What's Cool In Road Cycling

Homeboy In Belgium: The Belgian Fan

Finally got the article done … I kinda found me a nice young Belgian girl to occupy my time this past week. The weather here isn’t much warmer, instead of being 50 degrees it’s 65 for the high and the rain is getting very bad lately. It’s just a normal thing to go out and train 3 hours with it pouring.

It’s nice to be able to share my experinces with people, especially when they like my reading.. Belgium to me was such and elusive place that I really didn’t know what to expect and with the weekly journal I am able to bring Belgium to the English world.

Well here is this weeks journal….

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This week I am going to write about the Belgian cycling fan. They are a bit different than almost any cycling fan I have every meet. To the people of Belgium cycling is more than just a hobby; it’s a way of life that deserves much respect for the hard work and sacrifices a cyclist endures.

You can see the wide array of cycling fans at any of the many Kermese races around Belgium. One of the types of cycling fans you will find often at the Kermese races are the bookies. These are the guys who place bets on who will be able to pull off a win or a top three placing. Most often they know EVERYTHING about a rider from where they grew up to what their best placing is in the last year. If they don’t know you they are more than friendly to come up and ask an array of questions about you and your past. (Oh yea, my odds are currently around “14 to 6” or “20 to 6”)

The next type of fan would be the groupie. It’s not the ditzy blonde type of rock bands but more the older gentleman who follows the races with great detail and has taken a liking to a particular team. He’s kinda the unspoken cheering squad for teams. Normally he will say HI and ask how you are doing and always there to support the team he likes.

Jubilation from a Belgian fan is reserved for the very young, it is very rare to see older person cheering and screaming for racers. Two of my friends noticed this fact when they came to a kermese race and noticed they were the only two yelling. On the other hand during the Tour of Flanders the crowd was going crazy on the infamous Koppenberg. The older generation tends to enjoy the races from a cafй with a beer or coffee and talk with friends during the downtime between laps.

Another note of a Belgian fan is how they follow the races. They know a lot about the riders and love to know about local riders. When local Oostende pro Jeff Louder went off the front of the field during the Tour of Belgium it was the local talk of the bakery for the next two days. Everyone knew about it!.

Fans of other nations tend to be more general in their liking of riders. Despite the reservation of many Belgian fans I still think they are more passionate about the sport than any other nation. Their passion gives Belgian cycling a subtle but unmistakable edge when it comes to support. This comes through with how healthy the racing is here and the amounts of sponsorship teams are able to receive.

I hope this came out well, I just finished the article after a very big Kermese near Antwerp and my thinking skills are being blocked by tiredness and flashbacks of pain. Actually the race went well and I ended up just finishing in the field with two teammates making the final break of 15 riders. A great day for the ABC-AITOS squad in the end.

Until next week!

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