256km tomorrow on the Ronde. Actually 256.9km plus probably a few kilometers neutral, so let’s call it a cool 260. Not wanting to overdo it, we went for a very chill ride today, emphasis on chill-y as there was a very dank, cool fog hanging low over Kortrijk today.
A few minutes down the bike path, I was chagrined to see that they frown upon upside down anchors. What a bummer, right?! Mehh, what can you do.
It’s nice being back in this corner of the world since Izegem, right down the road, is where I first received my first schooling in European cycling with the u-23 national team. The bike path you see above is the same one we would ride on easy days from Izegem to Kortrijk for a cup of coffee and a relaxing day spent out and about rather than staying pent-up in the national team house.
The more things change, the more they stay the same holds starkly true here; just yesterday on a recovery ride after the 3 Days of De Panne we Liquigas-Cannondale folk went on a similarly relaxing ride, but at the end of the ride rather than hanging with the boys in neon green and blue during the mandatory coffee stop, I spotted a pair of Americanos at the cafe next door, whereupon I met Lawson Craddock and Ryan Eastman of the Bontrager-Livestrong team. Good kids, but man if you ever want to feel old, go hang out in your old stomping grounds and reminisce with the people currently doing what you were doing a half decade ago in their exact same position. I felt all of my geezerly 29 years even though apparently nothing has changed since 2005: drinking coffee with the national team boys on a damp day in Kortrijk.
Meanwhile fast-forwarding to the present, we stopped at a nice new coffee shop right in the main square of the letter J loving town of Kortrijk. Since none of us can read Flemish, we mostly looked at the pictures since virtually every newspaper has cover-to-cover information about de Ronde. We’re pretty fired up and ready to roll tomorrow! We’re coming off an excellent round of Classics races, including a podium at Gent-Wevelgem, plus a stage win and overall podium at De Panne. I’m miles ahead of where I was last year when I was using the harsh Belgian classics as my reintroduction to racing after an unpleasant month long bout with knee tendonitis. (psst: not recommended)
Everyone is gung-ho for RVV in Belgium. Even the friendly people in the cafe weren’t upset that we parked our bikes specifically in the no-bike-parking zone. They welcomed us neon clad Italian speaking cyclists with open armed gusto.