In an effort to find my inner Cannibal, I’ve been reading books and watching videos about Eddy Merckx this fall. I am finding him to be an intriguing creature, now that I’m scratching the ‘greatest of all time, etc.’ surface and getting to ‘know’ him a little better. More on this later, but I wanted to share a story that might typify why he was such a dominant figure in the sport.
Patrick Sercu, a rider for the Brooklyn team, recounts a little tale that happened in the early 70s. Sercu was driving from Ghent to Liège with his dad because his team had called him in at the last moment to race La Doyenne. It was blowing and snowing on the road from Brussels to Liège. Suddenly, they saw a cyclist up ahead. They both wondered out loud who’d be nuts enough to be out on the main road in these conditions. Of course it was Eddy Merckx. Apparently, he was riding the 100 kilometers from Brussels alone because he hadn’t won Flèche Wallonne a couple of days earlier. He won L-B-L the next day, 5 minutes ahead of the next rider.
Stories like this both shame and motivate me. Living the Le Sud, I am programmed to hit the turbo if I see a couple of clouds in the sky. I think I need to go up to Belgium for some toughening up.