Holiday greetings from Belgium! Well, I made it safely across the pondto begin my Belgian holiday cyclo-cross racing adventure. The plan is tocompete in seven Belgian cross races which kick off with the Superprestigein Diegem on Christmas Eve and end after a race in Saint Niklaas on January2nd.
What the heck am I doing in Belgium to race cyclo-cross you might ask?Well, to by honest I’m not quite sure. All I know is this past summer Ihad an international travel voucher that needed to be redeemed. While decidingwhere to take my trip I met Michel Bajorek, a professional mechanic fromBelgium at my bike shop. Without much effort he coerced me into racingin his home country over the holidays. Five months later here I am, readyto line up with some of the best cross racers in the world. The main reasonI am here is because a unique opportunity presented itself and it was oneI did not want to pass up. I have no lofty goals other than to race ashard as I can, soak up as much Belgian cyclo-cross culture as possible andtry not to embarrass myself along the way. Oh, and I might enjoy some chocolate, waffles and beer while I am here, too
On the way over from Denver, I bumped into Velo Bella’s Christine Vardarosin the Washington Dulles airport who was one her way over to Belgium, too.She was battling a tough cold. No offense Christine, but I’m glad I wasn’tsitting next to you on the plane! I am going to need all the help I canget and getting sick just ain’t gonna help.
After a long, yet relatively smooth flight across the pond, Michel,my Belgian right-hand man, was waiting for me at the Brussels airport.We quickly downed a cappuccino and made our way back to his house in Hennuyeres.
Along the way we picked up the rental car I had reserved for the trip.I had requested a compact car, but somehow ended up with a two-liter, six-speedAudi A4 Turbo Wagon. No a bad upgrade, eh? Yeah, it’s fast.
After building up my bikes and eating a delicious lunch prepared byMichel’s mother, we went for a short spin on some rolling farm roads surrounding Braine-le-Comte. The skies were gray and the air chilly, but it didn’t take away from the historic beauty of the countryside. It seems that everywhere you look is and old farmhouse or church. It really is amazing.
Thanks to Michel, I was lucky enough to line up a post-ride massagewith a retired team masseur that lives close by. Talk about Euro, thisguy was great! He’s in his mid-fifties and has been working solely withcyclists for the past thirty years. Now he only works with friends in hissmall converted backyard shed, but I’ll have to say this guy knows whathe is doing. At the end of the massage he took my blood pressure and wasshocked to see how low it was. He whispered something in French to Michel.Michel replied, “He may need a glass of wine or beer to get his blood pressureup, but that is reserved for after a race and he has yet to suffer enoughyet to deserve that reward. We will wait for tomorrow.”
Tomorrow is the Superprestige race in Diegem. I wonder if BartWellens will have to kick anyone? I’ll let you know how it goes.
Did you know?
Did you know that in 1960 Maurice Vermersch showed off his “Brussel waffle” at the Brussels World’s Fair. His large, fluffy waffles were smothered in whipped cream and strawberries, kind of like what you might find at Denny’s, Although I would imagine Maurice’s waffle were just a little bit more tasty. After finding success in Brussels, he took his delicious treat to the States and renamed in the “Belgian Waffle.”
Brandon Dwight lives in Boulder, Colorado and is part owner of Boulder Cycle Sport as well as a member of the TIAA-CREF/Clif Bar Cyclocross Team.He is also the founder of Doperssuck.com.