Left Behind: Not just a series of movies starring Kirk Cameron about the Rapture. It is also a series of books about the Rapture. I was left behind while an untold number of Heroes crossed the pond to experience the Spring Classics in Belgium and France. I was left behind while the U.S. government threatened to shutdown. I was left behind while Idaho declared a state of emergency due to the danger posed by its considerable wolf population. But I am making it sound like I was forgotten or neglected by the Heroes. Nonsense. I’m saving myself for the World Championships or maybe a six-day race in Gent or Amsterdam. But, while I was avoiding wolf attacks in Idaho and preparing for government shutdown (stockpiling food, water and weapons), my thoughts often drifted to Belgium. I had to imagine what adventures the Heroes were having. Two years ago Luke and I rode the cobbled streets of Flanders so I had no trouble picturing the scenery: verdant hills, fields of corn, primeval forests, meandering roads with dads on scooters motor-pacing their teenage sons. Aided by the return of Luke Hero and his gift of the gab, I will now tell the story of Jelle and Dean, the Flat Tire and the Bike that Raced the Tour de France.
After a breakfast of waffles and coffee, Todd, Luke, Patrick, Heather, Isaiah, and Sean went for a walk to check out the route of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Soon they encountered a couple of local boys, Dean and Jelle (pronounced Yell-eh), who were riding the citizen’s version of the Ronde. Or, they would have been riding if they hadn’t been crippled by a flat tire. In typical hero fashion, Todd commandeered one of the boy’s bikes and rode back to the rental cottage to fetch a tube.
Meanwhile, the Heroes were distracted by a disintegrating yellow Eddy Merckx. The flat tire was problem number one in a long list of maladies that afflicted the bike. The paint was festooned with custom flourishes such as spray painted colored squares, adhesive tape, and scratches rapidly filling with rust. The tires were dried and cracked and the rubber turned to dust with the rub of a finger. Jelle and Dean told the story of the Bike’s provenance. The bike was raced in the Tour de France. What proof do I offer? Jelle and Dean’s word is proof enough for me. Which Tour de France you might ask? “I think one of the old ones,” thought Dean. “We figured that,” figured Luke.
Todd was back in a jiffy and quickly got the bike and the boys back on the road.
With further research conducted back in the states at Hero Headquarters, we learned several things: The boys finished the 140 km ride in about 7 hours (with stops for more flats). The bike belonged to Dean’s dad. Dean’s dad is Jan Goessens and he rode with Lotto-Merckx in the ’87 Tour de France. He placed 131st in the GC. Mr. Goessen’s long list of race results includes an impressive 21st place in the 1989 Paris-Roubaix.
Congratulations Dean and Jelle, official Belgian Heroes, for riding that piece of shit bike 140 kilometers!