of Eddy Merckx!
There is a reason why I am standing in a small, tidy square in the quiet Brussels suburb of Woluwe St Pierre. Why my eyes keep turning toward a garage door which belongs to a building that was once a grocery store; It was through that very garage door each morning that Eddy Merckx emerged, come rain or shine, for his 120km (minimum) training ride.
Tess, my fiancée, and I had set out on the trail of Merckx a few days previously from London St Pancras. I had Daniel Friebe’s excellent Merckx biography in my hand and Tess’ tales in my ear of how, having spent her childhood in the suburb of Woluwe St Pierre, her first bike rides were up the ‘Sharp Inclines’ (I am putting that one down to poetic license and maybe never having ridden it, Daniel) of Kouter Laan, one of the climbs that threads its way through the neighbouring district of Auderghem; A climb on which Eddy Merckx also used to train in his youth. The plan was simple: Get ourselves some of the Brussels ‘Boris Bikes’ equivalents and enjoy exploring Eddy’s old stomping grounds, see the suitably understated plaque that provides the only clue as to the afore mentioned small square’s place in cycling’s folklore and which commemorates the Ogre of Tervuren’s (more than likely) never to be equaled career; And perhaps seek out some people who had memories or anecdotes of the young lad who pedaled around the streets delivering bread on his way to cycling’s firmament. Then, a coffee- maybe a beer. This is Belgium, after all. What we found was more than I could ever have hoped for.
That vintage Merckx townie is so good!