Sunday, September 30, 2007

what a muddy day!


I hope all is well with everyone. Today I did my first ever cyclocross race, and let me tell you it was incredible. The race was an hour west of Brussels in the small town of De Pinte. We (my host father, mother and I) arrived at the race several hours before my race so I had time to watch some of the other categories and pick up a few tips. In-between the races there was time to ride the course, I took advantage and did a lap. Little did I know that the course was so muddy that after just one lap I had to use the pressure washer to clean my bike and get all the mud and grass out of my breaks and gears.
One lap was enough to get a feel for the course here are some pictures of the course

My race started out with a nice clean bike, but that wouldn’t last long. The race started with an astonishing 72 riders. The order in which you are placed on the starting line is random; unfortunately I started in the sixth row, sixty riders back. From the minute the whistle blew it was peddle to the metal. I was slowly able to move up, but was never able to catch the leaders. I was able to catch a lot of riders on the fast sections but lost time through the mud, which we don’t have in Bend. On the back section of the course the mud was so thick and deep that it was nearly impossible to ride. I found it faster for me to run, so that’s what I did. I rode a solid pace to the finish, coming in 24th place. I was hoping to do better, but there is always room for improvement and now that have done a race I know what I need to work on. As my dad always says “train your weaknesses and raise your strengths”. I hope to do another race in the near future and know if I practice what I learned today I will only become better.

The stories are true the Belgians really are crazy about cyclocross. And yes there is a beer garden in the middle of the course.

Pictures of the race


You can click on the pictures to enlarge.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

no cars, no problem

That’s right today in Brussels there were no cars allowed. In promotion of trying to get people to commute in more environmentally friendly ways, all roads in the Brussels city limits were closed to cars. It was amazing, to be in a city of over 1 million people and be riding my bike down major road with no cars, but I wasn’t the only one. There where tons of other people enjoying the day as me. It’s astonishing to think that such a big city could do such a thing. I wish that I would have had my camera because it was shocking to see the amount of people on bikes.

It was awesome


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Not Again.

Yes, today I crashed again. It was not bad; I cut up my chin again and landed hard on my already sore hip. I was going slowly and it was on the cobble stones so I’m fine. I actually thought that it was funny that I crashed again, I don’t crash all year then do it twice in one week, life’s ironic. But the ride and weather was great, there is a huge park in the south of Brussels where I have been taking my cross bike. I found a nice little course that has a bit of everything.

Here are some pictures of the course.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I had a minor crash today while riding home from school. I got my tire stuck in the tram tracks and just went down. It’s ironic because yesterday my host brother did the same thing and I was thinking about it when I crossed them today. The same thing happened to me in Portland earlier this year while I was staying a Jacobs. But as I told my host brother "shit happens", and it does. Just the other day I got a sticker that says "shit happens, flush it".

Watch out for train tacks

Here is the picture.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Long ride

Today I went on a super long ride with Roma, Roma's father and Roma’s father’s friends. Roma told me that the ride would be about 60km (plus the 40km to go to and from Roma’s house). I was thinking that it would be a nice easy ride, but it was not easy or short. It turned out being 170km (105 miles) and was very fast. It was good training, but I could hardly get up the stairs to my room. I think I’ll take the next few days easy before riding with Roma again on Wednesday.

Hope all is well

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Here are some pictures that I took on my ride today.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Awesome ride

Today I went on an awesome ride. It was 130 km in total, with a number of enormous hills. The guys that I road with are both very strong and pleasant. Roma (the shorter of the two) was the Belgian national mountain bike champion last year, and his friend is just as good.

Here are some pictures from the ride. And the weather was great.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The students in school

Hello Again,

I have now been in Belgium for 21 days. The time is flying, and now that school has started it’s going even faster. School is still going well. I have lots of friends and I understand more of what’s going on. The environment at school is very different then what I experienced in the American school system. Maybe it’s just because it’s a small school or because these kids have been going to school with each other forever, but they are all excepting of one another. All of the students are friends and get along; the punks hang out with the athletes and the nerds with the popular girls. I use these term because I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s very moving, and would seldom be seen in the schools in America.

Last week when I was in my French class there was a very nice girl from Brazil that asked me: “is your school in America like the ones in all those movies, where the cheerleaders date the football players”. You all know the stereotypical high school things. At first I said, “No, that’s just in the movies”, but then as I thought about it more I realized that it was like in the movies. It’s not as obviously as in the movies, but it is defiantly true the majority of the time. I was shocked, but unfortunately it’s true.

On a lighter note, I have been doing some good riding. Today I went on an excellent ride; it takes about twenty minutes to get out of town, after that is spectacular. There are roads of all kinds: smooth, cobbled, flat and hilly. I’m actually surprised there are a lot of hills. Tomorrow I will go on a ride with another student from my school who is a very good cyclist and I think he was a Belgian mountain bike champion. I’m eager to ride and learn of some new roads. I will bring my camera along and post some pictures.

If you have any questions about what life here is like please ask.

Talk to you tomorrow
Keep it real

Friday, September 7, 2007

School and Riding


It’s all well over here in Belgium as always. Yesterday was my first day of school, and it was great. The school that I attend is half privet and half public and it uses a more open/free teaching style (for example we call the teachers by their first name, and so far the teacher has always been late, I like it). The school is k-12, and because the there are less students in the 12th grade than the 11th, I was put in the 12th grade (I should be in 11th). They did this so I could get more help if I need it. So I’m hoping that when I get back to the US I will have graduated…………..Not. Although the school is over 100 years old it has a very modern environment. My class only has 17 students in comparison to my 48 student math class last year in the US. The students are all very kind and helpful, but as far as the curriculum goes I have no idea what’s going on. But other than that’s it’s all good, I will bring my camera next week and post some pictures.

I received my cross bike earlier this week and have been on two rides so far. The first ride was good other than some minor falls trying to do some cyclocross mounts. My second ride today was not so smooth. I didn’t have as many falls, but on the way back into town I flatted, about 45 minutes from the house. I didn’t have a tube or any money to take the train. I stopped to ask some people on the street but the only bike shop that they knew of nearby was the Eddy Merckx factory and I would have to take a train. So anyway I just road home standing the hole way to take as much weight as possible off the back wheel. I made it without any damage and learned my lesson, and that’s what life is all about.

I will post some pictures next post of my school and the trails where I ride
Till then keep it real, shit happens

Monday, September 3, 2007

City Life

Hello everyone,

As always life is great in Belgium. I’ve been busy with life, and the language. This past Sunday my host sister left for her exchange in Germany. It’s funny because at the train station see was crying excessively and so where all of her family members, but yet she is only 4 hours away by train. And as for me I have not had time to think about my family and friends. I have been having so much fun, and because everything thing that I do is new and different then at home I’m always thinking.
I’m happy with everything. My family gives me a lot of freedom, and leaves it to me to do a lot of things that most families would help me with. For me I like the independents it teaches me to figure things out by myself.
I’m getting use to the city life which is very different then in Bend. I have only been in a car once, all the other times I have used the subway system which works very well. But the biggest difference is the cultural diversity. In the neighborhood where I live I’m the minority. The majority of the people are Arabic and African. I like it a lot and all the ones I have meet are very nice. Living in Bend is great but because the lack for diversity it is very easy to get sucked into stereotypes. If were to go home now I would call the trip successful because I have already learned so much.

If you have any questions about life over here I would love to answer then. I have a hard time thinking of what to write just because everything I do is new and different so it’s hard to get specific.

Keep it real