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.
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.
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