The day

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The day always starts the same way. Ideally an hour of coffee and not too much talking.

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Team breakfast. This stage started early so the line for 6am breakfast was pretty long.

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Bikes out. Air tires for 8 race bikes and 8 spare bikes.

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Spares on the car. Casey looking serious.

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Once we get to the race the bikes go in front of the bus. Riders sign in, meeting generally happens to plan the tactics for the day, we do any last minute adjustments so everyone is ready.

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And its very cool.

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This is my seat. Spare wheels next to me. Tools under them and in front of me. The soft sided cooler has ice socks and the cooler behind me has water bottles.

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Start of stage 1. Tour of Utah 2017.

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They rode around this lake. The north part of which is in Idaho. Who knew?

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General boredom after 4 plus hours in the car.

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After the stage bikes get washed, lubed, and checked over.

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All the teams doing the same thing.

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Sometimes things do break or ware out and need to get fixed.

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Then we wash the cars.

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And run random errands like gassing cars and buying supplies.

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Once all the working is done we can sit down and enjoy some beer.

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It can be a bit tiring at times. I usually try and get to my room before falling asleep, but no one is perfect.

On to worlds

Thanks to Ryan Air for less than $300 you can get a rider, mechanic, 2 bikes, spare wheels, and luggage from Rome to Brussels. After a quick drive from the airport we arrived in Sittard, NL, home of the euro base for USA cycling.  

 

The service course.  

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Between all the catagories there were 30 US riders for the world championships. With 2 bikes a piece, plus extra wheels, we ended up with a lot of stuff. 

 

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Official credentials.  

 

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When we arrive in Luxembourg it was a few degrees below freezing. Thankful we were able to commandeer one of the conference rooms to let us work out of the cold.  

 

 

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Custom fixtures from the bike room. Jeff made a key rack to make sure all the keys were easy to find.  

 

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Laundry facilities were also in high demand. Most of the vans are equipt with washing machines, one of which was brought inside to thaw and then it was ready to go. Well, after installation. 

 

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All the bikes ready for pre ride.  

 

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Pits for the first day of pre ride. Not so warm. 

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Dave and Tom tag teaming the bike dry. The aim was to get as much water off before it froze. That plus storing the bikes inside meant we could wash without worrying about causing problems due to ice.  

 

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Race vehicles increased in number and scale as we got closer to the weekend. How this bus got into and out of this parking lot I have no idea. But that process did happen three days in a row. 

 

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And finally to work. Pits for the junior race first thing Saturday. I ended up pitting for all 5 races over 2 days.  

 

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The US landed one medal from the weekend thanks a a great ride by Ellen Noble in the U23 women's division. Silver was good enough to earn her some champagne from the hotel, complete with an opener.  

 

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I'm now thinking all teams should carry a victory sabre for opening podium bottles.  

 

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Thanks to the discovery of a motor in one of the pit bikes last year the officials scan all of the bikes at the race to make sure they are 100% human powered.  

 

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Kerry on race day. He only had one flat tire, fewest of all Americans Sunday, and battled hard on a challenging course.  

 

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The morning after. Back in the Netherlands for coffee and rest.  

Eurocross 2017

After a successful national championships in the snow, Kerry and I are taking the Kona show to Europe. 

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Going to Europe requires a lot of luggage.  

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Like, this much.  

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While we were waiting for Rebecca, Amy D foundation rider and part of our privateer crew for the weekend, we made sandwiches and tried to stay out of the rain. Italy has great sandwich makings.  

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Our air bnb was only a quarter mile from the course. Plus it had room for a few bikes.  

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And a nice view.  

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Familiar faces on the World Cup truck.  

A beautiful sunny day in an Italian parking lot.  

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The racing wasn't great, but the trip was very enjoyable. More news from Northern Europe soon.  

The Transfer

During stage 3 of this year's tour of California, while Oscar was fighting for KOM points and and Joe was slinging bottles, Emma and I drove from hotel to hotel to get things set up.  

 

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It was at least a long enough drive to catch up on some sleep.  

 

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Then all of the riders bags and massage supplies go in the rooms. 

 

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Wash the truck and trailer.  

 

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Fill some bottles. 

 

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And get the work area set up for after race wash and prep.  

 

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Then all you can do is wait.  

Cliff Dwellings

After the run Alan and I went a couple miles to check out the Cliff dwellings. Native Americans inhabited these cliffs from about 1200-1300.

Alan was using some new type of camera. It seemed complicated.

I'm sure there were snakes somewhere around this area. But more to the point I think this sign is much more effective than a plain "stay on the trail" sign.

The trail in.

Cliff dwellings!! Part man made, part nature made.

Stairs leading in to the dwellings. Pretty sure the park service built those. I think the original owners used ladders.

Cozy 1 bedroom. With fireplace and a nice view.

The original ladders supposedly looked more like this.

So we climbed down and headed back into civilization.

See Alan run

It's about 1000 miles from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Silver City, New Mexico. This is a drive that typically we do as fast as possible given that the bike races in those two cities are only a couple of days apart. Thankfully for everyone, the races were spaced out a bit this year so there was time for rest and adventure. So Alan and I went running.

We stopped on the drive out to take some pictures. The part of the Gila National forest we were in is about a 90 minute drive from Silver City.

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Then we ran.

and ran

and took more photos.

and looked around at some cool outdoorsy goodness.

oh and there was this river.

We had to cross it.

30 times.

Ushuaia

There were a number of reasons that we ended up extending our trip in South America, however probably the most often and widely discussed was simple: Brian wanted to see penguins. And if you want to see penguins, you might as well head to the end of the world, Ushuaia.

Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world. As such it is home to most of the southernmost things. This is despite the fact that the southernmost town in the world (Puerto Williams, Chile) is a full three miles south of Ushuaia.

Ushuaia is on the island of Tierra del Fuego, so driving there means you have to take a ferry across the Magellan Strait.

Then you drive past about 10,000 of these guys hanging out by the road. Not sure if the fences are designed to keep them in, but if they are they work very poorly.

Then you keep driving on a mix of paved and gravel roads, cross theborder back into Argentina, and keep on going.

Until you eventually get here.

We are a long way from things.

Waterfront mishaps.

We had to wait a couple days for an open penguin tour so we went running.

To this lake.

Then we climbed up the mountain on the other side.

The view was nice.

En route to the Penguin viewing. The wind blows hard enough here, along the Beagle Channel, that these trees grow sideways. Everyone is obligated to take a picture.

This is mine.

Then we finally arrived on Penguin Island and there were penguins.

Lots of penguins.

Most of them are quite small and look like this. These are the Magellan penguins that originally colonized the island in the 70's. Apparently one year they just turned up.

These are the slightly larger King penguins which showed up to join the party in the 90's. They look like a small version of the Emperor penguins of national geographic.

Still they are not very big. (Brian inserted for scale)

The penguins dig small burrows that they live/raise chicks in. Apparently penguins are bad at digging since this three foot deep hole takes them about 3 months to dig.

But it seems pretty cozy once complete.

One Penguin family. The chick (middle) is about 2 months old so it still has its fluffy, non waterproof, feathers.

Big penguin neighborhood.

And in case you were worried I had just used internet stock photos for these posts I have proof I was there.

 

Now back to America. And work.

Torres del Paine

About half way through the Tour of San Luis Brian, Casey, and I decided to extend our trip to South America and check out some of Patagonia. This turned out to be a very good choice.

From San Luis we caught a ride to Mendoza, Argentina and then flew south to Punta Arenas. That's where the Volkswagen golf we rented turned out to be a bit bigger, and much better, than anticipated.

Brian "touching" the toe on the Magellan monument in the central square, Punta Arenas.

A lot of Patagonia is very beautiful. Some is not. The drive from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, the closest town to Torres del Paine national park, was not that scenic.

Since we didn't plan on this before heading to South America, we spent our first day in Patagonia shopping. One of the shops in Puerto Natales also featured this sleeping dog. He wasn't going anywhere.

Shopping done. We made our plan.

Got some appropriate local cuisine to fuel our future efforts.

and briefly considered adopting a dog.

 

Then it was into the park.

Brian's first backpacking trip. Not a bad one for your first.

and that is where we are headed.

The water here comes straight from the snow pack or glaciers. Some ice may be left over. That being said, it is supposed to be some of the freshest in the world. No purification required.

Into the hills we go.

Camping the first night. The front part of the trail (the W) is very accessible and popular. We were not by any means alone in the wilderness.

Devices galore charging inside the cooking area. This is how you turn one gun into five guns.

Good times had around the dinner table.

Our first suspension bridge.

View from the top. This is about 7 km above the bridge. One of two places where you hike up the hill a ways to look at stuff on this section.

I know that bridge is down there somewhere. Just can't quite see it.

Woodpecker!

Hare!

Flower!

And more suspension bridge.

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Somewhat ironically the park rangers' cartoon representation is an invasive species.

Day 4 started very early. The second big viewpoint is the rock towers which gave the park it's name. Ideally you see them at sunrise. However when you're far south in the middle of summer that means getting up at 330 to make it to the top in the dark. The above is a shot up the hill of the headlamps in front of us.

The rocks at 5am or so. Before it got light you could see the headlamp of a climber about athird of the way up the middle tower. I suspect he had the best view.

Spirits were still high midway through day 4. Aside from getting up early we also hiked into the evening. The long push allowed us to cut a full day off of our original plan.

Day 5 we headed over John Gardner pass. It's by far the highest point on the trail, about 4000 feet, requiring a steep ascent and steeper descent. Approximate location of pass indicated in photo.

View from the top. You can just see the Grey glacier in the background. We left a little souvenir behind at the top.

Better shot of the Grey glacier from the start of the decent.

Longest and highest bridge of the trip. it sits about 200 feet off of the river below. Very cool, slightly wobbly.

Grey glacier with Lago Grey in the foreground.

Waiting for the ferry out of the park. Energy levels were pretty low.

Tour de San Luis

From Europe to South America, with only a quick stop over in the US to say hi and change bags. With French nationals won it was on to road season and the Tour de San Luis.

This is a panorama of the mechanics area at our hotel. It was big enough and air conditioned, which proved useful when the average temp was in the nineties.

Even the burrowing owls, which were abundant, awake in the daytime, and difficult to photograph, were looking for some shade in the afternoon heat.

Thankfully the our Argentine driver Jose was very adept at finding us shade for the van.

Other skills involved navigating the river crossings, of which there were more than a few.

Therace itself was diverse and challenging. It included beautiful scenery:

Horrible scenery:

Excited fans:

and a few less excited ones:

All in all it was a good race and a good way to get the season of and running. Now we just have to wait another two months for the next race. Should be ample time for some vacation....

Europe 2015

This year's Europe trip looks quite a bit the the Christmas expedition of last year. Belgium, France, and Amsterdam. Only this year shuffled a bit around. So as I am back in France ahead of French nationals this weekend, just a few shots from the last couple weeks.

One race that was added to my calendar was the French Cup in Flamanville. It happens around a Castle above the west coast of France. The pits gave us plenty of time to take in the scenery. 

They even had the pressure washers set up on the pond for scenic washing.

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After the French Cup it was on to Amsterdam. One of the highlights was witnessing the retrieval of bikes from the bottom of one of the canals.

These have seen better days.

The claw!

Apparently bikes are much more harmful than statues of liberty, which just get left in the middle of the canals.

On my way back to Besancon I had a couple hours to walk around Paris. This included turning down a random street and finding an arch. They apparently just have these lying around everywhere.

A little post terrorism support. Very encouraging to see so many different flags/messages/languages. Everyone seems to agree terrorists are assholes.

The buildings in Paris are just cool. Maybe this is from all the movies, animated and otherwise, that I've seen about Paris. But living on the top floor of one of these seems cool.

Like somewhere up there.

And then there are buildings like this.

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Which can turn out to be not as interesting inside as they are on the outside.

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Plus buildings like this. I enjoyed taking a couple of quick pictures while admiring the length of the line to get in. Still very cool to see in person. Maybe next time and more snacks. Both seem helpful for prolonged line standing.

 

On to French Nationals!

Vacation

After racing almost every weekend since early April, having a few weeks off in the middle of summer has been very welcome.

Relaxing activities have included being out on a boat.

Which meant I could take pictures of dogs on other boats.

Some dogs have bigger boats than others.

There was also swimming.

There has also been some hiking. This is en route to Anette Lake in the Cascades.

And since we were hiking to a lake, there was more swimming. I took this while hanging onto a log in the middle of the lake.

Even spotted some local wildlife on the way down the hill.

More activities: Whale watching! San Juan Island gets the thumbs up.

Whales were spotted.

By a great number of people.

Also a few seals.

Then there were some accidental adventures. Sometimes you just happen upon raptors while drinking beer on Beacon Hill.

And raptors are awesome.

Philly

Even after working now what seems like a million bike races and spending tons of time away from home through a crazy combination of circumstances I had never worked the Philly cycling classic.  

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Clearly that has now been remedied.  

 

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Since we drove up from the last race on Monday I had a few days to relax. Step one: Phillies game with porter and frank (left to right) 

 

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Step 2: eat a lot of food with Ricoh. He journeyed all the way up from New Zealand to hang out with me. I suspect he may have had other motives.  

 

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Eventually we had to do some racing. Thankfully the fans came out in earnest for our 8 am start. 

 

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The crowd on Lemon Hill, one of two climbs on the 12 mile circuit.  

 

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Flags!! 

 

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Since the women's race was a road World Cup they got the prime time slot at 1230. This is the top of "the wall". Which was the second of the climbs on course.  

 

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And since we were done racing we hung out and watched the women race. Also took some time to check out the locals.  

 

Puppies included.  

 

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Now to the French part of Canada!! 

Westward

With the sun rising behind us, we headed west. The drive from Greenville to Redlands, California with the RV, trailer, Sprinter, and two team cars takes about four days. Lots of time to listen to audiobooks and ponder the largeness of America.

It wasn't too bad, but I probably had this look on my face quite a bit of the time.

Fortunately there was some time to stop and enjoy the sites. The highlight being trail running in Flagstaff, Arizona. 

There were even some elk.

and aspen trees.

But once we got to California it was business as usual.

Plus one of our host houses has a small orange grove. Only $2 a bag.

The Southern Carolina

After a great visit in North Carolina, it was time to head south to get ready for camp.

I thought I would keep one foot in North Carolina just to make sure everything was okay.

I'm pretty sure people here are not used to snow. That or I was much closer to the pole than I thought.

View from Caesar's Head. It was a nice way to check out the state that I had just entered.

Yup. Pretty nice looking.

Hincapie has the same trailer as last year, but getting it a little freshened up was in order.

Fresh paint!

With some hot red accents.

Looks a little more normal once all the bike and wheel hooks are back in.

The Hincapies own a hotel outside of Travelers Rest, SC which is where our camp was based.

Since we had so many people, we stayed in a house down the street from the hotel. The house also had a three car garage which we quickly transformed into our work area for the week.

While the guys were out on their new bikes Casey, the head mechanic, and I started setting up one of the new time trail bikes. New frames from Felt plus some fast wheels from HED should make this a very speedy machine.

Plus Casey had some time to get in a bit of press. Here our Director Sportif Thomas Craven asks Casey about the bikes, tires, and the team. Hopefully the part about me being the best looking member of the team makes the final cut.

Hincapie Racing is sponsored by Park Tool which meant I got a new toolbox to start the year. It's a bit roomier than what I have been working out of and has many more pockets for added organization. Not that you can tell by the end of the day.

Casey's dog "Smokey" also joined us for most of camp. She pushed through the cold weather like a champion. Hopefully by the next post things will have warmed up a bit.

 

More news soon.

The ice after the storm

After hearing of the greatness/coolness of North Carolina I decided I would come and check it out before heading to team camp in South Carolina. What was not predicted by anyone until right before this trip was the snow/ice storms that would make it a cold and slippery time.

Brevard, NC is located right next to the Pisgah national forest. Despite the cold Erica persevered and showed me around.

I was a little surprised that Looking Glass Falls still worked with how cold it had been. I suppose the current helped.

The pool at the bottom should give you a better idea of the temperature. I think the high was 17 that day.

Frozen log.

We also took a trip up the hill from the falls to check out the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The parkway is closed in the winter time so that it doesn't have to be maintained.

Given the temperature we decided against taking a stroll down the parkway.

We did opt to head down the hill and hike back up, which was icy but a little bit warmer.

After slip sliding to the top we got this view. It was a very clear and sunny day which meant great views. Erica and I were joined by her friend Peter on the adventure. The decent was a bit trickier, involving a few sections of sliding down on your butt. Despite some damp pants, it is a very fun and efficient way to get down the mountain.

I've heard it is supposed to get warmer soon. Lets hope that is true. I'm not sure single digit temperatures is my favorite number of digits.

Amsterdam

After Zolder I had some time off before I had to return stateside. Why not hang out in Amsterdam?

They have windmills! This one has a brewery in it as well.

I spent most of my time walking around and taking in the scenery.

Many of those scenes involve canals.

I was amazed at this parking job. Getting perfectly between the cones must be tricky.

And bikes everywhere.

Or you can ride a scooter, even appropriate for cats.

I did get chance to check out the city by bike with some friends who live in Amsterdam. It really is the way to get around the city.

And even if you ride to the climbing gym they have beer on tap. For after climbing of course.

Parrots in Amsterdam? Apparently yes.

Good coffee, in this case roasted by some transplants from New Zealand.

The saddest part of the journey was the prevalence of the selfie stick. They seemed to be everywhere.

The selfie stick is used to take pictures of yourself. Also to keep other people from getting close enough to talk to you.

The coolest part of the trip was ringing in the New Year on the roof of the apartment.

To commemorate the occasion I took some blurry pictures.

 

Happy 2015 everyone!

Zolder

There was some mud in Zolder. There was also sand, pavement, and some steep ups and downs. The course works in way in and around a car racing track, finishing on the home straight. Cool venue, difficult course.

We were prepared as ever, with the Caroline Mani tent complete with the zoo attachment. (This is what I now call the sidewall with the window. Fans do come up to it and look in like they're at the zoo).

Just like home! Caroline and Erica checking out the course. They are about to ride into the mud pictured above.

Scoping out the wind turbines next to the track. There are also a series of solar panels (one on the far left) which are confusing because everyone says it's never sunny in Belgium.

Back in foreign lands in foreign lands. Mainly trying to figure out what the French mechanics are asking me in the pit. They are at least now all aware that I don't speak French so the questions are less frequent. Lots of pointing.

In the distance you can see all the buildings that line the start/finish straight. Both for car races and bike races in this instance.

Since mechanics do care about what happens in the race, both for organization in the pit as well as general interest, we always like when they put a TV where we can watch the race. Really makes the 40 minutes go by quickly.

Christmas in Belgium

With two World Cups straddling Christmas, including Zolder pre ride on Christmas day, I ended up in Hasselt, Belgium for Christmas. While it is always nice to be home for Christmas aside from missing my family Belgian Christmas was okay. 

I learned that if someone is trying to steal the new backpack you got for Christmas you can just hide it out your window for a bit.

And if you're looking for a last minute gift, certain stores are better than others.

After breakfast we spent some time wandering around the streets of Hasselt, just looking at buildings and the like.

Some of which are very cool.

But even if you ride to church on Christmas parking can still be a pain.

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We also found some cool street art. This one gets the thumbs up from Erica. Way to go cat!

Not street art, but in the category of "other things that we saw": goofy Christmas moose. What more does one need?

Example of the buddy system in nature? Trees helping trees around the holidays? So many warm fuzzy feelings.

 

Next time I'll talk about the bike race.

Namur

This is the Citadel De Namur, located in Namur, Belgium. It overlooks a river, the town, and every year they hold a cyclocross race inside. This year I got a chance to go.

A bit of the castle insides from the pit. We were situated right in the middle where I would assume they would have held horse riding events when the castle was more...used for castle type things.

My fellow mechanics getting ready for the women's elite race. With a much larger field than the previous two world cups I attended the pit was a little more crowded. As usual there was a good amount of order. I even got a hand from a few French mechanics, seeing as I was pitting with the French. (Note: despite the fact that at world cups the riders are representing their trade teams, most things are organized by country. In the case of the pits each nation gets to pick a numbered box in the pit area. Order of draw is determined individual rider rankings in the world cup overall standings)

The view from the top. Below you can just make out the start area (behind the stone pillar on the left) and the finish line (far left of the frame).

An untimely crash left Caroline a bit bruised and finishing mid pack. These things are known to happen at bike races. Fortunately you can always improve your mood with coffee and baked goods.

Or if you're feeling really terrible you could opt for the 3kg (6.6lbs) of Nutella located at your local Luxembourg gas station.

 

Next stop: Christmas in Zolder, Belgium. Also a bike race.

Crossing the Pond Part 2

After Koksijde the next race was in Milton Keynes, England. On Thursday we got up early and headed west to the water.

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The Euro Tunnel is the turducken of travel. Your car goes on the train, train in tunnel, tunnel under the channel. Crazyness.

In the belly of the travel turducken.

If you look out the window while you're under the channel you can see some fish and other marine life.

The night before the night before the race. The staff in Milton Keynes spent all week setting up the course, which showed through come race day.

Caroline and Meredith Miller checking out the first turn onto the dirt. You can see the mud, which would be a bit worse come race day.

There was a hill in the center of the course that provided most of the interesting  bits of the race.

This section was right next to the pit, a fun up and down slippery off camber section. Good viewing for the mechanics.

During pre ride there was a small discussion about the best way to tackle this particular section of course.

That meeting got a bit bigger as more and more people were trying to crack the code.

Race day: Tom took a turn on the trainer while we waited for the riders to turn up.

A local business let us set up in their parking lot. It kept us nicely out of the muddy team parking lot. Our own American embassy.

The other 20% must have had to exit somewhere else. Didn't find that one.

This guy was very excited about England. Either being in England, from England, or he got a sweet deal at the flag store. Didn't have time to ask.

Pre race fish and chips. The fuel mechanics need.

After the day of pre ride we have to clean the bikes so they are ready for the race. With one metric ton of mud on course this a lot of fun.

The hill that yesterday was a large topic of discussion is now covered in spectators. English fans came out en mass to watch the race.

Bike washing! We exchanged bikes every lap so we could clean them off. The mud adds a lot of weight and can clog up the drivetrain. It does make the day much more exciting for the mechanics.

But the best part of the day is always washing the riders. Caroline finished 6th overall and got a well earned shower.

 

Now heading home. Racing in Tacoma? That seems easy.