After my nightmare travel adventure from last year's trip, I was repaid with as painless of a Trans-Atlantic flight as one could have. Window seat, skinny row-neighbor, tolerable meals and everything was on schedule. Our old pal Josef from last year was waiting for us once we came through baggage claim and we were on our way to Izegem, with all of our bikes, luggage and optimism in tow. I had a weird home-like feeling as we got closer to the house. The awkward handshakes and introductions were replaced with hugs and updates on each other's lives over the year since we'd last spoken. I knew things would be easier the second time around, but I was surprised how much easier things felt just knowing what to expect from the situation. I've got the same corner room but a new roommate in Jake Wells of Colorado. We get along pretty well, I guess. If our rooming together were a first date, I'd say he's totally going to call.
We've only had one training day so far, but I went with my go-to route to Kortrik, plus showed a few of the new guys around "downtown" Izegem. We made a trip to the store to buy the necessities: Nutella, Speculoos, and rice cakes. The rice cakes aren't really my favorite, but they help us avoid the judgmental eye of the locals to some degree.
My sleep schedule hasn't been ideal over the first few nights, but that may have something to do with the 4 hour nap that I took in the middle of the first day here. Geoff warned us not to take a nap and to stay awake at all costs during the first day, but I couldn't help myself. I've been having these weird 4 hour blocks of sleep with 2 hour periods in the middle where I'm wide awake. Not ideal, but I feel like I'm getting closer to a normal schedule.
Contrary to popular Internet belief, I did not do the World Cup today in Namur. Thank God. It looked outrageous. I did however do a "National Race" in Maldegem, which is about 45 minutes up the road. Belgium has been getting some pretty intense rain over the last week and there's lots of flooding in West-Flanders. Our course had to be cut short because an ocean appeared in the field where our race was located. The truncated course consisted of a very narrow start straight (think cart path), with a right turn onto poop-covered cobbles, and then a lot of long straight sections, many of which it was faster to run. Everyone's favorite! Although, I'm pretty sure I had enough UCI points for a front row call-up, I got the standard American issue call-up, none at all. I tried to make some hand gestures and Flemish-like sounds to the official, but he just looked at me funny. How rude (90's kids better get that reference!). I moved up a bit from my last row starting spot on the road, but not much. There were absolutely no technical aspects of the course, just pick a rut and pedal feverishly. I pedaled and got pretty dirty doing it. I'm not sure of the result, or how to gauge the people that I finished amongst, but regardless, it was good to shake the travel out of my legs.
Tonight we were home by 6pm, and had dinner shortly after. By the time we got all of our dirty kit power-washed and into a washing machine, it was almost 9. A bit of social time and a blog post thrown in and it looks like bed time will be around 11:30. Racing in the mud definitely extends the time involved with the race, but it make you strong like bull.
|Some of the guys unpacking and building bikes.|
|I've laid claim to the sweetest mug in the house. Yes, that's Pocahontas. Boom.|
|My phone is in the middle of that bag of rice.|
|Training. I wear all black so people know I mean business.|
|Our mechanic Dave with Belgian legend, Johan Museeuw. He parked right next to us!|