What do you get when you combine:
|The Black Fish Elite Cycling Squad
|Cycling Legend Stuart O'Grady
|Former Special Forces operative Marty Edwards and his family
|World's wealthiest man, Claud Altin
And copious amounts of:
|Blood of JC
One of the greatest nights in Black Fish history.
I wish I could provide a coherent narrative of the way the night unfolded. But such was the mystery and majesty of this amazing night that I possess only a confused melange of isolated memories, devoid of context and meaning. Even the chronology of events seems non-linear, like a dream. Perhaps the whole event was a dream, although if this were the case then I have the world's first confirmed case of dream-induced hepatitis.
Anyway, what follows is a collection of reconstructed memories of the night the mighty Black Fish had dinner with Stuey O'Grady and his Paris-Roubaix trophy. Don't expect it to make any sense.
1. The warm-up
|Weeks shows his disdain for capitalist 'fashion' by defiantly wearing a hoodie
If there's one thing that the Black Fish cycling squad does better than ritually humiliating "Mount" Lofty, it is strapping on a clean dinner hoodie and heading to a spectacular local vineyard for some carbo-loading. Thankfully, medical science has taught us that bio-available carbohydrates (or, in layman's terms, 'empty calories'), are best provided to elite athletes in the form of wine and other alcoholic beverages. So it was a team requirement that all members attend the Stuey O'Grady dinner at the Lane vineyard.
|Cadel Mountain Mix, in liquid form
Soon, a large amount of carbo-loading had taken place. Clearly the Fish can be expected to dominate next week's Tour Down Under.
It was at this point that it became necessary to share some Black Fish wisdom with the captain of the fledgling Australian cycling team GreenEDGE (previously known as the Black Fish Development Squad)
2. The Main Event
|Marty Edwards wonders who let his 'cousin' onto the guest list
Early in the night, the great man was happy to share an array of amazing anecdotes about the life of a professional cyclist (including out-running the Italian police at 320km/hr with Troy Bayliss, and riding his pushbike down a hill at over 120km/hr. This makes him the 6th-fastest human ever on a bicycle, after the 5 elite Black Fish each Sunday morning on the Mt Lofty descent).
If there are any positives that can come from having multiple episodes of significant brain injury in one's life (and there are), it is the development of a brutal form of honesty (or 'disinhibition', in more clinical terms). Unfortunately for Stuey, but much more fortunately for those of us in the audience, he does not suffer from Homer Simpson Syndrome. So each successive fall over a cliff, skiing accident or speed-induced seizure has incrementally enhanced Stuey's honesty. This was beautifully encapsulated in an anecdote about his tactics in bunch sprints as a young man, which was to target older sprinters who had children and attempt to head-butt them into roadside barriers, as he knew they would eventually yield to his suicidal behaviour. This is exactly why the Black Fish have tried for many years to bring him into the team. And watch carefully in Tanunda next Friday and you might see all five of the newly-inspired BF squad careering wildly across the home straight, smashing into pensioners and other vulnerable oldies, using heads as weapons of mass destruction. You're all mine, Eddie Merckx.
Many more anecdotes soon followed, facilitated by the Michael Parkinson of cycling-vineyard-dinner Q&A sessions, our very own Dicky Weeks. I'm sure many other paying customers had a question for Stuey. Perhaps they could send him an email.
|When drinking, O'Grady would allow his conjoined twin to emerge from his jacket
Soon, O'Grady could no longer resist his desire to approach the Black Fish for a chat. In order to lure us in, he brought his most prized possession, the famous cobblestone trophy from his victory in the 2007 Paris-Roubaix. Take note of how Finola appears to effortlessly hold the trophy, despite its weight of about 300kg and the aggressive sleeper hold that O'Grady is employing on her neck.
A long-time fan of the Black Fish blog and deeply impressed by our low skin-fold scores, O'Grady soon demanded that we each have a photo with the trophy. Even this guy was unable to haggle himself a photo opportunity like that.
So behold, the mighty Black Fish with one of the few major cycling trophies to have eluded them:
|Team clown Weeks attempts to bring some zany to the serious sport of cycling
|When in fact it is a deadly serious business
|Or just mildly confusing
|Conclusive evidence that cycling makes your hair fall out is still lacking
3. On the relative importance of wine and cycling
Everyone loves wine. The Black Fish more than most. And everyone knows that South Australian wines are superior. But fine South Australian wines may be considered to be ubiquitous, whereas South Australian winners of Paris-Roubaix are a scarce resource. So in a combined marketplace, demand for Roubaix winners will always outstrip that for excessive discourse on wines, no matter how fine they are. Unfortunately the logic behind this simple bit of vino/velo economics was lost on the geniuses at the Lane, who sought to supplant Stuey's (gold) cycling anecdotes with some wine talk. As expected, the Fish took refuge in the wine itself, but even they were surprised when O'Grady himself sought similar refuge and, on this occasion, had a clear victory over the Fish.
4. The Looking-Glass
At this point, we all went through the looking-glass.
We soon learned some valuable lessons:
i) Stuey doesn't know his body-fat percentage, and will tell you where to go if you ask him
ii) Nobody, least of all famous cycling celebrities, should be asked to 'interview' this clown about his vineyard, or indeed ask his opinion on anything at all
iii) When approached with food, this man will invariably say 'yes'; when approached with any other request or comment, he will invariably tell you to get fucked
iv) This man's wife, the lovely Helen Edwards has a passion for two things:
(a) Pork (b) Edwardses
v) Stuey still has a passion for cycling, much like a painter (or some other incomprehensible metaphor)
vi) Stuey doesn't think much of Bob Stapleton (but he can think of a pithy description of him)
vii) Stuey has never hurt on a bike (but he will hurt Sam Edwards if he asks him that question again)
viii) Stuey kindly offered BF Dwyer a private riding session (at least I think that's what he was offering)
5. The Aftermath
The Paris-Roubaix is without doubt the most gruelling one-day cycling event. 260km of cobble-stone riddled, icy wind-blasted, mud-stained pain (or no pain, in Stuey's case). Its trophy is both beautiful and deeply symbolic, and is coveted by every member of the professional peloton.
Stuart loves his trophy.
Made from one of the famous cobbles that line the route of the Hell of the North, it looks indestructible.
It is not.
The good news is that no member of the Black Fish was responsible for the destruction of this beautiful monument. Indeed, it was Stuey himself who, shortly after posing for a bizarre photo with a member of the Hair Bear Bunch, vigorously returned his trophy to the Lane's portable card table which, unbeknownst to him, was constructed from Kryptonite.
The smudge of rubble that remained was itself a metaphor; just as the intact trophy represented unimaginable hardness in the face of adversity - the triumph of man over the elements - the crumbly remains serve to remind us of the very human fragility of the cyclist, a condition to which Stuey's ribs, vertebrae, skull and clavicles (and Dicky's little toe) can readily attest.
Fortunately, John Edwards was able to remedy the situation by quickly placing the trophy fragments in a Lane-branded brown paper bag and returning it to the display table, where it was indistinguishable from its original state.
And never underestimate the innate scavenging ability of the mighty Black Fish, each of whom now possesses a small souvenir fragment of the most famous trophy in cycling.
Surely the totemic quality of these shards will propel the Fish to even greater heights when they tackle the TDU next week.
Don't miss it, cycling fans.
And watch out, Merckx, I'm coming for you.