The winner from Montlucon, 500 kilometers, "made" 1,100 meters per minute into a brisk, north easterly wind.
That weekend in the Netherlands they had also organized overnight races, and the fastest pigeons went even faster than that per meter.
And yet, flying "faster" with a head wind from 1,000 kilometer rather than from 500 kilometers doesn"t make sense. Another overnight race in Holland, from Cahors about 800 kilometers, was flown in scorching hot temperatures and also with a head wind.
The first pigeon in that race flew a speed of 1,339 meters per minute.
And again, that doesn"t seem possible.
The only explanation is that these "faster pigeons" in those 2 day races continued flying during the night, the neutralization time, when the clock was stopped.
ALSO WITH A HEAD WIND
In the past, the neutralization time in races with an afternoon release had already been the cause for some commotion in Holland.
The most remarkable results were noted.
For instance, if one fancier clocked at 11 pm, and his neighbour with a loft only 100 meters further away timed the next day, it happened that this neighbour"s pigeon was faster in the results.
It used to be the general opinion, that the phenomenon of flying through the night, or in other words, during the neutralization time, happened only with a tail wind.
But that opinion has now been proven wrong.
Because now it appears that pigeons continue to fly through the night with a head wind as well, only, it has to be a clear night.
Therefore, more and more fanciers in Holland want to adopt the same system as inBelgium, to release the pigeons for a race of 700 to 800 kilometers in the morning, instead of in the late afternoon.
But these could of course never be NATIONAL races, because Holland is "too deep".
A difference of 150 kilometers is acceptable; a difference of 250 kilometers is not.
CHATEAUROUX AND ORLEANS
Now that we have started comparing, it would be interesting to have a look at the first Belgian national race from Chateauroux.
That same day in Holland, they also raced from Chateauroux , and again the Dutch pigeons made a higher speed than the Belgian pigeons. And again with a head wind.
Then there was that very difficult race from Orleans in both Holland and Belgium.
The Dutch pigeons, which had to fly 100 kilometers further, despite the very high temperatures and the head wind, again flew faster than the Belgian birds.
Could it be because of better long-distance pigeons and specialization in Holland?
I don"t believe that for a moment.
The Belgian race from Chateauroux was a national release, the Dutch a provincial race. The Belgian pigeons had to separate immediately after the release, the Dutch birds stayed together for longer.
In the race from Orleans, many more pigeons participated in the south of Holland, and that made them stay together for a longer period as well.
Frans and Jordi Damen the Netherlands. They race very well at little long
distance but foreigners are not queueing to buy their birds. Are they too cheap?
I think that these higher speeds in the Netherlands are the result of a much higher number of participating pigeons. Pigeons in large groups fly "faster" than pigeons that fly alone.
The INTERNATIONAL race from Barcelona is another story.
The competition in Holland closes much earlier than in Belgium year after year.
That CAN only be a question of quality and/or specialization.
The Dutch developed these better "Barcelona pigeons" through a selection based on many years of flying overnight.
Young bird racing in Belgium is very much different from Holland. At least to-day.
Most provinces in Holland have only 2 races further than 300 kilometers.
Fanciers in Antwerpen can race their youngsters 7 times from 400 kms plus Orleans, 450 kilometers plus the 6 NATIONAL races from 550 kilometers average.
There are fanciers that race their babies on all the nationals. Of course flying 5,000 kilometers is too much for babies. You just finish them. It"s my opinion, that young pigeons in Belgium are raced too much and too far, in the Netherlands, they should be raced farther and more often.
The other day, I had a conversation with some Chinese buyers.
I told them that we also constantly try to strengthen our colony, but in a different way than they do.
"Sometimes it appears, as if you are looking for bad pigeons," I said.
They looked at me blankly.
"Look," I said, "we buy pigeons from fanciers who perform well. You want famous names, pedigrees and grandchildren or brothers and sisters of a super pigeon; because you believe that these will be super pigeons too.
We know that it isn"t that simple.
And what"s more, many fanciers change their prices to the extraordinary prices that you are willing to pay.
They adopt two prices, a normal price, and a much higher price for you.
We think that 300 Euro for a squeaker is expensive. You believe that the more expensive the bird is, the more quality it has."
Next I showed them the amount of money, made for the sale of "Bons"(Vouchers).
This demonstrated that you can buy vouchers from great champions for 150 Euro or less. And these are vouchers from the same fanciers, where they buy their expensive pigeons.
NEVER HEARD OF
One of them wanted to buy Antwerp pigeons, and that was fortunate.
After all, regarding the pigeon affairs there, I know the ins and outs a bit.
I mentioned Stickers Donkers, Bevers, K. Boeckx, R. Smolders, Gyselings, Vandenbrande, L. Heremans and other great champions in the speed races.
They didn"t know any of these names.
Then I mentioned names of fanciers, who did very well from the middle-distance races this year: Louis Meulemans, J. v.d. Veken, Diels, F. Marien, Baertsoen, Baeck, Marcelis and others. Especially Marcelis was sensational in the sprint races. Again: never heard of them.
Then THEY mentioned some names.
It would turn your hair grey overnight.
Most of these fanciers they knew were mob fliers, and without exception, they all advertised (for a lot of money) in the Chinese pigeon magazines.
They weren"t interested in the names I had mentioned, because they didn"t want to go home with pigeons from (to them) unknown fanciers.
"What a circus this sport is," I can"t help thinking sometimes.
And by the way, later on, when they got to know Heremans, they thought ALL Heremans birds were super. If there is one person who knew better it was Leo himself.
The late Dusarduyn. Many consider him as the best long distance racer in
history. Still he was pretty unknown abroad. Were his simple handwritten
pedigrees to blame?
I told them that many of the fanciers that they mentioned themselves went to champions, about which they had never heard of.
They just shrugged their shoulders.
Remarkable too, how many Dutch names were on their list.
These fanciers have the reputation to be tight with money, but they advertise inChina, and that seems to pay off.
Some of these names were performing well; others only had "pedigree stock" to sell.
And the fanciers who performed well all competed against 10,000 to 20,000 pigeons in the races.
I explained that in Belgium, 1,000 pigeons is a lot. Because the culture in Belgium is very different, with many possibilities for races, because of fragmentation.
I fear that they didn"t understand any of it.
FOR HOW MUCH LONGER?
Of course, a winner against about 800 pigeons, will always be of less commercialvalue than a winner against some 15,000 birds.
That"s why there is so much interest and such high prices for Dutch pigeons on several sales sites on the Internet.
When I pointed out that some of these Dutch fanciers have a "Belgian strain ", again they just shrugged.
They had of course seen on the Internet, that those Dutch pigeons mostly flew faster in the same races. I explained to them what I wrote earlier in this article, and that it therefore doesn"t have anything to do with quality.
The Japanese stopped buying because their imports did not bring them any further.
I fear that the Chinese will follow.
The only question is when.