Same as it ever was…

An elderly Frenchman tosses his day's pros under the bus
Photo source: LIFE photo archive

“These punks today, riding bikes, getting paid mad money, they don’t know what it was like when blah blah blah blah…”

I’ve been poking around some on the LIFE photo archives, unsurprisingly perusing their images related to cycling. When you enter the phrase “bicycle racing” into the search engine, 31 photographs are returned. As one would expect, there are some Tour de France photos, some 6-day photos from the ’40s, several Little 500 pics, and then there’s a certain Monsieur Fourcet (as seen above).

The caption to this photograhs reads, “Veteran cyclist Fourcet expessing low opinion of modern racers, saying they no longer have good legs and are much too lazy.”

The location is France.

The month is July.

And the year is 1953.

Jeez, you’ve got to wonder what it takes to impress this guy. It’s quite likely the photo was captured while the 1953 Tour de France was in progress, won by that well-known slacker Louison Bobet, his first of three consecutive Tour victories. Alongside other perennial softies such as Raphaël Géminiani, Gino Bartali, Wim Van Est, Fiorenzo Magni, Hugo Koblet, Charly Gaul and Jean Robic.

And as luck would have it, there’s some stellar prose recently created concerning Louison Bobet: the ever-interesting Dave Moulton penned a Bobet primer and Rouleur #12 has a profile of Bobet’s younger brother, Jean, a rider (and writer) of no modest abilities in his own right. You’ll have to get your hands on the issue (or better yet, his book Tomorrow We Ride) to read his account of Louison laying waste to the field on Mont Ventoux during the 1955 Tour, while he endured his own personal level of hell to finish his first Grand Tour.

Laziness, indeed.

Comments (24) to “Same as it ever was…”

  1. That’s a great find.

    He may have had a minor point, since the riders were no longer using fixed gear bikes (Damn you to the seventh circle of hell, Tullio Campagnolo!) and the stages were no longer 500km long.

    He’d also fill his Depends to bursting over the softness of today’s pro riders with their carbon fiber bikes, recovery drinks, and frequent withdrawals from races due to stomach ailments and ‘just not feeling it today.’ He’d also definitely tell us to “get off my lawn, you hoodlums.’

  2. […] the rumbly bits of today’s Dwars door Vlaanderen, the venerable Bobke Strut proves that even retro grouches had retro grouches, and Robbie McEwan loves crappy weather fancies his chances of a win. All in all, it’s a lot […]

  3. Pietro I read this just before reading your blog:
    Wim Van Est was born on March 25, 1923. He died on May 1, 2003
    The Dutch rider won one of the five monuments in cycling.

    Van Est won the Tour of Flanders Classic in 1953.

    He was also the first Dutchman to wear the yellow jersey of race leadership in the Tour de France.
    Happy Birthday Wim…not forgotten

  4. Pietro I read this just before reading your blog:
    Wim Van Est was born on March 25, 1923. He died on May 1, 2003
    The Dutch rider won one of the five monuments in cycling.

    Van Est won the Tour of Flanders Classic in 1953.

    He was also the first Dutchman to wear the yellow jersey of race leadership in the Tour de France.
    Happy Birthday Wim…not forgotten

  5. Welcome back You’re posts were missed.

  6. And now, 50’s veteran road cyclist could say that today racers “no longer have good legs and are much too lazy”.

  7. Are you still alive? How about updating this blog once in a while?

  8. new post needed…

  9. YY

  10. Peter, you should take your blog down if youre never going to update it…

  11. It’s been almost a year since your last post. Give us more!

  12. Thanks , I have recently been looking for info about this subject for a while and yours is the best I have found out till now. But, what about the conclusion? Are you sure concerning the source?

  13. Добрый день! Я инвалид I группы и мне требуется уход. Я хочу взять для ухода знакомую девушку, Я оформил ее по уходу за собой, (то есть она не соцработник, соцработника(чужого)можно взять, но я буду у одним из 8 за кем он ухаживает) то есть девушка нигде не работает……….Все бы хорошо, но есть одна проблема. Сейчас, девушке за меня платят мало, но хотяб у нее идет стаж, а деньгами ей помогают родители, но это пока девушка одна. Потом она наверняка найдет парня и забеременеет…а потом и родит и что тогда? Мы живем рядом и помогать она мне всегда сможет, но вот думаю, потом ее 1200 по уходу, которые она будет за меня получать, ее явно не устроят. Вот у меня и назрело несколько вопросов:1) какие выплаты положены девушке, если она как сейчас просто будет оформлена по уходу за мной, то есть что ей заплатят, если она родит и будут ли платить каждый месяц? 2) Что можно сделать вообще в этой ситуации, чтоб девушка получала что-то от государства? Может как-то можно ее взять к себе на работу? Подскажите, пожалуйста! А то я боюсь, что останусь один, без помощи, потому что ей будет невыгодно ухаживать за мной.. ведь ей тоже хочется, чтоб ее ребенок, когда родиться, хоть на памперсы что-то получал. Она-то девушка отзывчивая, но свой ребенок дороже. Подскажите, пожалуйста! Заранее спасибо!
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