By Gary Boulanger, US editor | Sunday, August 24, 2008 5.02am
The trade show season is right around the corner, with EuroBike and Interbike bookending the month of September. Like most shows, there will be plenty of celebrities on hand to sign autographs and posters. For me, the biggest name to grace the floors of the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas is Belgian Eddy Merckx, winner of more than 525 professional races (!), owner of his own bicycle factory, father of retired pro Axel, and author of the best poster I own.
My workshop, home and office walls are home to autographed posters from some of the greatest cyclists ever, including Lance Armstrong and Greg LeMond. Although Eddy retired when Lance was six years old, there's still something about his steely Belgian persona and gait that nonverbally tells those in his path that greatness doth approacheth.
Haven't people said the same about Lance? Of course, and it's true. But, where Lance falls short is in his autograph.
In 2005, I owned a bike shop in Dayton, Ohio. My two employees, Justin and Ryan, came along for their maiden voyage. The wonderment of the Grand Hall of Bike Stuff bedazzled them, so much so that it was their mission to get as many autographed posters in three days as possible. Their coup, though was innocently getting Eddy to sign their posters with their nicknames, which I lovingly bestowed upon them during an alley cat race that summer.
Not wanting to deflate their young egos, I gave them strong, healthy nicknames based on Greek mythology, mixed with a bit of sophmoric humour. Justin was 'Gonadicus' and Ryan was 'Testicles' (pronounced test-ah-clees).
Imagine my surprise when my fearless Greek warriors surprised me with an autographed poster from Eddy, signed "To Gonadicus, Eddy Merckx". Pride is too small a word to describe my joy on that fateful day.
Three years later, and the bike shop is closed. Justin and Ryan have moved on, and I'm living in Northern California, fueled by the knowledge that the pen is mightier than the wheel.
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