Formed in June 09, Here Come the Belgians is a non-elite anti-team celebrating all things cross, cobbled and Belgian.
Seeking a different experience to the traditional cycling club, its aim is to harness the energy of a vibrant internet cycling community with grass roots racing and riding based around Cyclocross and Spring Classics. There is no race programme in the style of a racing team, more a collection of individual experiences through rides and racing, in whatever location a member may be, that all can share in and contribute toward.

Sunday, 16 August 2009


It hadn't gone well - the last time we ventured into the Great Outdoors together. Jill, a long time work colleague, one-time line-manager, and now lycra friend, had gone fell running with me for the first time. Her desire to branch out from running road marathons tied in with my need to run and recce the Whernside leg of the 3 Peaks Cyclocross.

We had run the classic loop from from Ribblehead, up to Winterscales and along to Bruntscar and then up the stepped Southern profile of Whernside. We paused to admire the view North into the Dales before a circumspect descent down to Blea Moor with me trying to memorise the rough patches and obvious hazards, ready for a bike re-run on Peaks day.

It was one of those imponderables - no rhyme or reason, no in depth post analysis necessary as to what had gone wrong. Jill simply stumbled on a protruding rock, lost her balance and pitched forward onto her front, sprawling down the track. Unfortunately a waiting small boulder took out all her front teeth and a few others for good measure. It still gives me collywobbles thinking about it now - heaven knows how she still remembers it.........

An eternity later, after an excrutiatingly long walk back down the Blea Moor track, we were back at the car and facing an hour or so to Airedale A and E. The bleeding had eased, but the large wadge of tissue she had shoved into and around her mouth was staying put - until medical help was accessed. It was a seemingly long, conversation free and stressful trip.

It was some time, and several thousand pounds worth of implants, before things were finally fixed and we were allowed by our respective partners to go out together, albeit with mutterings of comprehensive insurance cover. Previous to this little escapade, we had gone out, me on bike and Jill on foot, only for me to arrive home with a broken helmet and badly bruised shoulder.

Anyway, a good while and one baby (Jill's, not mine) later, we risked it enough to venture out together, 2 proto 'Belgians' off into the wilds of Widdop, East Lancs. Sunday morning was wet, claggy and windy - autumnal even. The rain had washed grit and organic matter off the hills and over the road, making traction questionable in places. The moors were not at their best either, but hinted at their promise in between breaks in the cloud. Jill's new to cycling (fell running has taken a back seat since those dental misadventures) and new to the Belgians concept, but took in style, everything the bad roads, steep climbs and suspect weather had to give. It was a typical Flandrian day in East Lancs in fact. Here's to many more rides like that.................

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