Sitting here in the biggest ‘normal’ sized house in the beautiful suburbs of Baltimore, looking out onto parkland and a ‘studio’ at the bottom of the garden which is larger than our Belgian home. I’m definitely very happy that I’ve started my cross season here in America.
Having raced a few races here two years ago, this year we decided to plan a longer stay incorporating 9 races but all on the east side of the country. Starting in Allentown, 2 hours West of New York and ending in Gloucester, 1 hours north of Boston, we are here living the American dream for the whole of September.
So to a Brit what is living the American dream? Well it mostly relates to food, a common topic in all my blogs. Firstly the hotel ‘all you can eat’ breakfast was just heaven. Not only do they have already made porridge (oatmeal to a US citizen), fruit, bread and cooked normal English stuff, they also have pancakes, bagels and a waffle making machine. Then for lunch you can get ‘all you can eat’ salad buffet, again including salad, soup, breads and pasta for around 6 euros per person in a local restaurant. They also had mini speakers at the tables where you could pick which big screen you listened too while eating. Luckily we were only in a hotel for 3 nights or we would definitely have contributed another 3 people to the growing world obesity problem.
We raced Saturday and Sunday in the Nittany lions cross on a grass based course with a swamp style mud pit on one section of the course created by the storms and excessive rain the area has suffered from over the last 2 weeks. It was great fun and I won both days so was really happy. America also has this thing called ‘equality’ going on when setting their prize funds giving top three men and women equal prize money. It’s an unusual concept to many Europeans I’m sure, but ‘way to go’ America, you rock.
After leaving that race Kris from Twenty20 Cycles, the organiser of this weekends Charm City races took us onto Baltimore to the most unbelievable host house ever. I grant you this is also my first host house, however Suzy and Jo are amazing. Not only are they incredible hospitable but their house is beautiful and they have the biggest washing machine I have ever seen in my life, I could quite easily fit in it! They also have a Whole food market shop within walking distance of their house, another experience that if you are ever in America you have to visit. It’s a supermarket that only sells organic, whole grain type produce. They have food we haven’t even heard of and everything is fresh organic and expensive, but worth it just to visit the pick and mix nuts section!
We have seen some interesting wildlife since we have been here including a racoon, sunbathing turtles and a ground hog all in the space of 3 days. Last night Suzy took us into a really nice area of Baltimore called Fells Point in the Inner Harbour. We did a (non violent) drive by through the city then stopped for Stef to try the best ice cream in Baltimore, which I may have helped him with especially the best pistachio gelato I have ever tasted. Sat on a park bench outside it was just like a scene from an American movie with a guy showing people the stars through his telescope, an old man playing a violin and groups of people sat chatting together, very surreal. To top of the evening visit we stopped the most incredible smelling bakery where you could buy the croissants they were making for the morning straight from the oven trays, at 10pm. This is where scratch and sniff blogging should be invented cause I’ve never smelt anything so good in my life, obviously I couldn’t tell you what they tasted like as I am an athlete and my body is a temple etc, etc.
On that note, Americans do speak a form of English but we have had a few translation issues. It turns out potato chips are actually crisps not chips and a truck is a lorry and despite me wanting a Nissan titan apparently it’s not the done thing for people who care about the environment. American cars have engines with at least 3 litres more than the rest of the world to power their huge vehicles which we believe leads to the biggest road kill you have ever seen, ie the racoon. To be fair if they parked a fiat punto outside their humungous houses it would look like a go kart, so I guess everything is correctly proportioned.
Anyway at this point I’ve raved enough about how strange but wonderful this country is so will finish for now. Plus you will need to google a Nissan Titan and how big a racoon is so I will stop here. As we are here for another 2 weeks I’m sure I will get another blog in about food and a little bit of bike racing in that time. Till then.