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.

1 comment:

  1. Gary L. Mitchell, Jr.August 28, 2009 at 9:50 PM

    A swell piece of luck! However, perhaps you should consider looking into a custom case for your bike. I see you taking more excursions like this in the future so it'd be a worthy investment.