Awesome Almost Belgian Guys: Alex and William

Awesome Almost Belgian Guys: Alex and William

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Recently we had a photo of Yates on the stones. Two days later, it was the killer photo of Boonen getting down to business. Until then, Frank’s photo from that day was the best photo ever but @Harminator’s shot is better. Tom tosses the squeezed bidon. The glove-less Belgian is already on his own- it’s business time. I’ll be hard pressed not to nominate that as ride of the year and not because a few of us were actually there. The above photo is from the same day, same location, maybe a bit after Tommeke soloed by.

Alex and William are the fixers, enablers, the Mr Wolfe(s) of the spring classics. You want to see Paris-Roubaix at three different locations and two of them have to be the Arenberg Forest and Carrfour de l’Arbe? They can do that. You want to ride two classics courses with support, then watch the same two classics with an ample supply of free beer and food? It’s all in a week’s work. You want to see Museeuw naked? He is right at the top of the stairs.

There really should be more than one article just to praise Pave Cycling Classics. For 2012, they put together an itinerary to give any hardcore cyclist heart palpitations. In cooking up the 2013 Keepers Tour, they paired a museum and dinner out, stirred in three cups of Museeuw and added a slab of Ardennes.  Alex and William are the Pavé boys: one French, one Irish, one quiet, one loud. Both are great guys and very strong cyclists. I’m pretty sure they were toying with us that whole week. They were the professional guides: ride well but not too well, look after the slackers (me), and let the stronger ones have their fantasies of greatness.

When we first arrived in Lille I was amused to see that the Pavé business was run out of William’s family apartment, a little like Velominati headquarters, which is loosely based at Frank’s house. William’s mother-in-law, Genevieve, a retired French doctor and an amazing cook, was chef for the git. William, if he stops riding, will be a fat fuck. They have a business concern with a Belgian brewery, hence Malteni Beer. They have wives and employers who let them do this on the side. Did I mention they seem much too happy and young to be in this position?

One thing the Velominati have in common with Alex and William is we are doing all this because we want to share our passion for cycling. I assume they are losing more money than Velominati; passion and profit don’t seem to be good bed-fellows. But maybe that makes it more fun. We came back from a morning museum trip (relax, it was a cycling museum) and Johan Museeuw’s car was parked at the git. Mama Mia, you mean Museeuw is inside our place? We were immediately reduced to giggling teenagers. And Johan Museeuw is a very nice guy! He immediately put on his Velominati t-shirt and was ready to joke, tell us we were too fat, abuse us about The Rules. We all sat down to lunch with him. If he had then answered his ever-ringing phone, bolted for the car and driven away we still would have considered it an amazing Museeuw day but he didn’t. There was lunch, there was a naked Museeuw as he changed into kit, there was a RIDE, and there were beers afterward. We spent an afternoon with Johan Museeuw, all thanks to Alex and William.

I made one big mistake which was to drag my bike to Belgium and back. It’s expensive but more importantly it was a real pain in the ass, with multiple legs and stop-overs. The Pavé’s custom steel Cyfac bikes are perfect for the routes. None of the few flats and mechanicals we experienced were on the Cyfac bikes. Their bikes are well maintained and all running 27mm Vittoria Pavé sew-ups, with some SRAM and some Shimano components.

We all had a long week of memorable experiences but it’s Alex and William who really impressed me the most from this trip. They both have cool sounding full- time jobs in the French bike industry. They are doing these Pavé tours because they are as excitable as we are. Alex has done the L’Eroica Strade Bianche on a 1910 fixed gear beast. He loves cycling in all forms- no rules, no snobbery for him. William, our leader who rode at the front of all our rides is a racer, who looked as good at the end as he did at the start. And he is a lot of fun to travel with, always ready to deliver some abuse with a smile. The two of them kept their humor and patience with this large group of agitators on the road, in the van, and at the dinner table. By their actions they reminded me, it’s the love of cycling that’s really important, not Obeying The Rules.

 

// Keepers Tour

  1. Great post @Gianni.

    William and Alex are great guys who couldn’t do enough for us at Keepers Tour 2012. This trip made me truly appreicate the sport of cycling. The experience was even better for sharing it with like-minded souls. I still can’t believe what we got up to in just 8 days.

    If any of you have ever considered doing the cycling trip of a lifetime, make KT 2013 that trip!

    Do it! Sign up now! You WILL NOT regret it.

  2. Hey Everyone! Thank you, Gianni! This is such a compelling piece as it re-ignites all the giddy memories of last spring!  I miss you guys!  There are very few days that go by when I’m not sharing a story or daydreaming of the Belgian countryside!?! If I listen carefully, I’ll also hear William in the background, cueing me in on what’s up ahead.

    It literally took months for the pain to completely dissolve from my fingers, and this was an unusual pain.  Unusual in that I welcomed it.  Every clenching fist formed white knuckles and big, silly grin.

    This is a true, genuine experience – an experience that will not be discovered or enjoyed anywhere else in Belgium.  Yes, to be there is grand – amazing, but to be there with Alex and William as your hosts is truly remarkable.  Even if you only go once, you’ll be riding high for years to come.

    I cannot rave from any higher of a cobbled climb than that – you’ll wake up more impressed and inspired than the day before.  You’ll leave a changed person from the new friendships and the vivd memories, forever riding the crest, in the big ring, of course.

    Viva Pavé Cycling Classics!  Thank you, Alex and William!

  3. Oh, might as well include this – my journal from the KT 2012, including a crapload of action shots!  The writing may not be the best, but you’ll at least enjoy the photos?! Enjoy!

    http://www.cruisingthecobbles2012.blogspot.com

  4. @McEnroe Mark

    @Bianchi Denti

    Thanks for checking in lads. Yeah, words fail to communicate the awesomeness of finally being in Belgium and Northern France in early April. It was a first for me. It’s also cool William and Alex are ready to do it again too. Maniacs.

    Mark, you go a lot of nice photos and a great blog. Well done.

  5. William’s mother-in-law was chef for the git.

    This sentence makes it appear as if she only cooked for Frank.

    She also made great meals for the rest of us as well.

  6. @G’rilla

    Classic!!

    Ah, those two smiling faces, one laughing with us, the other laughing at us, but hiding it serenely – such a great trip, will miss it terribly second time around

    Sorry Fronk, but   :o(

  7. @Gianni

    @Dan_R

    Cyfac – will be available at the Café Roubaix Bicycle Studio in Cochrane, AB. Coming soon! Fuck I shit you not. Come and buy two of them, even three. I need to ride the Keepers Tour, so buy a BH too.

    Gianni, great props and the guys. Beer, Lions, and Classics – FUCK YEAH!

    You are carrying Cyfac at your new shop? Far out. Can’t wait to see some photos of the place. You better sell some stuff and come on the Keepers Tour. Call it a bidness expense.

    I second Gianni’s thoughts here.  I ended up renting a Cyfac from the Pave’ boys for my ride in France in June and it was a BEAUTY!  They requested all my measurements ahead of time, came to my hotel and personally fitted it to me the day before the ride and then picked it up at my hotel after the ride.  UNBELIEVABLE service!  And all for cheaper than it would have cost to fly with it.  Top-fooook’in notch service!

  8. @William

    Hi Gianni,

    What a pleasant surprise. Thank you for your kind words.

    I’ve just finished gluing some cross tubs on for a race this weekend. I was afraid of not looking Flemish if I didn’t turn up with tubs.

    Can’t wait for next April.

    Ride the crest!

    William

    I don’t know who you are, but stop impersonating William.  This email is far too polite, there is no swearing, and it isn’t ALL IN CAPITALS to signify how fucken LOUD his voice is for this to be truly from our William.  It also isn’t interspersed with Fook!  or Let’s boogie! or You cooonts! all the way through.  He must have turettes. 

    “Ride the crest”… awesome.  I’m with @McEnroe Mark…. my hands HURT all the way through to October.  Now, I have to really concentrate to feel the pain, but it is still there, deep down in the joints of my fingers… I call it bone bruising.  But searching for it is worth it… it brings a smile to my face everytime I remember that mad week in April.  I also remember Alex V and William cycling effortlessly from the back of the bunch to the front, back again, forwards… marshalling, corralling, berating, cajoling all us pave first timers to keep going and keep the rubber side down on the cobbles

    Good article Gianni… and great memories

  9. @G’rilla

    William’s mother-in-law was chef for the git.

    This sentence makes it appear as if she only cooked for Frank.

    She also made great meals for the rest of us as well.

    Probably down to you guys in the states not getting enough French in school.  One doesn’t pronounce the last letter of a word so it’s “gitte” not “git”.   Pronounced jeet starting like Jalaber.

  10. @Buck Rogers

    That is very useful to know…

  11. @Buck Rogers

    I second Gianni’s thoughts here. I ended up renting a Cyfac from the Pave’ boys for my ride in France in June and it was a BEAUTY! They requested all my measurements ahead of time, came to my hotel and personally fitted it to me the day before the ride and then picked it up at my hotel after the ride. UNBELIEVABLE service! And all for cheaper than it would have cost to fly with it. Top-fooook’in notch service!

    Yeah as much as I would want to experience these great rides on *my* bike, the thought of traveling logistics for it would frustrate the fuck out of me.

    And remember that Frank nearly lost his bike in transit?? No thank you!

    When I’m lucky enough to travel for rides, I think I’ll bring my saddle and pedals, and leave the rest at home.

    (Got that Gianni? Maui 2014 – you better have a sweet bike setup waiting for me, even though we’ve never met…)

  12. @snoov

    !&@^@%@* where were you when I was proof reading this? I was a little altered when I was doing that as it happened during the US election results.

    @mcsqueak

    I’ve got you covered, Maui-wise.

    Yeah, with multiple stops and hotels, dragging bike box around becomes tedious quickly.

  13. @Dan_R

    Cyfac – will be available at the Café Roubaix Bicycle Studio in Cochrane, AB. Coming soon! Fuck I shit you not. Come and buy two of them, even three. I need to ride the Keepers Tour, so buy a BH too.

    Gianni, great props and the guys. Beer, Lions, and Classics – FUCK YEAH!

    Are you stocking Cyfac bikes or do you measure and order for the custom made machines? I didn’t know if they sold stock sizes.

  14. @Gianni

    Haha, I was only kidding about you actually having a bike for me. But the VMH and I will be on your island for a few days in 2014 before joining her family on another island, and I’m serious about a ride and beer drinking. So we’ll have to chat about it when the times comes.

  15. @mcsqueak  If I’m still alive in 2014 I’ll still drink beer and ride so bring it on!

  16. @Gianni

    @Buck Rogers

    @Dan_R

    Cyfac – will be available at the Café Roubaix Bicycle Studio in Cochrane, AB. Coming soon! Fuck I shit you not. Come and buy two of them, even three. I need to ride the Keepers Tour, so buy a BH too.

    Gianni, great props and the guys. Beer, Lions, and Classics – FUCK YEAH!

    Are you stocking Cyfac bikes or do you measure and order for the custom made machines? I didn’t know if they sold stock sizes.

    Cyfac does do stock sizes. Although, the steel custom frames are tres bonne. Right now it look like I will be doing BH, Cinelli, Marinoni, and Time to start. Cyfac is carreid by the Time distributor, so I will have access to them. I will see how my initial stock goesd before bringing in a demo, but I like them. A lot.

    @Tobin
    I will be all over the posts when I open, so stay tuned. Oh, and while you’re at it, get the word out to your riding buddies, etc! Please & thank you. (Saw you liked the FB page -thanks)

  17. Gianni, Gianni, you are pushing all my buttons whilst pushing this drug of choice for the V community. We who sit here after the first snow trying to figure out how to stay fit and make a living that will support more that 3 bikes and a habit are barely holding it together reading your Belgium bike porn stories…

    So here are the choices:

    1) sign up with the credit card, do not tell Mrs. Wife, get on plane and never come back.

    2) sell said wife, pay half with credit card, get on plane and hope interpole is not waiting at the Belgium border.

    3) wait like a dog in front of its empty bowl for the new Keepers Tour to finish so that you can bask in the images/stories of the glory/pain/fun that you all will have…

    I think the choice is clear? So jealous but happy for all who get to go!

  18. @Rob

    Gianni, Gianni, you are pushing all my buttons whilst pushing this drug of choice for The V community. We who sit here after the first snow trying to figure out how to stay fit and make a living that will support more that 3 bikes and a habit are barely holding it together reading your Belgium bike porn stories…

    So here are the choices:

    1) sign up with the credit card, do not tell Mrs. Wife, get on plane and never come back.

    2) sell said wife, pay half with credit card, get on plane and hope interpole is not waiting at the Belgium border.

    3) wait like a dog in front of its empty bowl for the new Keepers Tour to finish so that you can bask in the images/stories of the glory/pain/fun that you all will have…

    I think the choice is clear? So jealous but happy for all who get to go!

    Yeah, it’ll be hell without the wife for a bit, but we’ll survive.

  19. Thanks to William & Alex for one awesome week! I can’t imagine how you could top that experience but I’m sure you will.  I’m still living off the memories. Often I hit a patch of rough asphalt and I know how to ride it, full power, slightly off the seat, let the bike move under you like Boonen. Ride the crest!

    Here is my entry in the best cycling photo ever (at least it would have been if some c@$# hadn’t put their arm out to take a photo)

  20. @Rigid Spot on! That guy is a c@$#!

    What’s the word for the uninitiated? WHatever, they will never understand the need to vacation in Belgium in the early Spring.

  21. @Rigid if we are comparing our Carrefour de l’Arbre porn stashes, here’s take memory of Boonen rockin’ the pavé… And O’Grady in pre-race recon…

    And let’s not forget this guy…

    It is such a good shot (by that pro photographer who followed us around all day), I’ve almost forgiven you for coming past me in the Roubaix velodrome to take line honours…

  22. OK, with photo this time

  23. Reading this reminded me what a great trip that was.  Agree that William and Alex are first rate guys. And Malteni isn’t a bad beer, either!

    I’ll include a photo which is much less artistic, but is of my rental bike, a Pavé Cycling Classics Cyfac as you guys have been discussing.

  24. @roadslave

    OK, with photo this time

    This is not good, not only am I having to watch people have enormous fun smashing their guns on the pave….some are choosing to do it sans gloves!  I feel about 3ft tall and standing in a puddle of piss….Chapeau!

  25. @gianni Lugging awasn’t round the world wasn’t much fun but neither was lugging mine from the station ion the French side of Commines to the Belgian side (The only way to Leper by train) especially having chucked everything in the bike bag because I wasn’t flying and worrying about excess baggage!

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