We got a fairly early start after filling up with water and settling the tab. The sportif riders were already clogging the roads – the route goes right past the campground. There’s a large area right across the road that’s a pit stop for the sportif riders and was it ever crowded, even at just after 9 in the morning.
We managed to avoid most of the congestion on our way to the town of Meerssen to get groceries, but that was another adventure. The Lidl store was right in the middle of the town and the parking lot was completely full, including a very large delivery truck almost blocking access. Just as we were about to try to turn around and flee a car pulled out of what turned out to be a perfect spot for the campervan.
Back on the road we had a destination in mind – one of two nearby climbs that tomorrow’s race will pass three times each. We were thwarted more than once by closed roads but eventually found what we hope is the ideal spot. We are right at the signs that indicate the end of the town of Geulhem and the beginning of Berg. It’s definitely one of the climbs on the route as the sportif riders are everywhere and also there are race arrows.
It’s a proper parking area on the side of the road and we’re facing sideways taking up two spots – as long as no one comes and tells us to move it is perfect. We went for a walk up into the town and had a drink at a bar. There were a couple of dutch cyclists at the next table and we had a really nice chat with them. It was funny when a fairly young rider arrived wearing a ‘world champion’ jersey – our new friends agreed with us that only children are ok to wear it – adult sizes shouldn’t even be sold and no adult should ever wear one unless they’ve actually earned it. Very few have.
As we walked back down to the campervan we heard a car screech to a stop and a cyclist cursing loudly. The driver got out of the car and there was a terrible sounding verbal altercation. People ran out of their houses and I went back up the road to see what was going on. The car driver was incensed and his female passenger got out to try to calm him down. I myself get somewhat annoyed sometimes about some of the cyclist in a sportif, but really – there are around 19,000 of them going through this town today so perhaps local drivers should have just a little more patience and take a little more time. A car against a guy on a bike just isn’t a fair competition.
We’re parked right next to a couple of lush fields that have two beautiful horses – one is all black and the other is a belgian that’s black and white with the feathered feet.