Monday, August 8, 2011

Lionel Syne - Our Belgian Compatriot

Lionel, in all his glory. A brief history of Lionel and how he changed the lives a few privileged few. For those who don't remember Lionel, he spent about 2+ years (2001ish - 2003ish) living in Santa Cruz on a sabbatical from his hometown of Stavelot, Belguim. Of true Belgian racing stock, this guy grew up and rode with the likes of Phillipe Gilbert, Mario Aerts, Nico Mattan, et al. We got to know Lionel, as he rode for The Spokesman, during it's height.

In 2002, Lionel had to return home to deal with Visa issues, and invited a group of us to come over for a cycling odyssey. We could not have planned a better experience. Me, Apple, Mike, Dave, Sean, Ralph, Jeff, Ana, and the late Pat (we miss you), were delivered into the realm.

A brief synopsis: flew into Brussels, picked up by Lionel and Ana, Who had arrived earlier, headed to Stavelot, put up with friends and family, day 2 - raced in a local Kermesse (got our asses handed to us with smiles), rode roads used in Liege-Bastogne-Liege for 5 days.

Then, packed up donated vans, drove to Switzerland to stay in family friend's apartment in Villars (near Lusanne), rode in the Swiss Alps (words can't describe) on roads used in Tour of Switzerland for 9 days, packed up vans, headed to France to watch Tour stages.

Rode Col de Madelaine, viewed stage (unreal!), viewed lower slopes on stage onto Les Duex Alps following day, got picture taken by Graham Watson (what?), rode Alpe Duez in the afternoon (unreal!), stayed the night there, drove back to Stavelot, rode more, spent afternoon and evening in Amsterdam (trip), came home. Accomodation expenses total = approx $150!!!! for 3 weeks.

Everyone that took part on this trip may get teary eyed thinking about it. It was seamless - we didn't have to think about anything. We just showed up and road and experienced Europe in several flavors.

This was all thanks to our Belgian friend, Lionel Syne. I vow to get back over the pond to visit Lionel knowing he would welcome us with open arms. Anyone interested? A Steel Wül Belgian Classics trip should be discussed.


  1. Let's do it. We have a few friends that run tours over there or we could do our own thing. Next year is 10 years from that trip if you can believe it.

  2. sounds like such an amazing experience you guys had. sign me up for the nest one.