Kapelmuur Independent is an American cycling club in the European tradition, a congregation of amateurs who ride and race with as much fervor as they do anything in life. In the classic mores, which we unaccountably and unreasonably respect, the term “team” is reserved for those who are paid to win. Is it an important distinction? Who are we to tell you? We know this, though: In its basest origin from Latin, amateur means “to love.”
We’re an assembly of hard riders and amateur racers who were inspired to express our love of the sport by what we collectively think of as the most beautiful kilometer in cycling: the cobbled climb of the Oudenberg.
For some members of the club, our personal experience riding the Kapelmuur during the Tour of Flanders sportif was one of those unforgettable, seminal moments in our cycling lives: As we pedaled upward toward the church, through screaming crowds, wheels slipping, passing in and out of the shadow of the cross, that complete and simple love of the sport flooded over us: It is the experiences, the emotions, the details, the memories, the longings and the dreams ever chased that matter most. It is at once the freedom of cycling, and the servitude to some unnameable concept it puts you in thrall to. (And, yeah, it’s having a drink at the top, too.) Some of us have ridden the Kapelmuur numerous times, never finding it any less evocative. Some have lived, raced and worked in Europe, and even with that kind of exposure still hold the climb in awe; a few of us still only imagine being on the Kapelmuur, and in the meantime they seek it wherever they ride.
If our club is about anything that’s explainable to those who don’t already get it, we are about expressing the realities and details of the pleasures and pains that define our sport. The expression of this is reverent but not corny, cool but not condescending, light but not goofy. And the means of expression? It comes in our riding and racing, of course, but also from how we document and celebrate how we ride and race, our photographs and publications and projects that celebrate a life of cycling love, and a love of the cycling life.