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...
The last few weeks we’ve been catching up with the young men who are out there in the Heartlands across Europe ‘doing it’ – Brittany, Lombardy and of course, Flanders. Englishman Ross Lamb – another man supported by the stalwart David Rayner Fund – has been notching up the results in the Flatlands: 4th in Heusden-Zolder, 2nd at Pulderbos, 2nd at Booischot, 3rd in the Memorial Vanconinsloo, 3rd at Huldenberg, 2nd at Geetbeets and 2nd in Linden Lubbeek.
The beginning of April finally marked the start of my 2017 race season in Belgium, after a long winter’s preparation. An unfortunate issue with the team’s accommodation arrangements for the year meant I had to head home unexpectedly immediately after arriving in Belgium, and this knocked me a bit sideways mentally for a while.
One result which caught our eye recently was a win in the InterClub race at Zandhoven over 138 K where Englishman Jake Scott beat Stef Vermeulen of KWC Heist Zuiderkempen to take the win. InterClubs are ‘big deal’ races and the pro teams keep a close eye on the results – naturally, they’re not easy to win.
If you’re not on one of the National Federation programmes there’s only one way to catch the eye and sign that coveted first pro contract. That is, either as an individual or with your team you head for Belgium, France or Italy and fight for results. It’s the time honoured way, good enough for Tom Simpson, Robert Millar and David Millar. A name which caught our eye recently in the Belgian kermises was 23 year-old Aussie, Jayden Copp (Bianchi DCM Arbitrage) with two fourth places, a second then a win. Well worth a word we thought.
On the 28th March my Asfra Racing Team (and support club) headed to Montreuil sur Mer in France. The race had the mixed characteristics of a race in France, a Belgium kermesse and almost like a criterium in the UK. 23 laps of a 3.8km circuit was the order for the day... oh, and I met Kurt Asle Arvesen...
Kermis Kings... Perhaps a combination of Mallorca, having a hectic time before getting out to Belgium, and a bit of illness and settling down in Belgium, but for the first few weeks certainly I have been feeling rather lethargic.
Hamish Haynes: Hi folks, I'm very happy with the progress I have been making here, I'm confident of now delivering the required results. I've been having a lot of fun racing and training getting some really good sessions done, with a very positive feeling on the bike. It's not all gone my way though...
Hi folks, Hamish Haynes here. Let's bring you up to speed with my season so far: In mid-February, just before returning from winter training in Spain I picked up a hamstring strain; at that moment it wasn't clear what had exactly happened. I assumed it was a minor niggle that would quickly recede, within a few days I realized a scan was necessary, fortunately it revealed only a minor muscle elongation.
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.
When Scottish Cycling Endurance Coach and seven times Scottish Road Race Champion, Evan Oliphant gets in touch to tell us there’s a junior rider named Callum Thornley that we should be speaking to, we snap to attention.
When Jos Ryan of the David Rayner Fund gets in touch then we know it’s not just to ask how we are. ‘Have you been keeping up with our rider, Toby Perry’s performances in Spain, he’s just had his second win?’ Fortunately for us, we could reply in the affirmative.
If you watched Stage One of the Giro on Eurosport or GCN then you’ll have heard that someone had the great idea to recruit British professional rider, Dan Bigham to join the commentary team as a ‘chrono specialist.’ Here at VeloVeritas we thought it would be good to put to Dan all those sad questions that trouble bike obsessives like us.
John Watson started racing at 18 years-of-age in 1966, his first race was a ‘25’ which he won with a 1:00. By the following year he was National ‘100’ Champion; in 1968 he went to the Mexico Olympics; in 1969 he set a 12 hour record which stood for a decade; 1970 saw him set a ‘50’ record which sliced nearly four minutes of the previous fastest time for the distance and lasted for 13 years, win the BBAR, get fourth place in the prestigious GP de France time trial and get offered a place with ACBB.