“I used to just sit on my bike, weeping in pain” – Eddy Merckx
Babe. Michael. Tiger. Lance. Say these names and nobody says “…who”? Virtually unknown here in the States but a legend in Europe, Eddy Merckx is the mountain on every bike racer’s horizon that none can climb, only pass by in a valley.
With over 500 wins in his career, Eddy was nicknamed “The Cannibal”, for his aggressive style of riding and winning. He achieved 5 Tour de France wins, including 34 stage wins and 96 days in the yellow jersey. He’s also the only man ever to win all three jerseys in one Tour (Yellow-Overall leader, Green-Sprint points winner, Polka Dot-Climbers points).He also won the Giro d’Italia 4 times, and the Vuelta once.
Most impressive for me though, are his Spring Classics victories. While the grand tours (the Giro, the Tour, and the Vuelta) are what most folks associate with bike racing, it is these one day winner take all races that are most exciting. Think of them as the bike equivalent of Ultimate Fighting, and you begin to get the picture. In one season, Eddy won 7 Classics, including the legendary Paris-Roubaix.
With all the doping scandal that infests this beautiful sport, it’s hard not to look back at Eddy’s dominance and think that maybe he was a pioneer in more ways than one. I prefer to just enjoy the idea that maybe he was just that good.
A word about the art: One of the things I enjoy about having a blog is the opportunity to swerve off my usual path on occasion. I like simple drawing as much as I like the more rendered way my work usually appears. I've been an illustrator for many years, and this messing around with different ways to skin a cat is sort of like recess was in elementary school was for me.
David Flaherty July 9, 2007
Nice drawing Dale!
Leo Espinosa July 9, 2007
-Love the illustration. spontaneous and honest; Merchx has never been my guy, though. I've been more impressed my entire life by undernourished underdogs like the ones I saw racing in the Andes since I was a kid.
Again, read Kings of the Mountains by Matt Rendell. He also wrote A Significant Other.
-Did you see the crash today?
Dale Stephanos July 9, 2007
David, Leo, thanks.
Leo, I identify more with the undernourished climber type you describe as well. For me, there was no more exciting racer than Pantani...well, at least until Lance came along. But Lance eventually got a little dull just because he focused solely on the Tour, and the way he would methodically win the Tour every year. In fact, count me in for just about any underdog.
I thought I'd tip the pencil towards Eddy today just because the Tour is on, and he's the one mountain even the best climber will not scale.
I saw the crash. The first week is always craaaazy. They're riding around like a bunch of cat 5's in an industrial park crit!
Brian Stauffer July 9, 2007
Dale, I know zip about cycling, but I do know a great drawing when I see one. Nice color use as well.
Christoph Hitz July 10, 2007
In the seventies the "Tour de Swiss" route would go by about every other year behind my parents house.
We would get some bells and whistles wait for a half hour, cheer our lungs out for about one minute, as Eddy Merckx and his fellow bicyclists would fly by. As a kid I remember Eddy being muscular, tan and a trade mark set of full, jet black, hair.
Nice post down the memory lane.
David Gothard July 10, 2007
I like the way you cropped this and the strong design of it. You captured his unrelenting quality.
Dale Stephanos July 11, 2007
Brian, thanks. As I said, this stuff is more spontaneous than my other work, so I'm glad it works for someone.
Christoph, that's a great story. A legend just sort of cruising by you door one morning? Nice.
David thanks. As you know, we can get fussy about the tiniest things. The cropping took almost as long as the drawing.