La Doyenne – Liege-Bastogne-Liege

F123DD22-6AD5-4669-B8AD-CB6A06AD7937Race day – which happens to be Colin’s birthday – started much the same as yesterday – grey, cold and rainy. Mid-morning we took the short walk up to the top of the climb to see where we might want to be for the race.
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At about 11:30 one of the ladies’ team cars pulled in beside us – I asked the young fellow when they would be coming by and he said about an hour. I took that time to walk down the road to where the men’s and ladies’ routes diverge – the men go straight while the ladies take a left.

I was curious what was down the other route so walked about 1 km before turning back – I was pretty wet but not overly cold. I hustled back to the campervan, collected my camera and Colin and I went back to the turning point to wait for the ladies.
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There’s not nearly so much fanfare involved – no caravan, no helis and only a few motos, none of which is a tv moto. I took my extra ground cover with me so I could spread it out and keep my backpack covered, and kept my camera and flash dry by wrapping them in my scarf.
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This time I did get cold – my feet were soaking wet even with my good water resistant runners and thermal socks. Back at the campervan we had a bite to eat and a nice cup of coffee.
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I just had to jump up and throw on my wet socks and runners when suddenly the caravan came by – I hate to miss freebies so ran out with laces undone and not even my sweater on. There weren’t many people around at the time so several of the folks threw things my way. A couple of things landed in the mud, but they can be washed.
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There was a small family with a horse that came up to the fence across the road from us – the man called and called for the larger horse in the field to come – we wondered if it was his horse, especially when he went over the fence and down into the field. The horse finally noticed him – or maybe his white horse, and came running up. The two horses whinnied at each other a bit, then the family took their white horse and walked away. The brown horse in the field was quite upset – it ran back and forth along the fence several times before giving up and running back down the hill.
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Knowing that the race is usually within an hour of the caravan’s passing we got our bags ready again and headed up the hill. There was a fairly steady stream of people doing the same thing although with the rain and cold it wasn’t that bad.

We picked a great spot and covered up our bags with my ground cover – the rain came and went, and at one point we even thought it was going to clear up completely and be sunny. No such luck – it started pouring again a few minutes later.

We’d been waiting some time when a blue and white van tried to pull in on the side of the road – there really wasn’t proper room for them and we and another fellow were already standing right there. The asshole backed up and almost ran the other guy over – he pounded on the back of the van so they would stop but all they did was pull forward again so they could back up a little further off the road.

We screamed at them because our bags were almost crushed under the back wheels – what an arrogant bunch of jerks. They’re on a VIP – as in Very Ignorant Pr!cks – trip and thought it was just fine to pull in at the last minute and take someone else’s place. We told them what we thought, picked up our bags and moved across the road and down a bit.

On the other side two other people agreed that the van was in the wrong, and they turned out to be british. Colin chatted with them a bit while I moved further on down the road to find another spot.
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Trying to keep the camera and flash dry was a bit of a challenge – I wrapped them in the scarf again but my hands were starting to get very cold. The race finally arrived just before 3:00. I got a couple of not bad shots but an abundance of blurred ones. I think that the cold made the focussing and shutter react more slowly.
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As soon as most of the riders had passed we gathered our things together – I gave the blue and white van the finger as they pulled out, just in case they hadn’t understood my earlier shouted comments.

We scurried back to the campervan, dried off our cameras and flashes, and spread everything else out to dry. Luckily we have a good satellite signal so were able to watch the rest of the race on tv.
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When I loaded my photos onto my ipad I picked out one of the better ones and showed it to Colin, who had to laugh – the team sponsor was the same company whose van it was that almost ran us over and stole our spot – ha ha! Well, it’s not the riders fault, and the van was not his ‘team support’ vehicle.

For the 16 days of racing we’ve seen so far this year today was the only day with such horrible weather – we’ve been very fortunate.

The sheep in the field below us were very funny – a lady walked across the pasture and a few followed her. She reached up to a lilac bush at the fence-line on the left, grabbed a few bunches and waved them at the sheep – they all came running and she led them into a different field. Who needs sheepdogs when you have lilac? The horses apparently don’t care as much for lilac as the sheep do – they ignored the lady and the running sheep and just kept grazing.
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Once my shoes were dry I went for another little walk and saw another beautiful horse, some cute little calves and a couple of beautiful guard dogs.
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A little more walking and I was near the big church – I found it kind of funny to have a children’s playground right next to the graveyard.
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Back towards the campervan there’s a large map of the local hiking trails – lots of hikers come here. There’s more than one B&B in this little town and lots of trails connecting all of the nearby villages.
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There’s also a helpful poster of the digestive system of a cow, just in case any of the hikers was wondering where the grass goes. Shortly after I returned from my walk Colin saw something moving in the field – I jumped out with my camera to have a look and it was a fox – a very large and scruffy one by the looks of it.
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