Stories from the attic
“We have seen some exciting days in the field of cycling. The Olympia sports club in Amsterdam, which initiated the largest competition ever held in the country, can look back with pride on the days of last week.”
This is how the article begins in “De Revue der Sporten, 3rd year, August 25, 1909. The year that Paris-Roubaix was ridden for the 14th time and the Tour for the 7th time. The article is about the first version of the Tour through the Netherlands. The first time because until then road racing had been prohibited in the Netherlands. ASC Olympia organized this tour. They still exist and are the Netherlands' oldest cycling club. The tour would last three days on August 19, 20 and 22. The competition started on Thursday morning from Mokkum (Amsterdam) to Maastricht. This 249 km is ridden by Chris Kalkman in 10 hours 42 minutes and 5 seconds. On Friday they continued to Groningen and after a party and rest day on Sunday went on to the finish in Amersfoort. Chris, then 21 years old, becomes winner of the first Tour through the Netherlands. If you look at the photos of the bikes and roads, those performances are incredible. Many riders raced on a Rover bike. At the time, Paris-Roubaix was ridden at an average of 30 km per hour. And nowadays they do about 42 km per hour. Not comparable, but still.
These stories have been shared in the family for years. And somehow, until 10 years ago, it never really motivated me to start cycling. From these same family stories, it is clear that Chris loved apple syrup. Something that subsequently resulted in an aversion to apple syrup in my father (who grew up during the Second World War). Yes, some things skip a generation, so to speak. I also love apple syrup. We made a delicious apple-cinnamon bite in tribute to Chris. Anyway, enough commercial talk.
Back to the pioneers of road racing. Chris repeated his victory in 1914. This time they rode in Belgium because it was once again prohibited to race on the road in the Netherlands. The First World War is underway. Riders such as Van der Wiel, Blekemolen, the Van Nek brothers and Jaap Eden on the track are among the big names. As a family we are proud of what our grandfather has achieved. Chris later started an ambulance company. And worked with KLM to transport supine patients. But that is also a different story. As a cyclist he was nicknamed 'Dinosaur' and was known as a daring sprinter. Something I can also relate to. With all these beautiful stories from the shoebox, I started the Kalkman Food company. From the street where my parents used to live and where I was born. Some things in life always come full circle and you come back to things that happened before. I think Grandpa Chris would have liked the idea that there was now cycling food with his name on it. We are proud of the story and the brand we are building.