Frans races the muddy forest tracks in the Belgian Nationals

As Covid-19 spread across Europe, mountain biker Frans Claes faced lockdown.  The former Belgian champion, who competed in the Championships again just days ago, knew this was an opportunity to adapt and to help out.

“Together with my riding buddy we did some longer rides and charity work with the bicycle. For example, we delivered mask clips to hospitals and started our own charity program to support the NGO songo.info in South Africa.”

However, the uncertainty made it difficult to plan for an event, such as the recent National Championships.

The week before the race saw heavy rain and temperatures dropping from 25 to 5 degrees Celcius.

“This type of weather isn’t my favourite condition, but I tried to protect myself with the right clothing and warming body oils” Frans told us. “From the start the pace was high and after 1/3th of the race we were left with the three strongest riders. Till 25km from the finish lines I believed I would win the race, but at the end the cold wet weather knocked me down.”

Losing time in that last 15km left Frans in third. 

“I was freezing cold crossing the finish line after battling 87km myself through the dark and muddy Ardennes forests, Although I didn’t win I am happy and proud with my performance and result in weather conditions that don’t suit me so well.” 

Frans turned vegan in 2009.

“My main reason was for the climate and the effects meat production has on the climate, the nature and its ecosystems. Second, for the animals that have to suffer and to die for the human need for animal products. Third, because we save a lot of energy and can feed more people in this world if we want to.”  

In the lead up to the race he ate easy to digest carbohydrates like “pumpkin and potato mash, pasta with tomato sauce and cereals with plant based milk. As a dessert I fuelled myself with apple mouse mixed with soy yoghurt topped with maple syrup.”

 Frans’ profile

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