Random Happenings 4

Writing up the July-August blog post, I cannot comprehend where the last nine weeks went. The heat of summer has left Luxembourg and we are heading quickly into fall. Before I turn around it will be November, I just know it.

July started off quietly. During the first weekend, I talked Will into a nice Sunday ride with our friend Vikki. We did an out and back towards Junglinster, where we tackled the infamous Bourglinster cobbled climb. This was the second time we have forced Vikki up this hill and everyone enjoyed it more the second time. Continue reading “Random Happenings 4″

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Random Happenings 3

Initially, when I decided to do these “Random Happenings” posts in February, I thought that writing one catch-up post at the end of two months would be easy. We’re not that busy, I thought. I will totally be able to keep up this posting schedule. However, carving out the time to write this post has been difficult, hence the delay. Our lives are so full right now, it is almost overwhelming. Almost.

There were a few events that happened in May/June that deserve their own posts. My hope is to write them during July. The events that will get their own post:

    Anita’s VIP day at the Tour of Luxembourg
    Anita goes to Gibraltar
    Jaime visit Luxembourg

Our first major activity in May was our trip to Oudenaarde, which Will told you about in detail. I was riding as much as possible before the trip, taking some long rides with our friends and some with Will. Generally, if it isn’t raining on the weekend I’m on the bike.

We attended the Memorial Day ceremony at the American Military Cemetery, which was additionally touching as they celebrated 70 years since the landings in Normandy. For the first time since we have been attending, Grand Duke Henri came to present his wreath. Continue reading “Random Happenings 3″

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Return to Flanders, Part 3

In his comment on Part 2, Dave wrote, “I can’t imagine what your arms feel like after all those cobbles!” On the cobbled climbs, actually, it was all about the legs and the lungs.

When Anita and I talked about our rides in January, she talked exclusively about needing strong legs and endurance. At some point, it occurred to me to ask, “You never did any flat cobbled sections did you?” Anita had no idea what I was talking about. So as Rachel planned our Return to Flanders, I insisted that Anita had to experience something very special from my ride in January.

The Mariaborrestraat is almost entirely flat. On a map, it looks like an indirect way to get from the Koppenberg to the Taaienberg.

The Mariaborrestraat is also a cobbled road in very bad condition. After my experience in January, I wanted Anita to see what cobbles could be like, at speed. Continue reading “Return to Flanders, Part 3″

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Return to Flanders: Part 2

It’s hard for me to explain Anita’s love of cycling. She genuinely enjoys the toughest inclines and the worst weather. She’s been doing sport cycling for all of a year, but she already looks at a windy, drizzling sky, and says, “I’m in the mood for a ride!”

I consider myself, perhaps unfairly, to be more normal. I like the sensation of speed and control from a well-tuned road bike on a straightaway or a downhill — preferably on a sunny day. I get a thrill from rushing down narrow trails in a forest. I enjoy the way that a bike takes me through neighborhoods and landscapes at an ideal speed: fast enough to keep my attention from wandering, but slow enough to actually see and feel the environment. Uphills are a necessary part of it, and I typically don’t get much more from them than the sense of accomplishment that I get from a freshly-vacuumed room or finishing my errands for the day. Continue reading “Return to Flanders: Part 2″

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Return to Flanders: Part 1

Earlier this year, Anita chronicled our adventure on the cobbled hills of Flanders. Spoiler alert: It didn’t go quite as she intended.

I was happy to spend a few years building fitness and suppressing memories before returning to the scene of the crime. Anita was not so easily discouraged, and she leapt at the very next opportunity to face the challenge again. With January weather and overly competitive hammerheads out of the picture, I was much more willing to go along. Continue reading “Return to Flanders: Part 1″

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Random Happenings 2

[Editor's note: we continue to experiment with the content of these posts. This one got a little long, but hopefully it is still enjoyable.]

As previously reported, Will returned the first week of March. Since he was away from Luxembourg for nearly a month, he was quite pleased to be home again. I was quite pleased to have him home, because I had gotten tired of cooking for myself during the workweek!

I barely let him rest before we went to the annual Buergbrennen festival on the 9th. Rachel wrote up a lovely summary of the event last year. While last year was a bit muddy and cold, this year the weather was fine and dry. While a proper Buergbrennen post by the Bugle team is probably necessary, these photos will have to tide you over. Continue reading “Random Happenings 2″

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And the winner is….

After four long weeks away from Luxembourg, Will arrived home Friday morning. Having missed him tremendously, I believed seeing him come through the doors at the airport would be the most exciting thing to happen for a while.

I was wrong.

As I walked down the steps to the waiting area for arrivals, I heard a small amount of applause. Wondering what was up, I noticed that RTL (our local television station) had a camera set up and there was a group of people gathered in a cluster. Continue reading “And the winner is….”

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Random Happenings

[Editor’s note: in an effort to get back into more frequent blogging, we are experimenting with some “daily life” posts. In theory, these will be short, wrap-up posts at the end of every other month. The posts will highlight some of the interesting (or not so interesting) parts of daily life in Luxembourg]

After our “triumph” at the Ronde van Vlaanderen the rest of January settled into the normal routine of living, with a few interesting sparkles. One of those was our first concert at the Philharmonie. Will has been assigned to write that post, so you should see it sometime in 2017.

The first weekend in February was the annual wine fest. Frankly, much hasn’t changed since 2011 – I visited most of the same houses, although this time with some new friends. I did try to restrain my exuberance, after two years of over-purchasing. I would say I was moderately successful. I’m now looking into wine tracking apps for my iPad, because the whole thing has really gotten out of hand. Clearly, an inventory system is needed to calm my accountant’s heart.

Yes, I have too much wine. But it’s so inexpensive and so good!

The second week in February we did something we’ve never done before – we took a trip across the pond to see some of our family in the middle of winter. As a celebration of a special birthday, the Bakker children met up with their parents for a few days’ holiday. It was nice to see everyone in a relaxed environment, outside of normal life. In addition, we were able to see some of my family at their winter home, which was an added bonus. It was great to relax for a few days.

The sunsets were tremendous.

Happily, in the middle of February the local paper declared the end of winter. I can’t say I disagree with them, because I am seeing some major signs of spring, including daffodils and itchy eyes. My allergies have really kicked into gear this last week, so I know that we are headed out of the winter season into the painful beauty of spring.

While I’m not as good as Will about finding pretty things for you to look at, I did come up with a few. For your enjoyment:

[Editor's note: orchids are very popular in Luxembourg. We should probably do a post on that.

[Author's note: I’m publishing this post all by myself (well, actually with Rachel’s help) because Will is in Washington DC, changing the world. I’ll see what I can do about getting him to post about that before the next U.S. Presidential election.]

To our friends and family in the Midwest, we wish you the end of winter as soon as possible!

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Our Ronde van Vlaanderen: Part 3

When your bike starts making an unfamiliar noise, you start to worry. Was I hearing things? Was I just being nervous? Or did I have a flat tire?

In fact, I did have a flat tire. I called out to Jan, “I’ve got a flat,” and pulled off to the side of the road. Jan asked me if I had what I needed to change it. I replied that I did… although I might need a bit of support, as I have only changed a couple tires. Nerves jangling and adrenaline racing, I flipped over the bike, took off the tire and got out my levers. It was at this point Jan asked, “Do you have a pump?”

Eh… no. Will has the pump on his bike and he hadn’t realized I’d flatted. Jan thought we might stop another rider, so I kept changing the tire. Sure enough, a nice man name Nico rolled up and had a whole bag of tricks. He offered to wait and let me use his pump. Nico was not in a hurry, because he explained that the pace of the groups was too fast for him, so he was taking his time and enjoying the ride. He was a local, so he knew the route well and wasn’t worried about the lack of a guide or signs (more on this later). Continue reading “Our Ronde van Vlaanderen: Part 3″

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Our Ronde van Vlaanderen: Part 2

Our group gathered for the start. The first part of the ride was a long, flat section along the river.

The group took off like a bat out of hell. Will most likely would have kept up with them, but I started falling back. He dropped back to help me by breaking the wind. Before too long, it was Will, me, another struggling rider (who we’ll call Jack) and Jan, world’s best ride guide.

Arriving at the first climb, Will and I were spent. He had just gone flat out, dragging me along with him, for several kilometers. And now we had to climb the Oude Kwaremont (11.5% grade). Imagine a roughly cobbled hill going straight up. I’ve included a few photos of the hill from 2013, when Will watched the pros race up it. On this day, under our own power, neither of us had the wherewithal to take photos.

Continue reading “Our Ronde van Vlaanderen: Part 2″

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