Monday, November 28, 2011

A Happy Birthday to Stephen Roche...

"I am convinced that long after I have stopped riding as a professional I will be riding my bicycle. I never want to abandon my bike. I see my grandfather, now in his seventies and riding around everywhere. To me that is beautiful. And the bike must always remain a part of my life."  - Stephen Roche

History will remember Stephen Roche for his three podium ascensions in 1987, I have written of this record year previously, but the efforts that Roche made during his final two years of racing will always be equally strong in my mind. Roche long suffered from knee and back pain. Sometimes that pain became too much to bear, other times the champion pushed on. I know that back pain; sometimes I suffered through a race, too proud to quit. One time, though, it was too much. At some level I can relate. Images of Roche attacking during races in his final two years remain with me after nearly twenty years. I, along with many fans, hoped this was a signal that Roche would continue on for another couple, maybe few years, but it wasn't to be. Roche knew when he was finished and went out with an attacking style that indelibly marked his career.

Here is a short clip of Roche winning in the deep mist at  La Bourboule during the 1992 Tour de France:

A longer Youtube clip of the same stage can be seen here.

Happy Birthday Stephen Roche. And here is to riding in our seventies, Slainte.

Update: If you are visiting this post for the first time, you get a special treat, one which those who have already viewed it may miss. I imagine very few people in the cycling world know of this, or remember it, if they happen to have heard it once before. For sheer novelty listen to "Get Outta That Saddle Stephen", a song written in 1978 by Dermont Morgan, as posted at the Irish Peloton. And while you are listening on the website check out that Sean Kelly board game, pretty collectable as well.

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