Saturday, December 29, 2007

Last Thoughts

I am sad to leave this place. I love the simplicity of my life while here. I love walking to the bakery for fresh bread and pasteries. I love hopping on my bike to explore new roads in the beautiful countryside here. I enjoy the cute brick homes, modest-sized cars, farmland and the roads that lead from village to village. There are so many roads to explore! And of course, the racing is incredible.

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!

In the town of Westerlo.

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.


Dan said...

How interesting it has been to read your posts about your Belgian adventure.
It is great to have goals and dreams but even greater to strive to achieve them--You continue to inspire us all!
All the best for a wonderful 2008 from you Delaware fans,
Molly, Claire, Mary and Dan

geert said...

Hi Rebecca
so glad you enjoyed your stay and the racing overhere in Belgium so much
but really no beer ???

check out this website
and go to store locator
should give you directions to some shops in the USA where you can find artisan made bread like you can find it in your local bakkerij in Belgium

have a safe trip back home


Greg said...

OK, Rebecca: Yu get a 'pass' for not being able to go and get the full Belgie dining experience, but I am taking beau coups points away for not grabbing a Maredsous or even 'God forbid', a Primus!


Honestly, you have me inexplicably motivated to head over and throw down. I am looking forward to staying at the pace you stayed at! Vicki's been SUPER helpful.


bikezappa said...

Great story CC

To Beer or not to Beer
That is the question.

You can always drink beer later.
And you can only absorb so much in a short time.

weak and feeble said...

sounds like it was a great trip!

glad you had a good time.