By Gary Boskovich
When discussing the sport of cycling with Carmel author Daniel Lee, you can hear the enthusiasm in his voice.
And it isn’t a passing infatuation; he said he fell in love with the sport while growing up in Pennsylvania.
“I had a friend who was getting into road cycling, and we started watching the Tour de France, and seeing Greg Lemond winning the Tour in 1986, it just seemed exotic and we got into it from there,” Lee said. “(Cycling) is a wonderful escape and form of exercise. From the moment I learned to ride, it was my favorite activity.”
While attending Ball State, Lee competed in two U.S. Collegiate National Road Cycling Championships and raced briefly in Belgium and Germany.
“In Europe cycling has been a traditional sport for many decades, especially in Belgium. It was a huge adventure for a suburban American kid to do,” Lee said.
The European experience, along with hearing stories from Indianapolis native and racing pro, Guy East, planted the seed for writing his book “The Belgian Hammer – Forging Young Americans into Professional Cyclists.” It tells of the difficult journey young Americans face to break into the traditional European sport of pro cycling.
“The Belgian Hammer” title comes from the fact that the racing in Belgium is hard, tough and fast, which helps those riders prepare for the races like the Tour de France. A personal highlight for Lee was when his book received publicity during NBC Sports Network’s live coverage of the 2012 Tour.
Lee sees cycling growing in Carmel’s neighborhoods and across the United States.
“There’s been a steady stream of talented riders rising through the ranks,” he said, noting that one of the cycling hotbeds exists right here in Indianapolis. “The cycling team at Marian College has really drawn a lot of super talented cyclists – both men and women – to compete and get an education. I think that the sport definitely has a foothold in America.”
He believes there is a bright future for American cycling, especially with riders like East and up-and-comers such as Taylor Phinney and Lawson Craddock.
Lee will be discussing his book at 7 p.m. April 16 at the Indianapolis Marion County Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St. in Indianapolis, as part of the Central Indiana Bicycle Association lecture series.