Monday, September 7, 2009

La Vuelta (Parto tres)


After the late night Saturday I didn’t get around until about 10. The start was at 1 about 30k away in Assen. I tried to use the pump outside the apartment but didn’t realize it wasn’t a match until my tire was flat. The townies use a valve that looks like a presta so I thought it’d work. Of course I could’ve just listened to Marielle when she told me it wouldn’t. I walked a mile to a gas station and aired it up.

I didn’t get rolling until about 1230. At this point I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make the start. I wasn’t too worried though because I knew they’d come through Assen again on the route.

When I got to Assen I saw a guy going the opposite way who looked like he was following the route. I flagged him down.

He told me it had already passed but he was going to catch it again. I asked him if I could ride along and he obliged.

His name was Wout and he worked at an insurance company. He too was very excited about having the Vuelta in Holland. He was from the area so he took me on some really beautiful country roads.

Wout had some really cool stories about riding in the Dolomites in this sportif called Maratona something with like 10,000 people. He also had this story about riding in the mountains in Spain. Earlier this year he was there riding a climb when his chain broke. While standing on the side of the road with his teammate a group of Caisse d’Eparne riders rode by. They stopped and asked if they could help. They ended up pushing him for 10k up the rest of the climb. He said he’d never forget that.

We ended up on a road lined with team cars. A feed zone! I had looked into going to a feed zone but never got the address. This was going to be sweet.

The feed zone was on the edge of a small town. Looks like the locals were excited.

Wout and I chatted a bit then headed over to the team cars.

Oh look what we have here. Old Saunier Duval mussets. I thought those had to be refrigerated…

I used a little of the ol' espanol on the soigneur and he gave me one!

Looks like the usual mix of gels and drinks for the High Road guys.

The quintessential soigneur.

And the road was packed.

Eventually the breakaway came through and grabbed their goodies.

Then the rest of the peloton.

I stood there bouncing up and down with excitement. Before I knew it the voiture balai (sweeper) was there and the show was over.

Wout and I jumped on our bikes and headed out. Along the way we happened to find a captive bunch of fans awaiting our arrival.

No wait, they’re coming through again!!! Ahhhhhhh!!!

Okay now it was really over. Everyone jumped on their bikes and headed home.

This one had a souvenir in tow.

I grabbed a falafel in Assen then jumped on the train for Venlo. On one of the trains I met this pair.

I can’t remember their names but they were quite nice.

I arrived in Venlo around 930 and Tammy, my Venlo host, was waiting with Nora, another couchsurfer. We headed back to the house.

Tammy lived with a roommate in an old school. Over here they call it anti-squatting and you pay a nominal fee to live in abandoned buildings. This place was like a mansion! They had about at least six huge rooms. I was in heaven.

My room was an old dance studio.

I unpacked then Tammy took us over to a big music festival. She told us not to worry if she suddenly disappeared. Venlo is a small town and she thought she might see her ex. Hours later we went home. I did a few dance moves then fell fast asleep…


  1. this blog should be called "the life" because you are living it man! keep the updates coming, it shows what europe is really like more than any book could.


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