One of the most popular quotes among travelers-“the mountains are calling and I must go” and that’s what Marcel Lefebvre from Belgium did, he simply answered the call with an élan!!! We at Crank bring you the inspiring story of Marcel’s cycling adventures, that started in 1992, when heentered the great family of the Club AudaxTournai in Belgium and found the B.R.M. (Brevets des Randonneurs Mondiaux) and at sixty there is no looking back, he is getting stronger and more adventurous!!
“Like many beginners, my first participation ended in extreme suffering, the last 70 km I rode in 10 hours to complete it with in time. Then Icame back stronger by learning from my mistakes and since then I have never suffered to finish a B.P.B or a B.R.M. Now I have a lot of fun to finish not much tired and fully enjoy the ambience of the arrival while waiting for friends behind me.”
In the last couple of years Marcel has not only completed 3 PBP’s (1999, 2003 & 2007 ) but has also done rides extensively through Europe and Asia. His membership with a cycling-tourist club was the trigger to travel out of his home country, Belgium. He started with France, climbing the passes of Tour de France. In doing so, he discovered a rather original cycling brotherhood, the club of the Cent Cols (http://www.centcols.org/). To be part of it, you have to climb 100 officially recognized passes including 5 passes over 2000m.
“It is a game, one quickly tries to increase their collection, and ride in other mountainous countries, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland for example. To date, I have climbed 1598 passes, of which 84 were more than 2000 meters in altitude.”
The next adventure came in 2008 when he joined a team of 101 cyclists, including 21 women riders, riding from Paris to Beijing. The group covered a total of 12,623 km travelling from Europe and passing over to Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China from West to East. A journey like this can be overwhelming and in Marcel’s own words “After such a journey, one feels cramped in small Belgium and I only remember one thing, it is the smile of the people crossed all the way and the spontaneous welcome”
Marcel is now based in Thailand and since 2009 has travelled extensively across Southeast Asia from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma and Thailand. The BRM established in Thailand through the creation of the AudaxRandonneurs Thailand has given him new opportunity to travel through Thailand and an opportunity to get to know the Thai cyclists. “It is always a joy for me to find a lot of known heads despite the helmet and glasses, and to make new friends.”
Marcel, is a very humble man and that’s evident in the way he has chosen his bikes. “When I see now all my cycling friends sporting new bikes last models in aluminum, chromoly, carbon, titanium, I smile thinking of my first bikes that were always second hand until the age of 30 years. Often unsuitable. Gradually, I expanded my range of bikes, only 2 years ago I finally bought anOrbea Carbon and I appreciate its flexibility. One important point is that all of my road bikes are equipped with a triple chain ring.”
Marcel prefers to ride solo at his own pace and does not follow a squad of cyclists riding faster than him “I know my cruising speed, I keep reserves and keep my strength especially during long distances. On the other hand, everyone can follow me at my regular speed between 20/24 kmph, without much effort.”
To sum it up, Marcel calls himself a ‘Bike Addict’ in his words “I hang! I’m on a cloud! I often forget to turn to a crossroads or accelerate unconsciously and forget about my companions”