Wednesday, July 28, 2021
HomeBlogsTerra Footwear-Bicycle Line's Josh Cunningham's BlogThink Long and Hard Before Driving to Antwerp!

Think Long and Hard Before Driving to Antwerp!

-

Now, if anyone was thinking of doing so, think long and hard before driving to Antwerp and back in a day, because the job in hand is just that — long and hard!

Saturday gone was the date of my team presentation, or Ploegvoorstelling, so with the company of my girlfriend we took on the 500 mile round trip to meet and greet with team mates, sponsors, press, and the obligatory random Belgian cycling fanatics at the team café, St Barts, in Merksem, Antwerp.

4am was not pleasant, the P+O ferry breakfast even less so, but we made it across the channel, for first on the agenda which was to go and visit the new digs in Zottegem.

Conor had arrived the day before, so was on hand to give the grand tour, and help us in with the five gargantuan boxes of food I had lugged over.

The house could not look more Belgian if it tried, with wooden panelled everything and dated furniture, but clean, warm and dry; it looks like a perfect base for five cyclists, and I can’t wait to get settled in.

Antwerp
Our flat – I can’t wait.

Antwerp
It’s a little ‘old school’, but it’s comfortable and a great base.

We didn’t even have time for a coffee though, as it was steadily on up the E17 through Gent and onto Antwerp, where we eventually arrived at the hall with an hour to spare.

I made a fair share of brave attempts of conversation in broken Dutch with attendees, but more often than not reverted back to broken English – easier for all those concerned!

The time soon came though, for the troops to file backstage to open party bags and don the new kit for the first time; black for training, white for racing, before being called up on stage.

Antwerp
Black for training.

Antwerp
White for racing.

I proceeded to fumble my way through an on stage grilling about the forthcoming season (mercifully in English), where the interviewer didn’t think twice about remarking “how uncomfortable I look being interviewed in front of a lot of people”. As if I needed reminding!

Antwerp
The whole team takes the stage.

I got there in the end though, and after a few pictures it was all over. These pics are via my girlfriend’s phone, so sorry about quality.

It was then a case of racing back to Calais, picking up a pizza, and listening in on a conversation being had behind us by a small gathering of blokes who had been at the Superprestige CX, trying to explain cross racing to a couple who had spent the day buying alcohol and eating gammon and chips at Cite’ Europe…

19 hours later and we eventually arrived home, after what had been a very long, but excellent day, beginning life with the Royal Antwerp Bicycle Club, and re-acquainting myself with the concrete roads, overcast skies and beer-before-noon cycling nuts of Belgium.

The season is nigh.

Related Articles

David Hewett Blog – A Challenging Start to the Season

The beginning of April finally marked the start of my 2017 race season in Belgium, after a long winter’s preparation. An unfortunate issue with the team’s accommodation arrangements for the year meant I had to head home unexpectedly immediately after arriving in Belgium, and this knocked me a bit sideways mentally for a while.

Callum Gough – Vastly Experienced, and Happy To Pass It On

Callum Gough is a life member of Liverpool Century but races now as a vet for Onimpex Racing Team — back in the 80’s Gough’s name was one that appeared regularly in "the Comic" [Cycling Weekly] as a winner of road races both in the UK and on the continent.

Dan Patten takes his first win in the Heartland!

Racing for his Asfra Flanders team, VeloVeritas contributer Dan Patten bagged his first win of the year in Belgium at the weekend, at a kermesse in Ghoy, in the Wallonne region of Hainaut. It has been on the cards for a while but Dan finally got the first one under his belt.

Hamish Haynes – Letters from Belgium #1

Hi folks, Hamish Haynes here. Let's bring you up to speed with my season so far: In mid-February, just before returning from winter training in Spain I picked up a hamstring strain; at that moment it wasn't clear what had exactly happened. I assumed it was a minor niggle that would quickly recede, within a few days I realized a scan was necessary, fortunately it revealed only a minor muscle elongation.

The VV View: Recovery Ramblings from the Sofa, incl. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

There’s never a good time to be in hospital but Grand Tour times apart, the start of March isn’t bad with cycling printed matter and video footage aplenty readily available, and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad...

Rik Van Linden – One of the 70’s Fastest Men

The word ‘legend’ is over used these days; but today we bring you an interview with a man who firmly deserves the title – Mr. Rik Van Linden of Belgium.

At Random

Grenoble Six Day 2006 – Third Night and Franco Marvulli is stressed

Sometimes, you wonder why you are doing this - OK, it's great being around guys like Franco Marvulli and having an insight into the inner-sanctum, but it's hard work, often boring and stressed guys aren't fun to be around.

Rob Griese – “Alex Taylor wanted me in the British Tour team – Tom Simpson said ‘no way'”

It’s always nice when readers write in and get involved with our mutual passion; especially if it’s something new to us at VeloVeritas. Graham Robson enjoys our pieces about riders from the past and emailed us to ask us if we had any plans to track down Englishman Bob Griese, who’d ridden for Mercier in the 60’s. To my shame, I hadn’t heard of the man but started my investigations – I was told by one of my contacts that sadly, Mr. Griese was dead. End of story – but not quite.

Commonwealth Games 2014 – Time Trial, Elite Women, Villumsen for New Zealand

Many times present on a major championship podium but never on the top step, New Zealand's Linda Villumsen finally claimed her first gold medal today with a six second margin over former World Champion at the discipline Emma Pooley (England), riding her last time trial as a pro cyclist. The bronze medal went to the German-born professional with Orica-AIS Katrin Garfoot, riding for Australia.

Joe Nally – Signed with Vitus Pro Cycling for 2020

Scottish professional bike riders are a bit thin on the ground so when we heard that 20 year-old Fifer, Joe Nally - who’s the youngest man ever to win the British Elite Points Race Championship - had signed with Vitus Pro Cycling for 2020 we thought we best ‘have a word.’ We caught up with Joe recently at his training base in Tenerife where he was on a two week block of base rides.

Off to the Berlin Six Day 2011 – but first, a few thoughts

I'll be glad to get to the Berlin Six Day 2011 and enter my six day bubble - these last couple of weeks have affected me badly. I love the sport, all of it fascinates me, road, track, cyclo-cross; I'd get into mountain biking but I have to stop the reading, interviewing and writing, somewhere. Lance, Floyd, Alberto, Trent, Matt - and now, Graeme.

Russell Downing – Cult’s New Signing; “I much prefer stage racing and classic racing”

The ride of the Commonwealth Games for me? Russ Downing's fourth place in the road race - 'grinta' is the man's middle name. As the World Tour stars headed into the pits, Russ just kept riding through the wind and rain - the man is dogged. His name featured in a recent press release we received from the Luxembourg/Danish Continental squad Cult, they're going Pro Continental for 2015 and yes, Mr. Downing is on board.