Team Cyclingnews.com - Down Under - 2004

Captains log: A hot lap of the Ardennes. 170K, March 16, 2004

19 year-old Robbie Williams
Photo ©: Team Cyclingnews.com

Sven De Weerdt, Robbie Williams, me and Yeski, the crazy 5-foot Japanese cyclocross rider, headed out for a mission and some quality miles in the Ardennes. After a impulse game of rock/scissor/paper, team management decided to put some of the guys out in the hills and enjoy some well needed and welcomed bergs instead of a pro kermesse. Crossing through Belg, Germany and Luxembourg, we passed through some awesome sights, castles, border police and not enough places to park up for a Coluzzi brew. One highlight would be the fast descents into Lux on dead smooth roads with a smile wrapped around my face... happy days!

On arriving back to the van with 170 under our belt, thoughts of beer, frites and Veronica pass through the hunger-flat brain. Then the harsh reality hits home and it's cold satay rice and a watery protein shake to kill the cravings... and still no Veronica. A quick nudie run for the locals and before I knew it, it was time to hit the road.

Buying "the page"

Thanks to the kind donations of a mystery sponsor, it was time to drag the lads off our flight path on the way home to hook up an essential part of a rider's morning... A REAL COFFEE MACHINE!!! A quick detour off the freeway and it was time to peel off our skanky bums from the van and get me some retail therapy. I walked out of the supermarket as happy as a bee with a bum full of honey. A sly snigger from the Robi at my/our addiction and we all knew that it would be fresh legs in the morning... maybe.

The next day

Sven De Weerdt
Photo ©: Team Cyclingnews.com

I awoke at "the crack of" and skip down the stairs for some chamois cream and a double espresso for the 180k ahead. A similar crew signed up at nine for some bicycle practice to Namen-Leuven and back to Booischot. A pearler of a day with 20 degrees and a tailwind home. It was like chalk and cheese how the road surface changes as you cross the borders. You definitely need to call the holes in Belgium. The three amigos tapped out a steady pace through the rolling greener than green fields and finally it was time to roll down the arm warmers. Skimming over new roads with the sun shining, some form coming on and the thought of how lucky I am to be here sinks in. Only a podium or a win could put icing on this cake.

We did the usual left-right-left-right shuffle until I realised I was 500 metres from home and the world championship training ride gallop was on! I got it of course...

No sooner was I in the door did I have a J-Tech protein shake in the gob and a shower before it was time to have a rare kip in the arvo and soak up what was a Tip Top day towards the quest.

Keep it real.

Nathan "Chookman" Russell


Images by Robbie Williams/Team Cyclingnews.com

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