Some Place Called Belgium IV

Sponsored By Chris King Precision Components

How we met Dean + Jelle + Nicolas
A Story Told In Captioned Photographs

So maybe, just maybe, this fanzine of all things cycling and life started out at a moment like this, drinking beer. We traveled to belgium, taking pictures of the spring classics in 2011 and our first day we found ourselves in the village of Mater, along the Ronde Sportive. We drank a lot of beer and shared some laughs and we really-really wish we had our bikes so we could join the 40 thousand plus belgians riding the course where Fabian + Boonen would be racing the next day.

Walking the course with our cameras, enjoying belgian moms, dads, uncles, sisters and brothers wearing all kinds of team kit, we found these boys wrestling with a pinch flatted tube. Their names are Dean and Jelle. We borrowed their one “good bike” and rode back to our car and grabbed some spare tubes so they could finish the day with pride. If you ask Dean he may tell you the Tenspeed Heroes were part Mavic Service Car and part paparazzi. No two Belgian teenage boys with flat tires have ever been photographed as much in the history of cycling reportage and blogdom.

As the boys and some of the Heroes wrestled with very old tires and fresh tubes from Chicago, we inspected Dean’s Eddy Merckx, lent by Jan Goessens, a former Professional in the 80’s and early 90’s. We could photograph any part of the bike but we think the saddle says it all. We knew we had met our first belgian Heroes.

As if 6-10 flats was not enough for the day, Dean’s band-aid, covering fresh blisters, dangled in the early morning sun. These boys were not far from the end but we really wondered if one tube was going to get them home. Flats, rusty chains, blisters and a thousand cobbles did not stop them.

Maybe this photograph says it all about Dean + Nicolas + Jelle, an upturned Race Number, attached to a bike that has not been raced in 20 years and most likely was pulled out of a shed one hour before the ride. You say the sportive is well over 100 kilometers? All the better, I will bring my gym shoes, some band aids, a few Euros will be stuffed in my back pocket and we will laugh and cry as we climb the Muur van Geraardsbergen. This is East Flanders. We do this all the time!

Photographs Luke Batten and Isaiah Jay