So I arrived in Amsterdam and waited around for 3 hours for my luggage at the airport. I did stair running intervals, drank coffee. Got bored and ate dark chocolate truffles till I got sick. Tried to flirt with security personnel. Went out side for as long as I could handle, came back in. Walked down to the check out the train system and then back up to run to the top level of the airport and check out the skyview. Sat around and people watched. Everyone looks like Erwin Vervecken. Everyone. Even old ladies.
The luggage arrives and I gather it up and hop into my rental. Sweet modern Fiat with 400 miles on it. The highway is fast; per usual euro driving style. They drive like cat 4 bike racers. There is always someone wanting to go faster. You’ll be doing 150 with no one behind you and out of nowhere there is someone up on your ass flashing their lights so you will move out the way. I’ll be doing 120 behind a couple cars for a while. I’ll decide to speed up and pass them, get a few hundred meters away then they speed up, bridge the gap and then lay on their brights and jam past you like the finish line is 1km up the road.
I’ve gotten settled into my flat nicely. Leuven is a beautiful old city. I am really close to the grocery store and I just discovered (with some help) a little organic food shop. I took some new EDGE rims and Chris King hubs and spokes down to the Fietsen Hugo (fancy bike shop downtown) and had them build the wheels up for me. Returned the rental car today and took the train back to Leuven. For 3 Euros, the train to Leuven is much, much faster than driving. It took like, 10 minutes, no stops.
I’ve been waking up early, throwing the spandex on and heading out for an hour or so everyday. Exploring the local roads and trails. Everything has been frozen since I got here so the trails are nice and clean, packed hard. I mentioned this last year, the roads are impeccably clean. No glass or debris. So I’ve been putting the miles on my deep EDGE tubulars.
No track bikes in this town. There is not so much of the consumer culture within cycling in Benelux. Generally when you see someone in a team kit out riding; they are a PRO or an ex-PRO. I got up really early the other morning just to watch the college kids commute to school gloveless at 7am in the snow. I was not so immersed in the commuter bikes last year when I was staying in a village. Now that I am in Leuven they are everywhere. We have bikes for fashion and bikes for utility, bikes for racing and bikes for commuting. The Leuvinians just have bikes. The most busted up, squeaky, rusted chain no oil having buckets of crap you have ever seen. Everyone rides bikes because their trips are barely 1km away from each other. From point to point the entire city of Leuven would fit in 40-50 square blocks of portland. Inner southeast if you will.
I’ve been taking walks. Walking a couple of KM is easier than walking a couple of miles. I have a tiny, tiny fridge that I have filled to the max with veggies.
Yesterday I raced the Scheldecross in Antwerpen:
Did not have the greatest legs but, they are coming around. Rode all of the sand sections which was giving me an edge on the 4-5 euros I was riding with. Sprinted for the line only to find it about 5 feet further than I expected it to be. Going to try and make it to a small local cyclocross tomorrow if I can. Saving the legs for the Wereldbeker in Hofstade on Wednesday. The course in Antwerpen was killer. Frozen sand, a beach, a little mud, another sand section, more ice, even more ice. There was someone shouting “GO AMERICA!!” in a sketchy corner and it totally pumped me up!! There were a bunch of Canadians riding and Page’s mechanic Frankie was generous enough to take my bike to the pit for me. He was shouting laps to me as I sped through 5 minutes after JP in the boxes.
Going to hook up with Barb Howe and co for xmas burritos I think! If Parbo ever gets to town…