Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Eddy Merckx: Best Pro Cyclist Ever

The Gaansari Crew is adamant about bicycling, but as any visitor to our humble establishment quickly discovers, we're not racerboy posers. We do not subscribe to wearing what friends call "banana smuggling" outfits, nor do we use heart rate monitors or other techno-gadgets when we ride. Our bicycles are based on proven designs from the 1970s, `80s and early `90s, and we don't see the need to chase vain modern technology to get our kicks on two wheels. And no, we're not card-carrying members of the Lance Armstrong Fan Club.

We are, on the other hand, rabid fans of a certain former Belgian racer named Eddy Merckx. Eddy retired in 1978, after more than 500 international victories. He had a cool, Brian Ferry look about him, and was a total dominating force in the pro peloton, so much so that his peers refered to Merckx as the "Cannibal." What was Merckx's secret? He was paid to race, and race he did. Spring classics, every major tour, fall classics, world championships, cyclocross, indoor track racing. If there would've been 13 months in a year in the `60s and `70s, Merckx would have raced them all.

The best inspiration we've received from Merckx is undoubtedly his performance in three art-house style cycling documentaries from Jorgen Leth, "La Course En Tete (The Head of the Field),"A Sunday In Hell," and "Stars & Watercarriers." Considered one of the best cycling films ever made, "A Sunday in Hell" focuses on the 1976 Paris-Roubaix single-day bike race (where Merckx shows signs of greatness fading and does not win). "Stars & Watercarriers" cofers the 1973 Giro d'Italia, where Eddy's dominance is borderline chilling: he atttacks incessantly in the leader's pink jersey, gobbling up stage win after stage win. "La Course En Tete" shows the personal side of Merckx following his crushing (to him) defeat at the `74 world road championships.

But enough about our take on Eddy. For more insight on the suave Belgian, read these three interviews from cyclingnews.com, and let us know if you weren't inspired to ride:

An Audience With The King
Back In The Saddle
The One And Only


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