Thursday, May 8, 2008

first public speaking event ON TAPE and cyclo-tourist ride Belgian Style

Oh my gosh - i just came across a link to a video of the first 'vegan-athlete' public speaking engagement i've ever done! It was for Organic Athlete and IDA - two organizations i am a spokesperson for. Even though i'm embarrassed by my 'performance', here's the LINK for your amusement.

FINALLY, us Belgians have enjoyed a full week of wonderful weather - 70-80 degree F (22-28 deg C) days with boatloads of sun. It's been about one year, last april in fact, since we've had a full week of nice weather. So in my fear of wasting these precious days, I've been spending almost every second outdoors. In one week i went from bright white to dirt patch brown (i still haven't mastered the art of even layering of the sunscreen.) There are few feelings as satisfying as sun on the quads. I even salt-stained my shorts.

Last weekend i went on one of those organized cyclo-tourist rides. The course is completely marked with arrows or symbols painted on the pavement and the periodic supplemental signs taped on the poles to help you find your way. A typical cyclo-tourist ride gets 500-2000 participants average and the start time is whenever you want to take off between 7:30am to 1pm. They offer different lengths such as 30km, 70km, 110km.

My ride had about 1000 riders. We left at about 8:30am and the course was riddled with riders ranging from the 35 year-old weekend warrior - equipped with his fully weighted backpack filled with all necessary artillery to last the km's - to the once-a-year joy rider wearing his musette he must have scored in the 1956 Tour de France. As an avid people-watcher, I was having a rippin' time checking all the outfits out.

I went to the ride only with Jonas but during the event we periodically tagged along with groups passing by, while other times we were joined by the onesies and twosies we passed along the way.

When riding in a group with folks who may only ride in a group format once or twice a year max, the bike handling skills of many are a bit creative. Since I plan to enter my first road race of the season next week, this was perfect practice for me. I got to remember what it's like to have a dumbass ride up me and another rider (jonas in this case) and wedge his front wheel between us. He surely put a lot of trust in our not swerving by even a centimeter towards each other.

My favorite of all the cyclists had to have been the 75ish year old guy who rode with us for a while. He looked like a former pro racer; his clothes were neat and tidy, large saddle bag, cycling cap (no helmet), tubulars, pristine clean bike, curve in the back probably due to many thousands of KM's on the bike and excellent bike skills. Jonas and i passed him at about 75km into the ride and he tagged along as many others have. But this guy not only lasted on our wheel for quite a while but he worked in with us. We kept our 3-(wo)man paceline up for about an hour - up and down the undulating roads. He really impressed me with his power, poise, timing, and clean bike. Ok, maybe the last one doesn't go with the first three descriptions but i did think about the bikes cleanliness as we pacelined past numerous riders.

Today is yet another perfect day so i must go now to sit in the sun. When the weather turns again to crap, I want to be able to say that I at least made the best of it!

Thanks for reading!


Amy said...

I am going to check out your video...I really enjoyed your post today - fun to hear what it's like for you to ride with "civilians"! The clean bike thing, I think it might be a Belgian genetic trait? We have an uncle in the family who bikes and you should see how his bike shines!

Anonymous said...

I hear there is a bike race happening in Italy TOMORROW :)

PEANUT said...

hey amy:
I think the clean bike thing is more a reflection of the level of respect one has for her machine.
chr15: and what race is THAT? do you think any of the astana riders has a chance at the overall considering they've clearly had no proper preparation?

Anonymous said...

You know what Christine, I'm not too bothered about Astana, all this controversy about them turns me off.

I wouldn't begrudge Leipheimer anything to me he as long paid his dues, i fact I'd love to see him win.

Contador and Kloden though, i'm not sure. Despite being the GC winner in France last year Contador doesn't excite me, I'd need to see more 'courage' from him. Kloden, to me he is to entranched with the old T-mobile/Astana teams, i'll let you make of that what you will, it's only personal opinion, based on little more than gut feeling.

Back to your question on form, I don't think that Astana have been sitting back, for one moment. Contador and Lepheimer have already shown early season form and, despite some 'rolling' stages in the first week, I think the corsa may help them ride into greater fitness ready for the TT's and high mountains.


Anonymous said...

Your weather is so like ours... OK mileage wise I guess we aren't that for apart, but even down to the last time we had a 'prolonged' spell of good weather (last April - Classics time I think).

So what is it like as a Pro to ride with 'joe' public?

It's great to people watch! I run and ride and at events in both there are so many different types of people. Including the oldies who always put us ahem youngsters to shame, whether it be staying power, speed or just a clean bike :)

I guess I fall into the 'weekend' warrior (and probably the dumbass)category, sans backpack, well most of the time (I still wonder how you can fit so much into your saddle bag).

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the sunshine

CT :)

gewilli said...

I even salt-stained my shorts.



you said salt...



PEANUT said...

chr15: Leipheimer just came in 3rd overall in tour of georgia so i would guess that would indicate he too has a bit of form -if it lasts that long.
Our weather is 26 deg F again today, btw!
THanks for remembering my "what's in my saddle bag" entry. haha.
Gewilli - yes, salt stains. Although i suppose they could have been skid marks if i were wearing the shorts inside out to get a second wearing out of them.

Anonymous said...

Hey yes I ride to De Pinte!!
That's the 3th race from the Vlaanderen Kampioenschap and I'm 17 of 172 racer!
I'm happy to know that you come!!

PEANUT said...

hey adeline:
CONGRATS on your 17th ranking. Way to go!!!
See you soon.

Anonymous said...

Me too I'm so glad to see you again!
That's a long time you didn't race here...

Me season begin very well ! I'm "provinciaal kampioen", I finish one time : 9, 11 and 12 ... Three top 20 in 6 races!
But now with this heath!! Pfff that's too difficult to me !!

GCDavid said...

"Hello. I'm Christine Vardaros and I've been a vegetarian for 16 years."
"Hi Christine"

Sounds like a 12-step meeting.

Where was the Second Annual OrganicAthlete Conference held?

PEANUT said...

hello. I'm christine vardaros and that was my first time speaking about my diet to a large group of folks. As i mentioned in the post, i am super mega goofy!
The following year's conference was held in SF as well although without me. I was on the east coast racing. To find out where the next one will be held, visit
I'm off to the races now! yippee!

GCDavid said...

Yep. I really don't like speaking in public, even though it is basically my job. Go figure.

Actually you did MUCH better than the person holding the camera. It was like the "Blair Witch Project" meets Julia Childs.

(And if you never saw the "Blair Witch Project", that made no sense at all).

Go race and be safe.

Anonymous said...

Off subject, I just finished reading YOUR issue of Cyclocross a magazine, first off it's an fantastic magazine, fresh like a school magazine or like the first album of an emerging rock band. I loved reading about you and your scene on Belgium and now I am totally envious. I love cross in the UK, but it is nothing. Now I have read about cross in the US and in Belguim I want that atmosphere and following here. We are lucky to get 80 riders at an event accross all categories, with a scant few spectators and no beer, no cowbells... Plus my local league (London) we get to race (the only race) the exact same race as the semi pros and even (ex)national champs, sandbagging - never heard the term before but it is certainly rife in the UK!


PS Have you been keeping up with the Giro? I loved the first day... A TTT prologue awesome! What better way to showcase the race, sort out the first days pecking order and limit the big teams gains than a short course TTT on the first day! Prudhomme should take note, eh?

Rickie Rainwater said...

Hi Peanut,
Just got a new pair of my first Assos riding shorts. Very nice stuff. Thanks for being so enthusiastic. I enjoyed your videos and even enjoyed the vagan drifting video! Just got off another 12 hour shift and it is raining. I need to wash my bike. I name my bikes. Road bikes are girls, and mountain bikes are boys, and cross bikes can be either... bike genetics... ha anyway, enjoy life. I would like to see another home boy win the giro!
Rickie Rainwater

PEANUT said...

Hey CT:
THanks for the compliments on the CX mag. The next issue is in its final phase of publishing, by the way. I only have one article in it this time. It came at a bad time where i was back to back with other writing gigs. But it will surely give you an even better idea of life as a cx racer in belgium.
Yes, following the giro a bit. It hurt me to see nick nuyens hit the ground in the sprint yesterday. That had to hurt. Broken collarbones also hurt.
Hey Rickie:
Congrats on your shorts - it always feels nice to have new shorts.
Glad you liked the vegan video. And now i must go to name my cross bikes. Since i have a couple of matching pairs, do they have to have the same name?

bikesgonewild said... naming yer matching bikes...hey, look-a-like twins usually have similar sounding but different names...just sayin'...

...the real reason i'm here is because i read your excellent & informative article about cramping in the marin ij...won't get into details right now other than to say, good stuff...

Anonymous said...

Cramping??? My nemesis, if i could get through any more than 40miles without an attack it's a bonus. Then one of the Rapha guys recommended Magnesium supplements... touch wood... never had an attack since.


Rickie Rainwater said...

Since you have two beautiful "twin" cross bikes, one may have a boy name and one may have a girl name. It is kind of fun, but they both have their own characteristics and personalities, so being creative as you are, I'm sure you will enjoy giving them creative individual names. My old schwin high siera that I rebuilt was named Rocky, and my Italian Viner is called Nemo because she is made from Columbus Nemo Steel. Have fun and keep us posted.

PEANUT said...

Thanks for the compliment on my Marin IJ article BGW! I only got a few "hate mails" from it.
Hey rickie:
I suppose that since magnesium does relax the muscles that it theoretically makes sense that it could affect your cramping. There are also different types of cramps, fyi.