Monday, June 29, 2009

Holy Crap Table !!!!

The dice were not on my side this week. My yahoo account was hijacked and sent "casino" spam to my 935 address book contacts. I am feeling like a big loser at the moment.

What surprises me most about the whole experience was some of the responses i got.

Here's my top 10 countdown:

10. "Always bet on black."

9. "New writing job? Hit me!"

8. "I've been looking for more info about how to work from home and play casino games..."

7. "Could you explain this to me? I could never remember all those situations. (in BlackJack). Are you doing this?"

6. "Yep, you are now a cyclocross goddess *and* a gambling queen! :-)"

5. "diverting from the porn sites - or is this how you afford to visit them?"

4. "I just won three bucks!"

3. "Christine, you moved from Vegan to Vegas apparantly..."

2. "do i get a free cocktail with every visit?"

1. "how fucking sad to get this kinda crap from someone i used to have respect for".

I am so sorry to all of you who received the spam. And thanks a bunch for your understanding and humor.

A Real Belgian Birthday Party

Last Friday night was a late one - till 5am to be exact. It was Jonas' mom's 60th birthday celebration.

The party started with champagne hour in the backyard of the party hall. We were given a choice of champagne, kir royale or some spiked orange juice which they aggressively refilled for a full 1 1/2 hours. The average partygoer probably had about 6-8 glasses before staggering indoors for the formal 5-course sitdown meal. The next hour or so was a bit fuzzy for me - and i only had 2 glasses of champagne! I still dont know how the Belgians drink that much and act completely sober. Maybe after my cycling career, i will investigate!

Jonas' mom, Godelieve, was kind enough to have the caterers make a full vegan meal for us. Of all the courses i was most impressed with the main one. They gave us a vegan meal with the same layout as the meat counterpart but replaced the raw beef with tempeh circles on a flat piece of tough seitan. I didnt even know those products existed in Belgium.

And of all the entertaining events of the evening, I enjoyed most the dancing. Watching Godelieve dance with her husband Juul of 40 years was priceless - especially when he grabbed a quick butt squeeze when he thought nobody was looking. Early in the evening, the DJ played a string of old belgian folk songs. I can only assume that these songs were dated since the older generations took center stage to line-dance.

Later on, the party on the dance floor morphed into full chaos to include chubby checker and saturday night fever moves. Oh wait, that was me. The rest were doing versions of everything from Elvis Presley to hopscotch. As an avid peoplewatcher, i was deleriously enthralled. One of the animated dancers was Mahina, Jonas' cousin's (Phillipe) wife. She just returned from the hospital that afternoon after having a baby and still had the energy to move her booty. Incredible.

Although the party went on until 5am, the truth is that I didnt last that long. I only made it to 2am. I was out-partied by Godelieve's friends and family - all a generation older than I!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Soud of Music in Antwerp Train Station

My mom just sent me this youtube link. Normally I dont care much for videos but this one was special for me.

The video was made in the Antwerpen , Belgium Central (Train) Station on March 23, 2009, with no warning to the passengers passing through the station. At 8:00 am a recording of Julie Andrews singing 'Do, Re, Mi' begins to play on the public address system. As the bemused passengers watch in amazement, some 200 dancers begin to appear from the crowd and station entrances. They created this amazing stunt with just two rehearsals! Enjoy!

Click HERE to view the video.

Thanks mom!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fantasy Cyclocross and Gardens

I just finished a hard training period and am finally enjoying a relaxing week. It is giving me (and jonas since he does most of my training) some time to catch up on stuff and do little projects and read a lot.

According to a few Cyclocross Magazine subscribers, I should be receiving my copy any day. I am really excited to see how my interview of World Champ Marianne Vos' interview turned out. Hopefully it comes before my rest week is over!
Speaking of Cyclocross Magazine, starting NOW you can play FANTASY CYCLOCROSS where you choose your fantasy team and track its progress against the other fantasy teams. At the end of cross season, they give really cool prizes away. I already signed up and of course i chose myself for the team! Click HERE to PLAY!

The most exciting of all projects I've done so far this week was planting a garden. Ok, well jonas dug up the dirt while I sat nearby reading a book and sipping homemade lemonade. We planted basil, spinach, scallions, parsley, veldsla (field salad), turnips, corn, kale, bieslook (not sure what it is in english - looks like mini scallion with garlic taste), farmers salad (again, not sure what it is but will find out its' taste soon enough) and a few other items i cant remember. It looks like nothing so far but i look forward to our little square of bare dirt coming alive.
I also saw my doctor today. Thankfully after a thorough exam, he gave me a clean bill of health. He specializes in pro cyclists so I always feel good getting his approval.

Tomorrow is the old mans ride. I love easy weeks. Although i must admit that hard training weeks are exciting in some twisted self-inflicting-torturous way.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Surprise mtb ending to a MTB race

I just found this video on racer Jeremy Furgeson's facebook - too funny! He wrote along with the video that if every race ended with an unexpected death drop, there would be more spectators!

Here is the LINK!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Lance-centric Giro d'Italia Cartoon Strip

Elmo came through with some more behind-the-scenes Giro action. This one is in the form of a comic strip.

Click HERE to read comic from VelocityNation

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Behind the Scenes of Final Giro Stage

Most of you may know by now that Denis Menchov crashed just one kilometer from the finish line where he was expected to win the overall Giro d'Italia title. What most of you may not know is how his teammates reacted to his crash while watching the race from the mobilehome alongside the finish.

Elmo just sent me this youtube link so we can now all be privy to a little behind-the-scenes action.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Is it time to race yet??

Since returning from NYC i have been back to training, training, training, and more training! But there is nothing like a race to get your blood flowing with so much adrenaline with which almost no drug can compare. I say almost because i am somewhat of a drug neophyte. I have tried most of those that accompany broken bones and such, but my list of drugs for recreational use - or at least ones used when there is no medical emergency - is a pretty short one, namely alcohol. I havent even tried pot.

When i was in California last April, my friend told me about a story of a 75 year old guy who arrived at his girlfriend's house before she did, rummaged for food, found the big bag of special chocolate chip cookies laced with hash and ate them all. Luckily he didnt die but was awfully confused and probably a bit perturbed. Since i never tried that drug, i couldnt help but wonder if he would have enjoyed the high more had he been privy to ramifications of his cookie monster indulgence.

Back on the topic of training, i am pleased to report it is still going well. Last week i included four group rides in my training! And at each ride i got much needed feedback on my fitness level at the moment.

The first was the Begijnendijk ride that averages about 35-36kph. There are so many cyclists in attendance that the ride is usually split up into three groups of fifty. Usually the first group is the only one to ride in a double paceline where each rider takes pulls of 2km on the front of each line before making her way to the back. The second and third groups often ride the same speed as the first but without trading organized pulls. But for some reason, on Tuesday the second group was riding about 5km slower than the first. So in a spur-of-the-moment decision, Jonas and I decided to bridge to the first group. Within a millisecond of our decision he was gone. While i was chasing behind, i noticed that my speedometer read 51kph. How thrilled was i to see that i can put my face in the wind at speeds of over 50kph (30mph). That little maneuver to the front group totally made my day.

The second of the group rides was last Thursday with the Zaventem riders who average 36kph - no matter wind, rain, a passing train. Thursday was no exception - strong winds and sprinkles (or maybe that was sweat from the guys in front) made for a tough 36. From the proverbial gun, the ride was up at full speed, standard single file formation while weaving in and out of the neighborhoods on tiny streets riddled with parked cars and trees planted in the middle of the street (a strange belgian thing).

This is my second time doing this ride so i learned a thing or five. One of the lessons learned from my first ride was to never show your face in the wind for long periods of time if you want to be assured to finish the ride - with the group. First time around i showed my face a few times in the beginning, making the rest of the ride one hell of a struggle.

This time i kept to the back. Lesson learned here was the same every racer learns during "Racing 101". It is harder in the back due to the yo-yo effect, where you have to sprint out of every turn faster and longer than the riders in front. And if that wasnt enough punishment, with about 10km to go Jonas jumps out of the peloton in solo pursuit of the two-rider breakaway. Without thinking, which is usually how these things happen, I jump too. With no draft from him, I too had to bridge with no help AND a whole peloton in tow. Just when i was almost bridged, my engine stalled. I remained three meters behind them for what felt like forever. Thankfully, the guy in queue behind me gave a little push and i landed on the three-man train. No less than a minute later, the rollers hit. Bad timing. I worked so hard my head was spinning but i stayed tough to the end and even finished well in the uphill sprint.

The next two group rides were yesterday and today - both mtb rides (although i use my Ahrens cross bike.) Here in belgium they have about 10-50 mtb tours per week. You pay 3-5€ and you get marked trails, riding companions and feed zones filled with cookies, cake, bananas, raisins, dark chocolate, energy drink and water. Not a bad deal! During these two rides I got to test my cyclocross skills at top speed through turns, lots of sand, cobbles and tight twisty singletrack. And it was a success!

Now that i have positive feedback that my fitness is on the right track, I am ready to start pushing the envelope as they say. First up is this Thursday's Zaventem ride. Maybe i will try a few things...And motorpacing starts this week as well. My first race is scheduled for July 4th. It is a local race in a neighboring town so i will fill the backpack and ride over. Last time i did this race i placed 2nd. Although i dont have any designs on winning it this year as it is my first race of the season, i remind myself that stranger things have happened...
BTW, the fruit tart has nothing to do with this story but i posted the foto in honor of cherry season.