William Fotheringham: Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike

Another good recently published bestseller. Merckx of course is the greatest rider of all time, and with the sterile way that the current riders plan their season, relegating once huge races to win below the Tour de France, it is doubtful that his record will ever be matched, let alone beaten.

To be honest, the book does not offer much about Eddy that I did not already know, but with all books, there is always something new that makes it worthwhile and William Fotheringham is a very good author.

The most interesting part of the book for me is Merckx’s hour record. There is interesting comments from Peter Keen and Chris Boardman. Boardman says that that he laughed a bit when he saw footage of Merckx being carried off the track after taking the record and thought that Merckx was just showboating. However, when Boardman attacked the record and only just beat it on a standard design track bike in 2000, he could not walk for four days afterwards. As well as being more streamlined, aero bars also take a lot of strain of the arms and shoulders and back that drop handlebars kindly provide for us, and this, Boardman says, makes a huge difference (and it also shows how good the time trial records of Engers, Cammish, and Burton are compared to those attained with aero bars).

Like Roche’s book, this is a very good read that is hard to put down.

The picture shows from right to left: Merckx; Francesco Moser; Freddy Maertens; Knut Knudsen; Frans Verbeeck; Roger Swerts.  It is probably a 1977 Ardennes classic as Moser is riding for Sanson.

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