6 December - Hasselt (bpost)
The sixth day of December is Sinterklaas in Flanders. And because I've been a very good girl this year, I get a cyclocross race in my hometown as a present. It'd be cool if my hometown also suddenly got dunes or hills or cobbles, but alas, we've got none of that. Good local booze here though, so it ain't all bad. Anyway - the race takes place around the municipal swimming pool. It doesn't look like it's changed much, even though they're actually building a new pool (the old one smells like a dead cow has been decomposing there for the last 20 years, so hurrah). ANYWAY. The Hasselt GP has obstacles of the miscellaneous variety, and may not be as much fun if it doesn't hold as much nostalgia for you as it does for me.
7 December - Druivencross
A standalone race, but the oldest one on the calendar. I always have a hard time remembering which race this is because it doesn't really have any defining feature, but it's actually pretty fun. It's up and down the whole time, on forest ground and asphalt and grass and cobbles. It also has a Sven Nijs lane.
13 December - Scheldecross
Scheldecross! De Schelde is a river, and beside a river are riverbanks, and to have cyclists race on those banks is both genius and cruel, which is pretty much what cyclocross is all about. Sandraces are awesome. Truly. Also, remember when that giant octopus showed up?
14 December - Zilvermeer
All the series seem to be on hiatus mid December, so we get yet another standalone race. A new one, sort of. The Zilvermeer race in Mol has been host to the Belgian championships - when KVT won - and Tom Boonen's winter charity cross (which doesn't take place this year). It's raced around Zilvermeer, or the silver lake, and sweeps through pine forests and over loose lake sand. They're racing at night - well, 17.30 CET - under floodlights, which seems like a completely unnecessary gimmick for a race that's great in daily sunlight, but I'll withhold judgement til I see it (ha, I almost typed that with a straight face).
20 December - GP Rouwmoer Essen (bpost)
It's called GP Rouwmoer, but they should really consider changing that name to GP Zdenek Stybar. If Nys can have his own race, then why can't Stybs? He lives in Essen with his - I'm sorry Albertina - wife. Tom Meeusen and Bart Aernouts also live in Essen, but neither have a rainbow jersey, so Stybar gets dibs on the racename for now (even though it isn't known yet if he'll shown up for this race). The funnest bits of GP Rouwmoer are swooping turns in the forest, and then that one corner where they have steps right at the end of a U-turn. Cruel. Lovely.
21 December - Namur (WC)
The world cup leg in Namur is the closest cyclocross comes to mountainbike, with sweeping descents and big climbs. This is raced on the same hill and around the same citadel as the GP Wallonie, and it's always a good day for cycling. The winner'll need both strength and fitness to climb the hills, and technical forte to master the descents without taking a tumble.
26 December - Heusden-Zolder (WC)
The second world cup leg in under a week - we're definitely in the Holy Cx Week now. Heusden-Zolder is always raced on Boxing Day and takes place on and around the Zolder racetrack. Which, by the way, is where Mario Cipollini became world champ, for which I apologise in the name of my province. Zolder is raced through a somewhat hilly pine forest, and there's a few turns around a small chapel called the Stiltekapel - or the silent chapel. There's no noise allowed around it, so there are no spectators in that part of the race. That must be special for the cyclists.
28 December - Diegem (SP)
It's very easy to remember which one Diegem is: it's the race in the dark. It's in the
city village centre of Diegem, and there's a sandpit, stairs, a bridge and you know, general darkness. To make sure our tiny cyclocross peloton isn't decimated on the spot, there's floodlights illuminating the entire scene. And even though it's raced under pitch blackness, we needn't wait til midnight. Belgium's dark as the way I drink my coffee by 17h30 in winter. Also, after the race this guy is performing. DAM DAM BI DOEBI DOEBI*.
30 December - Azencross Loenhout (bpost)
Riders going kedoink kedoink on washboards, that's the Azencross in Loenhout. It's the final chance to win a race in 2014 and if you pay 160 euros you can buy a VIP ticket for it. Who the hell goes to a cx race to sip champagne and eat a three course dinner? Jenever and fries, that's the way cyclocross rolls. Anyway. Azencross has some miscellaneous obstacles, nothing too special, and is more about sweat than skill.
*that is some impressive coordinated guitar playing