Monday, March 06, 2006

It's the lime

It's now been two weeks and five cafés, which is a ratio of approximately 1 to 2.5, or, as I prefer, 2.5 to 1. There is a strong correlation - in fact it's probably even a causal relationship - between the number of cafés visited and kilometres trained. Especially if you visit three in one night. More of that later.

A different bit of Gent
© Jeff Jones

As alluded to in the previous missive, I partook of a spinning class last week. It's essentially the same as aerobics, but on a stationary bike. You can adjust the resistance to suit. The class at the local gym was pretty full, and we couldn't even get into the 7:30pm session, so we opted for the 8:30 one. That became 8:48 by the time we actually started.

I was the only one who brought a tape measure with me to measure the saddle height :-) But my plan to wear cleatless cycling shoes failed, as they were too slippery in the toe straps. And of course, I was the only English in the class, but the instructor was kind enough to explain things in English as we went along, not that it was really necessary. You just have to follow what he does.

We did an hour, and I was surprised at how hard it was, even though I wasn't too gung ho. I averaged 164 and hit 180 several times - about as hard as a not-too-hard criterium. We alternated between in and out of the saddle spinning, in and out of the saddle "strength" (more resistance), and some sort of out of the saddle poise exercise. There was very little rest in between all the sets. Definitely fun though, and a good way to ward off the cold. The room could have done with a few fans, or better, the removal of the roof.

The boss arrived at 12:40am on Friday night, after battling through the snow in Switzerland and Luxembourg. He didn't realise how difficult it was to drive in Europe in winter. We stayed up a few hours and I was a bit shagged after that. The next day, after doing some work in the morning, I dragged him out for a 30km ride along the Schelde at about 26 km/h. There's no way we could have done even part of the Saturday ride, and we were a bit too late for a drink (sorry guys). It took about an hour to pack up his bike for the flight home, which he had to catch from Paris at 11pm on Saturday. It was very much a flying visit.

Reinhard and I went out later for a couple of quiet ones. We checked out Sioux, which has the most bizarre entrance. You think you're walking into the sleaziest dive in Christendom, but inside it's a relatively normal café. There was a fancy dress thing happening so we opted to go to the very Latin Polé Polé café instead. I was determined to stick to beer, and started with a Vedett, which is being given a big marketing push by Duvel. It's an "extra blond" and unlike many Belgian beers, it's not so sweet and even has a slight pilsener ring to it. R had a rather stiff daiquiri - it helps to know the barman.

We moved onto De Ploeg, which is in Walpoortstraat but tricky to find, as it's on top of another café (Montuno's). There's a handpainted sign on the first floor, but you'd never know it was there otherwise. There are some metal stairs taking you up, and the whole place is all done up in sort of Canadian lumberjack wood panelling. Tres rustic. They didn't have Vedett there; in fact they didn't have much of anything. But I now know that Primus is pronounced the same as it would be in Australia. But it's not a beer in Australia, it's a camping stove.

The floor was shaking a bit, so we thought we'd have one for the road in Montuno's downstairs. That's when it went pear-shaped. Montuno's was completely and utterly different to De Ploeg, except the prices were about the same. It was small, very modern, and actually quite well done - not too pretentious. Some armchairs in the front, that were unfortunately occupied, a shelf full of actual records at the back, a fairly decent DJ, a moderate sized crowd and a surprisingly big bar staff.

I suggested a tequila, and R agreed with some trepidation. It came with a salt shaker and a slice of lime: you're meant to lick some salt off your hand, scull the tequila, then bite on the lime. It's a very fast way to get annihilated. We took the slow way, because R decided he liked the café and the tequila, and ordered another one, and another, and another, and another. Repeat until 3:30.

We didn't feel bad until we got outside. Driving the 1km home was of course out of the question, so we walked back through the fresh snow, taking approx. 1.5 km to get home, such was our path. Things became hazy after that. It took me until 3pm the next day before I could get out of bed for an extended period. R (who was most generous in giving me his last shot of tequila) didn't manage to feel even semi-human with bad hangover until 6pm Sunday. We think it was the lime, and we have both sworn off tequila.

I did 120 km today as guilt miles.

Weather: bit of snow at night, but relatively dry during the day and as much as 6 degrees. It's positively balmy.

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