Monday, August 31, 2009

Blood in my Spit Part I

To preface the race video posted below, I'll make a few comments before a more detailed, written account of my day at the races in Sant Jan, Belgium. I was told that racing in Belgium was going to be hard. That was a huge understatement. The pace was harder and faster than many of the Pro 1/2 crits I've seen in here in southern California and certainly faster than any race I've participated in. Instead of a wind up to a fast final few laps, it was a sprint from the gun. 106 guys battling to be at the front, taking insane risks through roundabouts and corners, riding on sidewalks and forcing guys off the road - and then came the wind...

Sant Jan Kermesse from Litterbox on Vimeo.

As mentioned in the video, I got to the race way too early - hours and hours too early. I spent the first hour in the cafe on the corner. Later I found out that places like this are called brown cafes, because everything inside is brown. Filled with the stale stench of cigarettes and old beer and a smattering of unfriendly intoxicated local drunks. I asked for a menu of what food was available and was given the single choice of a croque-monsieur. Being hungry and with no other apparent choices I accepted the offer. With-in fifteen minutes I was eating a rather home made tasting toasted ham and cheese sandwich and gagging on the the thick smoke of off-brand European cigarettes. Didn't these guys know I was a bike racer?

Here's a pic of the cafe from during the race - it was much less lively when I was eating there.

With only an hour killed and many more to go I decided to take a little drive into the center of Ieper. There the city center had a more tourist friefriendly selection of cafes - I should have just gone there in the first place and had a better lunch, but somehow I was afraid that if I left I'd miss the sign-in. In Ieper I supplemented my meager lunch with a crepe and a cafe au lait and burned the rest of the time staring at the beautiful town square.

With most of the extra hours burned off it was time to head back into Sant Jan where it was beginning to look more like a bike race. Race officials were getting things ready - people began milling about, and the cafe Hof Van Commerce was transformed into race check-in, albeit still reeking of old beer and cigarette smoke. Inside I presented my international UCI race license and permission to race letter to a row of cigarette smoking and curmudgeonly Belgian race officials sitting at a table in the back of the cafe. The most ancient looking one demanded that I produce my badge - thinking that he meant my UCI license I told him that that was all I had. This seemed to really annoy the old coot and after a bit of back and forth in Flemmish with the other guys he begrudgingly pulled out a stack of "Identificatiebadge Buitenlandse Renner" cards or "Foriegn ID racing licenses," and for a mere 5 Euros I had one of my very own. Then for an additional 8 Euros I got my canvas race number and a plastic frame number. The slightly less ancient guy at the table told me that I'd get 5 Euros back when I returned the numbers at the end of the race. From doing research ahead of time I knew that I'd have to return the number at the end of the race, and that they never have safety pins so I brought my own. The frame number however was a surprise. When I asked if they had zip-ties to affix the number to my frame they all looked at each other for a moment and then back at me as if I had just asked them for one hundred dollar bills. Belgians have a unique national facial expression that's used as a catch-all for many different social situations. Their lips purse out in a kiss-like way and they raise their eyebrows as if to say, "what the hell am I supposed to do about that?"

Outside the cafe with race numbers in hand and the streets filling up with racers spectators cops and officials, I heard an American accented voice ask if I was American. There I met a young guy wearing a USA Cycling polo shirt. From Macon Georgia his name was Christian Parrett and he races on the US U23 development team and he'd been racing in Belgium since may of this year. He's the one features at the end of the race in the video above. He asked if I needed any help as it was clear that this was my first time racing in Belgium. Offering up some safety pins he gave me me a few tips about how things were going to go down. He said it was going to be fast and to try to stay near the front from the start. Having good position at the start line was important. I asked him if he brought a trainer to get warmed up and he told me that they don't really do that here - they just start the races. He tried to just ride around a bit.

With just an hour to go before the start of the race we parted ways to suit up and get ready. I starred down at that canvas number 8 in the trunk of the car taking note of the hundreds of pin holes from previous races and racers and thought about all the guys who'd worn that number before me. How many had crashed, how many had won and the 106 other riders I was going to line up against this day.

Up Next... Blood in my Spit Part II.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Pause in the Action

The results are in - but I'm going to hold back on the definitive race report. Consider this post a brief interlude where I'll deliver on the beer portion the this Blog's sub header. For those with a singular fixation on bike racing I have two comments. One, the next series of photos offer a foreshadowing how the race went. Two, I'm trying to upload a massive HD race highlight video from this beach side cafe here in Oostende and it doesn't look like I'm going to make it before they kick me out of here. As I want to deliver a complete race report with accompanying video, you'll just have to wait for until I can get to a faster upload connection.

So pull up to the cafe table and have a look at some of beers I've consumed on this trip.
Here to the left is a Leffe Bruin, from the balcony of my aunt's apartment in Oostende. A nice view and a good beer as well.

To the right is a Grolsch from my trip to Amsterdam. When in Holland, Drink Dutch beer, no?

Below left, is another from Holland. I'm not generally a fan of Amstel, but this one tasted good on the hot sun with frittes.

Here's the last one from the Netherlands. (below, right) This one accompanied a big pot of dutch style muscles. Delicious!

Here's another Leffe Bruin ( below, right) - this, from the very cafe in Oostende that offers free internet where I've posted nearly all of the uploads on this trip. Also the reason why there have been so many typos and misspelled words in this blog!

And finally this isn't a beer at all - but speaks volumes.

Friday, August 28, 2009

This Is It

I arrived at the start of the race here in Sant Jan just outside of Ieper hours too early. First I had a ham and cheese sandwich, and when that didn't kill enough time I took a drive into Ieper where I had a crepe and a coffee.

Not sure if you can tell here but the wind is really howling. A race official I chatted with had only one comment. "It will be hard.". I suppose if it wasn't then the blog will be dull. More to come.

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I'm finally caught on sleep and have, I think, acclimated to the massive time zone shift. I took it easy today. Rode out from my Aunt's house in Oostende to Brugge and back. The idea was to follow a canal and not get lost. This mostly worked, until I tried to leave Brugge. The street I thought I came in on took me in the exact opposite direction I wanted to go. Here are the visual Highlights:

Back to Brugge from Litterbox on Vimeo.

Markings like those green arrows are all over the country roads here. They're put down by cycling tour companies for cycling tour groups, and in theory they'll take you to interesting places, provided of course that you're willing to head in a completely unknown direction.

Tomorrow I race. 112 Kilometers on an 8 k circuit. Intelligence I've gathered from the locals I've been riding with has yielded some helpful and troubling information. First the good news. As I've mentioned in previous posts the wind here is the ultimate obstacle. On a circuit course or Kermesse as they're called here, positioning is critical - especially when approaching a corner where the wind will change to a cross wind. On narrow roads the diagonal echelon formation can only protect so many riders from the blasting wind. If you're too far back and pushed against the side of the road and cannot get into the protective slipstream of the rider in front of you - you're fucked. You'll be behind the leaders and expending as much if not more energy just to stay in contact. Fortunately I had the chance to practice these techniques last weekend. Tomorrow's trial will determine if I've mastered the technique well enough. Here's some more crosswind riding information.

Here's the troubling news. From multiple sources I've been told that the non contract racing here in Belgium is filled with dope. Blood transfusions, chemicals and just about any means of going faster as all common here. The first hint came from a friend of my cousin's who owns a few pharmacies here in West Flanders. Upon discovering that I raced bikes, he joking said that "I've met the right guy." Maybe not so jokingly! The next day on the Oostende local group ride, Carl who was featured in an earlier ride highlight video, told me the the non contract racing divisions are doped to the gills. He told me that he knew of guys who spend up to a $1000.00 a month on doping. WTF? This is utterly unheard of where I race in Southern California. Being the national sport, the amateur ranks here are filled with young and stupid kids who are in desperate need of race results. If they show well they'll get picked up by and sponsored team and perhaps transcend their socioeconomic class. At what cost? As it applies to me, it seems that tomorrow will give me the first hand opportunity to see how fast the EPO tailwind really is.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lost in Holland

I'll let today's video do most of the talking for this update. But I will say that the resounding feeling is that I'm fucking sick of being lost. Amsterdam is a confusing city and it takes a day or so to really get your bearings. Combine that with 80k and a serious drenching by cold rain showers and I'm ready for a full day off the bike.

Riding in the Netherlands from Litterbox on Vimeo.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I'm going to save my overall review of the museeuw until the end of the trip when I've had the chance to train and race on the bike. But I will provide a brief preview of a unexpected yet capable side to the bike's performance.

I've taken a bit of a vacation from my vacation with a two day trip to Amsterdam. Naturally I brought the bike. I've heard people say that road bikes don't make good around towners but I've always disagreed with that. They're agile, they break and accelerate well and they're are light. What better attributes to have on a bike that must dart in and out of tight spots? The museeuw has all these traits in spades.

After getting into the city center this afternoon there was some trouble with my reservation at the hotel which netted me a business class room upgrade. That was a win. Driving into the center of the city got a little hairy. The streets kept getting smaller and smaller as the gps lead me deeper into the city. The Citeton I rented is a mid sized car, and at one point the streets we just inches wide enough for the mirrors to squeeze through.

After an unfortunate lunch of fried and breaded mayonnaise meat and a couple of beers I thought a little recovery ride would do me well. The weather here in Amsterdam is a perfect summer day, 76 degrees no humidity and sun. My legs were feeling the effects of the past 4 days and 300 kilometers so the bike is the perfect companion spin out the sore muscles.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 3 - the Group Ride.

My original intention was to compete in two races while here in Belgium, that number however has been reduced by half. The reality of traveling halfway around the world and racing 4 days later set in yesterday and I opted to take the invitation from the local bike shop manager, Kurt and join him and his crew for their weekly 100k group ride. We set out from Oostende at the Plum shop at 9:00 AM today. The weather the past few days had been beautiful. 72, sunny amazing. Living in LA, these kind of days are regular fare, but here they are something special. I'm lucky that I haven't had to don the rain cape a single time! Here's a the route we took today:

When you're the new guy on a ride being obsequious is key. You don't want to be the prick who launches off the front 10 minutes into the ride and you certainly don't want to be that douche who yo yo's off the threatening to get dropped. You know that guy, everyone looks back thinking, he's new here, he may get lost - should we wait? The correct answer is no. Fuck that guy, and he better not be you.
The pace today was moderate. I will admit that when it was my turn at the front I turned the screws a bit. The groups pace was around 33k and during my pulls I took it up to 36-38k. The lasted until some unintelligible shouting in West Flanders Dutch from behind told me to slow the hell down! Eventually a few of the strong guys jumped off of the front and Kurt said, "that's for you!" I chased and four of us got away and did some hard work for the next hour , until we started chatting and got caught by the main group.
One particular stretch of road that we rode today features prominently in the Gent Wevelgem spring classic. it's narrow 2 lane rode that's close to the coast and get blasted by a 90 degree cross wind. Here's a little sequence of clips that I shot today while riding that shows this section in the last 2/3's of the video.

Day 3 Group Ride from Litterbox on Vimeo.

At home in LA, cross winds and riding in echelons is pretty much limited to bike racing theory, and rarely put into real practice. Here in Belgium however we spent much of our day spread out across the road, riding in each-others diagonal slipstreams. Flying onto these towns here is like a dream. All these famous places you've seen on TV from helicopter and motorcycle shots are here to ride and race on. and race I will - on Friday 8/28 it's on! 120k on an 8k circuit in St. Jan Ieper.

Getting the Bike

You'll have to bear with me as I take this blog non linear. We're going to travel back in time a few day to when I first arrived in Belgium. I rented the car, which was supposed to be a BMW 1 series but they were out of those so I settled on a Citeron. A bit of a fail but whatever, I came here to race bikes not cars. Then from Brussels - I made a b-line for the bike shop in Oostende. Here's a very poorly produced video that documents how it happened:

Getting the Bike from Litterbox on Vimeo.

If I was working - I'd have a ton of notes about how to improve this clip - but I'm off the clock so it is what it is.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 2 on the Bike (update)

[update] I accidentally deleted the GPS file of this ride! What a bummer. There will be no map - but I will put up some pics of Dunkerke and my road friend Kristof.

Yesterday was an epic haul. Did 135 kilometers from Oostend to Dunkerke crossing the boarder, then to the walled midevil city of Bergues. I met a cyclist names Kristof who was also headed back to Oostend. He showed be a back way through the country side and along the canals and through little villages that looked right out of a stage of the Ronde Van vlandren or Gent Wevelgem. We pushed eachother keeping the pace up above 35k.

In the small town of Gistel about 10k outside of Oostend we stopped at the Johan Museeuw musuem of sorts that has his trophies and jersys in the window. For the last 10k back home the never ending wind hit us head making for the longest 10k I've ever ridden.

When I'm able to get in some real Internet again Ill updat this post with picks, a map and some more detail. I also have some videos ready to link to.

Today is the local oostend group ride from the bike shop where I got the bike. The long and fast ride will put another 100k into my legs.

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, August 21, 2009

Where to Start?

The biggest problem so far here in Belgium has been a serious and troubling lack of internet access. I was under the mistaken delusion that there would be some unrestricted wifi I could steal at my aunt's house. Who was I kidding? Ironically Belgium had the fastest 3G network I've every seen - fuck Verizon.

Today was the first real day out on the bike. Only a day in the jet lag is a real factor so I was ready to roll at 3:00 AM. That not being a practical time to go for a 50 Mile ride in an unfamiliar place I sensibly manged to sleep until 5:00 AM. I was on the road by 7:00 and was headed east for Brugge. Thankfully my iPhone was was rocking the Belgian 3G infrastructure so was able to share the previous posts and pics.

It's difficult to compile the feelings I have being here. While my Flemish is basically nonexistent - it was my first language. Forgotten after I left This country for America when I was 5, it still lives in a back corner of my brain. It's like a forgotten dream suddenly recalled by a smell or a sound. It's so familiar yet utterly unintelligible. As I headed east this morning on the bike paths toward Brugge - through little villages and past farm houses, dogs and houses, cows and sheep - the dream of my early childhood sprung into a reality. My earliest images of what the world is were in front of me again, floating on the damp, pungent, animal infused air. The low houses with the red roofs and neatly arranged narrow streets were juxtaposed by green expanse, endless canals and sleeping cattle.

As I pulled into Brugge I passed a caravan of horses pulling carriages into the city center for thier day with the tourists. A cold morning shower had just passed through and the road was cold and wet. I punctured, and had to change a tube. Usually an arduous job, today's pause by the side of the road allowed the horse drawn buggies to catch up with me again - letting me pause and enjoy where I was a second time. One in the city center I paused for a long time. The sun hadn't compeltely risen - and the four sides of the city's center square all had a different light.

I had a long way yet to go, so hopped back on the bike to circumnavigate the mid evil city before heading North to Zeebrugge where I made a wrong turn. Suddenly I found myself halfway back to Brugge and the damp, still morning air was giving way to a constant N
South Westerly wind off the English Channel. My morning ride into imaginary childhood nostalgia suddenly made a turn for the reality of the present day. I was hammering into a 30k headwind for the long and painful 26 kilometer ride back to Oostend.

First Day on the Road

Just pulled into Brugge. Dodged a cold rain shower. Already had 1 flat. The roads really do smell like cow poop.

More to come today.

- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Last Minute Drama

Avid readers of this blog will recall that I won't be riding my own bicycle in Belgium. It would be ideal if I had my own equipment, but because my bike features an integrated seat mast - packing it into an off the shelf travel case was not practical. So from the start I needed to find a rental bike in Belgium. If you've been to any Western European you probably know that rental bikes are easy and common. Perfect for exploring back alleys, canals and coastlines the typical European rental bike looks something like this.

Rolling to the start of a 120k Belgian circuit race on one of these things is the stuff that nightmares are made of. In the vein of showing up for class unprepared for a test, or getting to work only to realize that you've forgotten your pants, or in the most hellish of scenarios actually crapping your pants - this kind of bike simply wasn't going to cut it. Another arrangement was going to have to be made if I was going to take a serious crack at racing in Belgium. Google searches, however weren't giving me promising results. All roads kept leading to the wrong kind of bikes, or at best bike tour companies that required that I be on a guided tour to get the good gear. That wasn't going to happen so I turned to the best resource I knew of, my coach.

As it turned out one of his long time clients, also happened to work for Museeuw Bicycles. Introductions were made and after a few emails and a phone call, I was hooked up with a "test bike" free of charge. There are lot's of advantages to having a coach but access to a large network of bike racing experience was an unexpected surprise. This crossed off another major item off of my to do list for the trip. Or so I thought...

With about a week to go before the trip I emailed my contact at Museeuw in Belgium just to check in and make sure we were still on track. There was no response. This was in stark contract to my previous communications with him. In an earlier exchange for example - he quickly confirmed that the bike would be equipped with campagnolo components. Apparently Belgium is a Campy country - which is great for me because that's the gear I ride with. In any case, his sudden radio silence was causing me some alarm. I let a few days go by and pinged him again on Monday - again no immediate response. Now I was getting really nervous. In my weekly call with my coach I explained the problem. He recommended that I go with plan B and figure out a way to get my bike in a box! Yikes! I had a lot of things to do on my last day before the trip, from picking up my passport to getting my UCI racing license laminated - it was a busy day. Getting an oddly shaped bike case at the last minute was going to be really tough. Having a bicycle is a critical piece of equipment needed for a bike race.

First thing Tuesday Morning the good news came in:

Hi Jim,

I have a testbike in a bike-shop in Ostend. This is a Museeuw-dealer. The bike is your size. I will inform the dealer.

The name of the shop is Plum. The shopmanager is Kurt. The address is Schippersstraat 40. It’s in the centre of Ostend.

I guess you will be picking up the bike end of this week.

Do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions.

SCORE! Not only is the bike sorted out, I get to ride their top of the line model the MF-1. Amazing. This puppy is some very exotic top-shelf Euro hardware! 1/2 carbon 1/2 flax fiber - the ride is supposed to be amazingly comfortable yet stiff at the same time. I cannot wait to take this thing out for a spin. I'll be following up with a photos, video and my thoughts on the bike when I pick it up tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I like winning. Whether it's being the first one to the top of the hill on a team ride, or the quickest to the city limit sign, I race to get results. At the same time I'll admit that I've never actually won a race - as in crossed the line first. But I have stood on the podium a number of times. As proof, here's my complete race resume.

When you're a beginner (as in a Cat 5) they give you medals when you finish in the top 3. I proudly wore those medals around after the races. Even the eye rolls and open disdain I got from a Cat 2 couldn't shame me into removing my prize. Winning is hard and if you can manage a good result it's something that you ought to be proud of even if you do look like geek.

After my first result as 4 I reported to the prize tent to pick up my 3rd place medal and was shocked to get an envelope instead. It was a great result in an NRC race and I didn't have a nerdy medal to walk around with all day. The envelope contained 50 bucks, soothing to a small extent my disappointment.

This year as a Cat 3 the podium has been somewhat more illusive. Not a surprise really - the higher you get in any endeavor the finer the gene pool becomes. In the 3's there are more guys who are willing and able to be there at the end. In the previous categories I was able to get on the front, stay there, riding the weak guys off of the back until the race was over and finishing in the top 10 or better. While I have cracked the top 10 this season- the premium finishes have eluded me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brentwood Clip

Here's a quick clip from last weekend's Brentwood Grand Pix. This was the first race of the day - Men's Cat 3. The race I didn't do so well in.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


In the run-up to Belgian racing my coach has had me on an intense workout regimen. Yesterday's work-out went something like this:

BT: Warm up 20-30min. then on 6-8% grade do 5 x 3min at CP6 (3min recovery) STANDING all the way up. Head up. Otherwise zone 1-2.

CP6 BTW currently equals 424 watts. Allow me to translate this workout into terms more accessible to non bike racing nerds:

Go for a bike ride alone because none of your riding friends would do this crazy shit with you. Warm up for 20-30 min, easily - but not so easily that your legs aren't ready for the suck part that's about to start when you get to that 6-8% hill. Then, get up out of the saddle and mash the pedals until the power meter says 424 watts and hold that for three very LONG minutes. Then take a break for a very SHORT three minutes. Repeat this exercise FIVE times.

This is what yesterday's workout looked like:
If you're really interested in a visual graph of my self imposed suffering you can click through to an interactive version - yay isn't technology cool?

Readers with a keen eye and a disciplinary disposition will notice this work-out lasted for only 57 minutes - when the scheduled time was supposed to be 90. Okay - I was short on time so basically got right to the suck part with less than a proper warm up. I should get something for that, right?

Well that's what I'm trying to get at here. I made a commitment to do this thing. I pay a coach to dream up these daily suffer sessions and I told the world that I'm going to go to Belgium and race in arguably the most competitive amateur racing on the planet! Do you think I spring out bed every morning, shouting for joy at my dose of hill repeats, or cardio endurance threshold intervals, or sprint drills? No I don't, but they are making me faster and fitter and just maybe I'll be there when it counts.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Licenced to Ride

Most non bike racing people are surprised to lean that bike racing requires a license. No, there is no test where you have to prove your skills in order to get one - although watching a Cat 5/Public beginner Crit might make you wonder why there isn't. In order to move up the ranks - or down the ranks as it is. Beginners start at Category 5 and as they move up in category, their category moves down a number. 10 mass start races and you move from 5 to (Cat)agoty 4, 2o points or 25 races with 10 top-ten finishes gets you to Cat 3 and so on until you get to Cat 1. Beyond that you presumably get picked up by a local or regional Pro team. I'm no expert on that as I'm swim in the 3's water column. Here in California and in the rest of the USA, races are divided into two types: category races or Masters races. In Category races you race with people who at your licensed level. In Masters races you race with people in your age group. These typically are broken down into 35+/45+/55+ and so on. So the uninitiated might think, "Shit, I'll race with the geezers and have an easier go at it." Well think again. That 35+ age group is made up of everyone from Cat 1's to Cat 4s. Thankfully cat 5's aren't usually allowed to participate in Masters races. Here in Southern California the Masters races are pretty much as hard the Pro 1/2 races - the main difference is they run 60 minutes as opposed to the Pro's 90 minutes.

So you may be wondering, "why dwell on all this?" Well, because I was surprised that the entire system I just described - goes out the window when racing in Europe. My Cat 3 road license is meaningless over there. So, I had to send away for an international UCI Racing license. Seems so legit having "UCI" on my license. For those who don't follow Bike Racing, the UCI stands for Union Cycliste Internationale. It's the international cycling governing body that governs most cycling from Pro European racing to the Olympics.

In Belgium the categories are much simpler. Either you're a junior, a master, or you race with a pro contract or without one. Since Cycling is the national sport in Belgium, I guess they assume that by the time you get to the Elite level, you already know what you're doing - so just race against everyone. I can't tell you yet if their system is better than ours or not. I'll have to give it a try and let you know.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Getting Ready

In the run-up to this sports travel adventure, I've made sure not to miss a single hour of workouts for the past 6 weeks. Since I broke my collarbone at the end of May, it seems that my fitness hopped up to a new plateau. Notice the previously misshapen bone here - and the new break across it.

I had just wrapped a job working on the Giro d'Italia for Universal Sports. Getting to combine my passion for bike racing and my job as a television producer must have gotten me super motivated because I was sitting on my trainer 10 days after the fracture - three weeks later I was back on the road. I've been training between 12-15 hours a week building to some racing for the past two weeks. Now I don't really know how tough it's going to be in Europe, but I suspect that the competition here in Southern California is a good test of fitness.

Take for example the guys I was racing against in my second race this past Sunday. Looking around at the 140+ man field, there were former US National, Australian and World Champions. The guy who got second place (Thurlow Rogers) is a former Olympic roadrace USA Team member. I cracked the top 20. Here are the results.

If I've ever been ready to really test myself it's now. The fitness is good and I'm motivated. Now I just need to avoid getting flattened by some SUV here in Los Angeles and give it a go in Western Flanders.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

This is my Bike

A 2007 Look 595 Ultra

And not the one I'll be riding in Belgium. Astute observers will notice (or already know) that the 595 has an integrated seat mast. This means a number of things, but most importantly as it relates to this trip - I cannot pull the seat post out as it's part of the frame - meaning that I can't pack the bike in a travel crate. So I needed to find a suitable bike in Belgium. You'd be surprised what a challenge this proved to be.

-- Post From My iPhone

How hard could it be?

Race bikes in Belgium? What was initially an off handed comment to my grandmother has turned into an adventure in fitness and the unknown. Every year Bobontje (French/Flemish West Flanders slang for Grandma) heads back to Oostende, Belgium to spend a month or so with her sister. A couple months ago I told her in a half meaning way that I'd meet her there this year. After the impulsive notion got an endorsement from my wife, Janine - I now have a ticket to Brussels for August 19th returning August 30. And by the way, I'm going to race in two races when I'm there. Whether I get dropped - hang on - or do well, this blog is the record of my trip there and the story of my 2 Days in Belgium.

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