In the Flanders Region of Belgium just outside the cycling stronghold of Oudenaarde there is a small village called Mater. In this village on a prominent corner there is a decent-sized bar of typical Flemish architecture with white walls and a black roof -if memory serves me its English title is simply White House. The Heroes found their way here during the amateur Ronde van Vlaanderen cyclo-tour, one day before the professional race. With our team focused on Paris-Roubaix the following week, the Tenspeed Heroes opted not to have any riders in the citizen’s Ronde, and pursued our training by talking strategy and measuring complex carbohydrate intake with Blondes, Doubles, and even Tripels of the local Ename beer. For untold hours we sat on the sizable patio of this White House, taking in a warm Flemish sun, watching bicycles negotiate Flandrian cobbles and talking like old friends to the English-speaking cyclo-tourists stopping in for “nutrition” and natural breaks. With perfect weather, good company and more bicycles than even Tenspeed Heroes could handle, we have no shortage of memorable moments and great photographs from this day. But like an arm around Mickey Mouse, our first Firebird, or your newborn child, it is those moments closest to us we find pictures of on our desktops, handlebars or websites. This brings us to the story of a man, his progeny and a Pro Machine.
As the sun began to set and the last battered warriors of the citizen’s tour tricked past, one lone man rode in from the opposite direction. At first a sea of red in the distance, he drew closer and revealed a full BMC Racing kit and team BMC Pro Machine SLC01, on par with any professional bike we have seen on Bike Radar.
The man rode to the steps of the patio, dismounted and carried his bicycle towards the entrance of the White House. As he walked by us a silence fell among the Heroes. We fixed our gaze upon his bicycle then turned to each other with slow motion nods of approval. After carefully placing his steed by the door and walking inside we clamored around the SLC01. Tubular Easton EC90 SL’s? Dura-Ace electric? Perfectly wrapped bar tape vainly detailed with a both Swiss and American Flags? Even the Heroes had not seen such a level of careful attention and gear fanaticism. This was too careful, too BMC, too PRO.
Soon the man emerged from the White House. Sensing our enthusiasm or perhaps prompted by a shameless question, the man proudly smiled and quickly shed his mystique: “My son is a mechanic for BMC.” With this mortal revelation we accepted him as the Belgian father we never had and exchanged tender moments of patriarchal guidance and our own misdirected career decisions (he also gave us wise tips about club riding with tubulars and just the right knife to use when cutting the top off your water bottle). After this transaction and one more Ename, in a final fatherly gesture, he bestowed upon the Heroes the only bottle he had not cut the top off of. With this, we realized our new bond, thanked him enthusiastically, and knew, without water, our new dad did not have a far ride home.
Portrait by Isaiah Jay.
Pro Machine and Text by Todd Hero.