"A bicycle is not a toy," said Eddy Merckx. "It must make money. It must be at its maximum. I have a certain illness in my head about the angle of the seat. When I am racing I am sometimes not sure I am in a good position. So one time I changed the tilt. But it was wrong. I had to change it back. Eddy Merckx does not cause a revolution in bicycle design. Racing a bicycle, it is a feel. Knowing the weaknesses, the time to attack, the importance of strategy. From 1962 to 1964 I change much physically. My legs grow longer. They are still growing in 1966 and 1967, and much is made of this, but they are not longer than many others'." It is not a question of morphology but of feel. And, as always in sport, desire.
The American eased into the question. Was there, ah, perhaps, a point champions reach where the effort becomes too painful and the victories less gratifying? What could he possibly look forward to?
"I do not look forward," said Eddy Merckx. "I live day to day. If I thought about the future, it would be a negative thing. Now I do not have the time to think of the future."
In fact, he said, he would have to excuse himself now. He had to leave for an appointment to shave for a TV cameraman or to drink mineral water for a still photographer. Something like that.
When the American left, he turned to look back at Eddy Merckx' villa. He made a mental note that the millionaire's grass was badly in need of cutting. He wondered which French journalist he knew would see in that a comforting sign of decay. It pleased him that he would be keeping the knowledge to himself. Encore, Merckx. Et toujours.