Man, I remember when I was just a young lad and guys like Johnny T battled it out with the euro mullets in Houffalize. We all thought it looked awesome and had no idea how to pronounce the name. 20 years later, Houffalize is the queen of the World Cup circuit. Things are different now, riders have pits, the big trade teams are gone, but every April 20,000+ Belgians crowd into this tiny little town to drink some Lachouffe and watch the world’s best.
We got there about halfway through the women’s race. Lo and behold, an American in the lead, battling for the win. She looked barely 5’0″ and yet was riding a 29er. But she lost to a, yes…a Colnago mountain bike. Could she have won with 26″ inch wheels on this technical, demanding course? We will never know…
And then it was the men. A German rider with a, shall we say,”spotty” past jumped from the gun and had a pretty big lead after just a few minutes. He held that until the last lap, when some other guy passed him and won.
Ah yes. XC racing. Brings back memories. My first years of mountain biking were spent racing the Pacific NW series. It was sponsored by Uncle Seth’s cookies, these huge and wonderful sugar cookies with thick, pink frosting that was vaguely mint-flavored. I’m sure I gained more calories than I lost in those races. But the races were so much fun, huge loops that went out ino some of the best riding in the state. Epic rides.