Two weeks ago we started our trip that would take us to four different races in as many countries. A slightly crazy plan, but when you’re as crazy about cycling and traveling as we are, it’s not. We were sleep deprived, cold and basically only ate sugar for at least three days. But seeing all the amazing views along the way, the great pizza and pasta we had for dinner and enjoying the atmosphere surrounding the races definitely made up for that.
Today the first part of our trip, which started in Belgium. The start of the first stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen in Brugge. The race started with a prologue the day before. We arrived in Brugge after an almost decent night of sleep (6 hours). Because we knew what was coming (late night bus trips, sitting in the cold and no bed for some time) it was hard to get really excited, perhaps we were already saving energy. Also the race seems to be getting smaller and smaller each year. Big teams decide they no longer want to race there, for example Team Sky had plans of riding the race this year,but withdrew shortly before the start. The race still serves as our start of the season though and it has been for the past 6 years. It was lovely to feel the energy surrounding the race. The riders getting ready to sign in, joking around with teammates and taking pictures with fans. The old men walking around telling each other stories of riders and races in the past. The cycling enthusiasts who ride their bikes to races (and majorly get in the way of everybody else, but that’s for another post). The little kids running around collecting whatever they can get their hands on. Those are all things that you forget in the off-season, but make you feel right at home when you’re back. The sign-in was pretty uneventful, we stood in the middle of the square taking pictures and enjoying the feeling it was all starting again. At some point the square started getting empty and we knew it was time to go to the side of the road to catch a glimpse of the start. There’s a crowd of people with the same idea so we all push around until we have a good view of the road. Then there’s a pang and the cars start moving. Before you know it there is a large blur of riders passing by. You hear the wheels and smell the eau de cologne. Here and there you recognize a rider. And then it’s over, just like that. Everybody makes their way to the finish, back home or wherever it is they’re going. We are probably the only ones making their way to the bus station, where we have to wait until two am before our bus will show up to take us to Paris. At the moment we knew it was going to be a long day, but it would be worth it. And it was.
Next up: Part 2 Paris-Nice