Because science into life doesn't go

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Weekend With Belgian Cycling Legend, David Le Ashton (Part One)

David Le Ashton: Cyclist, philosopher, environmentalist

Recently I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with one of the flat country's lesser-known cycling greats, David Le Ashton. David's hoping to take the mantle of five times winner of the Tour de France, Eddie Meryx, and I joined him on a intensive two-day training regime in his beloved Ardennes.

Before the cycling began in earnest, David kindly let me stay at his apartment in the heart of Brussels. The view from David's balcony is a most intriguing one for an avid cyclist: he overlooks a beautiful sixteenth century square that has been turned into a car-park! David told me: "When I need to get passionate I come and stand on my balcony and look at all zees cars. They put me into a rage. Sometimes I go down in the middle of night and fly-poster the windscreens with upcoming cycling events or reclaim-the-streets marches. It makes me feel like a good citizen."

Don't mention the cars!

For some, David's sleeping arrangements might seem odd. For a semi-professional cyclist they make perfect sense. You see, David re-assembles his bed in a different room of his apartment every night. "Not only does zees make me strong and help me sleep well because I am tired, it is good training for making rapid cycling repairs with all the nuts-and-bolts action." Fortunately, David didn't make me join in this bizarre routine.

David consults the bed assembly instructions

Outside, David never takes off his cycling cap--which I found out to my cost the morning of our departure to the Ardennes. After breakfast, I tried to whip off his cap and throw it up into the branches of a nearby tree in a hilarious-jape kind of way. "What are you doing?" he screamed. "This cap is my lucky cap. The top of my head has never once got wet while I've worn this cap! Touch it again at your peril!" Later I found out that David's reluctance to remove his cap is because it is here that he stores his essential race tools--and a patch of the yellow jersey that he ripped from Lance Armstrong's back during a spectacular crash in the 2005 Tour. He denies that he deliberately caused the pile-up, but I have my doubts.

Where's Le Ashton?

Only having one racing bike, before we could go I needed to hire a bike. David took me to a rental place that only stocked ladies style bikes, and I later realised this was for two reasons. Firstly, it allowed me to be a pack mule and carry the paniers. But secondly, and more importantly, it let him beat me hands down in all the King of the Hill checkpoints that dotted our route. Seeing David's competitive spirit close-hand gave me a real thrill. He's a winner! As an aside to this, it should be noted that I did beat David in one of the flat sprints. Afterwards, he told me he'd had a puncture a hundred yards from the line, and then later, when he admitted this was a lie, he insisted I must've been cheating. He administered a urine test back at his apartment and concluded I had banned substances in my bloodstream.

Urine and Cigarette

Part Two coming soon!