Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The long and short of it

Is that I have resigned from Cyclingnews after seven long (or short) years, and will be working for Future Publishing in Bath (UK) as of November. Working for Cyclingnews has been what one could term "character building", but the challenge has been rewarding in its own right. Now, it's definitely time to slow down a bit and do more fun stuff in life.

The last four of five weeks have been very full on though. No time to write, as I've had five people staying with me and several other visitors in order to train the new CN Jedi into learning the Way. It's like a bloody halfway house. Oh well, I'll be in Croatia very soon, and that should be a bit different.


We've been out every single night of the last two weeks, and that means drinks as well. Almost every time, we've been to different cafes and restaurants. That's OK to get to know the place, but I'm really hanging for a home cooked meal. After my last day on Saturday, we rocked up to the Marimain with Reiny, Gregor, Gabke and Karl - a good mixture of mostly Commonwealth people. Gregor and I had warmed up with a Chimay at home, then we proceeded onto Vedetts, pils, Leffes and occasionally water. Six hours and five spillages later, we made it out of there, somewhat rowdier.

Gregor, who was perhaps slightly under the weather at this point, asked a couple of girls outside whether they could guide him around Gent. "Are you Flemish?" It was ok, because one of them was a customer of Reiny's. They were quite chatty and very generously took down our phone numbers. Strangely, we haven't heard from them since.

Four hours later, I got up for the Sunday ride along the Schelde. I was hoping for a gentler start, but it was not to be, as Iljo Keisse, Kurt Hovelynck, Johan Verhaegen (life ban for doping, but still very fit) and Karl Becker, who had piked out the previous night at 1:30am, were all present and accounted for. By the time we left the Schelde to do the hills, the bunch had split into four groups and I was second last wheel in the fourth group, with only Patrick behind. Argh!

Luckily, Kurt was also in this group so we got to the front at the foot of the first mountain and gradually picked up everyone else. By the time we got to the Trap Op, there were only a dozen left. We didn't do the whole climb, because there are roadworks after the top and it's bloody dangerous with a bunch going the wrong way against traffic.

On the way back to Oudenaarde, we had a bit of a tailwind and the speed was constantly 50 with Iljo, Kurt and Verhaegen driving it. Even when we hit the headwind coming home along the Schelde, we rarely dropped below 40. For some reason that I simply cannot fathom, I ran out of legs with about 10 km to go and just followed. Andrew Torney tried to lead me out for the sprint, but then Iljo flew past like we were standing still and won by a mile, notwithstanding the horse and buggy that suddenly appeared on the road with 50m to go.

We turned around and stopped at 't Sluis, about 15 km from home, and I could celebrate my final Sunday ride with the hard core Schelde terroristen - Guido, Roland, Philippe, Philip, Lucien, Luc, Joris and Jo. After that ride on top of the previous night (and previous four weeks), alcohol wasn't really what I felt like, so I limited it to three Rodenbachs and a couple of jenevers. Hey, at least it wasn't as bad as last year.

Jo turned up a bit later, looking somewhat miserable after crashing the previous day and opening up a gash in his knee. As a remedy, he did 90 km as 'losrijden' and restricted himself to five Leffes and at least a jenever. He was more cheerful after that, and together with Philippe, we made it back to Gent without straying from the path.

I spent the afternoon wandering around different bits of Gent with Reiny and Gregor, and we had an extremely relaxing Sunday. That hasn't happened for a long time, and I appreciated it. We finished off in the Vooruit with a few glasses of Baileys, including one with coffee that kept me awake. The glasses kept on getting deeper, and when I went back there on Tuesday, I ended up with a full tumbler. Are they trying to make me into a sot? I will resist.

Cafe of note: 't Velootje in the Patershol. We went there last week and it was the most bizarre place I've ever been to. It was like it was out of a fairy tale. It looked totally closed from the outside, but after three or four peeks behind the door, we eventually went in. Inside this tiny place, the bearded barman was sitting on a very well worn chair in his shorts, drinking a beer of some description. There were bikes and lamps everywhere, mostly hanging from the ceiling. The barman collected them.

I think there were only two other people in there, and you could probably only fit 15 in there at most. We were charged the outrageous price of €4 for an Urthel beer (not even in a glass), but it was worth it for the weirdness.

A report on my excursion to Rupelmonde - the one-time abode of Mercator - will follow.

The Schelde bunch, with Karel at the back
© Jeff Jones

At 't Sluis
© Jeff Jones

Guido and Roland discuss the merits of Westmalle vs. Ice Tea
© Jeff Jones

Luc Schiemsky and Philip Vereecke discuss the merits of Westmalle vs. pils
© Jeff Jones

Lucien, Philippe, Guido, Roland, me, and Jo raise a glass or two of jenever
© Jeff Jones


Anonymous said...


Congratulations with your new job!!!


Jeff Jones said...

Thanks! I'll try not to get sacked tomorrow.