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.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Belgians...3 peaks...cyclo what?

Mark Holmes by Phil Haygarth
Mark Holmes, a photo by Phil Haygarth on Flickr.

I'm visiting the UK from New Zealand with my wife for a few weeks and was press ganged by my fun hungry cousins Phil & Dave Haygarth into putting in an entry for the 3 Peaks Cyclo Cross Race this September. As mountain biker by trade I thought the whole drop handle bar thing a bit odd, and when Dave handed me a a "Here come the Belgians" shirt to wear on race day I certainly felt I had alot to learn about this local psych.

After a couple of anxious short off- road practice rides on Phil's second bike I suddenly found my self lining up in the rain at the Helwith Bridge race start. Lovely - this was shaping up to be the classic English damp slog! Before long it was bike to the shoulder as the ground started sticking to the wheels and up over Ingleborough, down the mad messy descent and onto the road. With all the road and carrying sections I was finally understanding why mountain bikes may not be the most useful tool after all.

Onward over peaks 2 and 3 with shockingly awkward descents, clicking cameras, warm sunshine breaking through, cries of "go the Belgians" and so to the finish still in one piece.
With wincing triceps and sore palms I really knew I'd done something different - like Dave said, the off-road section simply isn't suited to cycling!

My huge thanks go out to all that helped me and roll on the Belgians. I think I'll have to join!

Mark Holmes, Nelson, New Zealand - a guest Belgian for a day.


  1. An impressive performance adapting to those non kiwi weird drop handlebars! Have a Leffe! Phil

  2. Mark, my memories of mountain biking in the hills outside Nelson, are a bit hazy (over 10 years ago), but I reckon you had pretty good terrain to get warmed up on! (I'm envious). Well done.