Kris Cleirbaut - Bonheiden

Kris Cleirbaut from Bonheiden<br> On his soapbox...<br> Only the sun rises for free! (2008)

- The pigeon season has now been finished for a while. Only the Sprinters are still in the fight for the title of champion of "De Ronde Van Belgie". By the rest of the fanciers almost everything is on the "shelf". Feathers are flying merrily around. Cleaning up droppings outside and vacuuming now and again isn't seen often these days in pigeon land. Or have we got it wrong? We went to listen to Kris Cleirbaut. The "Patron": as he is known in Antwerp, because he was won everything that could be won. Strong and almighty: that's how you could describe him. A bottomless pit full of energy. A winner's talent, such the like is no longer made... We had a man to man talk. Pigeon fancier to pigeon fancier. But more especially comrade to comrade...

"- Of course commitment, food and medication play an important role in the whole pigeon game!" (Kris Cleirbaut)

Kris, a lot of fanciers couldn't believe your performances last season. Even worse: the press and the whole mob were very sharp with their pens...
Kris Cleirbaut: "- Look, it is very simple. We just simply had the form and the condition at the right time. But when I say that, I see some fanciers rolling their eyes. So as you say: unbelieving. And yet it is no simpler than that. Until now I haven't reacted to certain people of the press who questioned my performances. But it shows absolute cowardliness that they haven't tried (dared?) to contact me. To hear my side of the story..."

First we had the Bourges with the youngsters that did not go smoothly...
Kris Cleirbaut: "- I received a boxing round the ears then, my friend. I've never experienced anything like it. Everything I had was in that race. My old pigeons next to my young cheepers. My old pigeons came through well (Kris made the three (!) first provincially here), but my youngsters didn't return home. Literally. By evening there were only a handful of pigeons home from the ninety basketed. I assure you: that hurts. The next day the majority of the pigeons had returned home. And to be honest: I had completely given up. Why invest your time in pigeons that don't come home, the thought kept running through my mind. Luckily I could fall back on two veterinary surgeons, namely Henk de Weerd and Norbert Peeters. Both investigated, but didn't find anything. According to them, nothing was wrong. Nothing wrong, and nevertheless still seriously being wide of the mark... I just couldn't understand it."

And then came Argenton...
Kris Cleirbaut: " - I thought it's too soon. Honestly, I was really down. I didn't know which wood to use to make arrows. But, thanks to a manger friend who managed to talk some courage into me, I started again. And this time rock-hard. I went back to the basis. To healthy food. To the basis support. And to mainly a great, great deal of training. This way said, this way done: my carer and I were on the road every day. Whether the petrol was expensive or not, I drove the car. Eighty to a hundred kilometres. And if it suited me, I drove further. In the morning they were given nothing. When they returned home from training they received a small amount of Start mixture from Vanrobaeys. Not too much. In the evening they were given Race Exclusive. As much as they could eat. I didn't care if it was a kilogram more. They had to eat so that they could fly to the best of their abilities. Because robust training demands robust food. You couldn't work for hours on end without having eaten properly... Well, it's the same with pigeons. Why that type of racing mixture? Simple: it is rich in all sorts of fats, but in addition it is very lightly digestible. Look, I am a maniac where my food is concerned. For myself, but also for my pigeons. Only the best is good enough. That same week my youngsters raced Pithiviers again. With a respectable result."

Correct: and then came Argenton...
Kris Cleirbaut: "- In the lead up to Argenton we did the same again with the pigeons. Trained robustly, in addition to robust food. And then there was indeed Argenton, where we had a number of pigeons in the top hundred. To be honest: I didn't expect it. Simply because I was still in shock from the Bourges. Just before the pigeons were due to arrive from Argenton, there were a lot a people keeping watch in my garden. Even as far as in front of my lofts. When Michel (the carer) shouted that there was a pigeon circling round the loft, I panicked. The pigeon wouldn't land with the whole tribune of watchers in front of the loft. We shoved everyone into the garden shed. Imagine it: fifteen people in a very small garden shed... I can laugh about it now, but not then... What then happened, from Argenton, is something which I have never before experienced. It was raining - literally - pigeons. One after another. Sometimes five pigeons together. Forty pigeons in less than thirty minutes: it is very hard work to get them all inside. Normally Michel always reports the pigeons, well he had an open line to the telephone centre. Just to give you an idea how busy it was here...

" It was indeed a super result. But people are asking themselves if this is possible with only grain and water...
Kris Cleirbaut: "- Of course not. That is not possible anymore. I don't make a secret of it. When my pigeons return home I always give them BS and Belgasol in the drinking water. And we give this combination every month for three days. It's a matter of keeping everything healthy. The day they return home, my pigeons are given more than enough Breeding Exclusive mixture from Vanrobaeys, with a drizzle of amino-acids over it from Dr. Peeters along with Belgabac. During the fattening-up they regularly have the mixture amino-acids, BMT and pigeon oil from Dr. Peeters over the feed. But for the rest there is no other medicine added to the drinking water. Really. Cures are only given on the advice of one of my two veterinary surgeons..."

Some people don't yet have a permanent veterinary surgeon. You have two. Why?
Kris Cleirbaut: "- Both veterinary surgeons, Henk de Weerd and Norbert Peeters, are renowned pigeon doctors. They know for the full hundred percent what they are talking about. That's point one. Why two? Well, then I can be certain that I can always reach one of the two at the moment that I need them. Muddling on something for days is completely out of the question here. Direct action is much better than curing for sometimes days (or weeks) because you have muddled about too long."

On which pigeon basis is your stock based? Kris Cleirbaut:
"- Oh. Here it is actually a composition of Miel Dillen, who has mainly Flor Vervoort under his roof, Jos Vercammen (Vremde), Gebr. Engels (Putte), Gust Cristiaens (Humbeek) and Gaston Van De Wouwer (Berlaar). In fact, the best of the best out of my own area. Why travel far from house looking for good and super pigeons when I can also find them near to home?" You have a point.

What do you think is more important? Your commitment of or the pedigree?
Kris Cleirbaut: "- That's a difficult one. You won't get anywhere without commitment. But without the good pigeons to commit to you won't get anywhere either. Take the duo Jespers-Vanderwegen. I know that they are busy with their pigeons day and night. Admittedly, the men work during the day, but the pigeons are always in their thoughts. It's the same with Steve Smits-Mellaerts. Man and wife with a busy job, yet can still race excellently with the pigeons. I got to know Steve when he was liberating his pigeons in Ittre. He told me that he was there regularly to train his pigeons. I would just like to prove to you that these fanciers all commit themselves fully to their pigeons. With the well-known results... I am certain that many fanciers have super good pigeons, but that they don't bring out enough in them. Because they are not committed enough. Look, here the loft is cleaned thoroughly every day. Every pigeon goes through my hands every day. Or through those of Michel. That is a value meter to the condition and the health. Only in this way do you notice things quickly..."

Soon all the top pigeons will be offered for sale... Why the change?
Kris Cleirbaut: "- I'm a bloke that likes challenges. If I don't have a challenge or goal to contend with, then I can't give the full hundred percent. From there the choice... all my breeding pigeons will appear on the auction table. They will be joined by the entire racing team from last season."

Are you going to start from nothing again?
Kris Cleirbaut: "- Of course not. Look, I've bred two rounds out my best pigeons. In the summer... there is not a single one of these pigeons sold or got rid of. Just for the reason that they will later form my basis for the future."

Ok, but all your proven breeding pigeons are out the loft... They are not all good breeders?
Kris Cleirbaut: "- I totally agree. I expect that the first year will be very difficult. Just because I will have to form a stock again. Which cock is suited to which hen... I had various breeding couples in my breeding loft which I knew in advance would produce good descendants. I will miss that in the future. Never mind, it is so...I want to take things easier next year. There is still the bakery, which has to be sorted out. Not that business is bad. Quite the opposite. The bakery is doing well... Sofie (Kris's wife) can't run it on her own anymore. Then there is the fact that the new workers have to be trained. Correct: more than enough work... I would also like to enjoy the wife and children more. The "kids" are growing up without me realising it... While I'm in the loft, the men are growing up every day. I feel like I'm missing out. Partly through the pigeons, that demand more than my free time. And partly through the bakery that is doing too well... Family and comrades always go before the sport. And I'm honest about this: I wouldn't have got this far without my comrades. They help and support me when necessary. Pigeon sport is and always will be a team sport. But above all, it should remain a hobby. And now it has all become too much...".

In the meantime you travel round more or less the half of the world...
Kris Cleirbaut: " - Oh, yes... pigeon sport is and always will be my life. You can twist and turn it which way you want... If there is a party, or something to do with the pigeons, I like to be present, yes... I've just returned from Roemenie, where I was present for the final race of a one loft race. Did you know that pigeon sport is just starting to come to life over there? The number of fanciers keeps rising year after year, whereas here it is less and less... You see real hobby racers over there. Men who stick their big toe outside before they basket the pigeons. If it is raining or too cold, then they remain home. If the sun is shining, then they are present..."

Are your pigeons basketted every week? Or are they allowed to rest between 2 races...
Kris Cleirbaut: "- I can still see it before me, in a piece from Gust Cristiaens: "Rest rusts...". Well, the fellow certainly understood the system. And he is right... Here not a feather is allowed to rest between two big races. Sometimes a Sprint race, but generally a race from around four hundred to four hundred and fifty kilometres. Especially for the youngsters... Look, pigeons have to stay in their rhythm. If you let them stay at home once, then you give your "fellow-pigeon fanciers" an unbelievable head start... Pigeons are made for flying, so let them fly. In normal weather it can't do any harm. On condition that they are healthy. And on the condition that you give them robust food. For this purpose I reach again for the mixture that I put together with the firm Vanrobaeys. Fats and more fats, but easily digestible. That's the most important. The rest? That's nonsense in packets..."

Everyone who lives in Mechelen knows the Opsinjoor bakery. Pasties next to oven fresh bread. And no, your not in and out of the bakery within five minutes. You have to take into account the long queue. Exactly: Kris Cleirbaut has got it all together. Top professionalism. It radiates from him. Top in the baker's world. Top in the pigeon world. After all, the "patron" only wants the best of the best... Cleirbaut has raced for years in the very strong "High school" of the pigeon sport, Union Antwerp. After three years he seems to have turned into the professor who teaches at the "High school"... With Argenton last season as top point. Cleirbaut was within a hair's breadth (literally!) of the first two national, but managed twelve (!) pigeons within the first 87 national. A World record. Cleirbaut self remains rather sober under so much endless interest. They have raced well he said without raising his voice after the certain Argenton. Chaps that aren't too big for their boots: yes, that's what we like! (kr) As a clincher we would like to share his best results with you... Hold on tight for a giant rollercoaster. Has anyone copied him, in a time span of just three years..?

Top provinciaal:
1st Prov. Guéret 1774 p
1st Prov. Bourges 4602 p
1st Prov. Bourges 1371 p
1st Prov. Argenton 3371 p
2nd Prov. Bourges 1371 p
2nd Prov. Argenton 3371 p
2nd Prov. Argenton 2088 p
2nd Prov. Vierzon 547 p
2nd Prov. La Souterraine 3710 p
2nd Prov La Souterainne 3310 p
3rd Prov Bourges 1371 p
3rd Prov. Guéret 1774 p
4th Prov Montluçon 1913 p
4th prov Chateauroux 1362 p
4th Prov Montluçon 2264 p
5th Prov Bourges 2031p
6th Prov Chateauroux 1938 p
6th Prov Argenton 951p
7th Prov Chateauroux 1757 p
7th Prov Argenton 2712 p
7th prov Bourges 4290 p
7th Prov La Souterainne 2313 p
7th Prov Chateauroux 2629 p
7th Prov La Souterainne 3310 p
8th Prov La Souterainne 2313 p
8th Prov Chateauroux 2629p
8th Prov Bourges 2685p
8th Prov La Souterainne 3310 p
9th Prov Chateauroux 2629 p
9th Prov Gueret 1774 p
10th Prov Montluçon 1913 p
11th Prov Orleans 8835 p
11th Prov Montluçon 1700 p
11th Prov Le Mans 1819 p
12th Prov Gueret 1774 p
12th Prov Argenton 3371 p
13th Prov Argenton 2088 p
13th Prov Gueret 1774 p
13th Prov Argenton 3371p
14th Prov Salbris 1674p
15th Prov Gueret 1774p
16th Prov Montluçon 1913 p
17th Prov Argenton 2712 p
16th Prov Argenton 2617 p
19th Prov Montluçon 1913 p
19th Prov Argenton 3371 p
19th Prov Bourges 4602 p
20th Prov Bourges 4290 p
21th Prov Argenton 2712 p
Top-100 Nationaal:
2nd nat. Argenton 25583 p
3rd nat. Argenton 25583 p
4th nat. Bourges 26984 p
4th nat. Guéret 12587 p
5th nat. Argenton 14534 p
8th nat. Guéret 12587 p
10th nat. Bourges 9021 p
11th nat. La Souterraine 21721 d
12th nat. Argenton 6177 d
12th nat. La Souterraine 13965 p
13th nat. La Souterraine 13965 p
14th nat. Argenton 20844 p
15th nat. Guéret 12587 p
20th nat. Argenton 25583 p
22th nat. Bourges 31824 p
23th nat. Guéret 12587 p
23th nat. Argenton 25583 p
24th nat. Argenton 14534 p
24th nat. Guéret 15587 p
28th nat Gueret p
29th nat. Argenton 25583 p
32th nat. Bourges 9021 p
33th nat. Argenton 14534 p
34th nat. Bourges 11875 p
37th nat Argenton 20844 p
37th nat. La Souterraine 21258 p
42th nat. Bourges 11875 p
43th nat. Bourges 11875 p
45th nat Argenton 20844 p
56th nat. Argenton 25583 p
58th nat. Argenton 25583 p
63th nat Gueret 12587 p
66th nat. Argenton 25583 p
67th nat. Bourges 26984 p
70th nat. Argenton 14535 p
73th nat Argenton 14535 p
73th nat. Argenton 25583 p
78th nat. Bourges 31824 p
83th nat. Argenton 25583 p
84th nat. Argenton 25583 p
87th nat. Argenton 25583 p