Who are you?
Sebastien Nolens, alias @sebicicleta, 41 years young. Organizer of ‘Little Belgium 300km’ on 21 July and the ultracycling evening ‘ONBOARD the Transcontinental’ in PALACE. At the moment I live just over the Brussels border, near Stockel.
Why do you cycle in Brussels?
I cycle in Brussels for the speed, the convenience and the wind in my hair. I grew up in Hasselt. My parents took us everywhere by car. When I was 7, I insisted on being allowed to cycle to school. Since then, I’ve used my bike more and more to get everywhere. And it’s no different in Brussels. Once you get used to the hills in the capital you soon realise you can go anywhere you want.
For 3 months, I had a company car for commuting to Mechelen. In itself it was practical, but it just didn’t suit me. I need that half-hour of exercise in the morning. So I found a job closer to home. I don’t miss the depressing view of the Brussels Ring Road.
So I still ride my bike, to work and elsewhere. I mainly do it for economic and health reasons, but actually I don’t have the patience to sit in a traffic jam either. My speed in the city is between 24 and 30 km/h on my commute. You can’t beat that in a car.
What is your favourite place in Brussels?
I’ve got a thing about the industrial history of the canal zone. In that respect, the bridge on the Boulevard du Jubilé with its view of Tour & Taxis is one of my favourites.
I really like cycling in the chic uptown area between Châtelain, Ixelles, Saint-Gilles and Lepoutre. There are lots of nice shop windows there, busy pavement cafés and there are always lots of people.
Third place is absolutely for Pascal Smet’s new beige cycle paths on Brussels’ inner ring road, the Petite Ceinture. The stretch between Trône and Arts-Loi should be a model for all future road works. With bike lanes like this, no one will want to use a car for a short trip through the city.
Wat is jouw favoriete plek in Brussel?
What special place have you discovered on your bike?
I always think I know all the little streets, but that’s absolutely not true. All I can say is that I’ve cycled along literally every street in Kraainem (see Instagram). Recently I came back into Brussels through Dilbeek and suddenly I noticed a part of Berchem-Sainte-Agathe where I had never been before (Hunderenveld and so on). So it still happens, even after 20 years!
What’s your favourite restaurant/café/bar/… that you can get to on your bike?
I like to park my bike safely, so I’m not quite sure about this. The underground car parks at Bourse and De Brouckère are a perfect solution for the city centre. But apart from that, I’m always a bit nervous about parking. I like to go to L’Amour Fou on Fernand Cocq in Ixelles. The square there has been beautifully redesigned, and I love the new Brussels that’s gradually emerging.
What’s your favourite summer cycling route?
When I have a free day I usually cycle out of Brussels. Mostly I take a fast route through the capital. Sometimes that means the big boulevards (the Rue de la Loi – Montgomery axis, or General Jacques), but sometimes I take Tumulidreef, which gets you to Hoeilaart fast.
What’s an ideal day out on your bike?
An early start, about 7 or 8 o’clock. Around fifty kilometres on one of the roads out of the city, and then I begin exploring a new area. With some steep climbs, ideally: near the Meuse in the province of Namur, for example, or the Flemish Ardennes. Then I cycle from there to another area, making connections between places I already know, till I’ve done about 150 km and my legs start feeling tired. After that I race back home to Brussels along a different road. There I hop under the shower and have something delicious to eat.
In complete contrast, I spent the whole day just climbing the Mont des Arts once last year (430 times). Actually, that was fun too, because although the landscape didn’t change, the passers-by did. So, staying put is sort of like travelling in a way 😃.
Discover BrusselsFit, the biggest gym in Brussels.
Why coop yourself up in a gym after work when you can simply train on your way to and from your job? Cycling is just so much more enjoyable and convenient. And you’ll stay fit and healthy if you cycle to work! So, join BrusselsFit and start pedalling.