Saturday, December 20, 2014

the last book I ever read (Half Man, Half Bike: The Life of Eddy Merckx, Cycling's Greatest Champion, excerpt eight)

from Half Man, Half Bike: The Life of Eddy Merckx, Cycling's Greatest Champion by William Fotheringham:

There was a talented cyclist who happened to be born at the same time as Eddy Merckx. Like so many others, the cyclist spent the best years of his career trying to beat Merckx but was constantly frustrated. Time and again he knew he was in perfect form, time and again The Cannibal defeated him. When he died, the pro went to Heaven and was greeted by St Peter. The saint put him on the start line of a race on the smoothest velodrome he had ever seen, on the finest handbuilt Italian frame.

All the greats who had predeceased him were on the start line: Fausto Coppi, Maurice Garin, Ottavio Bottecchia and so on, but, even so, our cyclist knew he could win. He rode the perfect race, timed his effort just right, and had victory in the bag on the final lap. As the line approached, however, he sensed a wheel coming past, glanced to the side and saw the face of The Cannibal.

Afterwards, in a state of some distress, the cyclist went up to St Peter and said, ‘Eddy isn’t dead yet, what’s he doing here?’ St Peter replied gravely: ‘That wasn’t Merckx. It was God. He likes to pretend he’s Merckx.’

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