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.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Kit Ordering!

The Kit Team Store will go live on Wednesday 26th October and remain open till 2nd of November.

Enter click my team store, then input herecomethebelgians as the password in the below window.

Size Charts are here

Generally sizes seem to be coming up the same as current kit - I have a fit kit of all sizes and I'll be at Thornes Park on 30th or bob round and try some on.

NB. if you are using a visa debit, inform your bank as the transaction will be USA based and may be blocked as some systems flag it as fraud.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Fun Fun FUN at Rapha Super Cross

So it turns out I can sometimes be a little bit rapid off the start line...  I find myself 4th into the first bend!

OK OK OK... so it's 'only' the Fun Category of the recent Rapha Super Cross event at Broughton Hall, Skipton, but still... 4th is 4th!

Yes yes yes... there's only 10 competitors in our race, and the field comprises elves, fairies and a tandem riding horse.... and not forgetting my own little homage to early 90s Acid House pioneers Altern-8.  YES it's Altern-8 NOT a painter and decorator - seemed obvious to me!  Still... 4th is 4th!

So the first hurdle of the race - the sprint to the first bend - is done - tick - that's history.  Huffing and puffing hard through the dust mask of my fancy dress (what ever possessed me?) and somewhat elated at my progress I focus on the second hurdle of the race - Bend 2...

Now, not even 30 seconds into the race - and I'm only at the second bend of the opening lap - but holding 4th place - and my race starts to fall apart! No fitness you see, and the speed of my opening sprint is unsustainable... 4th is no longer 4th... it's 5th, 6th, 7th, etc!

The race was not over yet, however, there was the tequila short cut.  "All these sinewy cycling types will avoid the booze surely" I thought. This leaving open to me, and my already ruined liver, full exploitation of the boozey option!  How wrong I was - the tequila short cut in fact formed the main racing line and was frequented by all as often as possible!  However, 6No. Tequilas down and I didn't care what position I was in - but boy does it burn - a bit like inhaling pepper spray!

And then there was foam. Interesting to ride through and horrible to inhale!  Yes readers, even with the protection of my dust mask I managed a lungful!  Trying a sly gulp of air on approach, an errant floaty globule found its way to my mouth.. GULP! COUGH! SPLUTTER! FAIRY LIQUID! TEQUILA!  LITTLE BIT OF SICK!  It all happened at once! 

Fifteen minutes of Fun Cat doesn't sound like much but it turned into a bit of a queasy breathless soapy double visioned mud plugging tipsy foam smeared epic!  It was a good laugh though I'll be honest.

Thanks to Joolze Dymond for the photos.

Friday, 11 July 2014

City Cross 3

Let me start with a short non cycling related story...  Last summer a famous little Disco beat combo, by the name of Chic, played my local Bingley Music Live music festival.  Now, being a bit of a Disco Diva myself, I was rather excited by this.  The day came and it was simple amazing!  Everyone was up and dancing and generally 'mad for it', and I knew, once the last note had drifted across the arena, and Nile was rather unceremoniously dragged off stage, I had witnessed a life changing event.  I looked around the arena, slightly dazed, and I could see others seemingly experiencing the same emotions as I.  People were smiling, people were crying, people were hugging, talking, laughing... etc.  I realised at that moment nothing would ever be the same again!  No other band would ever make me feel so again!  It was a new beginning, my Ground Zero.  Everything would start from here from now!

So, what's all that waffle got to do with City Cross 3?  Well, many of the emotions I experienced during Chic's gig last year, I experienced at City Cross!  It was just so good, and just such good fun, it's difficult to see an event anytime in the near future coming anywhere near for me. City Cross was my cycling 'new beginning!'  Everything starts afresh from here!

The previous Citycross - No.2 - at Piece Hall Halifax, was good - very good - but this most recent episode - No.3 -  took the fun factor to another level.  Set right in the heart of one of Leeds' essentially run down but in the throws of massive regeneration city center suburbs - Holbeck - the races twisted and snaked around a very compact, flat, and well surfaced course, between buildings associated with the regeneration.  It also took in cobbles, wooden berm and whoops, a couple of little jumps, a run up/wooden scaffold ramp down... and a couple of beer gardens! Clever course design.  The same Moto format was used here as at Halifax.

Morvélo CityCross 3 from Morvélo Bicycle Apparel on Vimeo.

I didn't really make much of an impact during my Moto, and just raced around as fast as I could to a comfortable last place!  It's all about the taking part though eh?  Even with my less than inspiring display in my Moto, I was still able to jump straight into the 'last chance saloon' race immediately after!  Still huffing and puffing and lathered in sweat like a Grand National winner, I was straight back on the start line.... and off! Another lung bursting 20mins of agony!  However, I did a little better this time - but I was racing against a Werewolf on one of those bikes with super fat tyres!

Kit wise, I must say I was very happy with my On One Pompy SS with virtually smooth 28c hybrid tyres this time.  A more or less totally cobbled/flagged/tarmaced lapped negated the need for knobbly tyres, and the Pompy was fantastic in the bends with Guy Martin esqe leans achievable (well, in my head at least!)

I didn't strictly qualify for the final, but the organisers were sweet enough to say I could race it if I wished. But Fathering duties, and a few cheeky beers, and just kicking back were, by now, my over whelming urges... so that's what I did.  I couldn't have wished for a better day out.

I wonder what City Cross 4 will bring......

Friday, 14 March 2014

Hurt at the Haigh

Hurt at the Haigh did exactly what it said on the tin I guess - it was at Haigh Hall, Wigan, and it hurt a bit!

Following news of the demise of the excellent Hit the North, I think everyone was looking for an alternative, so when word spread of a new race of a similar 2hr format MTB/CX format - called Hurt at the Haigh - many jumped at the chance.  It soon filled to capacity once entry was on-line, as the urge to fill the mid winter no racing void was obviously a little too much for many people.  170 entrants apparently.  I'm not quite sure all those tuned up on the day but there was still a bumper line up.  

HtN had built a reputation and delivered a real festival of cycling.  Not sure Hurt at the Haigh was quite there in that department, but it's early days, and the well run event will go from strength to strength year on year I'm sure.

The 4 mile long Hurt at the Haigh lap meandered it's way through the mainly wooded park land of Haigh Hall, and was tough going on CX I thought, and perhaps slightly better suited to MTB.  Indeed the winner, Nick Craig, did his winning on a MTB - I know I got to see him lap me three times!  It comprised mainly loamy soils with some muddy grass and metalled tracks.  It proved a test for many bikes, and some dérailleur groaning and gnashing could be heard towards the end!  Mine thankfully survived!  In fact the X-wing was faultless.

I plodded round in my now time honoured fashion and delivered a top 100 finish and solidly within a group of 3 lappers (approx. 15% of the field) so was reasonably content.  HCtB finishing positions:

Paul Nutton        28th
Emma Osenton   64th
Ali Mills              76th
Ben Parkinson    85th
John Parkinson   91st
Steve Cooper     98th (Mechanical)
(I think that is all....)

A glimmer of a more aggressive attacking me did rear its head at one point during the race.  I got stuck in a group and behind some bloke with his bum crack showing through a bizarre mesh panel in the back of their shorts - quite odd and rather alarming!  It was quickly apparent I was not going to be able to spent much time at all sitting staring at a kinky almost fish net tight clad batty crack - as hypnotic as it was - and summoned the last gasps of air from the bowls of my lungs and elbowed my way by!  Much better - and my reward?  A fully lycra'ed backside.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Playing the Points Game, Lessons Learnt and Todmorden

En route breakfast stop and derailleur in situ.

I wasn't going to comment on my final Yorkshire Points race of 2013 at Todmoden, due it being a rather dismal damp squib of an affair, what with a ripped off rear derailleur and all!  It ripped off at the start of the second lap and my remaining contributions to the race comprised steadily trotting around, stopping and chatting, having breathers and actually watching the race, and eventually crossing the line and declaring myself as DNF.  

However, I've just been perusing the final standings and I've realisied what an idiot I've been!

You see, this was only about 10mins before the winners crossed the line!  In retrospect I'd have been better actually walking more slowly and doing more chatting... or even popping for a coffee and a slab of heavily alcohol laced Jo Allen Tod Brownie (YUM!) before re joining the course and crossing the line as an actual finisher.

Sans derailleur!  Tanks Jo Allen for the Photo
This would amassed me ~50 points (rather than 0) - yes 50!

And would have catapulted me in the final standings from 143rd looser boy/also ran to a top 100 higher roller/mixing it with the big boys finisher of the highest calibre.  The kind of elevated socially acceptable position where I am no longer mocked, no longer pointed at and laugh at, but, instead, people nudge and whisper amongst themselves "hey, there's that John from HCtB... best watch him... he knows what he's doing when he gets his leg over a CX bike... he finished in the top 100 last year!"  That kind of thing!

So the you can go slow and gain lessons was learnt.

Gratuitous and unnecessary photo of a Sweet Centre Chickpea Curry
Breakfast - the breakfast of champions! 
Other useful lessons from the day were:  It is possible to eat a Chickpea Curry Breakfast en route to Tod and not feel wretched for the entire race, and it's best to give it 20mins before driving after eating one of Jo Allen's Tod Brownies!

So not all was lost and remember... Every day is a school day!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Dig in at the Dock

Dig in at  the Dock at Bo'ness, Falkirk, Scotland is a race I've wanted to do for a couple of years now.  But is very popular and sells out almost instantly (well minutes), and I have previously been unsuccessful with my application.  Bad times...

However, this year was different... This year I got a place!  Good times...

Belgians Belgians Everywhere...
Dig in at the Dock owes it's success to the hard work of the charismatic organisers - see promo video below.  Facebook, Youtube and Flickr et al are all utilised to the max to generate a real buzz about the event.  They over subscribe each year, and I understand generate a lengthy waiting list in the process! This is painstakingly whittle down to the final 150 or so starters!  However, still pop it the diary for next year you never know:-).

So to race day.  After a recent run of poor performances in Yorkshire - due to general lack of ability, a total disregard to any form of training or healthy lifestyle, and mechanicals - I was a little worried come the morning of Dig in at the Dock.  I hadn't put in a decent shift on the bike since Temple Newsam at the beginning October.... three months ago!  In addition, I'd done little in the way of other cycling activities either!  Dig in at the Dock could hurt a bit... if not a lot!

The course looped around the back of the Bacon Butty Stall - Criminal
When gasping for air!
Allied to the general nervousness was a slight hangover from the previous nights antics at my Bro's house in Glasgow - not a biggy by any means - but it was there nagging at me non the less.  So signed on, had a quick natter to fellow HCtB rider Andy Bell (No not or Ride fame... or Erasure fame for that matter - who was marshalling on the day - Thanks.  Big thanks to all the helpers too), bacon buttied up and dressed for action I went for a pootle.

The run up - a great noise from the crowd and cowbells here
An excellent riders course around the old dock opened up before me.  Phew!  Essentially flat with the odd little bank here and there (one a forced dismount) and not too muddy either all things considering (Scotland + winter = MUD... not this time!).  The ground felt a little odd in places - a little squelchy on top but rock hard underneath? Perhaps the industrial history of the area had played a part in this?  

Silky 'skillz' riding the little barriers
The race went well.  Super fast!  The gun went and we launched.  A fast start saw me maybe a third from the back - pretty good for me.  However, the this didn't last and for the first lap or so I slowly went backwards!  Eventually, once the tunnel vision, palpitations and faintness kicked in big time I just had to slow down.  However, I eventually settled into my rightful place about 10 from the back and dug in to hold my place.  Lapped several times by the leaders (as per normal if I'm fair) I churned away - fending off those behind me, even if I lacked the omph to chase anyone down - to 107th.  I was spent by the end - 11.7miles seems a long way in a cross race to me.

I had a wail of a time.  Dig in at the Dock was well organised, had a great course and was a great race.  A special mention should go to the supporters who made an absolute racket with cowbells ets - and even a trombone - oh and a Salsa band, for the entire race.  All credit to them, they created a right atmos.

I can't wait until next year now!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Ilkley Charity CX and North of England Championships

Well I think it's official - I'm getting slower!  To be fair, the realisation has been creeping up on me for a while, but I've essentially chosen to ignore the fact and bury my had in the sand.  So... why?  Well, a number of factors have contributed over the last couple of years, but I guess the main two are:  Family/new babies, resulting in lack of miles basically, oh and sleep and life in general, and a free and easy attitude to eating and drinking equalling weight gain!  Probably weak excuses I know...

Pleased with my new frame but silly slippy down seat post spoilt my day a tad

Yesterdays North of England Championships in York really emphasised my current lack of any fitness, and was allied to a lack of machine prep! Although excited by the purchase of a new frame, some frantic last minute and late night spannering and corner cutting, in order to get the new whip ready, produced an untested, and perhaps less than race ready, machine!  Lap one, and the partly botched cost cutting wrong sized seat post, and I think wrong sized shim, slipped drastically! My saddle ended up on top of the cross bar and swivelling about!  Pedalling away with my knees under my chin and bum wiggling in the breeze was a killer!  It didn't really matter because I was already drifting off the back of the rather rapid pack due to the aforementioned total lack of ability!  I suppose in retrospect I should have popped into the pits - I'm sure someone would have lent me an Allen Key - but I didn't, so plodded away to the end, burning thighs and all.  I didn't really have anyone to race, so not really much to report on that front, but it was a nice little circuit non the less, on the typical York geology soft to firm brown 'is it sand, is it clay, is it silt' glacial deposits - not very muddy really.  And of course the Here Come the Belgian crowd are always on hand for a chat, make you laugh, comfort and generally cheer you up, so not all was lost.

Photos here.

Prior to the North of England Champs, it was Ilkley Charity Cross:

And, following a gap year, it returned with a BANG!

Chris Parker and I dish out a tri-podding
master class
As a home coming race, it's pretty sweet.  And as I stood in the field adjacent to the Outdoor Pool, I could gaze up at the town and more or less see where I was born, where I lived and played, where I went to school, where I worked, etc.  I was very lucky to grow up in Ilkley and it filled me with pride.  And also, glancing over my shoulder at Middleton Woods, I could reminisce my early cycling days.  Days of hammering the woods on Raleigh Grifters and Burners was how I spent a lot of my childhood.  Happy days.

As opposed to the also excellent previous Ilkley CX, which was held just down the road at Nell Bank, the grounds of the Outdoor Pool and adjacent cricket pitch and woods provided far more scope for a decent and varied lap.  The organisers made full of their opportunity and utilised all the all the terrain available to create an almost 'old school' course, with some rather demanding sectors within the woods.  Logs, streams, bogs, unridable assents, it had it all.

Great Team enjoying a well deserved Leffe.
My race was a steady plod.  The vicious climb was a brilliant feature but was too much in my current state, and knocked the wind out of me every lap. Garmin/Strava say I'm pretty much trying may hardest, with the likes of 75% at threshold and 25% anaerobic being the kind of figures I'm achieving - I don't know if that's good or bad - but I don't feel like I can go much faster during a race.  However, post race, I seem fine. No aches or pain - essentially I don't feel spent?  Again, having the team around me is great. Very supportive and encouraging during these feeling sorry for myself times. So, a massive overhaul needed I feel - try to get back on track....  I seem to remember saying that in a Blog last year.  TUT!

Photos here.

Thanks to Jo Allen for the majority of the photos.