Saturday, February 4, 2012

Europe continued: München and Switzerland

A week has gone by since my last update from Paris, and now I am sitting in the tiny hamlet of Bex, a few kilometers from the UCI's headquarters in Aigle, close to Montreux and Lake Geneva. Some of us have been put up in Bex since Aigle's tiny hotel capacity apparently couldn't handle the 29 participants of the current DCO seminar. I arrived here yesterday afternoon—no, early evening—after a train trip of almost 12 hours from Munich that was peppered with way too many train delays and changes. Whatever happened to the fabled German and Swiss rail systems?
France, as seen from the World Cycling Center in Aigle (CH)
Not only was it cold in Freising (just a tad NE of München), but it's damn cold here, too. Yesterday morning the temperature outside of Sabine's window indicated around -18 Celsius—in Fahrenheit that's colder than the dickens. After coming back from Paris we had taken a few cold walks, all of them right between Frigidaire and serious frostbite. Some stupidly named Siberian cold front (they name any weather  phenomenon in some anthropomorphic terms around here) has hit central Europe, leaving a few dozen dead in its wake. Versailles had been nipply, but this is seriously froid, enough for Sabine to bring out her totally sexy long underwear. Not!!! (Sexy part, that is.)
Like Belgians, the Germans know how to handle the cold
There is a different beauty to this type of weather, aside from it's being way too damn cold. Behold the stern admonition of an outdoor religious statue (a), experience loneliness becoming even lonelier (b), and  hear the crisp invitation of a pub clear as a bell (c). So, how could I not succumb to the carnal pleasures of the Braustüberl at Weihenstephan? (d, oh yes, d)

(d, oh yes, d)
We have finished our first day of the Doping Control Seminar, and I've just returned from a very nice evening with about 10 of us in a local pizza restaurant. I love these days when one meets with almost as many nationalities and cultures as people. These are all class acts, several of whom I've now had the privilege to meet various times. One sits together, talks about politics, the UCI, how the kids are. Wonderful. I'm a lucky dog to have had the good fortune to have entered this group of people. My roommate for two nights, Pierre from Quebec, I met a few years back in Canada; others (like Bruno from Croatia) I seem to have known forever. Magali has been doing a great job of leading the seminar today, and tomorrow we'll learn more and take the obligatory test. Cycling has done an amazing job at combating the scourge of doping, and it is true that we're an important part of this fight. It sure feels good to be here, even if recent changes decided on by the UCI's Management Committee will mean that very soon we'll have to decide between continuing as a Doping Control Officer or as an International Commissaire. Bad news, but I still feel privileged. But haven't I seen the cup half full rather than half empty for a while now?
The World Cycling Center, outside ...

... and in
A bientôt,


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