Flandrian. While its real definition is a lot more complex than I’d ever imagined, it’s a word that is bandied about frequently here in relation to weather matters far less serious.

If it’s bucketing down, a stiff breeze blowing or the air has that frosty bite to it, we are inclined to state “It’s a bit Flandrian out there”.

Of course the image of ‘Flandrian’ we conjure in our minds is something like this:


The hardmen of Belgium, from the region of Flanders in particular, slogging it out for hours on end in the harsh northern climes, eating mouthfuls of mud mixed with animal waste from the ancient farm ‘roads’, surfaces which were never intended for fragile bicycle wheels to traverse, but rather wooden cart wheels to be dragged along by cloven hooves.

We wish we could be as resilient as the Flemish, but concede that if the weather is any more inclement than which we rode in last weekend, when only a light rain jacket is required, the roads get no bumpier than a layer of gravel on top of the hot-mix and the tips of our ears are easily warmed by a cotton cap, alas the spirit of Tchmil*, De Vlaeminck or Van Petegem will not be invoked.

To paraphrase Fugazi, Flandrian is just a word, but I use it.

*While you may say “but Tchmil was Russian”, he embraced the Spring Classics and extolled the Belgian hardman ethos so passionately that he became one of them. “People are cynical when I talk about Belgium. They think I’m only Belgian on paper. That is not true. Yes, I was a Russian, even a proud one…. Now I am proud to be Belgian.”


Related Posts

6 Replies to “Flandrian”

  1. Indeed, the Belgians are hard people, as are the Dutch. I have to say, riding in Seattle is much like living in northern Europe from a weather perspective. We have little ice, but 9 months of the year we have high winds, dark skies, and wet roads. Those of use who ride on those days become very fond of our shoe covers and knee warmers and, I can assure you, I am never snobbish with my nods on those days. We are all of the same ilk, those who ride in the rain.

    All that aside, the photo you posted here is the perfect example of what these men are about. I can not imagine the horror of riding those roads, let alone to race them. That is why the Spring Classics remain for me the best time of year.

  2. I have the Tchmil quote of quotes. He is a Hard Man.
    “I ride to win, winning is the reason for my existence. That’s what I always think at the first races of the season, when I notice the opponents are younger once more. At the first races in the South of France I saw them again: all the new pros who will ride their first pro races. All with high expectations, fresh ambitions, high hopes, shaved legs. Then they see a guy like me: a bit selfish, calm, very experienced, stubborn, self-assured. In a way of speaking I could have been their father. I never wanted to upset their balance, but they should know that it is a new world they are entering. But that is what they know two days later when the first dreams are shattered. I wish them good luck though, but nothing more. Besides, we are opponents, aren’t we?” – Andre Tchmil

  3. @john

    I imagine a neo-pro, entering the big lake from their little pond: feeling big and important as they just signed their fancy pro deal. Talking all winter long amongst their friends how they are going to be different from all the other pros, they have that extra edge the others lack. They are tough. They have grinta. Only to edge up to the start line at Het Volk and looking to their side to peer into the cold, calculating presence of Tchmil, Museeuw, or Ballerini. They must shrink three sizes on such a day.

  4. Nice qoute John. Hard Man indeed.

    Frank, those words themselves are worthy of their own presence here….

  5. Fuckyeahcobbles.  Great quotes and comments here.

    Love the way the random feature throws up gold like this, and just as the anticipation of early Spring is starting to build.  Could I suggest the ‘Popular’ feature on the front page be set to generate the posts with the most comments in the last, say, four weeks?  It’s very static as it is, though perhaps nice enough for those completely new to the site.

  6. I never really knew what riding like a hardman meant. Yes, I have ridden with broken ribs and last year I rode more than 30 miles with a shattered bone in my right hand after crashing, in a mild rain, against a retaining wall on PCH. But this rainy season in So. Cal. has given a new meaning to riding like a hardman: torrential rains, wind and cold have turned our normal sunny La La Land into a mini-version of Flanders, sans the cobblestones. Riding in these conditions has been challenging and a bit scary. But at 61 years of age I can finally say I am a Flandrian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.