Belgium, December 28, 2006
This morning I got to sleep in until 10 am. That was a real treat. On race days, we have to get up in time to eat breakfast, pack, and be on the road by that hour. I probably could have slept longer, but had a massage appointment to make!
We have two main souigneurs here at camp, Chris the Fox, and Herman. Chris is our all around care taker, making us copies of DVD's he has downloaded off the internet, giving us shit when we do stupid stuff, and taking us to the hospital if we dislocate our fingers. Last year at camp, Ryan and I gave him his best New Year's present ever by crashing our brains out at the World Cup in Hooglede-Gits, requiring an ambulance transport us to the hospital. Chris got the lucky job of riding along with us, instead of going home to hang out with his wife and kids. He still makes fun of Ryan for being scared of the needle they gave him a shot with, but that is a whole other story.
Our other souigneur, Herman, is who I got to see this morning. Herman is a retired police officer. Legend has it that he got in trouble with his Sergeant for not writing enough tickets. It got so that everyone knew Herman, and if he pulled you over, it was just for a chat. The other reason he got in trouble was for using his Pistol too often, most notably during the Tour of Flanders, when a young Johan Bruyneel got into a breakaway and Herman the motorbike officer was in between the break away and the peloton, but that cannot be verified.
Both of the souigneurs have a rough job, rubbing the legs of the 16 dirty cyclists at camp every day. Chris also comes to all of the races with us, leaving with the first batch of juniors at 7 am, and not returning until the last of the elite leave the venue, usually after dark. It is dedication like this to the sport of cyclo-cross that sets Belgium apart from the US.
We have one main mechanic and three assistants working pretty much round the clock--gluing tires, replacing cables, and cleaning the persistent and recurring Belgian muck from our bikes. Danny, or "Luigi" as he is referred to around here, the head mechanic is probably one of the best and fastest mechanics known to earth. I don't know how he glues tires up so fast and so well, but I think he has glue tubes attached to his hands instead of fingers.
All of the staff here in Belgium are dedicated to keeping our bodies, bikes, and minds running in top condition and for that we are greatly indebted.
Tomorrow is yet another race, which means an early rise, a big drive, and another big build up for a great day in the saddle. With luck, we will have some riders hitting good form, and hopefully, the front groups of the races. But either way, we will have an amazing support staff of dedicated Belgians holding the whole show together. With out them we would likely fail to launch.