Koers is religie


"We were like gods for the spectators, the only gods they could see up close and with whom they could exchange a few words."

The famous words of Briek Schotte illustrate the almost religious perception of racing in Flanders. Yesterday and today. The stir the Tour of Flanders creates among supporters, the press and cyclists is perhaps the most striking example of this. On the 14th Sunday of the year, the main market square in Bruges is covered with a human tide of cycling enthusiasts. Young and old alike are there to see the joyous entry and the cycling gods being presented to the public. Once the starting signal has been given, the procession heads off toward the Flemish Ardennes, a cycling Mecca for cyclists for the space of one day. For the heroes themselves, this is the start of a gruelling ordeal, with cobbled roads, mythical hills and falls. Is is pure agony for more than a few of them. Only one is destined to reach the Summit and be praised to the skies. They have been preparing for months for this "Ritual gathering on the Flemish cycling calendar". With temperance and moderation as the sacred canon. And training as the dogma.

Cycling is a Religion. In Flanders and elsewhere. This exhibition explains why, on the basis of two routes. In the side aisles of the Father's Church visitors will discover "The Pilgrimage: a procession of cycling chapels", while in the nave they will have the opportunity to follow "The Way of the Cross: Via Dolorosa of the cyclists". On the way, you will have the chance to observe the unique Cycling Garments, a Peloton of Cycling Gods and the impressive Iron Cross. 

The book Koers is Religie (Cycling is a Religion) is an ideal guide for those whishing to delve deeper into the theme of "Cyclings is a Religion"!

Plattegrond Koers is Religie (Paterskerk, Roeselare)

The Pilgrimage: a procession of cycling chapels

In the side aisles of the Father's Church you will discover the main passage of the exhibition: "The Pilgrimage". As you make your way through the ten cycling chapels, it will become clear how very much cycling and religion are intertwined. Logical themes such as "Superstitious cyclists" or "Pilgrimage destinations" alternate with less obvious themes such as "Sinners (Doping, a mortal sin)" or "Fairground race (racing owes a great deal to the fairground)". Each chapel consists of cycling memorabilia. Some excessive ("Religious cyclists"), some very dispassionate ("Fate") while others use audio and video fragments to portray their story ("Ritual gathering in Flanders").

The Way of the Cross: Via Dolorosa of the cyclists

Fourteen Stations of the Cross and fourteen pictures in the nave of the Father's Church portray the "agony of the cyclists". The individual suffering of the leading players figures large in the  cycling world. Cycling is all about delving deep down, suffering, pushing oneself to go up to and beyond the  limits. Photography is the  best medium for capturing suffering. The background to this suffering - inhospitable routes, inauspicious weather conditions, frenzied crowds - in itself creates a drama-enhancing filter. Cycling photography above all  intensifies the often religious flavoured image of the cycling universe. Some legendary pictures of cyclists are almost like the outlines of the Lamentation of Christ or the well-known Pietà, the famous work of art that depicts the body of Jesus carried by his mother, Mary, after the Crucifixion.



Peloton of Cycling Gods

A collection of authentic bicycles ridden by many of the  top cycling heroes adorns the nave. This Peloton of Cycling Gods includes the racing bikes of Jules Van Hevel, Nicolas Frantz, Antonin Magne, Briek Schotte, Fiorenzo Magni, Rik Van Looy, Rik Van Steenbergen, Eddy Merckx, Jean-Pierre Monseré, Freddy Maertens, Francesco Moser, Johan Museeuw, Peter Van Peteghem, Sven Nys, Stijn Devolder, Frank Vandenbroucke, Tom Boonen, Andy Schleck, Sylvain Chavanel, Philippe Gilbert, ...

Croix de Fer ('Iron Cross')

Several metres high, the Croix de Fer ('Iron Cross') consists of hundreds of bicycles welded together. This Iron Cross is made of abandoned bikes acquired from the bike storage facility in Ghent. Its name is derived from the legendary Pass of the Iron Cross (2068 m) in the French Alps. This Pass has featured in the Tour de France seventeen times, while the  summit was crossed twice in the 2015 race.

Victory Chalices

Next to the Iron Cross are the cycling trophies. These symbolise the sweet victory following a lot of dedication, hard work and effort. They are the crowning glory. They are often referred to as the Sacred Chalices of Cycling. The following trophies are on display: Raymond Poulidor, Sean Kelly, Henri Pélissier, Hugo Koblet, Ferdi Kubler, Franco Ballerini, Stephen Roche, Tom Boonen, Grace Verbeke, Frank Vandenbroucke, ... 

Cycling robes

The impressive Iron Cross ('Croix de Fer') is silhouetted against a wall of cycling jerseys; a colourful wall-sized 'stained glass window' of sacred cycling robes behind the Father's Church choir. Some of the exhibition's finest jerseys include those of Tom Simpson, Eddy Merckx, Fausto Coppi, Charly Gaul, Gerrie Kneteman, Gino Bartali, Bernard Hinault, Sean Kelly, Marianne Vos, Jef Scherens, Lance Armstrong, Bernard Thevenet, Peter Winnen, Roger De Vlaeminck, Marco Pantani, ...

Museum shop

Looking for books, vintage cycling jerseys, hats, water bottles or other cool gadgets linked to the exhibition "Cycling is a Religion"? You are bound to find something to your taste in the museum shop. The Fathers' Church also houses the Roeselare Tourist Office. Feel free to drop by while visiting Roeselare. We offer all kinds of tourist information, city maps, postcards and other items.

Museum garden

Right next to the Fathers' Church you'll find the museum garden. Picnic tables offer groups and visitors the opportunity to picnic or relax outdoors.

Campaign film

The face of the campaign film is Johan Museeuw. Of all the riders he is perhaps the one who has the strongest link with the exhibition themes. Museeuw is a three-times winner of the Tour of Flanders - the ritual gathering of the springtime cyclist - and triumphed just as many times in the Hell of the North, Paris-Roubaix. 

The Lion of Flanders was not all rough edges, however. During the competitions, he always had a rosary with him and wore a scapular on his helmet for a long time. Museeuw tasted both victory and tragedy: he became World Champion in 1996 but fate caught up with him in 1998. He took a fall a week after his third impressive Tour of Flanders victory in the Trench of Aremberg, breaking his kneecap. It was thought he might have to have his leg amputated and, at one stage, it was feared his accident would prove fatal. Museeuw managed to pull through and went on to win the Paris-Roubaix classic twice over (2000, 2002). In the meantime, Museeuw was involved in a motorbike accident, fracturing a fibula, some ribs and his left eye socket and was in a critical condition for a few weeks. Museeuw later said that he did not have his rosary with him during these two crucial events: in 1998 when he fell in the Trench of Arenberg and in 2000 during his motorbike accident. “Was it a coincidence or not?" Museeuw later wondered. 

At the end of his career he handed the rosary over to Tom Boonen, whom he regarded as his obvious successor. Once he had retired from racing, he confessed to having taken performance-enhancing substances towards the end of his career. After his public confession, the Lion was treated with "Catholic" clemency. Back in the fold again. In early 2015 Museeuw was chosen by his fellow winners as the best Tour of Flanders rider ever. His race legacy in Flanders Finest competition is unique: three times in first position, three times in second position and two times in third position.

Johan Museeuw

The exhibition catalogue

€ 35
104 + 384 pages + 160 ‘
150 x 105 mm
Published by Kannibaal & Roeselare Cycling Museum

Boek Koers is Religie (catechismus)

Cycling is a Religion

The book Koers is Religie (Cycling is a Religion) is an ideal guide for those wishing to delve deeper into the theme of Cycling is a Religion!

Cycling enthusiasts will find in this volume a powerful reminder of their faith. Cycling laypersons are bound to draw inspiration from this   Catechism. After all, inspiration is what it is all about during a race.

Authors: Thomas Ameye & Dries De Zaeytijd

Boek Le Tour Imaginaire

The Imaginary Tour

Le Tour Imaginaire (The Imaginary Tour) is what can only be called a bible telling us all about cycling gods. Fact and fiction ride together hand in hand in Le Tour Imaginaire. An adventure story featuring the highlights of over 100 years of the Tour de France, with the participants from every generation joining together at the starting line.

The 160 signed pictures of all the participants are a  real collector’s item.

Author: Jan Maes