Thursday, November 29, 2007

From 2001: "4 Americans visit the Tour - Beer and Cycling."

In 2001, while beercycling in West Flanders, we made the newspaper in Poperinge. In 2004, during the infamous Tour de Trappiste beercycling epic, most of the same fellows were filmed for Belgian television. Some day, perhaps the conversion of that file will be finished and you can see it on You Tube. Until then, the translation (by the inimitable Luc Dequidt) of the earlier newspaper article will have to do.

My co-conspirators were Tim Eads, Kevin Lowber and Bob Reed.

4 Americans visit the Tour - Beer and Cycling

Four Americans stayed this week at the Palace Hotel in Poperinge - Bob and Kevin from Kentucky, Tim and Roger from Indiana. Mainly here to sample local brews, they did not want to miss the Tour de France; they watched it from the terrace of a local pub in Lo, a more than unique experience for the four Americans.

Kentucky is mainly known for breeding horses, so horse racing is extremely popular. Indiana is more industrialized with steel industry around Lake Michigan. Needless to say that they were charmed by the peace and quiet of the Poperinge area, a cyclist's paradise. Their home states are more car orientated.

On Monday they cycled to Lo; they had never seen the Tour or any other main cycling event. American TV pays more attention to extreme sports, cycling is not one of them despite the presence of Lance Armstrong. They were impressed by the publicity caravan, carnival as they called it; a Michelin flag or Champion cap made a nice souvenir. They watched out for the American cyclists; they recognized the US Postal shirts but not who rode with a blue shirt. They strongly believe in another victory of Lance Armstrong but did not hear yet about the cooperation with the controversial Italian doctor Ferrari.

They do not speak in public about drugs. "Armstrong seems to be an honest guy." They would be very disappointed when it would appear that their hero in the Tour takes illegal products.

They do not know many names of Belgian cyclists, exception made for Tom Steels and Eddy Merckx, of course. After the Tour passed through Lo, Westvleteren was the next stop for a delicious Trappist.

Roger, Tim, Kevin and Bob already visited Poperinge in 1999 during the hop fest. Bob remembers the refreshing taste of Hommelbier and still speaks highly about the Hop Queen.

Again local real ales are the reason for staying at the Palace. Landlord Guy serves them another brew each evening in a matching glass; no less than 130 different beers are available at the Palace.
Before leaving Poperinge, they cycled up the Cassel-mountain and visited a local inn, het Kasteelhof, where another local ale was tasted.

As a salesman, Kevin introduced the Hommelbier in quite a number of American pubs and also Roger serves it in his Rich O's Public House. He will soon serve his own homebrew.

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