Being Ben Berden

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How Belgian professional Ben Berden lost it all – and then found it again, on the other side of the Atlantic.

Words by Greg Keller. Photos as credited.

First published in Grit.cx Issue 1: October 2014

The drive from one side of Belgium to the other had him cramped and tired. Two and a half hours by car to West Flanders, a two-hour practice; then three hours back to his home in the east.

He had won a few races in his local series and made the selection to participate in a junior exhibition race before one of the Super Prestige races, the Daytona 500 of cyclocross events in Belgium. Tens of thousands of spectators. Millions more watching on TV. The main event for any child, let alone any cyclocross racer. His performance earned him the ticket to a very select training camp for promising kids. Bike racing was becoming part of him. To race cyclocross professionally was starting to look like an option. That, or labor on the horse farm his dad owned as he was too small to combat the other Belgian boys in the kermesses. Road racing was not going to be a path.

Dejan Smaic

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