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When the little boy on the BMX becomes the manager of a bike shop

Olivier is ready for a cross-country session. He is wearing a pair of shorts, helmet and top with his shop logo: KM10 is at the edge of the Forêt de Soignes. But before setting off, he checks his route. His first bike, he remembers with nostalgia, was a BMX that he got when he was eight years old. He went to the Ardennes with his family where he used the bike like a mountain bike. “One day, I even lost it in a river but we found it a few days later,” Olivier recalls who sheepishly took it to his bike mechanic and asked him to resuscitate it. Which he did.

At 15, he was given his first mountain bike. “It was in the early days of mountain-biking. I was immediately hooked and it became my main hobby,” Olivier remembers. Living in Brussels, I went to the Forêt de Soignes to practice my passion. “The Bois de la Cambre, it’s funny but it’s short. The Forêt de Soignes, is the biggest forest in Brussels,” he says. A child of the city goes to the forest whenever he is able and didn’t hesitate to go to miss university to cycle. “I failed my studies because of the bike. I cycled more than I went to lectures,” Olivier laughs.

The road was a bit tortuous but finally logical: Olivier worked for 10 years in a bicycle shop which had opened in Wavre and which specialised in mountain biking! “Lots of people from Brussels came to Wavre because there was nothing like it in Brussels,” Olivier says. After ten years, a friend asked Oliver to open the KM10 store. Opening a bicycle shop on the outskirts of this forest that he so loves, how could he say no?

That is a little over ten years ago and Olivier is still as happy with his decision. “My job is my passion, and if I want to run or cycle, I just have to cross the road,” he says.

Initially, he mainly sold mountain bikes but the choice has greatly expanded since then: folding bikes, children’s bikes… “The clientele is very international. There are people from the embassies especially. We speak English and Dutch every day,” Oliver states. But there are also the regulars. “We see kids grow up. Some are now 18. One day, I met my strict old teacher and an old scout leader in my shop,” he smiles.

Olivier admits however that he no longer does as much mountain biking since he opened the shop. But he doesn’t hesitate to cycle with his 9-year-old son. “The other day, we cycled 25 kilometres. He rode really well on difficult trails,” he says proudly.

To travel to work from his home in Ixelles, he alternates between the motorbike and bike. The motorbike is mainly used to take his son to extracurricular activities. But, to him “the bike is the only smart way to travel in Brussels. Even smarter than the motorbike. If it takes 15 minutes on the motorbike, it takes 23 minutes by bike. But the motorbike costs a fortune and pollutes and I can get stuck in traffic. So the calculation is done quickly. Mass cycling will develop, that’s for sure.”

An article from Violaine Jadoul

Photos by Jonathan Borms