Thursday, September 23, 2010

Racing in Flanders Belgium

I will post some information on racing in Belgium for juniors starting next week. Most American juniors dream of racing in Europe but think it is impossible to do unless one is a pro or part of the National Team. They believe one has to be selected by the National Federation -in this case USA Cycling- in order to be allowed to race in Europe. Others are aware of alternatives but think racing in Europe is restricted to the adventurous few. They believe it is really difficult to arrange or horrendously expensive to do.

In my opinion, cost may be an issue for some but ignorance is the main culprit. Most Americans spend far more money driving to races in America than they would for a comparable period of stay in Belgium. When it comes to cost, Belgium is a bargain. So why are people holding back?

Parents simply do not know how to go about organizing a trip to Europe for racers. They don't know where to go or what needs to be done. Even parents who are familiar with the American racing scene are baffled when faced with the logistics; to say nothing of European rules and regulations.

Language is another barrier. Americans do not speak foreign languages and they find it hard to communicate with foreigners. The problem becomes much more acute when they aren't simply traveling for fun, but are instead trying to obtain permission or make practical arrangements.

All of this can be remedied quite easily and that is my main objective here. Make it easy for people to find out what Euro-cycling is all about and how one goes about doing it.

I will be focusing on Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium because, when it comes to cycling, that is where the action is. Although many Americans think Italy or France are key countries when it comes to bicycle racing, the truth is that Belgium, and especially the Flemish region of Belgium stands head and shoulders above any other country or region.

If you dream of bicycle racing in Europe, Flanders is the place to be. Nothing even comes close. Lance Armstrong may well have lived in Girona, Spain or Nice, France, and those places are indeed ideal if you want to avoid jet-lag during the season and like nice weather for training rides, but when it comes to racing, Flanders is the center of the universe and Girona and Nice are places you want to avoid.

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