CX Chronicles…The Flip Side
Posted by auscxmag
Posted in News
words & photography: Fiona Morris
But first coffee, or perhaps should I say lack thereof! I am a coffee lover through and through, one may say addict but I’ll let you decide. My day starts with a silky strong flat white, followed an hour or two later by another and perhaps a little piccolo latte after lunch. I have been going pretty much cold turkey since we arrived, and the things I have drunk which are apparently café lattes or cappuccinos leave a little to be desired. I thought drinking a McCafe coffee and then Starbucks coffee was bad enough, but it has go to the point where I have, and please don’t tell anyone, bought Nescafe gold instant coffee. People don’t walk around with a lovely hot coffee in their hand as they walk down the street (which they should it would warm them from the 5 degree temperatures), there aren’t cafes on every corner. Do Belgians not like coffee? Is that even possible to not like coffee? So where is the coffee?!! Where?!! I ask you politely (actually I beg you, hands clasped together on my knees outright begging you) if you know where the coffee is, tell me, pretty please with a cherry on top.
Now that is out of the way I can discuss a few CX related topics, some not quite as related as others but I am writing this from the home of CX so it almost counts.
To say we jumped in the deep end is a little bit of an understatement, we arrived in Frankfurt, picked up the Hilton on wheels, as Millburn likes to call it, and hit the road. I will document some campervan related fun times for your amusement later. As we drove into Belgium it started to rain, the sky was grey, the road was grey, the rain was grey,
We headed straight to Geel, to Van Eyck Sports the worlds largest bike store, that last bit is a lie, but it’s the biggest bike store I have ever been in, row upon row of clothing, nutrition, wheels, bikes…you name it they had it, oh except for women’s long bib Knicks that fit someone of my stature. But ill forgive them they had everything else. We grabbed some nutrition and zip off over pant knick things, for the start line so you can whip your pants off like some kind of dementedly cold stripper. Millburn had tee’d up borrowing some rollers and a pit tent, so we dropped in and picked those up in St Amandes, then headed straight for Namur.
…some fairly mundane things happened, slept, bought groceries, tried to find coffee, bought bread…mmm the bread is soooo good, oops did I just eat 6 slices?
Day before race day and we headed up to Citadelle de Namur, the only hill in the town, parked up in the elite pit area between some Dutchies and J-Powers. The set ups everyone has is out of control, enough wheels and oranges for everyone!
Millburn went out for the official practice, I went for a run. He registered, number 69, if you’re going to be last on the grid at least have a number you can giggle at…even though we are all adults here.
I headed off to the managers meeting, which was entirely in French. They handed out notes in English…at the end. Never mind I got myself a little badge, National Coach! #winning
Race day was upon us, the French National Team had rolled on in next to us and a Spanish team had squeezed in on the other side. Full 12 hours sleep, then breakfast in bed for boy wonder, on the rollers for a spin, back to bed, typical pre-race lunch, followed by yet another nap. How he sleeps so much I’ll never know.
All while this was happening the crowds were building, more and more people milling about, cameras slung around necks, handfuls of supporter cards. We had the Aussie flag strung up on a railing outside the camper, lots of people were pointing and looking. When Millburn emerged during the morning a small crowd gathered, they wanted to talk to him, shake his hand, take his photo and just be near him. A short while after he came inside there was a knock on the door, three men stood there looking expectant… then a little disappointed that I had answered the door “Is Garry Millburn in there? Can he come out? Can we take his photo?” I saw Garry try to act nonchalant, but it’s perhaps a little hard when you are experiencing this for the first time, the buzz, the atmosphere, it’s quite overwhelming. He handed out a few supporter cards and suddenly there were an extra 10 people there…The first 20 went for free. The next 100 were sold, a euro each. A girls gotta eat afterall!
From then on every time Garry was outside people came up and talked to him, took his photo, wanted supporter cards….do you sell hats with your name on them?! There was a constant stream of people knocking on the door. These Belgian cyclocross fans really were as nuts as everyone said! Quite a few asked if we knew Lewis Rattray… and the question of the moment is, where are you Lewis?!! They want you back!!
The rest really is a blur, Garry went to the start line, I took his jacket and stripper pants, the race started within seconds of him handing the clothes over. I didn’t even watch the start, didn’t see them sprint up the hill…I turned and headed straight for the pits.
Long story short, Garry finished 55th. A few hours after the race I could see a touch of disappointment in his eyes, bewilderment even. Cross in Europe is a whole different ball game…