Hi. How are things going in the Deep South? Cold I guess! Sounds like there's lots of positive progress with the race program and there’s been some fun new racing ideas.
It's a good feeling to be missing the winter however the summer here hasn't really cranked up. There's still the odd rainy day to remind me of home. But...we have had the BBQ out.
Training here in Belgium is turning out to be nearly always a bit of an adventure and sometimes I wonder if I'm going to return a better mountain biker than a road cyclist. I can certainly see why they're such cyclocross fans here. There are a lot of narrow wee windy roads to get lost on and they often turn into cobbles or dirt roads. Sometimes the dirt roads are better to be on than the cobbles! I'm never complaining about our road conditions/pot holes/road works ever again. On the main roads there are cycle paths and cyclists get the right of way all the time. Cars wonder what you're up to if you try to give way to them...awesome! (NZ drivers could take a leaf out of their book).
I've made my way to a few races now, so starting to get a bit of a feel for what happens. You often have to travel a couple hours to them. It's all women's racing and usually fields of a 100 or so. The races are around about a 4km to 7km-ish circuit and you repeat this heaps (to make up a 80-100km race)-like a criterium but bigger called a kermess. The riding is fast and of a high standard and lots of team racing going on. There's not a lot of prize money here but it is cheap to enter races you pay $8 euro and receive $5 euro back when you hand your number in. So, $6NZ, I thought that was pretty good. The atmosphere at the racing is cool. They put a lot of effort into the event even though they're just like our Saturday races and lots of spectators come out to watch. There are a couple of women's races a week. The guys can choose from multiple races a day-lucky!
I'm looking forward to seeing some of the tour as two stages come through Belgium!
I've been enjoying the 'cultural' experience too. It's true, the Belgian's do make yummy chocolate, great beer and best of all, amazing waffles. Unfortunately the coffee is terrible.
I'll keep you posted if anything spectacular happens here but otherwise I'll continue to enjoy the 'summer' and be thinking of you in your 10+ polyprops, leg warmers, wooly hats/balaclavas, booties and winter jackets.