Ben Berden grit.cx

Digital Magazine Preview: Ben Berden

We’re working hard to get the first issue of the grit.cx digital magazine out to you. We’ve packed plenty into this thing, and you’re going to love reading it on your tablet and/or other mobile device.

As a preview, here’s an excerpt from Greg Keller’s awesome Being Ben Berden article. It’s an oral history about the Belgian pro’s rise to the top, his fall and his metamorphosis into adventurer in the United States.

Ben grew up a farmer’s son. A horse farmer, to be accurate. They raised stallions, eventually moving to a larger farm where they could make money by providing stallion boarding and riding lessons.

Ben Berden: When I was little, there wasn’t much sport for me. Certainly not bike racing, believe it or not, as it wasn’t really popular in my area. I didn’t know who De Vlaeminck was. Heard of Merckx of course, but no posters on the wall of bike racers or soccer stars. If anything, I wanted to be a motocrosser. But my dad knew I would kill myself. So I knew it wasn’t in my plan to be the next Everts or Geboers.

Digging holes was, however, a pastime. Holes like every kid was digging around the world. Ben caught the early bug of BMX. Never racing, just riding and jumping, digging those holes to get bigger and bigger air. It was the genesis of his joy of bike driving.

Ben Berden grit.cx

Ben Berden: When I was like 14 or so, a relative of mine who was into bike racing saw me riding the BMX bikes around and said, “You should really come ride with me and the club.” So I did and went on like a 40k ride with them. I felt pretty good. It was all pretty natural for me. I was on this 49cm bike with the seat slammed to the top tube. I was tiny, but I hung on to them.

By 15 years old, the tiny Ben Berden, 5 feet 5 inches and 100 lbs when wet, showed up to try his first kermesse. Riding with the club was not exactly riding a kermesse.

Ben Berden: I showed up and these kids were huge! I said, “Where are the juniors?” and they were right in front of me. Like grown men. From the gunshot, I was dropped in the first corner.

Keep an eye out for the launch of grit.cx digital magazine for this article and much more!

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