Day two of being in Europe, and there has been a lot packed into them. Today will be even busier, my alarm is set for 3:50AM so I’m not going to make this a long post. I do expect to have more time (and more stories to tell) once the actual trip has started and we’re down in the Pyrenees.
Day 1: getting to the airport, finding out my flight was delayed a bit, relaxing in the Air Canada lounge while waiting. Once on board, it was very relaxed and comfortable (flying up front tends to be ever since they figured out how to turn a chair into a bed!). Good food, some good wine, and most importantly a good sleep. I landed in Paris a little after 9AM local time and had lots of time to catch my train to Lille. It was great to see Wim walk into the station, with his usual soft smile and sincere warmth. A drive back to his home in Markegem where I got to meet his family, getting a chance to drive the Renault Traffic Andrea and I will get to use during this trip. And checking out the bike Wim picked up for me that morning. I like… I like it a lot now that I’ve gotten a proper fit and ridden a few hours on it. More on that later.
The B&B (de Zoete Kers) is great, with friendly hosts and even friendlier pets. Even the goats and chickens perk up when they see someone, to say nothing of the two dogs. The first day was spent organizing, preparing some final details, arranging everything… something Wim excels at. I was a second driver, helping to shuttle vehicles around to get things like decals and bike race horns installed. I can’t wait to hit that button when Andrea is in the Renault… plus having official technical vehicle status might make it a little easier to get to some interesting places. Day 1 ended late, with a good meal and some good Belgian beer of course!
Day 2: Getting a new bike with an integrated seat post as a loaner is definitely a new experience to me. And being in Wakken is not exactly the best place to find someone prepared to take a hacksaw to a nice new carbon/flax Museeuw frame. However…
about 2 KM away is this little place on a gravel dead-end street. It has a sign on it for “FietsAdvies”… go figure! Filip Adams has been doing custom bike fittings for a number of years and has an impressive list of people who rely on his services. Take a look at his website: www.fietsadviesadams.net). As part of day one, Wim told me how to find Filip… so I showed up unannounced and uninvited and not being able to speak Flemish (good thing he has British clients so his english is great!). Wim had wanted to get a fit before this trip and had stopped in there a week or so ago… only to be told the earliest date was mid August. And here I am, showing up with this great bike and a real problem because no-one was prepared to take a saw to it (to be fair, I wouldn’t have either! I didn’t know how much to take off and it’s not something you can do twice). I’ll leave the details of the fit for a separate post… I’ll just say that he did squeeze me in (“7AM, be here on time”) and I have all the details of the fit so I can see how my Cervelo at home compares. Meanwhile, I have a great bike that’s exactly my size… I better ride it a lot!!!
The rest of the day was more prep and for me it included a trip through Gent and Antwerp on the way to a town near Diest to drop off the Traffic for Wim’s other driver (Rudi). Then a train ride back to Gent, and a few more things along the way.
So I’ll wrap up by saying that there’s a lovely new VW Transporter parked outside my room, which is what I’ll be driving down to the Pyrenees. I’ll make a point of taking photos of it tomorrow, too late for now. (SLEEP, MUST SLEEP).
Tomorrow is a long day… lots of driving here, Andrea is flying. And then Thurs. I will have seen 2 stages in the mountains and will pick Andrea up in Toulouse. That’s for the next entry though!