Whilst we try to keep abreast of the current race scene, it seems we’ve become a bit of a focal point for 70’s races and racers, and kermis racing. We’re not complaining… Our reader, Graham Robson was another who has shared some of his 70’s memories with us and with his kind permission we have the pleasure of sharing them with you here.
Ed Hood was in Belgium last weekend for the Gent Six Day to see the farewell to ‘t Kuipke Keizer’ Iljo Keisse and when in Belgium in November you have to go to a cyclo-cross, so Ed and his pals visited the Telenet Superprestige Merksplas, the "Flemish Strawberrycross".
One of VeloVeritas’ functions it seems is unlocking the memories of those stalwarts – like our own mentor and soothsayer, Viktor and indeed, our editor Martin - who beat a path in the 70’s and 80’s to the legendary Mrs. Deene’s boarding house in Gent (and later in Zomergem) to show those Belgies how it should be done. The latest epistle which came our way was from Norman Gower.
The late Gary Wiggins’ sister Glenda Hughes, took to social media recently to remind us that some 13 years have passed since the big Australian died under mysterious circumstances. Wiggins had many sides – depending on how you knew him – which prompted us to re-run our review of his European glory to tragic end.
The Kazemaatenstraat is part of 70's cycling legend, a condemned cul-de-sac in Ghent where penniless 'Anglo' cyclists could have a cheap roof over their heads as they pursued their (mostly lost) cause to make it big and become a ‘Kermis King.’ Manchester's Bernie Nolan was one of those riders and has kindly agreed to share a few reminiscences with us...
At the time I set off for Flanders in 1973 to live at Mrs Deene's, I only knew two people who had raced there – one of them being Stan Butler’s son Keith - who had done well enough that he had become a professional - so it was entirely word-of-mouth, a case of asking for whatever advice people could offer and setting off on the cross-channel ferry, hoping for the best.
The piece we ran recently by reader John Day about staying with Mrs Deene in Belgium aroused a lot of interest on social media but it was spread over a number of different pages and apps. We thought it would be a shame to let some fascinating and funny comments go to waste so we pulled a selection together for you.
If you had visited or raced in Gent in the 60's and 70's the chances were that you would have stayed at ‘Fat’ Albert Beurick’s "Café Den Engel", his later joint-venture with Tom Simpson five miles out of town, the "Velotel Tom Simpson" motel, or "St David’s Guest House" run by Mrs Deene, right in the very heart of the historic old centre of Gent. Reader John Day reminisces about his time there.
It must be the water in Mol in the Province of Antwerp, Belgium; not only is it Tom Boonen’s home town, it’s also the home town of the man who was in the team car behind him for so many of the ‘Tornado’s’ triumphs; Wilfried Peeters, sport director with the Deceuninck ‘Wolf Pack’ was a ‘Man of the Northern Classics’ in