A photo of a Kiwi taking a photo of a photo of The Cannibal (aka Eddy Merckx).
If you don’t want to click on the link that takes you to Merkcx’ Wikipedia page, here are his palmarès:
Edouard Louis Joseph, Baron Merckx (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmerks]) (born 17 June 1945 in Meensel-Kiezegem), better known as Eddy Merckx, is a Belgian former professional cyclist. The French magazine Vélo called him “the most accomplished rider that cycling has ever known.” The American publication, VeloNews, called him the greatest and most successful cyclist of all time. He won the Tour de France five times, won all the monuments of cycling at least twice, with 19 monument victories in all, won the Giro d’Italia five times and the Vuelta a España once, won the world championship once as an amateur and three times as a professional, and broke the world hour record.
An amazing record. Much, much more impressive than that American rider that people swoon all over.
A bit of background on Merckx – the photo on the wall isn’t staged. Even though he had a stable of mechanics to take care of his and his team’s bicycles, Merckx was very particular about his rides, even known to pull up next to a team or mechanic car and ask for a wrench so he could adjust his seat height while in the middle of a race. So to see him in a shop, wrenching on a bike, is not unnatural.
This photo was taken in the foyer of the Eddy Merckx factory in Zellik, Belgium, where we were given a guided tour of the factory, where they build new Merckx bicycles (either piecing together parts made elsewhere or from scratch using a jig and welder) as well as rebuild and repaint older Merckx bicycles, including some classics from the ’80’s that needed a bit of TLC.
Although it was nice to see the special models on the main floor.
Things of beauty, they were. Whether they be 30 years old or brand new. Steel or carbon.
Most interesting was seeing Tom Boonen‘s bike from last year, marked with his name and the Belgian national champion flag. We had watched him, up close and personal, win the Tour of Flanders just a few days before. And we watched him crush the field to decisively win Paris-Roubaix just a few days later. What was “most interesting” about it? While the bike was sitting flush on the floor, his seat height was up near the bottom of my rib cage. Tomeke is a tall man, burly and well suited for the Spring Classics.
The best part about the factory?
Confirmation of some ideas, some would call them dreams, that I’ve had for a while now.