They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That may be the case, but I continuously find myself with more questions than answers. Just take a gander at a few of the photos in my vintage cycling album on Google+. I have a sizable collection growing on the hard drive, but these are some of my favorites.
Charlie Gaul marking Bobet up a climb. Merckx setting the hour record. Franco Bitossi leading a group up the Stevio, through a wall of snow. Perhaps these are the pictures that illicit more answers than questions, the others though…are nothing but questions.
Who was Tomy Hall? Who are those two guys breaking away up a gravel climb? It is not even so much as to know their names; really, who were they? Sure Paul and Franz Sutor were track riders at Madison Square Garden, but did they really love the sport? Did they take it seriously?
What about Grenda? Did he race because his family needed food on the table and thats all he was ever good at? Was he a forklift operator by day and a fire-breathing sprinter by night? Was Elmer Collins a drunkard? Did he squander his nightly velodrome winnings on the horses?
What bike is that? Moreover, what long-extinct Belgium board track is that? Is he still alive, waiting for someone to ask about how he
dominated that track, day in and day out, until he touched wheels once and broke his back? Perhaps no one asks, so the memory and the story fades, so that he is not sure if he even did those things when he was young. Maybe that picture is the only proof.
I’ve become mildly obsessed with digging out these photos. Why, I do not know. Perhaps there is something buried in them that holds the key…the reasoning behind why I do what I do. Maybe it’s the key to the suffering. Maybe it is knowing that there have been those before me, who have ridden hard, fast, and completely, without completely knowing why or how. Maybe it’s none of those things. Maybe a photograph is just a photograph.
Did Gaul just wink at me?