Happy Birthday Eddy Merckx.
Today is the 70th birthday of the great Eddy Merckx and it makes me think back to the time when I got my first real road race bike.
It was 1982ish and I was working at Dick Sonne’s Ski, Hike and Bike in New Hartford, NY. I’d spent most of my time on a BMX bike but was moving into road racing. I’d ridden a shop hand-me-down Raleigh and then owned one of the first Cannondales the shop got in (man I hated that bike!) but longed for a ‘real’ road race bike and for me that could mean only one thing – a Merckx Team Issue.
The shop did business with the importer Gita so I called them and asked if they had anything in my size – a 62 cm. The salesman said the inventory showed just one in stock and he put the phone down and walked into the warehouse to double check that it was indeed there. A few minutes later he came back and told me that yes they had just the one and that he’d be willing to let me have it for $350 because it was that “awful burnt orange color”. I couldn’t believe my luck…Moltini orange was by far my first choice and I snapped it up. Once it arrived I hung a new kit on it and rode it until I couldn’t turn the pedals over anymore. I was 20 years old and I owned a Moltini Orange Team Issue Merckx. It took all the money I had to make it happen but it was worth every cent. Riding at the limit, tongue on the 14 cm stem, with Eddy’s picture on the head tube was what road riding and racing was to me. That bike set me on a course I’m still following today.
I very much like reading the racing exploits of Eddy Merckx to see what bravado and panache he raced with. He’d be in the yellow jersey by minutes and still be contesting the sprint stages. I miss that type of racing. Here’s a link to a few great Eddy photos and stories – http://velonews.competitor.com/the-cannibal-eddy-merckx-turns-70
So…Happy Birthday Mr. Merckx. Thanks for everything. I owe you one.
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