31 March 2012

Hanging with the teams

Just another fan in Belgium

Yesterday on my second day of crazed rally car driving in the countryside, I was thrilled to visit many of the major bergs in the area. I have laid my eyes upon the Paterberg, Kwaremont, Koppenberg, Eikenberg, and Molenberg. I have also laid my feet and car tires upon these climbs as well. I witnessed others laying their bodies upon the climbs; I happily stayed upright. 
I have now pulled U-turns and stopped along the road, to check my map, in nearly every small town in Flanders, or so it seems. After ditching my phonetic speaking Garmin car GPS for traditional Michelin paper maps, I have lowered my getting lost feeling from 75 times a day to a manageable 22. I have also discovered that the best way to manage hydration (and therefore having no need to take a break in the countryside) is to not drink water all day and then enjoy 2 Triple Karmeliats in the evening. Add to that my day's diet of stroopwafles and an apple and you can guess I am not in training mode while on this vacation.

I am somewhere between I can't believe I am actually here to see this in person and I think I have already seen that building 2 times before - does this mean I'm lost again! This morning I was going to go watch the Cyclosportif to see real humans tackle the famous climbs, but realizing that 20,000 people stood between me and a good parking space, I instead decided to rest the car clutch and my nerves for a few hours ... what to do, what to do.... hmm, since 20,000 cyclosportivees (or is it cyclosportivians) are peppering the hills of Flanders this morning, chances are the ProTeams will be nearby and out on local rides this fine Friday morning before the big race on Sunday.... why not mosey on over to the team hotels marked on my custom made FMVC Hotspots in Kortrijk map (thanks to my friends at Frites en Mayo Velo Club) ..... commence moseying with map and camera in hand ....

Well lookie there the BMC team bus and mechanics right where the map said they would be. Why not ask if I could take some pictures and introduce myself, "Hi, I'm Karen from Colorado." "Oh ColorAdo," they replied, everyone was super nice as I positioned myself in wall-flower mode. It is a bit awkward standing around watching people do what they do best, but they are so gosh darn good at it and I always learn something. Absolute perfectionist mechanics worked on bikes to spec, cheery men filled bottles and loaded the coolers and cars for what seemed like 50 riders, merry personnel came and went giving interviews for cameramen, and sponsor representatives were there to deliver Bell helmets (dream job). Only a couple of us "fans" were there to witness it all.

I felt quite privileged. I started the morning with BMC and Lampre, then walked to Hotel Messyne to see SKY, then to the Park Hotel where Katousha and Saxo Bank were located. All within an easy walk. And it was pretty much me and the teams. Score. I have wonderful pictures from the morning, I'm back at the hotel waiting for my battery to recharge - it was a big morning for Pedal Dancer portrait photography. 
Thor Hushovd  ©Photo by PedalDancer.com
George Hincapie  ©Photo by PedalDancer.com
Philippe Gilbert  ©Photo by PedalDancer.com
Alessandro Ballan  ©Photo by PedalDancer.com
Manuel Quinziato  ©Photo by PedalDancer.com
Greg Van Avermaet  ©Photo by PedalDancer.com
I have hundreds of photos now ... will post more on the climbs and the teams later. All I can say is I am having a BLAST in Belgium!

Many more photographs from this morning with the BMC team can be seen at: BMC solid through 2016