Wednesday, December 24, 2014

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

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

The racing was not the only pressure. Success did not make The Cannibal’s life easy. Once he had become public property, the demands of media, fans, the whole cycling world, were immense. The writer Marc Jeuniau noted that it could take up to two hours to get through to the single open phone line in the Merckx house. (There was a private line for talking to his sponsors in Italy.) His number was available through directory inquiries; most of the calls were fielded by Claudine, who would filter media demands as well. The line usually received about fifty calls a day; Jeuniau counted seventy-five calls in five hours one day when he was with Merckx not long after his accident in Blois. The demands were multifarious, one example being a call from a woman a few days after the accident, with this to say: ‘I hope that now that Eddy is unwell he will have time to answer me at last. I want my son to be a professional cyclist and a message from Eddy would help.’ Further inquiries revealed the son was three and a half. There were continual requests for money, appearances, logistical demands.

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