Sunday, March 30, 2008

I'm OFF to the ARDENNES



Yippidyfriggindoodah! The trip couldn't come at a more perfect time. For the past few weeks, I feel like i've spent day and night sitting at the computer - writing. It feels like my fingers have morphed into permanent typing position. Good thing the same hand position is used to grab the handlebar!

Usually i don't mind long days at the keyboard because i get playtime on the bike every day. But for as long as i can remember the weather here in belgium has been undeniably wretched! Playtime just isn't the same when you have to step out into a wall of rain, hail, snow and hurricaine-level winds.

Even though the weather in the Ardennes (southern hilly part of belgium - somewhat similar to West Marin, CA) may just as well be as bad as it's been here, at least there will be awesome views! It's going to be tough to have limited internet access for four whole days, but i think it will be a good thing - at least for my fingers! Oh, and they have a TV there so i can continue to watch the big bike races every day this week.

Here are a few photos i took from our last trip to the Ardennes so you know where i'm headed...

Have a great week!

13 comments:

GCDavid said...

Look at me. I live in Belgium and get to race professionally. And I get to write for a living. And the weather has been bad. And now I am going to the Ardennes. Waaa!!!

GCDavid said...

That was sarcasm by the way : )

PEANUT said...

You forgot to include I get to eat fabulous Belgian chocolate and beer at will. Maybe i'll swing by the store on my way to the ardennes to get a stash. Thanks GCDavid.

twinkiepatissier said...

i have a question. (please imagine me raising my left hand straight up to the sky)

do the flags on the bridges, as seen in your Ardennes photos, mean anything?

PEANUT said...

Hi Twinkiepatissier (love the name by the way!):
I assumed the flags represented who was there to help them out in Battle of the Bulge. Not sure if there is any added significance because they are situated on bridges. I can tell you, though, that there are lots of statues scattered throughout the ardennes in memory of America's support. But since the war had been many many years ago and most likely those who remember it well are dead, i wonder if the new generations will wonder what they are doing there (when they think of george W) and tear them all down.

chr15 tree said...

I hope the stature and memorials don't get pulled down I know that this period of European History was instilled in my generation by my parents and grandparents. the people of Europe were hugely affect by such attrocities.

Whatever we all think of war either current or past we have to remember and learn.

I am sure you will agree living in Belgium that nothing makes the mind focus on the evils that war brings than the hundreds (thousands) of acres given over to military cemetaries from WW1 and WW2, and even more poignient the names carved in stone in places like Ypres of soldiers who died whose bodies were never found... :(

On a lighter note I love the Ardennes. Here and the Vosges ergion of France are probably my two favorite place on the face of the planet...

hope you have a great time...

When you are back, if I may, could i pick your brains on Ahrens bikes???

chr15 tree said...

Will you get to see any of the Tour of Flanders this weekend???

CT

PEANUT said...

Hey CT:
I am just back from the ardennes! Wow. Yes, i am very lucky. I am happy to report that all the memorials are still there. My great grandfather fought in WW1 and grandfather in WW2, btw. Oh, and the vogezen (vosges in french) is on my "top places to visit" list.
yes, i am happy to talk about Ahrens. I love my bikes!
And regarding the tour of flanders, I have my ride all planned out that day so i can be back in time to watch the whole thing on TV. As goofy as it sounds, I usually prefer to watch the race on the TV over seeing them in person because the TV coverage here is so good.

Michel said...

Hey Christine!

Just a short message (probably will turned out te be a long one). Hope you read it (because this blog message is already almost 2 weeks old)

The first picture, that is the town of La Roche, am I correct? (Just want to check if I'm right)

About the monuments of WW1 and WW2: they certainly wont get pulled down. The people here in Belgium and Holland/the Netherlands (Where I'm from) are really aware of their past and the things the Allies did for them, certainly in Belgium. In Holland we had Market Garden, and we still have monuments and museums about that in the region of Arnhem and Nijmegen. We also have the American Cementary and Memorial in Margraten, with over 8000 fallen soldiers. Been there recently and is so impressive, makes you feel small and humble, but on the other hand so gratefull for the freedom this people helped to astablish. All the monuments don't get pulled down, I'm certain of that.

And although the common knowledge about what happend in WW1 and WW2 is less with the younger generation, it is certainly not completely gone. Maybe I know more about it than most people of my age (I'm 21) but it still isn't forgotten. (And if I get kids one day, I will certainly tell them what happend and try to get them to learn as much as possible about it!)

And now about the broadcasting of big races, in Belgium. That is indeed very good. I'm from Holland, and although the Dutch TV also broadcasts a lot of big races, I prefer to watch the Belgium Channel. Sporza does a great job in covering all the races (more races than they cover in Holland, and also the commentary is much better).

Pffff, turned out to be a long message after all!

Best of Luck!

Michel

Michel said...

I'm sorry for some of the spelling mistakes I've made, after reading it again now, I noticed some, which I didn't notice before posting, unfortunately.

PEANUT said...

Dag Michel:
Your spelling and grammar was quite good! I am afraid to admit that, on occasion, when I have had to write a letter in dutch it was a disaster! I write like a six year old. BUT i'm still working on my dutch so there is hope.
Anyway, glad to hear your opinion of Americans. I think Battle of the Bulge only lasted about 3 or 4 weeks but i heard we lost over 20,000 soldiers in that time. The brits lost 200, btw.
Regarding bike racing on TV, i read in a belgian newspaper last winter that Holland will no longer show cyclo-cross races on TV. I hope they didn't carry over that mentality through road season too! Yes, sporza is excellent coverage.

Michel said...

Goedemiddag Christine,

You seem to know your history quite well! As far as I can find back in my literature, the battle of the bulge lasted approx. 5 and a half week. Americans lost between 19.000 and 20.000 soldiers (death) and more than 60.000 wounded. Brits lost indeed 200 soldiers (1400 wounded) but they didn't play a big part in the Bulge. (They had a considerable larger casualty rate in Market Garden, where also the Americans (101st and the 82nd) fought, together with the Polish airlandingtroops).

In which part of the army was your grandfather in WW2?

There is indeed not much Cyclo Cross on TV here in Holland (at least at Dutch TV, but I can also watch to some Belgium Channels). The only cyclo cross which was recently on TV were the world champs in Treviso. (Where we had Lars Boom and Marianne Vos doing quite well.)

I have to admit that my English could have been worse, but most of the time I'm not completely certain about how well I do. Have the feeling that I make a lot of mistakes. I can really get frustrated with the stupid spelling mistakes I make sometimes. (And when I read it back (offcourse after already posting the message.....) I suddenly see al kinds of mistakes.)

Good luck with learning Dutch! It certainly isn't the most easiest language to learn, especially when English is your first language!

Then there still remains one question: Is that indeed La Roche on the upper photo on "the ardennes blog message". (I'm really curious if I remember that town correctly!)

Veel plezier vandaag!

Michel

PEANUT said...

dag Michel:
Regarding La Roche en Ardenne, dat klopt!
I don't know much about my grandfather's WWII experience. He died a long time ago.
At some point i will post a few photos of the WWII memorials i passed in the Ardennes.
Groetjes,
Pinda