Pic: D McCulloch
I've always been a dreamer. It was the most consistent remark on all my school report cards the entire way through. 'Head in the clouds'. I follow my dreams, sometimes with the same blind enthusiasm as a dog chasing a car. You'd say a dog could never catch the car, and you probably would have said John Van Sommeren would never win Roubaix.
You just have to dream big.
Usually, it's my job to deliver things. This next dream is so big that I'm going to need your help to pull it off. Get this message to its destination!
Hello Mr. Eddy Merckx,
I played an April Fools prank on my friends saying you'd come on a bike ride I organise every year. The thought was not instantly dismissed and the idea of you coming made some friends so delirious with excitement and weak in the knees that I thought I'd at least ask, rather than die wondering.
Are you free on Sunday June 26? If so, will you ride Melburn Roobaix?
The ride is themed on a bike race you won in 1968, '70 and '73. I wasn't even born then, but I know a lot about you thanks to Wikipedia and my mate Gaz. The ride features pave rougher than anything you've seen in Arenberg forest. It sectors wind their way through grassy singletrack and suburban streets, over railway lines, either up Col d'Ugly or the Koppenberg, and finishes with a lap of the Brunswick CC outdoor track.
Melburn Roobaix, unlike the French race is all about discovering new parts of Melbourne on two wheels with friends. Even though there are no prizes for coming first, second or otherwise, we all know it only takes two people to race and I'm sure there is much half wheeling from mixte's or fixie's on the sectors. I keep telling my mate LSD it's not a race, but he's looking to 'win' for a third time - with his 4 year old son in tow.
It's not 256km in distance, it's about 35km but it still manages to take about 4 hours to complete the course, and Gaz 5 hours. You'll probably get lost even with a map. Should you tire along the ride, there will be something sweet in the feed bag, and many cafe options on the map to choose from en route. I'll even make sure there is frites and a cold beverage at the finish so you feel right at home.
After riding through my great city, getting lost, finding yourself, fixing a flat and stopping for coffee with Gaz and a swarm of cycling nuts for a Sunday in Hell, you'll agree it was worth the trip. Even if for the coffee alone.
I planned the event date so it doesn't clash with anything in the UCI calender, so you can't use that excuse. It isn't cheap to fly out here, so should you agree I'll pass around the hat and we'll pay for your flight. I'm sure you are past the days of crashing on friends couches, so I'll make sure you've got a swank place to lay your head in the heart of town. If you need a bike to ride I've got plenty in your size too.
Coming to Australia may not be new for you, but riding the world's biggest and arguably best 'Cycle rally/Alleycat' may be. I'm certain it will be a lifelong memory for anyone riding that day who has only known you through old cycling magazines, video tapes, and my mate Gaz. A story to be spoken of in bunch rides on Beach rd forever.
Registration opens this Friday at noon. I've put the #1 entry aside for you.
Thanks for your time.
Best wishes from Melburn,
p.s. There is a prize for furthest travelled, and I'm sure you'll have it in the bag coming from the spiritial home of cycling.
p.p.s. Here's some images from the past to give you a visual reference of what to expect.