Anatomy of a Photo: Badgers Are As Badgers Do

Communication at its most fundemental

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.


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83 Replies to “Anatomy of a Photo: Badgers Are As Badgers Do”

  1. @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.

  2. @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.

  3. 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.

  4. @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.

  5. 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!

  6. @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…

  7. 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.

  8. @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.

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

    Duh… Weening!

  10. @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?

  11. @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!

  12. @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.

  13. 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.

  14. @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.

  15. @minion

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

  16. @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.

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

  18. @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.

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