Livin’ Large

Ok, all you children of the 70s, quick question…

If you spent as much time as I did during the pre-teen years poring over the Guinness Book of World Records, what single image is still burned into your brain?

$100 says it’s this one:

Benny and Billy McCrary on their motorcycles
Image source:

Here are some interesting facts about Benny and Billy McCrary, the World’s Largest Twins (source material: here and here, more photos here):

  • Benny maxed out at 814 lbs. Billy never crossed the 800 lb. barrier, opting instead to keep his weight at a svelte 784 lbs.
  • Backed by Honda and Holiday Inn, Benny and Billy rode Honda mini-bikes cross-country. They took 30 days to ride from New York to Los Angeles.
  • During the cross-country mini-bike odyssey, Benny and Billy met professional wrestler Gory Guerrero in El Paso, Tx.
  • Once their mini-bike trip concluded, Benny and Billy embarked on a career as professional tag-team wrestlers, initially under the tutelage of said Gory Guerrero.
  • They trained about two months in Mexico and began wrestling there, often in bullrings.
  • From there, they went to work with Dory Funk Sr. in Amarillo, Texas.
  • Later, they worked for Leroy McGuirk in Oklahoma City and in Nashville.
  • After that, they were pretty seasoned and hit the road.
  • In Japan, they switched from being the McCrary Twins to the McGuire Twins. “The announcers would have trouble with it. They would pronounce it Queary and we’d say, ‘We ain’t no queers.’
  • One of Benny and Billy’s signature wrestling moves, “The Big Splash”, had an occasional unsavory result. Benny would pin an opponent, and then, according to Benny, “…then Billy would come sit on top of me. I’ve had wrestlers poo-poo in their pants from the weight.” (Wow, too much information)
  • Benny and Billy appeared in Vegas where they played trumpets and told jokes with 400-pound go-go dancers.
  • Billy died of injuries after a mini-bike stunt gone wrong in Niagara Falls.
  • After Billy died in 1979, Benny teamed up with other wrestlers, including Andre the Giant, before retiring from the sport.
  • Benny later opened up a pawn shop.
  • Another random tidbit of information is that Benny and Billy McCrary are natives of Hendersonville, NC, where I just happened to be last weekend for day 1 of the Southeast’s only UCI sanctioned cyclocross races. The less that is said of my performance in the 35+ event the better. Suffice it to say that 5 hours of sleep, a 20 minute warmup, and training one day a week for the entire year are not conducive to podium appearances. More along the order of “please don’t lap me”. But regardless of my form, I do love racing.

    Anyway, between the finish of my race and the start of the Elite Men’s event was an approximate 2 hour window which I dutifully spent riding to Benny’s and Billy’s final resting spot (Crab Creek Baptist Church Cemetery: 72 Jeter Mountain Road - about 9 miles southwest of downtown Hendersonville) where I paid my respects.

    Even in death, they’ve set yet another world record: the world record for the largest granite tombstone, weighing in at about 3 tons:

Imagine for a moment an alternate universe. A parallel dimension where instead of meeting Gory Guerrero in El Paso, Benny and Billy ran into a certain legendary six-day pro/promoter Patrick Sercu:

Sercu: Listen, Gory Guerrero’s got nothin’ to offer. NOTHING. This so called ‘Rasslin’ is not a sport. It’s fake. On the other hand, professional six-day bike races are honest athletic endeavors devoid of any illusion of fraud or scripted outcome…
Billy: That’s not what I heard.
Sercu: Now where did you rubes get that idea? Hear me out…How would you like an eternal diet of complimentary beer and frites…
Benny: Wait, I know all about beer, but what the hell are freets?
Sercu: Uh, gloriously fried, golden, crispy, salted potatoes. I believe you call them of all things “French Fries” here. But we use mayo, not ketchup.
Benny: Ooh, that sounds good. Me and Billy can’t live on beer alone.
Billy: At least not for extended periods of time.
Sercu: Right…Anyway, as I was saying, you’ll have a chance to race your mini-bikes - umm…actually we call them dernies…but no matter - all over Europe, ogle oodles of show girls, take in a non-stop disco music soundtrack each night, and most importantly, you’ll be guaranteed a place in six-day lore and legend. I can’t seem to find any Yanks who can cut it in Europe indoors on track bikes. Instead, this land has an uncanny knack for producing men larger than anyplace on the planet. But Benny and Billy, you two win the fat-ass crown hands-down.
Benny and Billy: Amen to that, brother!
Sercu: Damn, I’ve got about 20 Euro speedsters itching to draft such a doughy dynamic duo like you two. And my-oh-my, draft they will. Why don’t you both sign right here on the dotted line…And then we leave for Belgium.

Feast your eyes on what may have transpired in hallowed indoor velodrome venues such as Dortumund or Copenhagen or Zurich or Munich or Grenoble or Ghent. Benny and Billy…you missed your true calling.

The Sound of No Hands Clapping (in Belgium)

Photo ©: Roberto Bettini

The wrong Frenchman (in my humble opinion) won the Treviso World Cup last Saturday, but what a masterful performance by Francis Mourey. He even repeatedly ran the stairs with his stubby legs just as fast as the svelte Vervecken and Nys - no easy feat. Of course, the Treviso parcours was much more dirt criterium than cyclocross so it makes sense that Mourey, a FdJ road pro, would prevail in the 3-up sprint, but you can never count out Sven Nys who just plain knows how to win no matter what the conditions. 5:51 laps on a 3.2km circuit (better than 20mph avg. speed) is just nuts, and the race director in Treviso admitted that changes would be made for the 2008 world championships to take place at the same venue. I had a hunch Mourey would win, even if the duo all but wrote him off, but that last 100 meters was a thing of beauty. Fluid RPMs trumped raw Belgian power bogged down in big gears.

If wee John Gadret hadn’t been knocked off his bike about every other lap on the crazy steep-maybe-you-can-ride-it,-but-there’s-a-good-chance-you’ll-run-it 26% power climb by flailing competitors who crashed and burned when their forward progress ceased and desisted, maybe he could have improved on his 10th place finish. I can’t wait for the remaining World Cup races to be broadcast on

And I believe that freaky-tall Ryan Trebon will be making his way across the pond very soon to do battle in Europe all the way through the world championships next February. I think Francis Mourey’s head would barely crest the top tube if he happened to be walking next to Trebon’s ride in the pits.

What goes up must come down faster…

Me 'n' J.G. banner

“It’s the first race where you can’t hide”
-Sven Nys opines on the Koppenbergcross

When you weigh all of 128 lbs. including the field-full of cow shit and slimy Belgian mud plastered on your limbs, when you rock Giro mountain stages in the company of Ivan Basso, when you’ve got the watts to finish strong in the Giro di Lombardia, when you live for hard-guy courses in Belgium, then the climber-friendly cobble-rama that is the Koppenberg Cross is your time to strike the fear into Sven Nys. If only John Gadret could go downhill like he goes up. But a podium spot in the heart of Flanders ain’t too shabby for someone heretofore relying solely on ProTour road fitness. Says Gadret, “I’m really happy with my performance as this is the first important cyclo-cross for me. Up until now, I didn’t enjoy specific cyclo-cross training so I’m certainly lacking the technical skills that other riders have mastered,” Gadret explained. “My goal this season is to win an event in the world cup.”

That’s right, it’s just a matter of time…a time, that is, when Gadret can convince a World Cup ‘cross promoter to have a ‘cross hillclimb.

Koppenberg Cross: Gazet van Antwerpen-trofee #1 Oudenaarde, Belgium 3rd @ 0.30
Challenge de la France Cycliste #1 Henin-Beaumont, France 2nd @ 0.12
Cyclocross World Cup #3 Tabor, Czech Republic 12th @1.11
Cyclocross World Cup #2 Kalmthout, Belgium 25th @ 1.10