What comes to mind when I say 'ankle deep mud' and 'sprigged shoes'? A Saturday morning at the local rugby club? Not quite.
What about 'Flurbereinigung' or 'Gout de Terroir'? Something French or perhaps a place of historic significance in Belgium? Well, that's possibly closer...
What I'm really talking about did occur on a Saturday in August, and it was at a vineyard, which is a place of historic significance - it being the first one in the region. But this was Blenheim, not Europe. And the continental connection that I'm talking about is cyclocross, Belgium's best export outside of its beer.
The atmosphere around Marlborough's Auntsfield Vineyard was thrumming with the sound of two stroke motors and jet washers all day as nearly 100 keen riders got their game faces out for the 2017 National Cyclocross Championships. At the end of it all, Nelson's Henry Jaine and Wellington's Kim Hurst were crowned victorious after a day of hard racing amongst the vine rows.
Those who had the luxury of a second bike and a pit crew to wash them down certainly had an advantage, as the mud stuck like only mud can. Kilos were carted round the hilly course, lodged on chain stays and cantilever brake mounts. And I'm sure no rider would have left the venue without having experienced a good amount of 'Gout de Terroir' which roughly translates as 'the taste of earth'.
In typical kiwi style the best bits of other cultures were appropriated and on offer: Belgian biscuits, whisky hand ups, Sauvignon Blanc by the glass full and of course, plenty of fierce and friendly rivalry.
Big ups to Mondo, Marlborough Cyclocross, Auntsfield and everyone who helped put on another great event.
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