Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Still Thinking About the Ardennes Camping Trip

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.

33 comments:

Big Bad Wolf said...

looks like a great area for mountainbiking.. seeing one of those pics I thought.. you would look good with blonde hair :)

PEANUT said...

i am wearing some pink hair wrap because of my bad hair day. Maybe i will go blonde, although i always thought i'd look good with black. Then again, i don't have a top sense of fashion when it comes to myself.

Rickie Rainwater said...

Christine,
Your such a romantic! Great photos! I'm looking forward to your pictures of your cross bikes ect. I know you use speed plays for your road bike, but do you use speed play frogs for cross or the regular speed play road pedals? I have a set of both. I would assume you use the frogs. My leg is better, but for some reason, my blood pressure has gotten high and I don't know why. I will probably have to bite the bullet and see a doctor. Though it is a fine line, I should probably regulate my use of salt and possibly coffee. Perhaps it is herditary but I may just be over doing it. Thank goodness I am on vacation and can try to destress. Thanks for the pictures. I absolutely hate limitations. I don't drink or smoke those little Belgium cigars anymore, and I have been so good, and now this. There isn't a nice word for it. I may try yoga to illiminate this as I would perfer to avoid medication.
Rickie

Rickie Rainwater said...

Those hills look like the Ozark Mountains here where I live.

bikesgonewild said...

...we both know how varied & beautiful marin county is, bordered by the pacific's beaches & wild coastline & then having the sierras only three hours away, we could probably agree that it's hard to beat the scenery of nor-cal...that being said, the area you were camping in just looks awesome...

...& while they might have "all the same crap as markets around the world", the town pictured down in the valley seems almost pristine...

...just wonderin' if it's a case of "the grass is always greener" when i look at that...maybe the wednesday night 'farmers market' amongst the redwoods in fairfax would look as magical to someone from the ardennes...

...what cha think ???...

Anonymous said...

Black! Please, black! Not blonde, anything but blonde. Or pink. Anything but pink. No pink, no blonde. Anything else. But preferably black.
-- E.C. Chamberlain

PEANUT said...

I do use frogs for cyclo-cross and mountain bike. My knees are happy i use them as is the rest of my body because i can always clip out of the pedals.
rickie, sorry to hear about your high blood pressure. Best of luck with that!
Every time i am in the Ardennes I think of Marin County. If i were able to forget reality for a moment i could even imagine i'm walking on trails in Marin. I miss California most when i am in the Ardennes.
Regarding the street markets, i would guess the belgians prefer theirs more than our NorCal ones since they don't eat a lot of the foods we eat, their style of dress is very different, and so on. What i guess i found most odd was that a street fair in the middle of such a picturesque town could have such mundane items. I think i was expecting more exotic items for sale to reflect the surroundings.

chr15 tree said...

Ha i'm gonna have to disagree with the above comment... blonde or pink, Yesiree!

Great pictures Christine, especially the view down on to the river, oh and of course you in your VK t-shirt, Sue has one the same... Glad you had great time, it looks (and sounds like) a lovely area.


Grinning from ear to ear, sweet! I know that feeling!

chr15 tree said...

Oh yeah and I retract my staement about the tyre article, i've just come accross the one about the cowbells.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend... I'm off for a nap, those hill sprints are TIRING!

PEANUT said...

so what was more interesting - the tyre or cowbell article? I actually know the sales rep for cowbell.com - elizabeth. She is great! I met Elizabeth in my former life when I sold cowbells to Kona for cross season.
That grey VK shirt doubles as the best pajama top.
I think i will go with black with blonde highlights.

Rickie Rainwater said...

Christine,
I just had my dad shave my head. I like it short short, but no highlights. I'm not too worked up over my blood pressure as I feel ok, but I will look into it. Ok, I'm thinking you would look great in most any color, but I could see you in electric pink or even brillant electric red. I perform piano tomorrow morning and my parents and family have all decided to attend. I feel like telling them the service has been canceled... ha! Just stage fright. If you do up your hair, send some photos for the peanut archives. I start back on the bike after the family deal on Sunday.
rickie

PEANUT said...

best of luck tomorrow. When i get nervous i remind myself that i am about to do something that i love and my sole responsibility is to enjoy it. I am not saying this gives me wins every time but it at least cuts down on the nerves.

chr15 tree said...

Yeah good luck tomorrow Rickie, performing in front of your folks huh... jut relax and enjoy!

I just shave the hair (what is left of it :) ) off these days, real close clipped, but in my time it's been blond, black, red, even blue... Now it's just gone, ha!

cowbell.com, interesting site... I have my cyclocrossworld.com one which Sue takes to my races it and rings it like crazy... It's not the done thing here in the UK so they think she's pretty crazy!

Black and blond would look pretty good (but i'm still voting pink!)!

PEANUT said...

I dont think uk is ready for the cowbell. haha Everyone must look at her as strangely as they looked at me when i once yelled to my friend, "i'll do you if you win the race." The two guys who heard it let him pass but fortunately the three guys in the lead didn't know the score.

chr15 tree said...

Ha that sort of talk could have ended in trouble!

I'm not sure that even an incentive like that could get me higher than mid pack!

"I'll do you if you get better than 24th"... not got the same ring

PEANUT said...

well is surely motivated my friend. But i am not always so lucky with my motivational sentiments. I once told a guy that i'd do him if he lost 20 pounds. He immediately gained weight. He chose chocolate over me.

chr15 tree said...

Brilliant, must have been bloody good chocolate!

Sex or chocolate... sounds like a 'sex and the city' enigma.

Personally I don't have a sweet tooth... come to think of it I'm dieting too... not in the region of 20lbs though, 7 will do me!

Jonah said...

Now that's what I call camping!

Rickie Rainwater said...

Peanut,
The poor guy probably thought you said, if you gain 20 pounds...

PEANUT said...

It did look like 20 pound gain actually. Sad thing is that he did it with Hersheys chocolate now that i think back. That is the real crime.

Rickie Rainwater said...

Peanut,
If it had been me back in those days, I might have asked you, "Which leg did you want me to cut off!" Just got back from performing this morning. I left the house at 5:30am and practice at the church for an hour. I don't know why I get so nervous, but everything seemed to go ok except for that really horrendous wrong chord two chords from the end. I had designed a cool ending with an A Flat major chord, and for some reason, even in practice, I would hit an A major which is totally wrong. Well there was this fat wrong chord, so I just kept going and repeated the correct chord and ended the composition the way I had planned it. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and one of my friends actually teared up, so I guess it was ok. With family in, I haven't had much time to ride, but perhaps my body needed a rest. I will try to get back to my zone on Monday.

PEANUT said...

love that you kept it cool under crisis. The beauty of it is that i would guess not one single person noticed your wrong chord.

bikesgonewild said...

...hey there...i've got two btw's...

...btw-(1) wasn't tryin' to make you nostalgic talking about marin w/ my last post...

...& btw-(2) re: the "weight gainer" that you were willing to "do" if he lost lbs's...was that the fat guy that used to wander around the local bike shops muttering "mama told me, life is like a box of chocolates" ???...

...just wonderin'...

PEANUT said...

hey bgw
i wouldnt be so nostalgic for marin if i went back there more often - or even if i went to the ardennes more often.
The chocolate guy does live in marin and does ride bikes so you may run into him at some point.

Rickie Rainwater said...

Finally, I woke this morning feeling good and rested. I rode 49 miles and felt very good on the bike with no major problems. My lower back took a little time to warm up, but I felt really good at the end of my ride. A few days off seem to be the right choice.

bikesgonewild said...

...peanut...i suggest you don't open the site posted above...if you have recourse to anon 6:30:00am cet's e-address, that you report this person...

...it's basic porn & while personally i don't have a problem w/ the content, i do have a problem w/ people who indiscriminately post this kind of thing where it's not asked for...

chr15 tree said...

Thanks for the warning BGW.

Porn is one thing, porn where it is not expected, or appropriate is another.

PEANUT said...

Glad you're feeling fresh rickie! Time off is sometimes all that is needed to feel fit again.
I did find it odd that the anon posted the link to the porn site. It turns out that Flavia had some virus (or "friend/virus") get into her facebook and forward the link to all her friends.
For me, watching porn is like watching a womens bike race. It's frustrating to watch because i'd much rather be doing it myself.

bikesgonewild said...

...i think i must be getting old...i look at porn or a bike race & think "gee, i just don't go that fast anymore"...thank you, i'll be here all week & please, tip your waitress...

PEANUT said...

not bad bgw!

Rickie Rainwater said...

Repeated my ride from yesterday, 49 miles, and took in a little blue grass as my musical family from connecticut are visiting at my parents farm. About the porn stuff, I love women and money, and I have neither and don't expect any soon. But like Jimi Hendrix said, "I still have my guitar."

Unknown said...

HI, What was the name of the campsite? Thanks!

PEANUT said...

Camping d'Houlifontaine in Poupehan-sur-Semois - this was the campsite in the ardennes. sorry for a late response!!