Today was practice day. The last practice day unfortunately. The big show, as if you didn't know, is on for tomorrow, not Sunday. But yeah you knew that. The whole world does.
It was just practice - but the whole thing is coming together. Let's just hope the pit faucets aren't frozen like there were today at the Master's race down the road.
Well I thought I'd have days, as in two, to go on about the World Championship here in Looeville, but it looks the Ohio River wants us the hell out of here sooner than later. The news this morning is that the big races, Elite Men and Women are being moved up to tomorrow morning. While this may sound like a bummer, I am frankly worried that it could be worse and that half that course could possibly be under water by tomorrow morning. Watching the river rise while during today's afternoon practice was a little scary.
See these crazy things? These are Big Boy Sand Bags, for Big Boy, Ohio River type Big Boy water.
Yeah the flooding is big news. We hear in Europe that people think the U.S.A Cycling is moving the race up a day so we can all watch the Super Bowl. The other story, the one I like is that they will be able to keep the river from flooding by stacking Cat-4 Sandbaggers along the shoreline.
Sand bag news: these are empty - just waiting to be filled with Cat-4s. Yeah that oughta keep the water from drowning the course.
While the race and the flood were big news, and seeing the best cyclocross racers in the world rolling around town like hipster on growler bikes on the West Side of Grand Rapids, the real thing I'm taking away from experience my first World Championship is meeting the Belgies. The place is swimming with them. They love their cross, and they cross the pond to be here for the big race - come hell or high water.
There are Belgies everywhere here in Looeville. Even though it's cold and the schedules are FUBAR, they seem a happy lot. I wondered why until I studied them ...
The rising water just seems to roll right off their backs because while they are waiting for a flood of Biblical proportions and a cyclocross race of Worldly proportions to happen, they drink.
And then they stop and laugh and drink.
And then they drink some more. A lot more. This was at the SRAM tent party today. It was big Belgy fun, let me tell you ...
But not all of these fine folks from Belgium drank. Some of them went out to to catch a glimpse of their guys training on the course, just like we did. This lovely couple wasn't drinking. Well, at least for awhile. They were wonderful people - even though they refused to exchange their sweet Sven Nys hat for our nearly worthless American dollars.
Some work funny hats a milled around the course.
Lots of them wore jackets with this guys name on it.
And wore more jackets with his name on it. On the course, ...
... at the SRAM party.
And back at the hotel ...
And in the exhibitors tents there were images of Belgian heroes.
And even his bike with a certain guys name was on display. You're bike looks like this, right?
So while they were getting their jackets embroidered, fitting their hats and putting up their posters, what were we doing? That's right tracking down the real thing. We stumbled on a bike shop advertising that they were going to have the Belgium on hand, as well as a few beers. It was hard to believe ... but it was true! See in weep, Belgie fans ...
Sven Nys. Great champ and great guy. Put up with all our American bullshit, no problem.
Adam got to spend time with his hero. What did he ask him? Yeah training with power. Nys suddenly couldn't speak English anymore.
I was so excited meeting the great one, I fell into a walking coma - sort of zombie like. Nice, Nys.
Not so enthused about being man and woman handled by Americans was Neils Albert who looked like he only had a few minutes between biology classes at night school.
The always jittery and uncomfortable in his own skin Kevin Pauwels, seen here jittery and uncomfortable in his own skin, was rather a good sport about the whole thing.
Notice that when Pauwels is on the bike the jitters and discomfort are all gone. This was shot by Adam McIntyre earlier in the day.
So that's what's new in New Belgium today. Now it's time to rest up, recharge the batteries and get ready to swim with all these crazy Belgies tomorrow. The strange thing is that while this is the only time that the World Championship has been held outside of Europe in its 65-year history, everybody has forgotten about these guys ...
SPECIAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUIZ
Yes, we're having a quiz. If you answer both of these questions right, or wrong. Or only answer one, or none, you could be a winner. What's the prize? Tickets to Sunday's World Championship race right here in good old Looeville. We've got plenty of Sunday tickets folks ...
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
There's been so much focus on the the Belgian team and Belgian fans the rest of the teams are all pushed back in the shadows. Remember these guys? Know who they are? Every one here has seemed to have forgotten about them - and a year ago it was going to be there year. If you don't know, here's a clue they are standing in front of the famous Looeville historic site - the Alamo.
WHO THE HELL IS THE MAN WITH THE KNITTED BEARD?
(Bonus question - get this one right and win two tickets to Sunday's race!)
Sarah McIntyre:" have you seen this guy? He's wearing a knitted beard. Let me know if you run into him."
The man with the knitted beard. He raises it when out walking in the cold, but drops it to below chin position when drinking beer. Name his country of origin and win tickets now!