Belgian Ink

Is a 43 year old man too old to be considering getting a tattoo (or in my case, another tattoo)?

About 13 years ago or so, I got my first ink … an abstract of a cyclist on my right leg, just above the ankle. It’s an abstract of a cyclist, leaning hard into a corner. The concept was based on the Tour de France logo from the 1980s, but played with in Illustrator and PhotoShop so that it wasn’t exactly the same.

Of course, it’s faded a lot over the years, but can be seen on my Facebook profile.

But I’ve been considering getting more ink for quite some time, and I’m really starting to get the jones to put myself through some pain again. I think a big part of it is because (if all goes to plan financially), I’ll be travelling to L.A. to see some old friends this summer, one of whom was with me when I got the first tattoo.

The designs I’m considering are as follows, in no particular order:




I’m not exactly sure where I originally found the first design, but the middle design is the lion from the official Flag of Flanders. The third design should be more familiar from the shield logo that I’ve chosen to associate with my site, and from an older Flag of Flanders that in more recent years grew to be associated with a far-right Flemish nationalist political party in Belgium, but has also been the lion most closely associated with the Flemish flags being waved at various cycling races over the years.

Now, when I lived in Belgium, I lived in a commune called Sint-Genesius-Rode (in Flemish) or Rhode-Saint-Genèse (in French), in the province of Vlaams Brabant/Brabant Flamand; but in the arrondisement of Hal-Vilvoorde, which is technically bilingual. We lived in a French-speaking neighborhood.

Now, from a cycling perspective, my loyalties lie absolutely with the Flemish riders, the hard men who win races like the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix (a French race won by Belgians on more than half of its runnings). On the other hand, I’ve chosen as my nom-du-blog “Flahute”, which was the French word for these riders, and French was the language I learned primarily in school both before and after moving there. Flemish/Dutch, what little I speak and read, was picked up after my return to the United States, after I truly got bit by the cycling bug.

This being the case, I feel like I should not limit myself to just the Flemish lion (the vlaamse leeuw) … the Walloon rooster (the coq hardi or “bold rooster”) suits me as well; for there are two more Belgian Classics run in Wallonia as well; Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Flèche-Wallonne (the Walloon “arrow”).

Plus, I kind of like the idea of asking people if they want to see my cock … so the following design appeals to me as well; I’ve often thought about the lion on one shoulder/bicep and the rooster on the other.


Or perhaps, the lion chasing the rooster … about to catch and and eat it …


What to do, what to do?


  1. well the lion is rampant (he’d be seargant if one of his hind legs were raised too!) and the cockrel is passant.

    if you get either/both they should both be facing dexter rather than sinister as in your illustrations, unless you get both, then it’s ok to place one facing sinister to the other!

    there’s not enough heraldry in tattooing, which is a great shame and a huge loss.

    1. Why dexter versus sinister, if I may ask, especially since sinister is how they appear on the standards with the staff to the left?

  2. Well I like the blk lion. The only concern with the red and yellow coloring is that it fades and you have to get touch ups. So if you want low maintnence I woulg go black lion with red claws. And your never too old to get tatts the pain keeps you young LOL ! Good luck with your decision…

  3. Careful with the Lion of Flanders. A far-right anti-immigration political party in Belgium used one version as its logo; unfortunately I forget which.

  4. I’m definitely aware of the potential symbolism misinterpretation.

    It was the all black lion that actually appears in the shield logo; the third lion down. The symbol and flag was co-opted by the Vlaams Blok (now called the Vlaams Belang); but to the best of my understanding was never exclusively associated with them.

    There is another group (the Vlaanderen Vlagt) that has been handing out flags with the all-black lion for years at cycling races; but which is politically neutral and NOT associated with the VB.

    It’s kind of like the Lone Star symbol for Texas, which not only is part of their current flag and a symbol of Texas in general, but is also being used and promoted by some of the far-right Texas Secessionist nutjobs today.

    By putting a single star on their jerseys, an argument could be made that Lance Armstrong and the Mellow Johnny’s team are advocating that Texas secede from the Union; which I’m sure would be an absolutely ridiculous claim.

    So while that all black lion has been associated with the VB, it’s also recognized around the world (particularly in the US and Australia) as a symbol of Flemish cycling; if I choose to get that particular lion, the one I’m already using as the symbol for my blog, it would be in that sense … certainly not as showing support for the Vlaams Blok/Vlaams Belang.

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