I woke up this morning to a rooster cawing at around 5AM. It is still cawing now, at 12:30. I think it’s time we ate some chicken.
Speaking of chicken, today is the first time we’re having it. For lunch. Chicken soup, rice, pasta, bread, salad, honey and jam, and cheese. Everyone here is counting down the minutes until 1:00. Lunch time. Breakfast is at 8:00, lunch is at 1:00, Dinner is at 7:00 and we go to sleep at 10:00. The smell of the food cooking right now is distracting me from writing about anything other than food.
Yesterday I rode for two hours in the morning with a group of 6 guys. It was supposed to be an easy ride, and except for one little duel up that famous climb in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, it was easy. One other guy, Idan, and I slowly increased the pace the second time up the climb, which averages 10% and maxes out at 18%. The last 300 meters ended in a sprint.
We rode back home, not beating the rain, and arrived just in time for lunch—soaking wet. After ping-pong and some relaxing, I went out again on my second ride. This time I went with Oan and the “caveman” Meroit. (I have no idea how to spell any of these names). We went up a hill hard and dropped Oan. A few minutes later I began to drop Meroit, so I slowed down a bit. Just enough to let him hang on, forcing him to suffer.
We stopped later for some chocolate, which is off limits to the riders here, by order of the coaches, Gal and Ilan. So if you run into them, don’t let them know.
The sugar running in our veins forced us to amp up the pace, and we hammered it down some hills for the next 20 minutes.
Once we got back into town, the two guys made another attempt at a chocolate run, but had to abort when we ran into another group of guys out on their ride. We joined with them, and went hard up another steep hill. A lot of the hills here, especially the ones in the villages and towns, are very steep and windy. They are one-lane roads, riddled with potholes and cracks. Cars whiz up and down them, taking the blind corners almost as quickly as us.
Our group formed a straight line, panting up the hill as it grew in gradient. I upped the pace a bit and the line shattered, like the broken glass on the side of the street. One rider stayed on my wheel as we passed the last of the brick buildings, heading up and above the village into the farm fields.
At the top, the other rider and I had another sprint. So far, each climb I have done with a new group, has ended in a sprint. I’m not sure if it’s my ego or theirs. Everyone wants to be the fastest over here. So far I haven’t been beaten, which has surprised all of them.
The race on Friday is too far away for us, so our first race will now be on Sunday instead. I have been told that the racing here is very aggressive. The skills of cornering and sprinting out of corners are necessities. Belgian kremises sound like a combination of a road race and a crit. They’re 120km long on 5 to 8km circuits. I’m looking forward to it. I could hardly wait for Friday, but waiting until Sunday is torture. Although it’s probably a good thing for me that we aren’t racing tomorrow. As you probably guessed, I’m still coughing up stuff but am feeling pretty good.
On our off time, there are a few options. Ping pong is upstairs. Bike washing is outside on the patio. And the living room has the TV, where we either watch the Tour, movies, or play a Play Station rally car racing game that I suck at. But it is very entertaining to watch everyone play it. It is a two-person game with a split screen. The races last for about 5 minutes, and once the first person crosses the finish line, there is a mad scramble for the controllers. The winner does not play again, and before the second person can even finish their race, the controller is stripped from them as three or four people jump on them and hold them down before they can protest. The entire room erupts in yelling and shouting as they argue who gets to play next. The older guys get seniority, but the shoving and wrestling always happens anyways. Occasionally, a pissed off younger guy who had been waiting for half an hour will get the controller yanked out of his hands before he has a chance to even start. In revenge, he will then yank out the power cord to the game, which restarts everything and wastes time for everyone else. He’ll be lucky if he can get out of the room without being tackled after pulling the cord. Time to go ride.
I got back a few hours ago and now Im posting this. Sitting out at the same spot with four other guys, hanging out under a small roof thing out of the rain. Yeah that’s correct. I said rain. Again. It’s been raining again all fucking day!! Kusemuc! I’ll write about the ride today later. It was hard. It was awesome.