A visit to Belgium march 14-16 and a trial course march 29 2003.

Belgium with Eugenie.

After years of trying to convince Eugenie that I finally grew up and now ride like I'm supposed to at 53 (sedate that is), she believed me. So she agreed to join me on a weekend trip to Belgium on the VFR. We were supposed to meet up with the hombo group on saturday at La Motte en Gee, a little castle at Tihange near the Maas river. After Eugenie finished work we started out friday afternoon. Our first destination was Bruxelles, where we wanted to spend the evening and the night. The weather was incredible (as in 'good') and I managed to lower my testosteron level to a level where quiet touring was possible. We managed to get to Bruxelles according to schedule, after that however we got trapped in busy friday afternoon traffic, one way roads, road construction works etc. so in the end we were glad to have found the youth hostel where we booked for the friday night.

departure
As soon as we had dropped the luggage and made the beds we went looking for a restaurant. As we ventured the neighbourhood our hopes of finding a suitable restaurant faded, but in the end we located a very nice one where all of the beau-monde of Bruxelles seemed to gather. After enjoying both the food and the atmosphere we took a walk to the famous 'Grote Markt' with it's beautiful buildings and streets with lots of touristic restaurants. Very nice indeed.
The next day was sunny again, so we decided to leave the maps alone and ride to our destination navigating with help of the sun.
the castle This took us over some very nice roads, and even though the pace was slow we reached the castle around noon. Fortunately the nuclear power plant of Tihange was hidden from sight by a forest. We were welcomed by the owner, a middle aged lady who, as it turned out, had inherited a fortune and was exploiting this place as a hobby. Rooms could only be rented in the weekends when she also hired a cook and other staff to treat her guests with an excellent meal. As we were the first guests to check in, we could have any room we liked. The lady adviced us to take the 'romantic' room which turned out to have a huge mirror on the ceiling above the bed... After dropping our luggage we decided to have a hike through the forest to the nearby village to find some lunch. The hike was OK but we didn't find any food. Upon returning to the castle our friends of the hombo club started to arrive, we had some nice chats and admired the bikes. At 6 p.m. we were supposed to gather in one of the lounges to enjoy a glass of champagne and some delicate bites of food. Very enjoyable and so was the dinner that followed. Great food and lots of wine. In between the courses we danced to the music of the one-man band, and as the night progressed the dances got sillier and sillier. All in all we had a great time. After breakfast the next morning we paid our bills and made another hike in the forest, this time with the whole group. Time to pack the bikes and ride home. We lost the group pretty soon which, I must admit, I didn't mind as I'm more of a solo rider than a group rider. After arriving home I was pleased to learn that Eugenie had enjoyed the weekend as much as I had.

A trial course with the hombo's.

To acquire more offroad skills I had been asked by the hombo group to organize a trial course. This was a pretty easy task as one of the dutch Ezines (Motormaniacs) had arranged a number of one day courses supervised by the dutch trial champion Alex van der Broek. Six members took the bait, so early saturdaymorning I left home on the VFR to meet up with Jos and ride with him to Weert. There we met up with the rest of the gang and started the day with some theory. We were assigned 1 bike (gas-gas) per 2 persons, which proved to be quite sufficient. We were taught some elementary trics to start with, and were happy to share the bike as our body temperature quickly rose as we did our excercises.

slalom
hole in the ground Crossing fields of car tyres, riding a track through thick forest, crossing ditches etc. kept us occupied all day. A good thing we had an hour off for lunch! Around 2.30 p.m. I was getting real tired and started making (more) mistakes. One of these mistakes had me leaving a ditch on the rear wheel, hitting and demolishing a complete tree! Fortunately just some scratches on the bike, me and my ego, but after one more lap I decided to call it a day and get myself a cool drink. Wish we had more occasions to practice this stuff near where I live.

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