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A Day at the ‘Duinencross’ – the Koksijde Cyclo-Cross 2014

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It was 1975 when Dave, Ed The Pole, Don Bertram and I first sprinted up the stairs at the Kuipke to catch site of those legendary boards.

Eddy Merckx and Patrick Sercu were the star pairing, the place was bursting at the seams – God knows how we managed to get tickets.

But we did and marvelled at the noise, the speed, the cigar and cigarette smoke, the beer consumption, the Dernys and the horrors that were the toilets.

Koksijde Cyclo-Cross
The Kuipke in full swing. Photo©Ed Hood

Almost 40 years later and the biggest change is the ceiling, a white suspended job which has brightened a dingy hall up no end.

There’s no smoke now either; but just as much beer drunk and now, ‘I cannae be doing’ with the Dernys – but the crowd still love them.

And the loos are nowhere near as horrific – even though you still have to pay and the queues are massive.

Koksijde Cyclo-Cross
He’ll regret this in the morning. Photo©Ed Hood

And of course, the pils still gets the better of a few of the ‘don’t get out much brigade.’

Friday night didn’t see the best chase and on a unanimous decision we headed for frites – and beer.

Koksijde Cyclo-Cross
Our beloved Vivaldi. Photo©Ed Hood

We love the Vivaldi, the landlady, the crazy clientele, the 70’s Disco and the fact that no matter how late we stay, we’ve never seen closing time…

The Saturday of the Gent Six Day means just one thing – the big ‘cross at Koksijde.

Koksijde Cyclo-Cross
Adrie Van Der Poel preps his son’s bikes. Photo©Ed Hood

It’s only 22 years since we headed for Leeds and the World ‘cross champs; Adrie Van Der Poel took bronze behind German mountain biker turned ‘crosser Mike Kluge.

The Van Der Poel name is still in the spotlight though with young Mathieu now one of the best in the world – dad, Adrie is the mechanic, a role he seems happy with.

We figured that ’92 would be Adrie’s Worlds swansong but he went on to win in ’96 on a super-fast frozen solid course in Montreuil, France.

The race average was wearing on for 20 mph and VDP changed to a road bike for the sprint.

Koksijde Cyclo-Cross
British Champion Ian Field. Photo©Ed Hood

That weekend in ’92 was when Roger Hammond won the junior Worlds, which we missed, only going down for the professional race on the Sunday.

Ian Field flies the flag for GB these days but he wasn’t having fun in the dunes – but then not many were…

Koksijde Cyclo-Cross
Tom Meeusen’s camper and bikes. Photo©Ed Hood

Not having a camper if you’re a cross guy is the equivalent of not having a tartan sash if you were an 80’s New Romantic – it’s your badge of honour.

On teams like Fidea they ALL have a camper…