Tim Van Nuffel (Stevens) did a reconnaissance ride on the (Belgian National Championship) course and was quoted on Sporza, "back home they wouldn’t even put pigs in such a drenched meadow!" National coach Rudy De Bie was more diplomatic, saying, "it’s very heavy, but not impossible."
That quote could double for the Worlds Course i just pre-rode yesterday. Heavy. I actually DID plan to take photos. Took the camera out of its' waterproof plastic bag and hit the "on" button only to realize the battery was dead - gosh darn it! I was trying to take a photo of the antiquated but fully functional windmill that stands at the head of the Hooglede-Gits course. It marks the start of the course.
Serge armed my bike with the standard 12psi while i wrapped myself in 12 layers of body armor in an attempt to ward off heavy rain, mudslides, peanutslides down the mud, and grass skid marks.
After a few laps i finally figured out the layout. It is almost completely marked but just with poles that are drilled into the ground - immovable posts, so i hear...not that i slid into any.
It starts off on a long paved section, left turn up the pavement for a second then onto the grass field into the first mini dropoff. Then around the pits and up into the backside of the course where all the chaos begins - dropoffs, runups galore. Oh, and did i mention mud? The winner of the race will be the gal with the biggest quads (or maybe big stealth quads like mine! They are there, but you (or I, for that matter) just can't see them.)
My favorite section of the course is the collection of death drops that are only going to get sketchier as the rain continues here. Last year, these sections were a crowd pleaser. I cleared them every time with my tried and true method of holding my breath while simultaneously closing my eyes until the scary part is over. I learned that when i was young. My sister was addicted to those exorcist-type movies such as - yes, the exorcist - Amityville Horror House, and that "heeeeere's Johhhhhnnnny" flick. I was not.
After the pre-ride, Serge packed my bike while i peeled off my multiple layers of brown wear. Even my undergarments (sheila moon white tank and white tights) were mud brown. Oh, and my socks were even nailed while buried under Pro thick waterproof neoprene winter booties. The only part of me that was not muddy was my hands, protected by those Specialized gloves that can survive a nuclear war - or similarly winter Belgium weather. But once the gloves were off to disrobe, clean nails no more.
On a side note, perpetually dirty nails must be one of the top drawbacks to being a cyclist! I feel like a cat, constantly cleaning them only to find two seconds later the grime magically reappears. It reminds me of a book i'm reading called Transgressions 2 - short story trio edited by Ed McBaine. The first story written by Stephen King was about a guy who narrowly escaped 9/11 death. But a year later, random items from his former dead co-workers mysteriously appeared in his apartment. He tossed them into a garbage can down the block only for them to reappear with no logical explanation. WTF.
After the ride, we went back to Serge's house since he lives about ten minutes away. Once properly washed up, we headed to the mall to rendezvous (trying to work on my French) with Serge's twin brother Christophe and girlfriend Renatta. Large shopping areas are overwhelming to me - i get claustrophobic. Especially when it is Solden time (every january and july the whole country of belgium goes on sale(solden).) While we stood for a moment in front of a cell phone store, I squinted my eyes. And in that moment the whole place turned into a caged ant farm for kids - the swarms of people were the ants moving about their business while the huge neon SOLDEN signs and random kiosks adorned with colorful useless trinkets served as decoration.
Back at Serge's, we sat down for a very tasty pasta dinner. Monique, his mom, made mine vegan with lots of veggies! Monique's favorite vacation destination is Italy, so she speaks Italian and has mastered their cooking! Most flemish belgians speak flemish, french, english and some german, while the french belgians only speak french. Her italian is an anomaly. The sauce was so good that i will have it for lunch - just grab a spoon and go!
Now that i have my own place, every time Serge sees me or i visit his house, I get lots of house gifts - Christmas comes often for me! Yesterday i got curtains, a little TV table which can double as a dinner table for one, candles, and a clock. Oh, and Serge gave me two additional gifts - cool blue earrings (mine were destroyed in one of the recent races. but since i have no mirrors in the apartment, i haven't looked at myself in weeks to notice earlier), and a decorative mirror with my trading card photo screened onto it! WOW! Now when i have a bad hair day which is every day if you count helmet head, i can just ignore my live image and look at the trading card photo that perpetually stares back at me.
Thanks for reading,