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Former pro cyclists showering between car doors arrested for “indecent” and “gay” behaviour while training for Unbound Gravel in Oklahoma

Laurens ten Dam and Thomas Dekker had to spend nine hours in prison after people noticed the duo spraying water at each other and getting a change of pants in a car park

A tornado, a levelled department store, some Mexican food, a cold shower in a car park that offended “rednecks”, followed by a startling arrest for “indecent” and “gay” behaviour — no one could have predicted how former Dutch pro cyclists Laurens ten Dam and Thomas Dekker’s training ride in Oklahoma before the Unbound Gravel would shape up.

The duo had flown to the southern US state a couple of days ahead of the popular gravel race in the neighbouring state of Kansas to train, however, their training had to be cut short and instead they ended up in handcuffs and spent a night in prison, because of this ostensibly bizarre turn of events.

In the latest episode of their LiveSlowRideFast podcast and as reported by Wielerflits, Ten Dam, who previously rode for Belkin Pro Cycling (now Visma-Lease a Bike) and Dekker, who won the Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour de Romandie in 2006 and 2007 respectively, said that the incident took place in the town of Marietta, Oklahoma.

After completing a three-hour ride, the two drove to a supermarket and a nearby department store as part of their planned stopover to grab some food and get a change of clothes. However, the place had been struck by a tornado a few days before, and on reaching there, they found that both the facilties had “just disappeared”.

> Unbound Gravel 2024 - conclusions and takeaways

They decided on a change of plans. “We would then go for lunch at a Mexican store. We had a three-hour training ride behind us and were now quite hungry,” Ten Dam said in the podcast. “It was half past two in the afternoon. I just wanted to take a little cold shower and so, Thomas threw that water over me.

“We stood between the car doors, taking a shower. After Thomas washed me off, I quickly swapped my pants. But while I'm doing that, I hear a very angry person screaming across the street… we just wanted to freshen ourselves before some Mexican.”

“Suddenly there were five police cars. That man who had yelled at us also stood there and said: ‘for this you have to go to prison’. It was actually a typical redneck. They got Thomas first, he was searched and then got handcuffed. So I thought: shit. Then I also had to turn around and I was also cuffed.”

Dekker added: “I didn’t dare to do anything. I had five pistols pointed at me, even though those people had an IQ of a shrimp.”

Ten Dam, dubbed as the ‘master of chin dribble’ for his spit-filled beard during races, tried to deescalate the situation, but to no avail. “I thought, I might be able to offer a response, but these people didn't listen to that,” he said.

And just like that, Dekker and Ten Dam were handcuffed, searched and then they were taken to a nearby jail. The two said they had been arrested under ‘inappropriate behaviour in public spaces’ legislation’.

Dekker said: “I think it was a place of four by four, without windows and with an iron toilet. A small sink, that was it. We still got something to eat, under a blanket, because we were cold by now. It all took a very long time and fingerprints were taken. We also had to put on an orange suit, we were really inmate Laurens and inmate Thomas.”

Ten Dam added that the indictment said that “we sprayed each other with water bottles like two gay cyclists.”

Following nine hours overnight in the police cell, the pair were finally released after paying bail charges of $185, and were free to continue onto the Unbound Gravel race, where Dekker subsequently finished 42nd and Ten Dam 50th. On the bright side, they confirmed that they wouldn’t face any prosecution or have to return to court in the USA over any potential charges.

In other news from this year's Unbound Gravel, the gravel world champion Matej Mohorič and his Bahrain Victorious teammates travelled home from Kansas with stories to tell (and bikes to clean) after a weekend of mechanicals and mud that'll be all too familiar for any of you here in the UK who dare to venture away from paved routes at any time of the year except the peak of summer.

> "We're going to stick to road racing!": Matej Mohorič gets stuck in the mud at Unbound Gravel, suffers cracked rim and puncture

The Slovenian and his teammates Matevž Govekar and Lukas Wiśniowski were in trouble from the recon, a video uploaded to Instagram showing the team struggling to get to grips with the famous Kansas mud, Govekar seen resorting to scraping his new wider tyres 'clean' with some sort of stake or sign, claggy mud filling whatever tyre clearance he had moments earlier.

"We are going to stick to road racing, guys," Mohorič joked in a video uploaded to Instagram by the event's organisers. "It's a beautiful day for cycling, beautiful weather, not so beautiful surface, could be more smooth. It's pretty rocky and my sidewall doesn't like it, but hopefully the second tube of the day will hold even though I cracked my rim hitting a rock

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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24 comments

Avatar
tubasti | 1 week ago
0 likes

Oklahoma. I'm not surprised.

Avatar
Keesvant | 1 week ago
5 likes

Me and a mate hosed eachother down after a mtb ride outside a hostel where a new nurses introduction camp was taking place..
We had a laugh, so did the nurses. Bibs stayed on, no one got hurt or arrested.
This was in The Netherlands , i'm so thankfull to live in an openminded country ! The incedent involving Laurens and Thomas showes again how Amaricans think. ( remember the alabama topgear episode ?)

Avatar
manonbike | 1 week ago
3 likes

I did this at the end of the C2C in South Shields, using a bidon to shower. No arrests, but a couple of lady residents were very happy to watch on 😂. They were certainly oggling my younger, somewhat more attractive friend than this grey old fart mind!

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hawkinspeter | 1 week ago
9 likes

I just hope that Road.cc adds this to their reviews of water bottles in future - how good are they for playfully spraying other cyclists with?

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Car Delenda Est | 1 week ago
10 likes

"They're not gay, your honour, they're just European"

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john_smith replied to Car Delenda Est | 1 week ago
0 likes

That Dekker is a bit of a character though. Thijs Zonneveld had some interesting things to say about him a while back.

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Rome73 | 1 week ago
7 likes

These voters will give the world Trump again. 

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wtjs replied to Rome73 | 1 week ago
9 likes

These voters will give the world Trump again

Yee Haaa! Let's hope it turns out to be 'would' rather than 'will'. These MAGA Republicans sure are keen on abiding by the law, unless it's a woke gay one they don't approve of about not shooting people or not subverting elections and covering that up or not driving around in monster pickups and teaching uppity cyclists lessons they won't forget (except there probably aren't any laws against that in god-fearing 'red' states- have I got that 'red' right, andystow?)

However, we shouldn't be too smug- they're Tories with guns and if they lived here they would be voting Johnson/ Truss/ Rees-Mogg/ Duncan Smith etc, although they would probably reject Sunak as a pinko

Avatar
andystow replied to wtjs | 1 week ago
6 likes
wtjs wrote:

...not driving around in monster pickups and teaching uppity cyclists lessons they won't forget (except there probably aren't any laws against that in god-fearing 'red' states- have I got that 'red' right, andystow?)

Red is right, but even the red states mostly have decent laws on the books. They just won't be applied unless the police chief, sheriff, or prosecuter is an avid cyclist.

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john_smith | 1 week ago
3 likes

Good stuff. As the Prime Minister pointed out only this week, Mr Starmer hasn't even got a plan for dealing with people who spray each other with water like two gay cyclists.

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i-am-furious | 1 week ago
1 like

The dolls are getting fierce this pride month

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Kronsteen | 1 week ago
17 likes

If Ian Duncan Smith keeps his seat in the upcoming election, will he be adding an offence of "spraying each other with water bottles like two gay cyclists" as part of his amendment to the criminal justice bill. We deserve to be told. 

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tootsie323 replied to Kronsteen | 1 week ago
0 likes

I assume that will be a different charge than that of spraying each other with water bottles like two gay motorists?

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ROOTminus1 | 1 week ago
19 likes
Dekker wrote:

“I didn’t dare to do anything. I had five pistols pointed at me, even though those people had an IQ of a shrimp.”

And there lies most of America's problems

Avatar
brooksby | 1 week ago
1 like

Ah, those wacky 'Mericans… 

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VIPcyclist | 1 week ago
16 likes

God I've been running and cycling for nearly 50 years. I've bared my arse in more carparks than I care to remember. This article is just another, in the very long list of, reasons not to go anywhere near the US.

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andystow replied to VIPcyclist | 1 week ago
21 likes

As someone in the US, I wouldn't change in public without a good cover-up for exactly this reason. There are places where an "indecent exposure" charge has a chance of getting you on the sex offender registry, limiting where you can live, what jobs you can hold, and who you can be in contact with.

Despite the claims that the country is about freedom, there's a strong Puritan streak in opposition to it.

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chrisonabike replied to andystow | 1 week ago
3 likes

I thought the "founding" of the US was about freedom *for* the Puritans?

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andystow replied to chrisonabike | 1 week ago
3 likes
chrisonabike wrote:

I thought the "founding" of the US was about freedom *for* the Puritans?

Exactly! Now, we need freedom from them.

Avatar
brooksby replied to andystow | 1 week ago
2 likes
andystow wrote:
chrisonabike wrote:

I thought the "founding" of the US was about freedom *for* the Puritans?

Exactly! Now, we need freedom from them.

As someone who's never been to the US, it just seems so weird that so many of those neo-Puritans think that Trump of all people has been sent to save them… 

Avatar
tubasti replied to brooksby | 1 week ago
1 like
brooksby wrote:
andystow wrote:
chrisonabike wrote:

I thought the "founding" of the US was about freedom *for* the Puritans?

Exactly! Now, we need freedom from them.

As someone who's never been to the US, it just seems so weird that so many of those neo-Puritans think that Trump of all people has been sent to save them… 

The descendants of the Puritans are generally quite open-minded. It's the descendants of the slaveholders you have to watch out for.

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tootsie323 replied to brooksby | 1 week ago
1 like

To be fair, he is someone who invested $130k in keeping his own pants firmly on.

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Manchestercyclist replied to andystow | 1 week ago
5 likes

It's worth remembering the puritans were so popular they left England for the netherlands, then they found even the Protestant Dutch too fun loving. What a miserable bunch.

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tubasti replied to VIPcyclist | 1 week ago
0 likes

In the Democratic-run states, if you make a reasonable effort to keep your bits covered, they'll probably let you off with a warning.

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