It must have been sometime in the eighties. The annual “kermesse” race in my hometown had just that little something extra that year. There was an Australian rider participating. And they said he was going to become one of the best!
I don’t know why, but that one time Phil Anderson came racing around our town square has somehow found a permanent place in my memory. In other ways, the event was not particularly different from the other, traditionally much anticipated editions of the race. A lot of people packed behind crush barriers, the smell of sausages and fries, the salty aftertaste of the typical dried fish that made a lot of spectators go for a drink in the overcrowded bars…and, of course, the riders whooshing by every ten minutes or so, shouting, snorting and sneezing.
I don’t remember who won the race that year, and I can’t seem to find the results on the Internet. After all, those were the days that you either went out on the parcours or stayed at home to watch a race, glued to your TV screen. There were hardly any analog recordings, let alone digital ones or YouTube.
The best Sundays of my youth were the ones when my dad and I saw Eddy Planckaert win Paris-Roubaix, or when we were both moved by the images of Edwig Van Hooydonck shedding tears on the podium of the Tour of Flanders.
What does all this have to do with BEAT Cycling Club? Everything. Cycling is emotion. Cycling is about creating memories. It brings people together and marks the moments worth remembering. And that is exactly what this project does. Only more so than other teams seem to do.
Becoming a member of BEAT makes you part of the same club as the riders you support. It allows you to help decide where the team is headed. It gives you the opportunity to experience cycling on the highest level from inside the sport.
I am also convinced that this will keep people attached to the team. Aside from a few exceptions, there are not so many long-term projects in cycling. What a pity. And what a waste. Bringing together an entire team time and again, looking for riders, staff and funding, only to discover that the story ends once more after a few years, usually because the sponsor has achieved its objectives or can no longer contribute the necessary budget.
This has to stop, if you ask me. In my job I often deal with issues relating to branding and brand identity, being relevant as a company, and building lasting relationships between organizations and people. Here too, BEAT Cycling Club offers a potential solution for the many problems cycling is faced with today.
So let me ask you: how could I not get involved?