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180418 Facteur 5

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The weatherman spends his time cycling

With Frank Deboosere, nothing is left to chance. As the weatherman of the VRT channel since 1987, Frank is a man who loves numbers, scientific facts and bicycles. It’s thus no surprise he cycles to work every day. In fact, don’t use the word “work”. Indeed, Frank confesses: “I don’t work, I have fun. Weather reports never end for me. The first thing I do when I get home is to inform myself about the weather, whether on the radio or on the computer. It’s a hobby. The day it will feel like a job, I’ll quit”.

Frank never imagined working at the VRT. He studied physics as he loved observing stars. He was even a conscientious objector at the Observatory of Grimbergen. He would look at the sky and wonder why we couldn’t see the stars. This naturally led him to study clouds. But he wanted to become an astronaut. “I never thought I’d land here”, he says enthusiastically.

However, let’s get back to the subject of bicycles. From his home to the VRT, Frank says “the shortest route is 21 kilometres but the safest is 26”. He obviously chooses the second option. With a cycling rhythm of 17 to 18 km/h, it takes him about an hour and a half each time. “I love it”, he says. Once he arrives at the VRT, he showers and changes. All of his clothes are on site.

“8,4% of rain during his cycling trips”

Here’s for the numbers. Those and others are carefully compiled on his website. “I was told it rained 8% of the time in Belgium”, he says. But as a good scientist, he needed to check this one out by himself. The result? Frank insists his statistics show that there is 8,4% of rain during his cycling trips. He is a weatherman afterall!

It doesn’t rain that much then in Belgium! Besides, it’s not the rain nor the cold Frank is afraid of: “I wear adapted clothing. I reached out to some professional cyclists for advice. Apparently, we must wear two to three small layers. You could be cold during the first ten minutes but you’ll soon warm up afterwards”.

His enemy? The wind! So, when he goes out bicycle-touring (because yes, he loves to ride his bike during his free time), he always pays attention to the direction of the wind. Depending on its direction, Frank cycles one way then returns by train or vice versa.

His love for cycling started when his children were small. They would all go on holidays with their bicycles. “It’s cheap and it’s also amazing holidays”, he says with a smile. He’s never stopped since. “I used to go to work with my electric bike. But as everyone made fun of me, I decided to buy a normal one”, he adds.

He did however fall a few times, including once when he broke his elbow. The VRT archives confirm the fall: Frank made the weather report with his arm in a sling. Nothing stops him. He does however insist on one detail: we must make ourselves visible. “I’m Mr Christmas Tree”, he says jokingly while turning on the lamps of his bicycle, helmet and chasuble.

“Only advantages”

For Frank Deboosere, a bicycle only has advantages. He is indeed less often sick and when he is, he recovers more quickly. “Mentally-speaking, when you’re riding your bicycle, new ideas flow. I’m enthusiastic, I laugh. I can also have a chat with people and stop when I see something. Financially-speaking, I have saved tens of thousands of euros ever since I started cycling but that’s not what’s most important. What’s essential is to show the example: it’s good for your health and the environment. Since riding my bicycle, I also have the impression I have more time”.

On weekends, Frank gives weather reports on the radio. His mobile studio allows him to make his forecast while riding his bicycle if he’s out and about. We told you so: he’s unstoppable.

An article from Violaine Jadoul

Photos by Jonathan Borms