Spring temperatures finally are making an appearance, which makes us think of frozen yogurt, ice cream sodas… and brain freezes.
Turns out there are other ways to get brain freezes, too. Which is why (among other reasons) you should always wear your bike helmet.
Former pro racer Bob Roll — the cycling commentator who demystifies the Tour de France on TV — was in the neighborhood the other day, as a guest rider at Marty’s Reliable Cycle in Morristown and a speaker at an event for Tri-County Orthopedics.
Bobke, as he’s known to cycling fans, shared a story for Tri-County from the sport’s pre-helmet days. He was racing in the 1988 Giro D’Italia for the 7-Eleven-Hoonved team, supporting Andy Hampsten, who that year became the only American ever to win this race.
As Marty Epstein of Marty’s Reliable relays the tale, Bobke was tucked over his handlebars on a descent that stretched for miles, in a snowstorm.
“He got so cold that he looked at his legs and thought, ‘I do not remember putting on blue leg warmers,'” Marty recounted. “His legs were frozen.”
Snow piled up on a natural flat spot on the back of Bobke’s helmet-less head.
“There’s an optic nerve back there,” according to Dixie Douville of Tri-County.
As Bobke was finishing the descent, he sensed something was wrong.
“He thought he was going blind!” Marty said. Bobke screamed: “I can’t see. This race made me blind!”
The race doctor came over and reassured the cyclist that a cup of espresso would cure him.
“Are you nuts? What is that going to do?” Bobke replied, incredulous.
The doctor applied the warm espresso to the back of the cyclist’s icy noggin. As promised, vision returned. But in his traumatized, exhausted state, Bobke wondered if the apparition before him was real. Andy Hampsten stood on the podium, in the pink leader jersey.
“I must be dead because it is not possible in real life!” Bobke remembered thinking.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Local cycling fans may get another crack at Bob Roll; Marty is pushing to bring him back to Morristown for a future Gran Fondo NJ . In the meantime, you can start gearing up with special discounts on bike gear, exclusively for Morristown Green readers. Click the Marty’s ad on our home page for great deals!