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Merckx 69 by Jan Maes



Fascinating insight into the life of one of cycling's true greats

Rich in stories and pictures from the first year of Merckx's domination of the sport, Merckx 69 is a fascinating look back at The Cannibal's life, told through a series of pictures and letters written to him by long-time friend Jan Maes.

It's beast of a book in size, covering 26 inches on the diagonal when opened up, so give that some thought when in Ikea next, and at 1.6kg it's suitably tome-like.

Merckx 69 covers the 1969 season, with large-scale photos by Tonny Strouken. The pictures are quite grainy at times, but this adds to the authenticity of the book I think. This was a time of bare heads and no sunglasses, so to me it's all very romantic - it will certainly appeal to fans of the heritage of cycling.

I've found myself reading and rereading it over the last few weeks, picking it up just to look at the images, as we see into aspects of Eddie's life that are not just about the bike.

The letters from Maes punctuate the images, providing a narrative to Merckx's year. We read about the positive drug test from the Giro d'Italia, which if I'm totally honest I found a little to fan-boy sycophantic at this point, and his crash at the Blois velodrome which left him fighting for his life, but we do also see the admiration from from Maes for the Cannibal's ability on the bike.

If you are after an interesting read and one that can be picked up and flicked through frequently, with a more novel story-telling style than a by-the-numbers biography of more recent times, than Merckx 69 could well fit that bill, although it may not fit your book shelf.


Fascinating insight into the life of one of cycling's true greats

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Make and model: Bloomsbury Merckx 69

Size tested: Hardback

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Fans of cycling and Merckx will appreciate the narrative and the original photography of Merckx's classic 1969 season.

Rate the product for performance:

Performance? Well it's a great read, from both a narrative and pictorial stand-point.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

It's heavy, it's big - its glorious in its size.

Rate the product for value:

Many an hour will be spent perusing the photos of cycling's greats.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

it wasn't all about the on-bike action, there were aspects of his 'normal' life on show.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

I understood the viewpoint, but didn't particularly like how his positive test was dealt with, but again, it was a letter from that time by a fan and friend.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

A great look back at one of Merckx's greatest seasons, filled with rich imagery and a unique, personal, style about it.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 176cm  Weight:

I usually ride: Rapide RC4, Raleigh SP Race, Hoffman BMX  My best bike is: Rapide RC4

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, Adventure-packing, crossing-countries


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