Belgian Boys Club

Today I met the Belgian Boys Club as a new ambassador for the brand, Belgium is my favourite place to ride a bike as it’s the heartland of the sport, I live for the spring classics, the rolling bergs and bleak weather, so this was a great excuse to get over there and do some riding.

The BBC is a homage to Belgian racing and stars of the boards and cobbles, most of my cycling heroes are 'Flandrien', Merckx, Museeuw, Keisse, Van Avermaet, Boonen, to be an honorary Flandrien of the BBC feels like a name I haven’t earned as I’m pretty much just a coffee shop cruiser ;)

Arriving at Brussels airport I was greeted by BBC and ferried off to the iconic Koppenberg for our first shoot, on a rainy day it’s like riding up bars of soap, a local driver got caught out, their back wheels were spinning forwards but the car was going backwards, not the most encouraging scene but bikes are far more superior than cars technically, intellectually and culturally ;)

The weather was very Belgian-esque Being the BBC, the kit was born for this purpose, warm, light and water resistant, this will be good winter garb for rainy old Blighty, riding in crap winter conditions is part of the Flandrien job description, while everyone else stays in bed we go out riding, secretly loving the empty roads and coffee stops, knowing that the foundation stones of our summer form are built during this period.

Ridley set us up with bikes for the day - who have recently taken over Merckx, so I decided to take out the Merckx 525, a racy stiff machine that I didn’t really want to hand back, the frame had an extremely beefy bottom bracket shell, making acceleration fast and stiff. Finishing kit and fit are never quite right on borrowed bikes but I could still sense this was a bike that handled well.

The BBC have recruited three ambassadors, Tim in the Netherlands, Andy a native Belgian and myself, although we are from different countries we have aligned values and a lot in common. 

After a wet morning doing hill reps of the Koppenberg and the Oude Kwaremont we stopped for lunch at the Kwaremont pub on the climb itself, we sat next to an open fire to thaw out and dry off, enjoy a nice lunch and a few bottles of Kwaremont beer, the alcohol percentage is 6.6% the same as the gradient of the Oude Kwaremont climb, a brilliant blend of Belgian culture - cycling and beer.

 

Gareth Winter