The Athletic is BACK! We treasure your support and appreciate your patience as we practice shipping orders straight from our house to yours.

177: The Year in Review: History


HISTORY

For the History edition I thought we would step back in time just a bit to Belgium. I knew that these photos would come in handy one day. The Flanders Museum in Oudenaarde has to be the one single spot that I set foot upon this year that advanced my Historical education of the Cycling lifestyle. Lucky for me I got to go there once with Molly while she was on her Campaign of Pain last year, and once while riding the Flanders Sportiv a few months later.


Before heading into this prestigious museum Molly and I pondered the vending machine outside. Need a flat repair kit? Or maybe you forgot your water bottle. No need to worry, they have that too. I don't really think that the thing worked though. Because even though we put in money it just kept flashing "666" which we took as our cue to slowly back away.

Then we turned around and were greeted by former Twice World Champion Freddy Maertens. When you enter the museum he acts as your first guide. He helps you choose the way that you should proceed into the depths below, and that is by choosing one of the Ronde van Vlaanderen's past winners to help guide you through. I made the mistake of saying "But Freddy, I choose you." You see, Fred has never won Flanders even though he has come extremely close more than a few times. And he was not shy about telling us about them. And then we descended to the museum below...


The Flandria car could be considered one of the highlights of the museum. It had its own section all to itself where you could check out this wonder up close. In its heyday the Flandria team — which had a lifespan of almost twenty years— had a pretty stellar cast. Everyone from Walter Godefroot, Rik Van Looy, the De Vlaeminck brothers (of which I choose Erik for his seven Cross World Championship Titles) and of course Freddy Maertens. In 1973 team was also the first team to have their components sponsored by this little Japanese manufacturer...Shimano.


Enough of that, lets move on. I loved these handlebars, but for the life of us we could not figure out why you would coat the bars with this copper wire. Or what looked to be copper wire. Maybe they would wrap the bars with this first before the usual Bennotto Tape or what have you to dampen the blows on the cobbles. Fill me in here people, this history lesson goes both ways.


There was also a long wall which showed all of the winners of RVV. Pretty amazing to see all these people lined up next to each other. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how far we have to go with our beloved Tour of California to make it a staple in the hearts and minds of the American people. I would venture to guess that we would also have to create a tough as nails one day classic as well (Battenkill?).


Shit, I did not even get to the Jerseys. Vintage Jerseys lining the walls wherever you turn. I have been to a few museums in my day but never one so dedicated to the art of the bike race than the the RVV in Oudenaarde. If you get the chance, or are in the area, make the trip. There is also a full-er set on Flickr.

Oh yeah, there were some gloves with this guy Eddy's name on them. I think they call that the Dukes of Hazzard Font. Which I guess is somewhat fitting.


----------------------------------------
Editors Note:
Thanks to everyone who has been writing in. It is really great to hear your thoughts and feedback as the year comes to a close. And a special thanks goes out to Geert who sent over this photo of Stephanie Clerckx to prove that they do have pretty girls in Belgium. I thought for a moment that it actually was Tom Boonen, but as a looked closer I could see that this person did in fact have boobs and therefor could not be T.B. Maybe she just borrowed his jersey?

Previous Article Next Article
Sign up for our newsletter
We know how sacred your email inbox is. The Athletic only sends meaningful emails with great journalism and fun announcements.