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”

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”

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….”

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!

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”

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”

Our Ronde van Vlaanderen: Part 1

Our blog posts in 2013 were rare for several reasons. While some of those reasons might not pass scrutiny, the fact that we are now cycling more than ever is certainly true. In 2013, both of us purchased road bikes and did our best to ride* multiple times a week.

In September, I did my first organized ride with my friend Amanda. The ride was sponsored by the Schleck Fan Club and it was a wonderful day. Amanda and I had a terrific time, even though we weren’t the strongest riders participating. No matter, the fan club made the day great for everyone.

When I saw that the new UCI team Trek Factory Racing was having a fan club ride in January, I was terribly excited. Will and I are big fans of the new team and big fans of the Classics races. How much fun would it be to do a small part of the Ronde van Vlaanderen? Will expressed doubt: our fitness level wasn’t there and we weren’t ready for something like this. Nonsense! I replied. This is a fan club ride. I’ve done a fan club ride! We’ll just take our time and have fun. We’re there to make memories, not win a race. Continue reading “Our Ronde van Vlaanderen: Part 1”

We’re Back (again)

We’ve been busy. Unfortunately, we were so busy that we neglected our blog. In fact, we neglected our blog so much that we forgot to pay the bills and the domain agent pulled down the site. There was a tense week in early July were we feared that we had lost over six years of content and memories. Happily, for a small fee the domain agent restored our site and the content.

Unhappily, there was some link broken between the database and the blah, blah, blah. I don’t understand all the specifics, but it was difficult enough that Will didn’t have time or the desire to tackle the final fix. After several weeks, I suggested we ask our buddy Rachel if she would be willing to be hired as temporary Bugle staff and see if the problem was that terrible. Thankfully, Rachel was willing and with her magic touch, the BBB is back and running!

Over the last four months, we have done a few interesting things (and a few boring ones), we have developed new hobbies and we have made some new friends. We also watched a LOT of dogs.

Chester in June

Hana in June

Dexter in July

Dexter and Willow, together

Willow in July

Chester in August

Over the next weeks, I hope to tell you a few stories — and some of them might not even involve dogs.

Women’s Pro Cycling in Luxembourg: Grand Prix Elsy Jacobs

Back in 2011, we spent a lovely spring afternoon at a women’s pro cycling race called the Grand Prix Elsy Jacobs. It was a one-day race won by the incomparable Marianne Vos. (The two runners-up are pictured below posing for the press.)

Continue reading “Women’s Pro Cycling in Luxembourg: Grand Prix Elsy Jacobs”

Springtime Prompt Post

Are you tired of looking at that snowy photo from the last post? I am.

It took a long time for spring to arrive in Luxembourg, compared to the past three years. But it is here at last, bringing us stuffy heads in the morning and tons of flowers the rest of the day.

When Anita and I left for a brief visit to London last Thursday, Luxembourg was colored in greys and browns. We returned to find that our town gained a much brighter palette over the weekend.
Continue reading “Springtime Prompt Post”