Last week Jonas and I went camping in Bouillon, Belgium. We really lucked out on the best spot imaginable. While most of the Ardennes camping spots are riddled with semi-permanent trailer parks doubling as camp sites where people are living on top of each other, we snagged a river-side spot with an absent neighbor on one side and an empty lot on the other. It felt like we were all alone along the river.
Every morning started with French pressed coffee coupled with fresh bread delivered to the camp site via a bakery truck that swerved in and out of the lots honking his horn.
After eating so much that we were ready for a nap, we instead 'suited up' for our trail hike. I got to break in my brand new custom insoles made for my walking/running shoes which worked amazingly well. We hiked and hiked and got lost, then hiked some more, hitched a ride with strangers when we found ourselves many kilometers off our pre-planned route, then hiked the rest of the way home. It was the first time that my legs felt fresh from that much hard walking - thanks to the insoles (and the doctor from Kortenberg who made them)!
When we werent out hiking or getting lost while hiking, we sat by the river with our red wine in hand while watching passerbys. We saw fishers catching nothing and little kids drifting away on oversized tires while the parents chase them down alongside the river. But what i found most entertaining was the kayakers.
Every boat that passed was completely unique - some contained Dutch tourists obnoxiously yelling across the river as if they were the only ones on earth. Others held little kids who had no idea what to do with the paddle and relied on the river to pull them downstream. And every once in a while, we were passed by semi-professional-looking seasoned kayakers who flew by us in a flash. Inspired by the fast ones, I decided to give it a go figuring it can't be that hard to do it.
The next day we were out on kayaks playing in the river. It was a perfect day for it - sunshine and 28°Celcius. Within thirty seconds of hitting the water i realized it may be harder than it looks. About 1km down the river we took a brief detour to our tent to pick up a little courage in the form of a bottle of wine.
After our first glass we decided to paddle in earnest to work off the alcohol calories. Jonas went first - we flew! I was next. I put my head down and paddled my ass off. When i looked up i realized i had done a perfect circle. I guess my right arm is stronger than the left. Of course I glanced back at jonas and casually said I meant to do that.
On my second try i went a little sideways and we ended up wrapped in trees along the bank. To prove that I was effective somehow, i turned to jonas, pointed upwards at the blowing branches and said, " Look at how much wind I made." He laughed so hard that i think i fooled him again into thinking i planned that route. And to think I accomplished all this on just one single glass of wine. I'll never know what i could have done with two since I spilled my second glass when trying to duck my head under the branches. Maybe i should stick to cycling...or trail walking it seems.
To balance out all the nature stuff, we checked out the little neighboring towns by scooter, stopping briefly in each for a quick drink or bite to eat. Some of the cafes had incredible views so extraordinary I could almost believe they were fake. We happened to drive through one town just as they were having their weekly market. I love markets so i was thrilled to stop and check out the stuff. It took us about four minutes to confirm that they had the same crap as all markets around the world so we got back on the scooter to head home.
Our four minute detour cost us dearly though. We would have made it back to the campsite completely unscathed from the heavy storm chasing us through the past few towns but instead it nipped at our toes for a litle bit before dumping on us about five minutes from home. There has to be nothing worse than arriving at a campsite frozen and wet.
It is now back to reality. Training for cyclo-cross is top priority at the moment and all is going well. Thanks to that little break between road and cyclo-cross seasons I feel fresh, motivated and ready to train for cross.
Today was my first offroad ride on the cross bike. I spent the whole time with the corners of my lips glued to my ears. I'm sure many of you can relate.
The bike projects are starting now too. First project is gluing the tubulars - I just started to prep the Reynolds wheels and Challenge Grifos. Next is to change the Speedplay cleats on my Specialized shoes. Photos of my projects to come...
Thanks for reading.