The first week


 
A typically long, but thankfully uneventful (for me at least, one of the boys had his carry-on lost for most of the week) flight and train ride later and we arrived at our home for the next 11 weeks in Vorselaar, Belgium. Which, as it turns out, made for our first lesson in Flemish. Trying to get from Brussels to the nearest train station (in Herentals) had us all chatting to transport staff, in broken English, asking how we get to "hair rentals". Proper Flemish actually see the "h" dropped (explaining why the locals wondered why we wanted to rent some hair?).
 
In to the new place, we stocked up a bit of food. What might look like enough to survive a nuclear holocaust is really about a fortnight's supply. At most.

 

As for following the advice...well there's not been one day it's not rained, so 'not training in the rain' went straight out the window. The resistance to Speculoos...

 

 

didn't last. Mike Frieberg quipped that Speculoos has been the end of many careers. I figure I don't have much of one to lose, so what the hell! (it's actually too rich for me to eat much of - relief!)

 

On the bike (between the showers) we found that our town has its own castle, complete with a moat.
 

 

Presence of sharks with fricking lazers on their heads in the moat still unconfirmed. Although we are willing to sacrifice any consistent lanterne rouge's to find out. 

 

The rest of the countryside feels like we've stepped straight in to any one of the dozens of Classics races we've all been transfixed to in the early hours of Australian mornings. In a country as young as Australia, it's easily forgotten how 'old' the rest of the world really is. Sights like this are standard.

 

Have I mentioned the rain? I thought Geelong saw its fair share of precipitation. It pales in comparison to Belgium. Which is causing an issue with all our food guilt. Even with avoiding Speculoos, Nutella, frites, beer, croissants...there's still about a million more dishes and baked goods that taste way too nice to be good for you. It's like God laid down the challenge and surrounded the best food and beer with the most average weather - if you want it, you'll have to earn it!

Really though, it's only a small moan because otherwise Belgium would be (and arguably still is) a cycling paradise. Cobbles, climbs, bike friendly drivers and races nearly every day of the week. When weather is the only beef, you know you're still in the right place.

 

Today is my first race - fingers crossed I've kicked the bronchitis that's proving harder to shake than a Masters sit-in-sprinter. Most of the Bianchi-DCM-Arbitrage boys have already raced, just Jaden and I left to open our Belgium accounts. Will be back with some race reports. Although the legs will probably feel like I'm riding with this sort of set up

so keeping the expectations low. I'll be happy just to finish!