Homeboy: Luckiest Guy On Earth
The past weeks there has been a distinct lack of things, well at least in my mind, to talk about. At points like this I sometimes wish I would be kidnapped so then I could have something new to talk about. No kidnapping this week, but some very interesting stuff has been going on over here in Belgium.
First off, I am going to say that I am probably one of the luckiest guys on the face of the Earth. Ok, maybe not the face of the Earth, but at least for a brief 15 minutes last Friday. I was just sitting on the couch watching some TV when a roommate walks into the kitchen and has a very dismal look on his face. He proceeds to ask us if anyone took his bike to play a joke on him. With no one in the house taking the bike he realized someone took the bike while he was quickly grabbing some groceries at the local store.
Having grown up in a very crime ridden city and recovering stolen bikes all but one time I figured I would venture out to look for my teammates bike. I decided to go towards some local apartments (as that was the place with the most people near us). On my way I saw a little kid, maybe 10, turn right in front of me on race bike way to big from him. I thought to myself, Holy $&%$‰, there’s the bike right in front of me.
So I speed up behind the kid, yanked bike with the maybe 50-pound thief to a stop and proceeded to yell at him in a number of words never to be repeated. His only rebuttal, “My friend gave it to me!”. This only made me even madder as this was the excuse I always received in the US when I recovered a bike. The kid then hopped off the bike and jetted off. In all from the time I left to the time I recovered the bike it was only 10 minutes.
On my way back to the house I found my friend on his way to the local bike shop to report the bike stolen to the owner. The look of a man and his bike being reunited is a beautiful thing. Needless to say he was quite happy and I’ve earned myself a round from my teammate for my amazingly good luck.
I guess the good karma was with me going into Saturday as I ended up having a really good race in Blissegem, Belgium. Sometimes people begin think that when you go to a Kermese race it’s not a big deal, this one proved them very wrong. I arrived to the Under 23 only race to find 118 guys on the start list and a rather large crowd for the 117 kilometer race. A serious race for everyone involved as the average speed was 43 kph (26.5 mph) for a race that had about 20 corners each lap.
With this many guys I had only one goal, ride at the front of the field, no attacking, just stay at the front. Application of this simple principle of racing is much hard than one would think. I started off mid-pack, but moved quickly up the field to the front using the many corners in the race to speed past my competitors. When I was at the front of the race there were times that I was almost at a dead stand still in some corners, only 20 guys from the front. I could only imagine the yo-yo effect‚ and havoc it was inflicting on the rest of the field!
As the race approached one hour the big names started to get restless and poured on the speed in the crosswind sections of the course. I buried myself in the echelon and focused on keeping my place. After the chaos settled there were 20 of us up the road with a nice gap on the field. For only the third time in Europe I found myself in a legitimate breakaway with a gap on the field. I was psyched and ready to suffer. I conserved my energy and tried to hang on but the organization wasn’t there. The constant attacks and speed changes were taking their toll on me and I eventually succumbed to the pressure of the lactate acid devil and faded back to the field. Actually faded wasn’t a good word to use, more like, dropped anchor and went backwards while riding forwards would be more accurate. It wasn’t quite that bad, but I actually recovered well enough to stay in the field and then go on to finish the race.
One more step has been taken this past week towards the elusive win. My fitness is coming around and my racing is more cerebral than physical, saving me from using up my now limited physical strength. With a good race and some interesting events this week I have to say this past week was a great one.
For those of you who check my personal site for photos of my times in Europe and beyond I am happy to report that within the week I plan to have updated photos of the early season as my hard drive is now restored and I am back in business with updates.
Till next week