Almost 30 years ago in the summer of 1986 whilst racing Amateurs in Belgium I meet a certain English man Jeff Woodhouse and If anywhere that’s where the river ride began for me. Jeff and I were mutual inhabitants of no 9 Bijilokevest in Gent during August that year and despite giving him an endless ribbing we got on well . I always remember him getting out his map at the start of a ride one morning and I told him ” throw that away” , we will be back before nightfall’
The following year a certain Paul Estarbook (from Sacramento) turned up on the local Gent scene (with Aaron de Runtz) . I first saw him riding flat out the opposite way down a bike path near Zommergem in early March - that’s gotta be a yank I thought wearing his bandana and crap. Sure enough I meet Paul and a few days later and he was also living on the Bijlokevest just down the street in fact!!
To cut a long story by the years end both Jeff and I ended crashing out at Pauls Parents in Sacramento (September ) riding some late season races there - I was only there a couple of weeks but Jeff never left. During that time I did notch up a couple of river rides , I must admit I hardly knew what was happening the river(s) themselves going in about as many directions as the riders were in the bunch’s - anyway it was late season with very few participants.
The biggest memory of the ride itself there was stopping with Scott McKinley and eating fresh figs. I ended up revisiting Sacramento and the river ride several times over the following years which seemed to get increasingly competitive and dangerous , for some of the locals it was a pretty serious deal!
Jeff Wood house rode the river ride almost never missing a Tuesday or Thursday for 15 years straight - for all I know he’s still out there!!Nathan Dahlberg would end up riding for 7-11 and competing in the Tour de France. Nathan, originally form New Zealand is currently living in China.