23 February 2011

Will the Last Person to Leave Belgium Please Turn the Lights Off

Recently Boy Who Flies and I did a road trip to Sankt Wendel, Germany to watch the World Championships of cyclocross  . (Go ahead to look it up, I had to Google it the first time he mentioned it to me).  Last year I agreed to go see the races as we would stay in Prague, it actually kinda suprised me how much fun they were to watch.  This year they were in a tiny town in Germany, about an hour from Trier. We made that our homebase and drove to watch the races.

Cyclocross is apparently something of a religion in Belgium, there were 65,000 people at the races and I would swear 64,500 of them were Belgian. I am not sure how many were actual fans of the sport, judging by how many stayed in the party tent the whole time, I suspect they will travel for parties.

The course was insanely crowded with people in all sort of crazy costumes sporting their national or regional colors. People had gone there in buses from Belguim, the belly of the bus FILLED with beer, or in caravans with flags hung from them. Horns, cowbells, megaphones all honking, ringing and blaring. Swiss fans were neatly organized in one corner, cheering a choreographed cheer, girls wandered around with their faces painted with Belgian flags, Frenchmen wandered waving their flags and wearing red, white and blue scarves. The Germans seemed frankly a bit bewildered by it all .

As you can see people enlisted their pets, umbrellas and mannequins into supporting their country and cyclist.

The racing itself is fun in the fast moving , messy way hockey is. Cyclists have to hop over wood barriers, carry their cycles over their shoulders up flights of stairs and over pavement , mud and often snow during the races which are less than an hour.

The race itself was much more exciting that the clip, however the fans at the 'dramatic' parts apparently staked out their turf at sunrise. Equally fun as the race was the action inside the party tents. There were two tents, the regular one and the "Belgica Village" where I am fairly certain you had to be drunk to enter and also speak Flemish AND wear red, yellow and black. As we were none of the above we hung out between races in the normal tent. Beer sold in increments of 1-12, sausages and the ubiquitous frites, which I had to wolf down quickly and without photo as Boy Who Flies was gagging at me eating fries topped with mayonnaise, ketchup and chopped onions ( weird but actually tasted good). The tent was sort of comparable to a European apres-ski, with crap pop music and sing alongs. It was certainly as cold as a ski slope there, even inside the tent.  


Next year the race is in Belgium, but I think we will give that particular race a miss, the year after it is in Louisville, Kentucky. I can only imagine how the crazy cycling fans will mix with the Southerners. They do share the mullet in common.....maybe it will be a match made in heaven. 

1 comment:

Blondie said...

Those are some awesome pictures, Heather!! LMAO!