Smaakmakers banned from cyclo-cross


For the lucky few that can read and understand Dutch I can really recommend the cycling columns Rob de Haan writes for He writes about fun/interesting facts in contemporary and historic cycling.


For those whose languistic abilities do not surpass Fringlish I improved the google translation of one of his latest columns.

Sport = Entertainment

He loved his fans. When he saw his loyal supporters along the track during a race, this rider often stopped to chat with them. In order to complete the atmosphere, he drank a beer with them.
He didn’t care that he was lapped by the other cyclocross riders in the meantime. The audience didn’t expect compelling solos, sharp sprints or technical feats from Flemish Rikske Meyhi. He had other skills with which he could entertain the spectators during a race. He could for example tell a series of jokes he heard in a bar recently.

Final lap
Meyhi only got interested in the proceeding of the race, when the leader was doing the final lap. Then it was time for his most famous trick. He waited at a strategic spot. When the leader passed, Meyhi sprinted to his rear wheel, and managed to be just behind the winner when that rider reached the finish. That is why on the finish photo’s of the great cyclocross champion of that time, Roland Liboton, it is possible to admire Rikske Meyhi in an absurd number of occasions.

You can’t deny Meyhi a high level of professionalism: he always made sure that the name of his sponsor was legible on the finish photo’s. When this clown became a cult hero, he was naturally followed by other riders who did not have the physical gifts of a professional athlete and had therefore looked for alternative ways to excel. Take Wilfried Maes for example, who once rode a cyclocross dressed up as Zwarte Piet and handed out cookies to spectators during the race.

Using the motto "Sport = entertainment!" many Cyclo-cross race organizers loved to see riders appear at the start, who pulled more pranks during a cross than the average comedian during a during a cross trying to get more jokes than the average comedian during a performance. Many spectators saw cyclo-cross as a circus. This circus was not really complete with only cycling acrobats flashing past, the topcrossers, it needed at least one of those clowns trudging through the mud too. The Belgian Cycling Union was not so happy with the followers of Meyhi. The union has been trying for years to make clear to foreign countries that the cyclo-cross sport that is very popular in Flanders, is not "Flemish folklore ', not' Flemish Fair", not "circus", but a professional sport.

Taking measures
Years ago there a measure was taken against riders who wanted to copy the old finish trick of Meyhi: if a rider is lapped by the leader, that person is taken from the race. Last year, an additional bond measure was taken to ward the clowns from cyclo-cross. Through a points system there are sporting requirements for the riders, to be allowed to start in a so-called A-Cross.
One of the last heirs of Rikske Meyhi seems to be Freddy de Meester. This clown has as a unique selling point, that during the course he uses a bicycle bell to let his supporters know that he arrives.

Because he is now 50 years old and it is increasingly difficult to get the right to even start in large Crosses, Freddy de Meester announced that on February 3, 2010 he will cross his farewell ride. It seems, then, to the regret of many organizers and supporters, but to the relief of the union, that the tradition of Rikske Meyhi will come to an end.



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