Somethings go together perfectly: cheese and wine, chocolate and orange, cycling and downhill……. Somethings, on the other hand, do not make a perfect partnership: politics and religion (?), drinking and driving, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry……..
Out on my morning ride today, I came across a startling revelation: some cyclists actually smoke!!! How does that work, I wondered……?
I saw a group ahead of me standing by the side of the road and, thinking they had suffered a mishap, I stopped to ask the if everything was OK. Then I noticed that two of the four riders were actually puffing away on cigarettes…..by the side of the road…..wearing club lycra……..holding onto nice carbon bikes……..looking to all intents and purposes like serious club riders…….and the other two were indulging their companions with their patience. Now, this got me wondering. Do cycling and smoking really go together?Well, do you recognize this gentleman? Yes, the famous Eddy Merckx, known in the cycling world as The Cannibal. Some would contend he was the greatest cyclist of all time. Maybe he knew something about the oxygenating properties of tobacco……… Obviously there was a time in history when the power of the weed was understood better than it is now……. and the guy crouching down in the second row wanted to be included in the promotional shot as well!And being a tandem rider myself, it’s good to know that the famous Player’s brand of yesteryear even had the welfare of twosomes in mind, when the company’s scientists beavered away behind closed doors to make their product not only a legal stimulant in the cycling world, but a desirable health product.
And if you still don’t believe me that Eddy Merckx smoked, here’s another promo he did….and contemporaries at the time will vouch that, at the end of a race, he would regularly light up as part of his recovery from the stresses and strains of the day.
Walter Raleigh…..you have much to answer for! But we do thank you for the potato.