I had fun being the only American in a house of three Canadians, and being helped by Jos and Tim, who are British. It lent a nice international flair to my trip, but without a language barrier. (Well, once I got past hearing "eh?" all the time!) Thanks to Vicki, Mark, Shaun, Jos, and Tim for helping me so much! If it weren't for you, I'd probably still be looking for registration at Scheldecross... if I ever found the race!
Sadly, I have several regrets about my time here. Maybe I shouldn't say "regret," that's probably too strong a word, but there are a few things I wish I had done while here. First, I can't believe I'm leaving without ever having had a beer. It's tough to fit in a leisurely drink when you're racing and staying with racers who are racing just about every day. And I wasn't about to go out for beers before racing in a World Cup! There's a tavern near the bakery, across from the church, and I saw three road bikes leaning up against the front this afternoon. It would have been nice to stop in for a beer after a ride with friends, something we don't get to do enough in our fast and exhausting world as racers.
My second "regret" is that I never really went out to eat, and for the same reasons as I didn't get to have a beer. You get home, wash, clean and lube your bikes, wash your clothes, wash youself, cook dinner, eat, and then get packed for tomorrow's race. There was neither time nor energy for dining out. I would like to have learned more about the food culture here than chocolate and frites. We went out once, to the Sultan in Herselt, on a rest day, and there I had some meat (not sure what kind since I could hardly read a word on the menu) fried with mushrooms, peppers, and onions with half a plate of frites and my choice of sauce - curried ketchup. Delicious, but possibly not the best pre-race meal....
Finally, I would have liked to stay longer and to have shared the experience with Ward. It's hard to share everything through emails and Skype calls, and I would have loved to have had his support and shared the whole experience together.
I have left myself wanting more, and I hope to be back again in the future. I'll miss Belgium!
The beer aisle in the nearby Carrefour, a big store with everything from clothing to electronics to books to groceries. Most of the left side consists of specialty beers like Trappist ales (although I spot some Corona there).
The road back into Blauberg on my ride today. The surrounding forest had lots of trails that would be great for cross or mountain bikes. I saw lots of riders out on this beautiful day. It was 7 degrees (about 45 F) and partly-cloudy today. I really lucked out on the weather while here!
A road leading out of Blauberg.