Friday, September 9, 2011


Well I just got back from Belgium where I was working with the Junior National Cycling team. I was the chaperone to the girls team and massage therapist to the whole team (8-athletes) to facilitate recovery prior to the world championships. Belgium is only 20-minutes from here but very different. I noticed some of the differences as soon as we crossed into Belgium. Maastricht was built in Roman times and the architecture is all limestone. The churches and buildings here are very ornate and beautiful. In Belgium the buildings are predominately red brick and much more modest and rustic. I immediately noticed a difference in the roads as well. They are much narrower and not nearly as well kept as the roads in the Netherlands. We left after 8pm and it was raining and overcast but the highway was so well lit it was as if it were day time. I guess Belgium is known for having the most well lit road ways in the world. In the Netherlands they are such masters of design that puddles don't even form on the roads...or so I've been told :) The drivers in Belgium travel excessively fast and don't seem to respect pedestrians or cyclists in the same way as Holland. Something else I noticed was that there were brothels lining the main road as we made our way to the Canadian Cycling Association home base. It seems as though Belgium is "over sexed" to use a Mary McNeely term, everywhere I turned was sex; the brothels, the art (the hotel had nude/ almost porn art everywhere), the mailboxes! There were all these mailboxes displaying the nude form and some with crude was something we would never see at home...but really funny! We were based in a place called Tielt Wagenden. A very small, out of the way, quiet village. Perfect for training and laying low prior to competition for these young athletes. The dedication, passion and determination of this under funded team was inspiring to me. Having worked with National Teams that are highly funded it was plain to see the huge disparity. Never the less, these athletes are just as driven to excel in their sport. Spending hours on their bikes and putting their schooling on hold or doing it through correspondence to pursue dreams of glory on their bikes. The training day involves getting up by 8:30am, eating a healthy breakfast, a three hour team ride, home for lunch and stretching/ ice, a nap, an afternoon snack, another ride in the evening, a generous dinner, bed by 10pm and do it all again. Grueling to say the least! This experience was a great one; the athletes, the manager, the coaches were all awesome! So dedicated and motivated by passion for their sport. Being with Canadians had me missing home but what a great adventure this was. The manager of the team is a modern day Christopher Columbus, he has been everywhere and has great stories and tid-bits to share about every place. Things that only locals would know. He really is an inspiration for living the life you want and not what society says you should. I had to get back in order to teach a class today so I said goodbye and gave hugs before I caught my train back. In order to get back to Maastricht I had to take the train from Leuven which is the home of Stella Artois beer, one of my favourites, hence my title for the blog today :)

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