Sunday, September 6, 2009

What Does Gordel Mean?

Usually it means belt. But one day a year here in belgium, it means chaos on wheels. Today is the day. Bikes everywhere, many thousands of them. In fact, the whole of Brussels is closed down and closed off to cars on this one day. It is the day where "real" cyclists, alter their normal training routes to avoid the Gordel Tours.

Today i did my training ride with Jonas and Ronny. Since i got to pick the first part of our ride so i could tailor it for my specific workout, I choose a Gordel route (but in the opposite direction - i'm not THAT massochistic!) We dont have Gordel rides in America of this magnitude so it's a spectacle to me, something not to be missed. It was great! The riders served as a sort of moving film. Some riders had oversized balloons tailgating their bikes. Others brought their whole family - I am still amazed how one woman put all four kids on her bike. And the power she must need to propel that bike forward! I think my favorite was the old woman with her dog in the handlebar basket. She must have been about 85 years old but in true belgian fashion she was hauling ass on her 40kg town bike with barely 30psi (little over 2 bar) in the tires.

After my efforts were over, i handed over the route-choosing to Jonas, who immediately took us off the Gordel route. Party over. But thanks to Jonas' inattention, Ronny shortly took command and we were BACK on the Gordel route. Just out of curiousity, i finally asked Ronny why he would choose to ride along the cyclotourist parade route. His hand motion of drinking said it all - FEED ZONE! On all the Belgian tours, there are feed zones every few kilometers. Sure enough, five minutes later we were enjoying drinks courtesy of Gordel. Clearly, Ronny has a zwarte gordel (black belt) in seeking out the one benefit of the Gordel ride for non-gordel riders.

Tomorrow is an evening criterium, Avond van Zonnebeke. Afterwards, we are having a drink with our friend Krist at a cafe. Considering there is at least one cafe in every belgian town (NO MATTER how small that town is) i bet we will have no problems finding one. In fact, race registrations here in Belgium are usually held in cafes - yep, smoke and all.

And after this race, all focus is on CROSS!

Thanks for reading.

4 comments:

Amy said...

Oh, I always wanted to do the Gordel! Did you notice any "pesterijen"? Apparently they sometimes do things like change direction signs and put tacks on the road.

chr15 said...

So what is the significance of the word Gordel in this context?

Sounds like a brilliant day to have though. Is it like a 'just get out and ride' day or are these organised 'sportif' type events?

Race fast tonight, and enjoy your drink afterwards with your friend.

PEANUT said...

no amy. nothing on where i rode. They do that to us in races sometimes too.
chris - it refers to the ring around brussels to include all the little towns surrounding it. There are actual routes painted on the ground like 25k 50k 100k.
Yesterday's race was a fun course, but after doing intervals for almost two hours in the hot sun i started to feel it. LUCKILY there was a slight rise in the course so i could relax a bit. I finished 18th, enough to make 22.50 for the day (12.50 start money and 10€ prize money. - yes, definintey a women's bike race based on the pay.)

chr15 said...

Hot sun, Belgium, Spetember... what is wrong with this sentance??? Ha!

We have the same weather too, we weren't expecting that thought Summer was gone!

18th place sounds good, especicially as there is CA$H involved! Shame there wasn't more to go around.