Wednesday, August 8, 2007


So, I have gotten a question. What is a Kermis? I feel a little odd, as I guess I really have not explained it. Basically the Kermis is the Belgian equivalent of a local race/criterium on steroids. They are never less than 105km, on a short 5-9km course with plenty of corners and and raced very aggressively. Generally about 70-200 dudes start and 30 finish the whole thing. They are designed for spectators. Of whom generally line the course, being densest at the bar by the start finish. They are also generally quite drunk/friendly and enjoy to gamble on us like horses. They actually have a big white board where they give you odds and take bets. The dudes who run this are generally very on top of their game, keeping track of who is dropped even better than the commissars. The races are generally very fast, except in the corners as Belgians corner like little old ladies (12km/h) but then launch themselves out of the corners like a nuclear missile (50-60km/h). Hence the many non-finishers. The trick to finishing these races is to stay at the front. The trick to doing well is to pay off some people and attack like have been offered a pro contract. No one sits in for long. The break is generally "decided" before the race, others who sneak in are generally "asked" to leave as this is a serious business. As an American team, we are generally not liked by some (we get along with some teams fine) but some of the riders do not like the fact that we are surviving in this harsh environment. Many of you may call me crazy for saying that we should be able to stay in the break. Apparently you have never had some of the games played on you that we have. Luckily, we are fast learners. Just a few days ago, one of our guys got punched in the jaw by a Belgian because they could not drop him from the break. Luckily that lead to another lesson, Belgian's punch like girls. Not all the other riders are this upset by our presence, but some don't take it well. The best thing to do is simply ride hard, NEVER miss a pull, and show that you will not take their tricks. These races almost never finish in a group larger than 10 at a time. Belgians don't like big groups, that means there was negative racing! They prefer to race by attacking each other endlessly until the pack lies shattered across the road. There is no way to avoid work in this race if you even wish to simply finish. That is why it is so wonderful. As for me, weather is garbage today and I will go deep undercover into a Belgian Kermis and discover just how crazy the break really gets. More reports to follow...

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