Barely off the plane on Friday morning, we hit the course in Koksijde for warm up and number pickup.
A few of the start grid heading down the home stretch a few hundred meters away.
One of nearly a dozen sections of deep sand along the course.
Another view of the uphill sand stretch. Wellens and Nys would ride this 100M uphill stretch.
Mo immediately finds fellow American/Expat Christine Vardaros with her friend Jonas.
Mo warms up.
A Belgian military chopper was sweeping the grounds all afternoon.
Now, this is a fly-over.
In the background, a giant, off camber bowl of sand.
Another view of the fly-over. Take notes USGP.
UCI officials walk the entire course.
The pits were huge but surprisingly uneven. Two minutes to one side, six minutes to the other.
A view of the finish as daylight wanes.
Vervecken (and all of the Fidea riders) has his own motorhome.
The world champ heads out for a preview of the course. He probably rode the whole thing while talking on the phone.
Everyone rides everywhere!
Mo and Mark Legg at number pickup.
We scored a sweet parking spot alongside Katie and Mark.
Mo gets ready to warmup as Katie and Mark chat with Daphny van den Brand holding the UCI points leader kit under her arm.
Lyne pops by to say hello, with excellent baked goods for me!
Throngs of fans wait for Bart Wellens to emerge from his trailer.
Wellens signs a few autographs.
These guys look familiar?
Our friends who travelled to Whitmore's from Belgium to cheer on their hero Vervecken come by to chat with Mo.
Fans line the course.
Mark in the pits with Katie's fleet ready to go. Mark's attention to detail on Katie's bikes rivals my OCD on Mo's bikes.
The pits were pretty mellow in spite of the crowd. Only a few exchanges took place during Mo's race.
The future of cyclocross.
This wee thing was brilliant! He was taking short laps, dismounting, jumping back on, everything! The bike is pimp too. 1x8 speeds with aluminum 20" wheels, top mounted brake levers, Selle Italia saddle. And check out his kit!
The large screen captured most of the race. We could actually see if from where we parked and watched Sven take the win on the last lap.
Fans crowd along the course.
Vervecken follows Lars Boom.
Sven Nys in pursuit.
Katie smiles with her 2nd place trophy.
Mo and I hopped in the car and headed south. Five hours into the drive we stopped for much needed caffeine.
Sunday morning we navigated smally country roads to the small village of Quelneuc, France.
Ah, mud, sweet sweet mud.
A view towards the start. A 200 meter paved uphill section greeted the riders every lap.
Blurry but still captures what a small race in France brings in for fans. I'm in line at the bike wash before the start of Mo's race.
Mo lined up with a stacked field of about 60 riders. Despite a fourth row start Mo found herself shoulder to shoulder with the top riders. Here, current world champ Maryline Salvetat cruises past the pits.
In spite of a flat, Mo managed a great 7th place. We tracked down race winner Laurence Leboucher (pictured here behind mooshy little pup).
Mo rewards herself with a lick from her new friend.
Back to Izegem after another long drive, we walked to the center of town and popped into this reliquery.
The streets of Izegem.
This is NOT the USA cycling house.
The indoor bike wash and a power sprayer were not quite enough to redeem our accomodations in Izegem.
Awesome. I can't wait to pack these up.
Yup, we actually found time to do something touristy. After packing the bikes, wheels etc, we drove to the beautiful city of Brugge.
Matt and Mo in Brugge.
Brugge was all dressed up from Christmas. A skating rink was set up in the center of this plaza.
One last drive. My enthusiastic expression sums up how I feel about inching along in traffic for 2 hours.
This one is for our friend PVB... any relation?