On Friday 18/08/1972 at 15h30, I was driving on my motorcycle (50cc) to
do some groceries. At about 1 km from my parent's home, I came to a
crossroads. On the other side, coming from the opposite direction, there
was a truck, signalling a left turn. He was waiting for me to cross the
road. At that moment a car from the RTT-company (now known as Belgacom (the phone-compagny))
approached the crossroads. Given the fact that the truck and I had right
of way, the car should have stopped. In my opinion, the driver of the
Belgacom car must have thought that the truck was actually waiting for
him. He did not see me coming and bumped into me at full speed. I landed
on the hood of the car and smashed the windshield with my right arm. This
made it impossible for the driver to see and he lost control of his car.
It then hit a tree while I was still on the hood. The shock threw me off
the car, into a ditch, where I laid down with my arms and legs spread.
The driver did not even care for me. He immediately took the necessary
precautions so as to be OK with his insurance.
The truck driver pulled me out of the ditch and gave me "the kiss of
The police and medics were notified, and they came very quickly. The
medics then put me on a stretcher and took me to the nearest hospital.
After 3 days in hospital, my condition began to deteriorate and I was
transferred to neurosurgery. I was unconscious from the very first
moment. For 6 weeks I remained in a deep coma.
After that I was awake and just laid there 2 weeks with open but motionless eyes,
until a priest, a friend of my parents, came to visit me. He saw that I
was hungry and thirsty, but gave me nothing. He showed me a bottle of
water and asked: "What is this?" Very slowly, I answered:
"Thirst". Then he showed me an orange and again he asked:
"What is this?" As slowly as the first time, I answered:
For the second time in my life I then learned to speak. The first night I had
regained my ability to speak, I shouted "Bread" all night, because
I was that hungry. The last days of my stay in the hospital, I continuously asked to
be discharged and sent to home, because I thought I was dreaming.
Being handicapped, I wanted to make people realise that it still is possible
to achieve a goal, despite of the handicap. This I try to do by cycling.
In '78 I cycled from Lyon (France) – Valence (France) - Lyon on a bike without gears.
In '79 I rode from Valence to Gent (Belgium).
In '80 I bought a bicycle with 18 gears and in the summer holiday I
rode Gent - Avignon (France) - Gent with a large detour (3330 km).
In '81 (the international year of the handicapped)
I did my first Tour de France (3531 km) in 34 days.
In '82 I made my second Tour de France (4085 km) in 38 days.
From May 7 till May 22 '83 I made a trip of 1655km around the Netherlands.
On July 4 of that same year, I began my third tour in France.
In '84 I toured around Germany on my bike (4185 km).
In '85 I planned to tour Germany again, but in Oberg|nsburg I fell off.
In '86 I toured Germany and France.
In '87 I didn't ride my bike at all because of illness.
In '88 I toured Germany again (3865 km).
In '89 I toured Austria.
In '90 I toured France.
In '91 I toured Germany (4554 km).
In '92 I rode from Belgium through France to Italy where I fell.