Anatomy of a Photo: Badgers Are As Badgers Do

Anatomy of a Photo: Badgers Are As Badgers Do

by / / 83 posts

I’m not particularly fond of this photo, but it certainly tells you a thing or two about Le Blaireau. A man more comfortable speaking with his appendages than with words, he was patron of the last peloton that truly represented the working class sport that cycling originally was; one where riders escaped a tough life of manual labor and meager means by pursuing life on the bicycle (one of tough labor and meager means). The hardest man of a generation of hard men, the Badger was as cuddly as a fistful of rusty nails.

By my last count, there are more images on The Googles – both old and new – of Hinault assaulting people than there are of him riding a bike. A fiercely proud man, he once threw a young Phil Anderson’s bidon to the roadside after Phil deigned to offer it to him in a sporting gesture. In his first grand tour of his career, he lead a rider’s protest because they felt mistreated. A few years later, at the 1984 Paris-Nice, he beat up a guy (pictured) for leading a protest by shipyard workers who felt mistreated. He’s been tackling people ever since.

He was also, as most champions are, fiercely competitive. As team leader, he forced LeMan to wait for him in 1985 when he faltered and his young American teammate was up the road in the winning break, threatening to take the race lead.  In return, he promised to work for Greg the following year. Then, in the 1986 Tour, when it suddenly appeared he might be strong enough to win for a record sixth time, he promised to work for LeMond so long as he beat him first. Not exactly a man of his word, then.

So here’s to Bernard Hinault, a fucking asshole. But an awesome asshole. And, while not pretty, lets remember that assholes perform a vital function.


// Anatomy of a Photo

  1. @Pedale.Forchetta
    +1. Rule #5 is a personal measure. While looking pro might be about fitting in, it is also very much an individual marker.

  2. @Xponti, @Pedale.Forchetta
    @Xponti, I love where you’re going with the Star Wars thing, but I think the perfect balance is more akin to the Luke Skywalker situation, where you are generally working to be one with The V and let it flow through you – you draw your strength from it and are at peace with the suffering. But the Old Republic Jedi were too passive; you need a little bit of anger every now and again to help motivate you. Luke had just enough anger in him to win a fight every now and again, but generally stayed pretty calm. (@packfiller, does that answer your question as to whether or not I’m a geek?)

    For the most part, what interests me in a champion is exactly what @Pedale.Forchetta is saying about mental, spiritual and physical self (and limitations) and who seem to compete more from internal challenge than external. That’s the difference between someone like, say, Fabian and Armstrong. Both are fiercely competitive, but when it comes down to it, Armstrong is motivated to be the best by making others lose, whereas a rider like Faboo is motivated to be the best by a desire to push himself and be better and stronger than before. It’s a different mentality altogether. I’m actually working on an article to this effect; it’s a fascinating subject to me.

  3. @Jeff in PetroMetro, @sgt
    You guys need help. Maybe you should start a new venture that turns web pages into Franglish. Jeff, you could really put your writing skilz to use that way.

    We have to figure out who to incorporate “Rool Cinq. Tu connais Les Rools.” into this place more often. Absolutely top drawer.

  4. Jeff in PetroMetro:
    Here is a different side of Hinault-one of compassion for a loyal teammate. Sorry for the quality. It is a scan from “Breakaway” by Samuel Abt. The photo is by Presse-Sports. Jourdan has been injured in a crash and is about to drop out of the 1984 TdF.

    Why did you put a sheet of paper over the book? Didn’t want to reveal your plans to take over the world that you jotted into the margins?

  5. @mrlavalava
    Thanks for the video, I’d never seen it. Very cool to see it in action, although, as has been pointed out, the dynamic is much better in the photo than in the video. Although Bernie really goes for that punch, eh? By the looks of it, that was not his first punch.

  6. good point Jeffmetro, after what happened to me..i thought about that. Follows my lifes statement that tis better to be lucky, than good.

    Boy, otherwise, on a deeper philosophic note, this just keeps sliding on a slippery slope.


    I suppose this exemplifies for me the beauty of Rule V. I simply accept it in its supremacy of all virtues. When applied correctly, it amplifies all. In all the above, whether its hierachial or not, whether its lateral in comparison or not, in application of Rule V, all these good virtues are made more manifest and for me more acceptable, more attainable.

  7. @sgt

    When I see this pic, I’m reminded of the worldview expressed in one of the greatest cinematic experiences of the last decade… I’m speaking, of course, of Team America: World Police.

    LOVE.THAT.MOVIE. We had to pause it and let ourselves recover after he gets out of the chopper “in disguise” with a towel wrapped around his head like a woman just out of the shower. The way it had built to that through the “uncanny valmorphanization” of him was just too much.

    Those guys are geniuses.

  8. @Souleur

    not advised by any measure, and thats the only time I have done it, but some dumb assholes like me need a good scrap once in a while and at this pace I’ll be ready for another when i am 80, otherwise if you nice like most its best to just ride on and let by-gones be by-gones.

    I commend you on your nerve and willingness to fight someone while dressed in spandex and wearing cleats, but I would be terrified of getting murdered. Even though Seattle is a pretty passive place, all you need is one nut with a gun. And, there’s not enough Rule #5 in the world to cure a gunshot wound to the cranium. But obviously I’m over-thinking this.

    Great story!

  9. @frank

    Why did you put a sheet of paper over the book? Didn’t want to reveal your plans to take over the world that you jotted into the margins?

    (Ahem.) Why, whatever are you talking about, Frank? I’ve no plans to take over the world. What gave you that impression?

    (Shit. Commander Zog. Come in, Commander Zog! Returning to home planet. Plans discovered…by some fucking Dutchman.)

  10. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    So true re: the cops response. I suspect that would be the response from 90% of the law enforcement in the US. Still being on the right side of forty my hormones can get the better of me, I usually respond as Souleur did with the appropriate salute.

  11. @pakrat
    When I was in college and bulletproof, I used to salute a lot as well. Then, one day in Pflugerville, TX, I lived out a nightmare with a dump truck. I didn’t even give this guy a salute. I was just riding along a narrow farm-to-market road with no one else around but me and the dump truck coming up from behind. First he nudged me into the bar ditch (which I think I handled very Paris-Roubaix like). Then he stopped and turned the truck around. I got back on the road, turned around, and rode the fastest pursuit of my life back to a convenience store I’d just passed about a kilometer back. Thank Merckx it takes a while to get a dump truck up to speed. I stayed on my bike at the front of the store which was at the rear of a deep parking lot. I didn’t unclip. I thought I had a better shot at staying alive if I stayed on my bike, as long as the driver didn’t get out of the dump truck. He didn’t. Instead, he turned his truck around in the parking lot and went back to wherever he was going. Since then, I don’t yell, I don’t salute, and I am super friendly. And I pretty much quit riding a bike for about 17 years because of that one day.

  12. Every sport needs it’s enforcers. The fact that he continues the role as an honored dignitary is even better. The guy in Badger’s clutches probably violated Rule V one time too many (or just one time). I am sure somebody has already pointed out an adolescent Bob Roll in the background right, however, note Frankie Carbone from Goodfellas mid-ground right. Supposedly found hanging in a meat truck some 10 years earlier.

    I cannot help but surmise that this photo implicates both Hinault and Bobke in the Lufthansa heist.

  13. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    Man. Hearing stories like that make me feel almost spoiled to live in Portland. I’ve had a few assholes buzz me, and had a lady that wasn’t paying attention run into my rear wheel, but that’s it. I have more problems with all the assholes on bikes that can’t ride predictably than I do with vehicles.

    But as a matter of course I really don’t flip people off or do anything like that, it’s not worth it to feel better for a split second and then have to worry about some asshole in a 3,000 lb car trying to run me down. I’ll yell to grab attention if some nitwit is edging into an intersection and not paying attention or something. But for the most part things here in Portland are pretty mellow.

  14. @mcsqueak
    I hear Italy is a great place to live and ride a bike. Very bike friendly. If any Velominati want to put me up in a nice villa, say, somewhere around Lake Como, like, for the rest of my life, and pick up the tab, I could be persuaded.

  15. @ – a whole lot of ya! Tons of great wisdom here. No matter how badly you want to give the salute or get it on with someone in an automobile it is ALWAYS better to let it go. Sure, give a yell to let someone know, but don’t bother trying to fight a losing battle.

    @ Frank – I look forward to this article. The idea of self-motivation vs. external humiliation as a driving force in one’s life, whether in cycling or beyond is indeed worthy of some analysis and thought. Damn, this idea of self-improvement might be exactly why I have fallen in love with cycling. I played the same sport every day from the age of 8-22. By the end I felt deceived and ruined, mainly due to a bad collegiate coach. I haven’t touched the sport since I left it.

    In the meantime I’ve become a serious Velominatus. I rarely pin a number on but I ride daily and try to pursue The V. I ride hard and my passion is to see how far I can go and how fast. That is it. Cycling is the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I consider when I hit the lights. (sure, some other things are important, but cycling is my passion).

    Awesomeness. I ride to pursue my own personal V.

    @ Pedale – woah, I’m going to read that over a few more times. Not only can you pull water out of the air, but you just summed up what has gone through my head the past eight years as I turned the cranks. Why am I doing this?

    For me training and racing it’s about learning about your mental, spiritual and physical self and to train all these 3 aspects to be in harmony.

    A Merckx to that!

  16. @ Jeff, man I think we all felt bullet proof in college. Phew, a bunch of things I did in my younger days when out cycling and dealing with aggressive drivers are things I would definitely not do these days. It is very, very satisfying to fuck with a stupid driver but yes, pretty much not worth it at this stage for me. If it was just a playground fight like in school, sure, but so many people come unhinged when you challenge their m
    manhood with a solo salute.

    Glad many of us have moved on. Amongst many things it seems as if cycling on roads with autos teaches all of us to be cool man, be cool.

  17. @Marcus
    Not just the jersey, but caps, a wool beanie and the whole kit. This might cost me more than I bargained for! Thanks, I think.

  18. @Ron
    Age and experience give us wisdom (or wrinkles–can’t really remember but I know the word starts with a “w”).

    I also think times have changed. There weren’t as many drivers. SUV’s weren’t as pervasive when I raced in the 80’s. And I don’t think there were as many cyclists. It’s a witch’s brew that boils over a bit more than it used to.

    Cyclists may stand a chance if gas goes to $4.00+ a gallon (in the U.S.) and stays there. People will move closer to their jobs, buy smaller cars, and some will even ride bikes to work. I know. When pigs fly. But it could happen.

  19. @Ron

    Indeed, I’d rather live to ride another day than “one up” someone in a road-based pissing match. They are the one with the sad life in many respects – ready to blow their top at the slightest insult, real or perceived, driving around all hopped up and ready to blow up. On the other hand, I’m the one out enjoying my favorite pass time! Not hard to spot who the real winner is in that equation.

    That being said, brawling with a bunch of wankers blocking your race route is pretty bad-ass. I’m young, but it seems to me two guys use to be able to be mad at each other, duke it out, shake hands, and be on their way (such as Souleur stated above). Now, it seems like everyone is getting shot, ran over, sued, or otherwise made miserable, and no one can settle their own shit any more.

  20. Too true.

  21. I am, by nature, on the aggressive side. (Surprising for a lawyer, I know, but there it is.) This might be fine if I was either heavily muscled or heavily armed. But I am neither. So the tendency to salute idiots I encounter has, on occasion, served to inflame situations, to no-one’s advantage. On the other hand, doing nothing in the face of provocation from a moron, is sometimes bloody difficult. So, on those occasions when my arm has already shot up instinctively and my fingers are on the way to forming the salute, I have trained my brain to intercept the message and turn the salute into either a finger wag (as in “you’re a jolly naughty little boy, wiggins”) or a wave – at the same time making it clear that my face does not contort into a snarl. To date, this strategy has not resulted in any situational inflammmation – and, frequently, has resulted in a friendly acknowledgment from the driver.

  22. @G’phant
    Still my favorite road incident story of all time – courtesy of Fyxomatosis.

    Makes me laugh every time!

  23. @Marcus
    Brilliant. Funny how so many personalised numberplates all spell “wanker”.

  24. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    Jeff in PetroMetro:
    Cyclists may stand a chance if gas goes to $4.00+ a gallon (in the U.S.) and stays there. People will move closer to their jobs, buy smaller cars, and some will even ride bikes to work. I know. When pigs fly. But it could happen.

    I try to convince people that gasoline should be a fixed price in the U.S., somewhere around $5.00-7.00 a gallon (perhaps increasing with inflation + a bit. The cost difference between market value and fixed value is all tax going DIRECTLY into infrastructure improvements with the stipulation that these particular funds cannot build new roads, only maintenance + public transit systems. The only way to make our backwards society change is to punch people in the face…hard! There is, however, too much corruption in the government and too much cowardice/ignorance/egocentrism in the populace to make this work. If you can’t tell, I fear for my country.

  25. Like many of us I’m looking forward for THAT article Frank.
    And as Ron says we have to be cool, be cool in those situations!

  26. @Marcus

    Ha, that is great. I love stories like that, especially when they are well written.

    Oh, and that model they have in the Merckx gallery? Wowzers.


    As long as gas is cheap people will be dumb (I see see people talking about wanting 500 HP cars… really?). Though, on the other end of the spectrum would be what $7.00 gas would do to an economy that is calibrated for gas that costs $1.00-$3.00 per gallon. I imagine the results would not be good. Plus as you state, there is too much corruption. Look at the mess they have made out of social security – pretty simple, right? A bunch of people pay in, and a smaller group gets paid out. It all works until a bit of the money for it is needed over here, then a bit over there, and soon the whole thing is all fucked up. God I hate politics.

    I live in a transit friendly city, but sometimes using it is a royal PITA unless you are going downtown. To get from where I live to where I work, a distance of about 15 miles, took me 2 hours the other week. Driving takes me 20 minutes. Cycling is a little over an hour. $7.00 a gallon gas would certainly help put in more light rail lines, that’s for sure…

  27. The answer isn’t more expensive gas… It’s cheaper gas, becausenobody needs it. We need more, cheaper, alternative energy (cough “nuclear, wind, solar, tidal” cough) and development policies that create human scale environments; denser, smaller, lower speed roads, etc., etc. Expensive gas just hurts those who can’t afford it. Top down price controls don’t work. Never have, never will. Enforced/artificial scarcity doesn’t work. Never has, never will. And no, I’m not particularly interested in an Interwebs debate on this, so I will let it rest after this.

    Ciao, amici.

  28. @sgt
    I’m with you on keeping our economics discussion brief. It gets too close to religion and politics. As Velominati, our religion is based around the V. As far as politics, I cast my vote for whichever one of you makes me laugh so hard I blow espresso out of my nose and onto my keyboard.

    So, lettus reeturn to speeeking Franglish, d’accord? Eet ees tres amusant. I mean heelaireeus.

  29. @Jeff in PetroMetro

  30. Besides, eet appears to moi zat zee Badger eez tres similair au Monsieur Sheen.

    Duh… Weening!

  31. I do miss the days of PITFT – they were good times… :-(

  32. @Jeff in PetroMetro


    Certainly. Screaming about political views on the Internet is like plucking leg hairs out one by one, it’s pointless and painful.

    Anyhow, Le Blaireau a #la sangre du tigre? Oui?

  33. @Jeff in PetroMetro


    Yes, the nice thing about this site is that it usually doesn’t dissolve into those crappy topics, A-Merckx to that. Carry on!

  34. @mcsqueak
    Don’t mind if I do….

    FYI, and in keeping with the theme of bad French (linguistically and behaviorally), has anybody grokked this little gem of a story about one of my favorite Frenchies, little Tommy V? I particularly enjoyed the bit about his training regimen…

    His idea of scientific training is to look which way the wind blows. Yes, he actually leaves home in search of a headwind, so the return leg of his training ride has a tailwind. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t slack on the bike but the ideas of sports science, heart rates and power measurements are not his thing.

    Tres bien! Chapeau to le maillot tricolore!

  35. @sgt
    I love it. In the flatlands of the midwest, a good strong headwind is the closest thing we can get to a climb. Fortunately, we can get some really ripping winds coming off the Great Lakes. Put your head down and suffer. Beautiful.

  36. To dredge the mantras back up, there have been 2 that for some reason or other have stuck with me, one is thinking of myself as being ‘water around a rock’ in realtion to riding through traffic. Not only is it a calming little thing to think about whiel riding through tight conditions, it stops you throwing your bike around like an a hole, and if someone does want to start an altercation, they’re behind you by the time its a problem – just keep on flowing.
    The other one was something a world champion surfer, Tom Carroll used to say to himself in heats, it was the 3 Ps – power, precision, perfection.

  37. @sgt
    Voeckler–having watched a couple of stages of P-N this week, I’ve taken a shine to Voeckler. He’s starting to come a distant second to JENS in my book. Kinda nutty in his attacks (powered a good escape yesterday as well as a long winning break today). Doesn’t listen to his DS. Wears his national kit. Shows his emotions in the winning photo from today. Trains by feel. I’m gonna cheer for him a little louder this year.

  38. @minion

    Look at you rolling out the Tom Carroll quotes! Anyone would think you reside somewhere that has a surf culture (and a summer)…

  39. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Been a secret favorite of mine for yeas, primarily because of his eccentric nature and willingness to go off the front at the slightest provocation. Definitely not the most strategic racer, but he’s got balls. And he can lay down The V.

  40. Yeah we can peek over the ditch at your beaches the same way you lot peek over at our sheep.

  41. @minion

    But we don’t get jealous of you looking at our beaches…

  42. Here’s a pretty good blast from the past.

  43. @Cyclops
    Whoah. Not that I’m not one myself, but if you had no idea of who that was, one must admit that the first response would be, “who’s the nerd?”

    A nerd with lungs the size of pianos, that’s who.

  44. @Cyclops
    He is young, but I sense the Force is strong with this one.

  45. @Cyclops
    “dashing” is the word that first sprung to mind.

  46. @Cyclops
    “Hey Big Ears! Wanna ride that bike a bit faster?”

    Now we know why he became so tough…

  47. If you’re going to have a scrap, do it properly. This is how not to do it!

  48. This is pretty dang funny.

  49. @Cyclops

    This is pretty dang funny.

    That would be pay per view. Nice.

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