (my mom should be proud)
Overall the trip will definitely be one that i will forever remember. Thanks to all the people who have helped make this trip happen. Words can not describe how thankful i am. This was my first experience in Europe but I'm sure it wont be my last.