yeahhhh, about that.

As I pushed as hard as my body would allow, fighting back the urge to shit out my intestines, I saw through sweat-burning, blurry eyes that the peloton was gone and there was no chance of getting back into its windless comfort.  It was only the fifth lap, 45 minutes into the race, and I was already done. 


I rode to the race in sun, finally SUN!!, and was feeling very happy and excited to start this race.  This was the one, I thought, that I was going to place top 5.  I had rested the past three days in a row.  Two of those days I hadn’t even touched the bike, which has been the longest stretch off the saddle in weeks.  My plan was to put everything I had into this race, and to do the next two on Sunday and Monday as training races, just to get out whatever was left in my legs before the long fall and winter of the boring race-less life.  Turns out these last races are not needed for that, because apparently I already got everything out.


The race course was great.  Some long straight sections to move up on, a lot of wind, and lots of corners and narrow roads, which I knew would split the field up in a short amount of time.  Plus there were some slight hills to climb.  It was hot, the corn stalks lining the road off in the distance bent in the wind.  The crowd was big.  The smell of hot dogs and freiteries (French fires) mingling in the air with the faint smell of sewage and the strong stench of cigarettes, marked the scent of Belgium and the Belgian fans of a kermis.  In the peloton, this smell mixed with powerfully odorous leg oils, sweat, and the cologne of European riders who insist on using more Axe body spray than a middle schooler.  Music from loudspeakers attached to one of the lead cars blared out some crappy American 80’s tune as riders either talked and joked with the guy next to them, or stood nervously silent. 


I had lined up at the front, which became the middle as everyone cut, moved up, and the late second half of the field added itself onto the front–being late to the start means you get to start at the front because there isn’t room to move around to the back.  I usually do this, but today I didn’t want to be right at the front during the beginning.  Number one, because I have finally found out that the early move never lasts more than a lap, and number two, I was feeling a bit tired.  The 45-minute ride to the race in the sun had left me feeling sleepy and weak.  It felt as if I’d been riding in a headwind the whole way over.  Plus earlier in the day, while at the youth hostile, I was walking around and felt myself beginning to get light-headed.  Sometimes I get these and have to hold onto something so that I don’t fall over.  I quickly grabbed something on the wall just before blacking out.  I stood there, swaying back and forth for ten seconds managing not to fall over, and eventually started to come to.  But when my sight came back and I regained consciousness, I had no clue where I was or what I was doing.  I didn’t remember walking into the bathroom that I was standing in or why I was there.  Bad blackouts mean very low blood pressure, which meant my body was tired.


The weight of a bunch of water bottles stuffed into my jersey pockets bounced up and down as we sprinted out of the start.  Wow, my legs are lead weights—I thought to myself.  One lap passed and there were 90 people in front of me.  Two laps passed and I moved up a little bit, realizing that today was not going to be easy, if even possible.  Three laps to go and I looked back to see that part of the peloton had broken off and I was the last in line.  I moved up a few places, feeling very tired.  On the fourth lap, all hell broke loose as gaps opened up everywhere.  I fought for a lap and a half, but knew it was to no avail.  My legs were full of acid already, my body was limp from exhaustion, and to sum it up, I felt like dying.  Oddly enough, I wasn’t out of breath, which I knew signaled that this was to be my last race, being that my cardiovascular system was fine, while the rest of my body was shot. 


After soft-pedaling the rest of a lap, I came to the finish line and waited to see what the surviving guys were up to.  Two break-aways of seven or eight passed, and then the rest of the field shortly after.  Only half of the starters were left, about 60.  Good, at least I wasn’t the only one.  The ride back home seemed to be into a headwind just like the ride there. 


Now I’m going to sit in the sun and sleep for the rest of the trip.  Gilad, my month off starts now, on the 31st.  NOT when I get back, ok?  And none of this “five weeks off” crap either. 

The hoase!

A true belgian workhorse. 

The path to becoming a clydesdale is a long one.  Here I am at step 4: the mule.  #1 horse shit #2 miniature horse #3 donkey #4 mule/ass #5 mixed breed horse #6 spotted horse #7 zebra #8 stallion #9 thouroughbred #10 Clydesdale

Bag o sugar.  I removed most of it.

Break away last week.  No I don’t ride like that all the time.  He just got around me.


Tony and i after a race.

Eliad throwing up or something.

Early Return

My original plan was to stay in Gent and continue to race three times a week for another three weeks after Tony left.  But after yesterday, and the way I have felt the last three or four days, I don’t think my body is up for it.  It’s been a long year, which started back in October when I began lifting and doing the morning plyo workouts with the UO team.  Since then, I’ve done about 800 hours, races almost every weekend since February (a five hour ride the day before half of them), finishing up my last year of school, and now I am tired.  Very tired.  I count this as my second year racing; last year I only did a handful of races in March due to some idiotic training in the fall, so I’d say this has been a very successful year.  I think I had better quit now before I mess my body up again like last year, because my legs are trash and they aren’t recovering between races anymore.


After the race on the 23rd, I decided not to race the next day, which would have been a 140 mile round trip including the race.  Instead, Tony and I went back to Gent.  Tony left two days later, and I took the next two days to recover for my race yesterday (the 26th).  I did an hour easy ride on the 24th, which was the commute back to Gent from the hotel in Overmere, and an hour and a half pre-race ride on the 25th.  I massaged my legs multiple times, wore compression socks (the next best thing to an ice bath) and stretched after my rides just like I always do.  I slept and laid in bed a lot and except for our usual walking to get to food places and a visit to the Gent castle, I stayed off my feet.  But my legs felt tired on the 26th anyways. 


As I rode to the course I could tell I wasn’t feeling very strong.  The day before, during my pre race ride, I couldn’t get my sprints above 1,250 watts.  And now, as I rode to the course I felt listless and my legs felt like old, decayed rubber bands—the kind that has been sitting in a drawer for years and when you take it out to use it, it breaks immediately and you think to yourself, “damnit, it took me forever to find a rubber band in this house and the only one we have is as weak as Kennett’s legs in late August!”


The race started; there were 120 riders, 7 sharp corners, 22 laps of 5 kilometers each, and an uphill cobble stone section.  Plus it was very windy.  I decided to sit in this race and just finish.  On the second lap, I attacked and rode past a couple scattered break away attempts that were off the front.  Six of those guys got on my wheel and I took a hard pull for another 20 seconds to get things going.  But those lazy Belgian bastards just sat there and yelled at each other to pull.  We got caught shortly after and I sat in the top 20 for the next five laps.  Then I sat in the top 30, then the top 40, then the top 60.  I had no juice in me whatsoever.  A couple times, I accidentally found myself in the top 15 and was given the opportunity to stick my wheel in the wind to bridge gaps.  I did not bridge any gaps, which pissed everyone off of course.  So I mainly just sat way way back in the peloton and hung on. 


The break away got pulled back and not that many people got dropped on this day.  Usually when a pack of 120 starts, only 45 finish.  Pretty much only a third of the racers finish any of these races.  But on this day there were probably 90 left by the finish, which made things interesting on the last couple laps.  Everyone wanted to be in the front, and there were crashes, pushing, yelling, wheel rubbing, and a lot of very close calls.  All these races have that stuff, but this one was a bit more intense and exciting. 

I think I was the only one who didn’t care that much about moving up, which shows that I wasn’t physically or mentally strong for the race.  With a lap to go, I sat almost at the very end of the pack.  I felt weak and nauseous, but I forced myself to make an attempt and I began moving up in the last 2K.  We got to the 1K mark and the cobbles began, which was my favorite part of the course because it was the only place where I felt decently strong.  When the cobbles were under tire, I unloaded.  I passed thirty or forty people on this last stretch and ended up 41st.  If I had felt strong during this race, I know I could have placed top three.  The last kilometer was DESIGNED for me.  Short power climb on cobbles, then a false flat downhill for 200 meters.  But then again, if I had felt strong I wouldn’t have sat in.  I would have been attacking the whole time and wouldn’t have had much for the end and I probably would have ended up 41st anyways. 


My plan is to take the next three or four day off and give one last good effort on the 30th or 31st.  And maybe just one more race on the 1st, then home for my rest month. 

A night under Belgian sky

The night out in the streets was cold and rainy.  We found a gazebo in a park with a roof and a cracked-wooden floor.  I wore two long sleeve jerseys, a shirt, a sweat shirt, a coat, three pairs of pants, and two pairs of pants.  I brought the rest of my clothes to sleep on top of, plus a sheet as my blanket.  As luck didn’t have it, the night was the coldest, worst weather night of our time in Belgium.  It rained, blew, and dropped down below absolute zero.  I managed to sleep through most of the night, but woke constantly to re-curl into a ball to save body heat.  I wrapped a shirt around my head as a face mask, and tucked the sheet around myself to form an air-tight tent to keep out the wind gusts.  Tony was equally, if not more cold, since he had no sheet.  Although he did have gloves. 


We woke up (got up) at 8:30 and walked back into the main part of the city, looking for a hot breakfast.  I finally warmed up after two cups of hot chocolate and food.  But I didn’t stay warm for long.


After our freezing night in the park as bums, we rode an hour to Overmere for our race.  The sky decided to empty its bowls upon us right as we got to the small town, drenching us before we could find the pub to register for the race.  Since we got to the race early this time, we had an extra hour to sit, shivering in our wet clothes.  Luckily there were crepes and coffee waiting for us at the registration (which was an egg storage warehouse turned into bar/restaurant for the race. 


I stripped down into my short sleeve jersey right before the race started; no matter what the weather, all you need for a Belgium race is a short sleeve jersey and short bibs.  The pace doesn’t slow so you don’t get cold.


I warmed up right away as we sprinted away from the start line.  My plan was to conserve today, and only start attacking in the third hour.  I attacked twice in the first two laps, with no luck.  This only confirmed my prediction that this race wouldn’t have an early break due to the very strong head and side winds.  I held top 10 to 20 for the next five laps, then slowly faded to the middle as I saw that nothing was getting away.  Something got away while I was back there, then something else got away.  By the time I began attacking again, it was out of desperation to just get in a workout.  The top 15 spots were already up the road, and I don’t care too much anymore about simply placing top 20.  So I attacked for four laps in a row; each lap was 6 kilometers.  Each break away was caught in half a lap, but I would go with the next one each time.  One time I was off by myself for half a lap.  Nothing stuck.


By now, there were only 30 people left in the peloton.  The strong winds had forced most of the field to the sidelines.  After my break attempts, there were two laps to go.  I chased down a couple breaks that had tried to get away, then planned to sit until the last half lap.  But that wasn’t going to happen.  Instead, I took it upon myself to bring back every move and in doing so, had nothing left to give with half a lap to go.  One guy would go, then another, and another.  Eventually there were 20 people scattered up the road in front of me and the remaining 10.  I jumped on the very back of the pack as a couple of these guys made one last ditch effort to scoop up a couple of the suffering guys vainly straining their tearing muscle fibers to the finish.  They caught most of them, but I didn’t.  A couple gaps in the line of riders opened up and I didn’t realize it in time.  I finished a disappointing 37th.  Last race I attacked too much too early.  This race I didn’t attack early enough and attacked too much too late.  Next time I’m going to disperse my attacking intermittently throughout the race. 


Tony and I rode a mile back into Overmere and found our hotel that we had reserved a couple nights before.  The warm, comfortable room with a big shower, big soft bed, TV, and all the blankets we wanted was a striking contrast with the cold, dark, sleepless night before.  We filled up on pitas at a pita shop down the street, watched as the US men won gold in basketball, then massaged our legs with arnica as we watched Escape From Alcatraz. 


The next morning came quickly.  I woke up feeling very tired, with stiff legs.  We went down stairs for the free breakfast and were pleasantly surprised to see all our formerly disgusting cycling gear cleaned and folded for us in a basket.  The hotel manager fed us and we lounged there in the small family-run bed and breakfast, tired, sore, relishing the hot coffee and fearing the rain outside.  I hate Belgium weather.  I tried to convince myself to race, but the odds were not in my favor.  My legs were tired after the 100 miles yesterday.  My mind was foggy, and I felt very low energy.  I told myself, “It would be truly bad ass to ride to the race 25 miles away, do the 80 mile race, and then ride back 40 miles to Gent.  But my legs refused. 


We left the hotel and began riding back to Gent and home (the hostile).  Tony upped the pace a bit and I thought to myself, “why the hell is he pushing so damn hard.”  I looked down and saw 200 watts.  Yeah, definitely a good decision not to race today. 


Now we’re back in Gent, and about to go eat some pitas.

50 mile commute. 80 mile race

Yesterday was a long day on the bike.  Tony and I rode to the race in Maasmunster and back, getting lost going both to and from Gent.  With the 120 kilometer race, it ended up being a 130 mile day for me. 

My placing in the race didn’t reflect how I felt or rode, which seems to keep on happening.  I got 29th, but attacked, bridged, held the top 20 position (which is just as hard as attacking ), but it didn’t work out for me in the end.  With three laps to go, I bridged to the lead breakaway of six.  I went right past them and took a strong pull for 20 seconds.  I was excited, thinking this was the final break that would stick.  But after we all rotated once, those idiots stopped working.  I had taken two pulls in a row and those lazy bastards just sat on.  So I sat up and we got caught right before the hill.  I had to rest going up the hill, which meant I lost positions.  And it turned out that that was the only time in the entire race where I actually needed to be up front, and I wasn’t.  The top of the field split off as 13 guys went up the road.  There was no catching them.  Two laps latter, when we came to the finsh (I wasn’t sure exactly where it was), I was an idiot and waited too long to move to the front. I got boxed in and couldn’t move, so I ended up mid pack of what was left of the field, which wasn’t much.

Tony had his best race yet; check out his blog to hear about it.

After the race, we both ate a brotwurst and headed back to Gent in a fierce headwind. We got home at 8:30 and went off to the pizza street, which is where we always eat. I was wrong, we haven’t been eating Belgian pizzas or Indian pizzas. They are Turkish pizzas. I saw a map of Turkey on the wall of one of these pizza joints. And although they are called “pizza” on the menu, they don’t resemble what we would call a pizza. There is no cheese, they have a paper thin crust, and a small amount of egg, meat, and or vegetables on the top. They each come with a big salad too, so we pile that ontop of the pizzas and role the slices up like a taco. Instead of black pepper, they have a spicy dry red pepper in dishes. Tony can’t eat it but I pour spoonfulls on my pizzas. It tastes great but my digestive system would beg to differ. Damn it now Im hungry.

We’ll be sleeping on the streets tonight because the hostil is full and all the hotels around here cost 100 euros a night. I have a good spot in mind. Underneath one of the sidewalk construction sights just under the scaffalding. There is plastic wrapped around the scaffalding too, which would make a waterproof tent-type shelter from the rain. Race tomorrow and race the day after.

August 16-19 and race 7

August 18


It’s been a while since my last post and it may be a while yet before I post this.  But I am in Gent with Tony right now, sitting in the Draeke youth hostel, although there is a very old fat man in the room with us—so I don’t know why it’s called a youth hostel.  Maybe it’s because here, they treat the youthful tenants hostily.  I was given a talking-to by one of the hostile people here earlier today when I was accused of leaving sugar everywhere on the ground the night before. 


Rewind a couple days.


August 16


I got up today at the crack of 10:00.  I decided to start my day with a bowl of muesli.  And then, as I was scraping the bowl clean, I decided to have another.  And then some cornflakes and three or four eggs.  So far, this day was the exact same as the past month.  Except that this was the last day I would be staying with the team here in Comblain la Tour—the tiny village 35 kilometers south of Liege. 


Everyone except four juniors and the three of us U23s were at a race.  Tony, Tomer, and myself.  We were supposed to have a our own race today, but Gal decided to cancel it.  I think I wrote this in my last post. 


So instead of racing, we decided to do a long ride out to Liege, a city of a quarter million which we had never been to.


We packed our pockets full of food, except for me.  I didn’t bring anything to eat except for some Gatorade.  And then we left.


The pace of the ride was fairly fast, and we pace-lined most of the round-about and confused way to Liege.  Tony wasn’t feeling well, which I could immediately tell when he didn’t join Tommer and I as we sprinted to draft off a horse trailer.  The horses were all draft horses.  Get it. Hahahahahah.


On the way to Liege, we got lost multiple times because the Liege signs we were following kept wanting us to get on the freeway.  So we tried to parallel the freeway on back roads.  This lead us to go through a small village that had the STEAPEST HILL IN THE WORLD.  There is actually a sign that says this at the top.  It is a 1 minute climb, and also a 1 minute descent.  The average gradient was 20% with switchbacks of at least 30%.  I felt like I was going to flip over my handlebars going down these corners.  It wasn’t a wall climb, it was more like a spiral staircase.  We went up once to feel what it was like.  Nectar Way would be shamed by this climb.


We arrived in Liege just in time for tea at “The Tea Room”—a little tea and ice cream joint inhabited by old people and the slowest food service people in Europe.  After riding around the cobblestones of Liege for 20 minutes, this was the only restaurant we could find.  All we really wanted was a place to fill up our waterbottles, but we ended up buying over-priced milkshakes that took two gulps to finish.  3 euros each.  That’s like five bucks.  For literally two gulps.  We filled our bottles up though for free, and took off—following the river and yelling at the crew boats to go faster. 


As we exited Liege in the opposite direction that we came, Tearful Tired Tony began complaining that we should just “go back the way we came.”  I kept on going, speeding up a little as we got onto the highway and went into a dark tunnel.  Traffic rushed by and Tearful Tired Tony started complaining that it wasn’t safe.  Tomer and I couldn’t stop laughing as we upped the pace some more, for poor Tony had bonked about an hour ago when we got into Liege.  We spent the next three and a half hours very lost, and Tony was getting slower and slower.  Tomer and I would sprint every once in a while and drop Tearful Tony to our great delight.  He was so tired.  Poor guy.  It was hilarious. 


Eventually, it was evident that Tony needed to stop and eat a full meal before he could go any farther.  So we stopped at a fair and ate the larges hot dogs I have ever seen.  One and a half feet long. 


One more hour and we were home just before dinner ended.


That night was the wildest one we’ve had.  It started out with a brutal game of Taki, which involved chasing down and tackling the cheaters.  And before going to sleep the whole house went nuts, spraying shaving cream at each other and ripping up pillows and spreading feathers everywhere.  And the electric fly swatter that Tony and I bought was put to good use too.


August 17


Packed up and said goodbye at 1:00, then took a series of trains and trams to the Draeke Hostel in Gent.  When we got into our room I saw that a kilo of sugar had opened up into my bag.  The sugar was and still is everywhere.  In my shoes, clothes, cycling stuff, towel, toothbrush.  We ate at a cheap Belgian pizza/Indian food place.  There was a lot of confusion when I told the waiter I wanted two entrees.  He left before Tony could order, thinking that I had ordered for both of us.  We waved him back and it took five minutes to set the order straight.  From there we used an internet room to find out where all our races were going to be, then went back to the hostel.


August 18


Back to August 18, Today…which is actually yesterday now because I started writing this last night but didn’t finish. 


We got up, moved all of our stuff down four flights of stairs (bike box, backpacks, and 60 pound duffle bags).  This has to be done every time we change rooms, which has been every night so far. 


Then we ate as much free breakfast as we could.  Meusli, bread, cheese, and boiled eggs.  After breakfast we headed out into the city to buy a pump and find a good map of Oost-Vlannderen—the province almost all of our races are in.


I bought the pump, and as we walked out into the street it started to rain.  It didn’t stop raining for hours.  We walked around in the rain and found a bookstore and bought a map, which got drenched in rain during the ride to the race and is already in bad shape.


We left for the race at 1:30, riding in the pouring rain.  After reaching the city where the race was almost an hour later, we received bad directions from multiple people as to where the registration was.  I barely made it into the race, Tony was not racing today because his legs are tired from the past week of riding.  Instead, he handed me water bottles and threw stones at the other racers.


The rain stopped for the race, not that it mattered, and the wind picked up.  The course was 11km long with 10 flat laps.  It was very fast.  I attacked right away and was off the front pretty quickly.  I got caught, but kept on attacking and bridging to stay at the front.  I don’t know what it was, lack of judgment or something, but somehow I failed to make the lead break by the second or third lap.  I kept on being aggressive and I missed the second break too.  Now there were 15 guys up the road.  I was a bit pissed, so I just began pulling hard and attacking when the pace slowed in the peloton.  There was no chance of catching the break aways; they were already minutes up the road. 


By lap number five I found myself in a break with one other guy.  We stayed off for a lap, got caught by a small group, and I stayed with them.  The peloton was right behind though, and quickly closed us down.  I spent the next few Ks at the front and was off with another break.  I attacked when I saw the peloton closing down again, and a few guys caught on to me.  I sprinted again and eventually four others were with me and we had a good gap.  We kept the pace high, almost too high in fact.  The first lap off saw a lot of arguing and yelling at each other to take fair pulls, but after that everyone was dead silent.  I was taking pulls at 450 to 600 watts for the first two of our three laps together, and the whole time was wishing that I had conserved a bit more earlier in the race.  The head wind section was the worst.  I would take a pull, one guy would come around me, and then no one else would.  So I would take another pull.  We almost broke apart on one lap during this head wind section as everyone reached their max.  Pure torture.


With a kilometer to go, we slowed down for the sprint.  I was sitting second wheel, constantly glancing over my shoulder, looking at the shadows of the other riders on the ground behind me, and listening for shifting.  I wasn’t sure exactly where the finish line was, but had a good idea.  Not good enough though, because I should have started my sprint earlier.  One guy came around me and I wasn’t able to get ahead of the guy in front.  I took third in our break of 5, and 18th overall.  I averaged 315 watts (zeros included Ivar) and sprinted at 1,400 watts at the end.  I was dead.  I was done.


I was not done.  Because we all had to wait around forever for the officials to finalize the results and give us our money, then Tony and I had to ride back in a fierce head wind.  I began bonking 15 minutes out of Gent.  I had only eaten maybe a thousand calories of carbohydrate drink in the past four hours of riding—plus the hour of idleness after the race.  But the wind and bonking weren’t enough.  To make it just that much harder, it began to pour as dark clouds accumulated above us.  But little did the bike gods know, that the pouring rain only gave me energy.  It was a rush riding through traffic, over wet cobles, among trolley tracks in the darkness of a thunder storm, just after finishing a super hard race and having nothing left to propel me except a tiny bit of adrenaline. 


We got back, ate a bit of bread, moved all of our crap back upstairs, changed into dry clothes, and headed over to the Indian/Belgian/pizza place.  The waiter recognized us and this time there was no confusion when we ordered four entrées. 

August 19

Recovery ride today in the rain.  Tony crashed after it had been pouring on us for.  He went over on the cobbles/trolly track section; and after crashing he threw his bike ten feet into the street yelling “I fucking hate Belgium and these damn roads.”  At the top of his lungs.  In a street full of Belgians.  I somehow managed to contain my laughter.  I also crashed today. 

wrapping it up

I just got done playing a very argumentative game of Taki, which is like Uno.  Tony quit mid-way into the game because he couldn’t take the arguing and cheating that was dictating the card game.  I was right at home.  Tony’s spot at the table was quickly filled by Sagi, who added to the on-the-spot rule making and card stealing.  No one was seriously injured.

The team’s only here for a few more days.  Everyone’s packing up their bikes, spending their last euros on chocolate bars “for their families,” and rounding up all their clean clothes that have been left hanging on the drying lines for the last four weeks.  

Our last race with the team has been canceled.  All the other U23s have already left, other than Tomer.  And Tomer is sick.  So tomorrow we won’t be racing.  I’m not too upset.  I just found out that there are four or five races near Gent every week.  I think I’ll be staying near the center of Gent in a youth hostel.  It’s the cheapest place I have heard of so far.  Only 20 euros a night.  

I’m riding again.  Yesterday I did a medium paced 2.5 hours and today I did 1.5 hours in preparation for tomorrow’s race that we won’t be doing.  Instead, I’ll probably do 3 or 4 hours.  And maybe some intervals and another long ride on Saturday.  

The weather here is bizarre.  One day it will be hot and humid, the next it will be thunder-storming and dumping down rain.  Speaking of dumping, Tony’s farts have gotten to the point where it is impossible to be in the same room as him for more than 20 minutes.  My eyes water.  My throat swells up.  My nostrils pucker and mucus comes pouring out in gallons.  My vision becomes fuzzy and my head throbs like a thumb nail that has just been smashed by an ill-placed hammer.  I begin to feel my intestines groaning as my lunch does a 180 and starts heading the wrong direction.  My knees buckle.  I fall to the floor on my hands and knees, vainly gasping for just one–ONE– breath of fresh air!  It won’t come.  It never comes.  Hours later I wake up in a pool of my own vomit, struggling to regain consciousness.  Tony is long gone, but the foul stench of his bowls remains with me forever.

Still waiting

I’m still waiting to get over this cold.  Just a couple more days to go I think.  Tony and I haven’t been doing anything at all since my last post.  He started to get sick, plus Gal wanted him to take an easy week, so neither of us has been riding very much.  The days here pretty much consist of waking up, eating breakfast, ping-pong, Prison Break, ping-pong, lunch, ping-pong, Prison Break, maybe an easy 1 hour ride, dinner, Prison Break.  It sucks.  I am sick of it.  I would pay 500 euros to be healthy right now.  Luckily I’m over here long enough so that being sick for a week won’t ruin the trip.  I have another week here with the team, and then a month by myself in Gent, where I plan on racing three times a week until my legs drop off and get run over by a massive Clydesdale pulling an overly fat mayor in a carriage.  The Clydesdales here are enormous.  They probably outweigh a regular horse by about 3 or 46 times.  And their heads are huge too.  But they don’t have tails.  I think their tales get cut off so they don’t hang in the poop bags.  The only thing bigger than the Clydesdales are their poop bags.


I was still sick yesterday, which I knew when I woke up, but denied it to myself.  The race began at 6pm and my plan was to attack right away and make sure to get in the winning break.  Right before we started, the officials changed the starting line and I lost my spot at the front.  As a arrived at the new start line, where there were already 100 people lined up, I cut to the front again—only one row from the front.  But the idiot in front of me didn’t sprint right away, which meant I was boxed in as thirty people passed us on the left.  I made my way back to the front over the next half lap, but a break had already gone.  I went hard and began bridging the gap with a couple other guys.  We caught up a half lap latter, but by then the peloton was on us.  As the other 100 something riders passed our group, I felt tired and weak.  I knew something was wrong, and that it was a stupid idea for me to be racing if I felt this bad.  But I kept going for about 40 minutes, arguing with myself over whether I should stop or continue.  I was near the back when I finally made up my mind, and I had the perfect place to do it.  On one of the corners, the road widened from ten feet across to forty as the small road we were on merged with a big double lane road.  This was the most difficult part of the course, because it required slowing down, sprinting, and then pushing 500 or 600 watts for half a kilometer of pot-holed road once you catch the wheel in front of you.  The pace was pushed up to 40 miles an hour during this section and once a gap formed, you were doomed.  It wasn’t the nicest thing for me to do, but these guys don’t play nice.  So I slowed down on this corner and let a gap form, which screwed everyone behind me, but helped my teammates—who at this point were all in front of me. 


I got off the bike at our feed zone to let Giora, our feed guy, know that I was done.  As I lifted up my bike to lean on the side of our van, my rear wheel fell off.  The quick release had come undone.  That would have been a nasty crash.  And it would have happened too, because there were a lot of obstacles to jump over on the course.


To get over this cold, I have to take four or five days easy.  Is it too much to ask to be healthy for at least a month at a time?


After racing, I cooled down and myself and Tony (who had been dropped on the second lap) got some burgers and fries.  We ate them in secret, pounding down the most substantial meal we’ve had in weeks as fast as possible.  We then watched the rest of the race and passed out bottles to what was left of our team. 


The race ended and we packed up, but before we could go we had to check in with the drug test guys and make sure that none of us were to be the day’s randomly checked racers.  Eliad was.  By the time we were done with that, it was dark, and a huge crowd of thousands of people had gathered at the racecourse’s downtown section.  Most of these races have festivals with carnival rides, food, and music surrounding the course.  This one had all that, plus a huge fireworks show.  The drunken crowd cheered as the explosions lit up the sky, and I have to say that it was a pretty good firework show.  Once the fireworks ended, we stepped inside and ate in an incredibly hot little Egyptian restaurant.  We ordered these chicken burrito type things that were HUGE.  I was full after eating just one.  ME.  Just ONE.  That’s a lot of food, especially for just 5 euros.  They were made with two giant tortillas, barbequed chicken, vegetables and a ton of sauce.  The key was the two tortillas wrapped together, making the thing about a foot long.  Two tortillas…it’s so simple it’s genius!!!  Every burrito I eat from this day forth shall be made with two tortillas.  As you can see, this even made quite an impression on me.  It was quite a night, even though I couldn’t race.


We got home at 1am, and unfortunately Tony and I didn’t wake up in time the next morning to say goodbye the five guys who left for Israel, Switzerland, and Spain.  They should have woken us, but if things go as planned, we’ll see them soon enough.  We’re planning on having them come race with us next spring in the States.

A little sick

I have woken up with a sore throat the last few days and today I am actually feeling a bit down.  A good portion of the team here is sick with a cold right now, and I am afraid I have caught it.  But I have a feeling that it is one of those two-day colds and I will be good for the race tomorrow.  

Last night I couldn’t sleep after getting back from the race.  I haven’t been able to sleep very well after any of the races, especially when they are later in the day.  All the adrenaline must still be running through my veins, because I tend to lay restless in bed for hours.  Last night was like this, and when I woke up at 3:00 or so to drain my bladder, I couldn’t fall back asleep.  So at 4 or 5AM, I took some sleeping pills.  As a result, I have been in a fog all day.  Combined with the cold, I feel like I’ve been sleep walking ever since I got out of bed at noon.

I was laying in bed this afternoon after reading a very thick book, when I noticed that every part of my body was completely comfortable–exactly opposite to yesterday’s race.  The room was just the right temperature, with the sun shining through the window and radiating down upon my weary legs, causing the veins to stick out like those of a horse.  The open window let in a cool breeze and the sound of an airplane far off in the distance droned peacefully.  The bright green leaves in the tree next to my room rustled in the wind.  The thud of feet trudging tiredly up the wooden stair case began to dim and seemed farther away every minute, as did the murmur of voices downstairs.  I gazed up at the ceiling at the reflection of water outside in the roof’s gutter from the thunder storm last night.  The shadow image moved on the ceiling in a rapid wave-like motion similar to heat waves above hot pavement.  I could feel the soreness in my legs melt away.  My head no longer throbbed from congestion.  I let my shoulders and neck relax into the soft pillow.  The sleeping pills convinced my eyelids to let down their guard.  And just as I was about to fall into the most comfortable sleep ever to be had by humankind, the DMAN ROOSTER BEGAN TO CROW!!!  

Why is it there?  What purpose does it serve?  Do the owners really need to get up at 4:30 every morning?  And do they constantly fall asleep during the day and need the rooster to wake their narcoleptic asses up every few minutes?  They don’t even live on a farm why do they need the stupid rooster?  I demand answers.  No, screw answers I want revenge!!  I demand death!