First and most importantly how are you and your loved ones doing?
Well basically we’re fine, but my dad just got hospitalized for a regular treatment and we couldn’t go to visit him because of covid-19 safety measures. Luckily he was out in 3 days.
Do you see what is going on in Belgium a good or bad thing compared to what is happening in the UK?
I’m no health expert, so I’m not in the best position to judge that, but I got the impression that the Belgian approach to the whole situation was quicker and more thought through. The one thing that is clear to me that the liberalization of health care and dismantlement of quality public health care is a disaster and I think the UK and the US are proving that right now.
You have a new website would you like to tell us a little information and where people can find it?
Sure! We just released the Wildhood (www.wildhood.eu) website . The website will not only feature our own activities (rides, clubrides, campouts, bikepackers & workshops) but will also have a “logbook” section. In this logbook we want to post exclusive content on adventure cycling (no, we’re not going to define that for anyone), outdoor culture, sustainable living and related creative culture.
Have you been able to get out and ride much?
Actually yes, I’ve been riding more than ever, like almost every day and it’s helping me out a lot to keep my sanity. I’ve been doing short rides & longer rides but I miss the riding in the Ardennes & the Eifel, since we’re not allowed to take the car and drive up there. So I am definitely looking forward to that.
Tell us a little about your bike and current setup?
Last year I bought a Specialized Sequoia Pro Module frameset and build it up myself with a 650b wheelset. It has a SRAM Force Groupset and I let Tim from Steil cycles in Ghent make a custom wheelset for it (Hope rs4, Sapim D-light spokes and DT swiss GR 531’s). Usually I would be all for buying a frameset of a smaller, artisanal company, but the geometry and the fact that Eric Nohlin designed it won me over. I’ve also been riding my Holdsworth roadbike a lot the last couple of weeks.
What are you currently working on and what do you have lined up for the future?
Wildhood’s like a lean organization, simply because we’re grassroots and don’t do big events. Although we can’t actually do what we were about to do, we have prepared some Summer Social club rides. We’ll be doing some day-rides in the Belgian province of Luxemburg, a place rather known for mountainbiking but less for gravel riding. It’s a beautiful area with steep gradients, it’s hard to find any gravel over there, but it’s just great rough stuff riding, with the occasional hike-a-bike and some hand-bagging. Normally our day-rides max out at 65 participants but we want to keep these rides more intimate and max out at 20 participants, which is allowed by the government and is also responsible in these times.
When you look at the photos from the Rough Stuff Archive and the bikes they use do you think the commercialisation of gravel and bike-packing has taken anything away for simple exploration?
Yeah I think so. To be really honest the current state of gravel riding and how it will probably develop has not much to do with exploration and it will probably develop like all the mtb events developed the last two decades. It’s just people wanting to ride their bikes fast on weekends and go home. That off course is fine, but it doesn’t rock my boat. That’s why I started Wildhood in the first place, simple off-road riding with like-minded souls, who think it’s not only about the ride, but also about experiencing the outdoors and about meeting other people.
Do you think with the amount of events being cancelled the gravel/bike-packing scene is going to change?
Hard to say what’s going to happen I think. I think we’ll probably see more local exploring for the next couple of months and that’s probably a good thing.
What is the one positive thing you have been able to take from the current lock down?
I picked up my roadbike a lot more and it feels good to do that right now, because it’s easier to cover bigger distances from home. Plus it’s great to pick up some speed again and a welcome change to the more slower paced off-road riding.
What are you looking forward to doing first when life returns to normal after lock down?
A lot of things actually! Most importantly it will feel great to interact with the family in a normal way again: hugs, kisses, family dinners and all that stuff, I’ve been missing that. Seeing friends and having a good time, coffee rides. So much things. Adventure wise I just want to get out with the bike and sleep under the stars, ride up hills and mountains, get lost in forests …
Have you learnt any new skills or started any new hobbies/activities?
I’ve been working on our website and that was kind of new to me, but looking at the outcome, I’m really pleased with it. I also sharpened my cooking skills, I’ve always loved cooking but now I feel like I got plenty of time to cook each day, sometimes I’ve even been cooking twice a day. A good meal and a craft beer a day, hopefully keeps the doctor away!