I read the bio about Bob Roll on his site bobroll.com, and this is the way to write a biographys.
His friends and fans refer to him as Bobke, pronounced “boob-ka.” Others simply know him as Bob Francis Roll, the entertaining and devil-may-care Tour de France commentator on the Outdoor Life Network, a job he’s held since 2000.
Written by Glenn Swain
Roll gained an army of cycling fans for his gonzo riding mentality and Carpe Diem attitude toward life. Anywhere Roll shows up a party begins-even on an airport tarmac (Bloody Mary’s are Roll’s favorite concoction; he once drank 12 on the runway of JFK when his flight was delayed).
He’s a real character, but often his two-wheel accomplishments are overshadowed by his zany antics. Roll joined America’s first real super cyclist team, Team 7-Eleven, in 1985 and rode in four Tour de France, three Giro d’Italia, three Tour de Swiss, seven Paris-Roubaix and five Coors Classics. He later switched to racing mountain bikes through 1998 and rode for Greg LeMond’s Z Team. He is also a member of the U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame.
The 1986 Tour de France was Roll’s most brutal, grueling event-a race that produced a classic two-wheel war story. During most of the ’86 Tour, Roll endured the pain of the world’s toughest bike race while suffering through toilet-hugging sickness. Finally feeling better but famished from not eating, one evening he inhaled a gigantic peach melba dessert. The next morning, Roll devoured four ham-and-cheese omelets before that day’s stage. Three hours into the ride, in the middle of the peloton, Roll’s lower intestines suddenly began a one-exit, no-waiting tour of its own.
“Sheeeeeiitttt!” he screamed.
He tried to take his bike jersey off, but only got it over his head. It was then he realized that his jersey was pinned to his bib shorts. Now blinded, he began knocking over other cyclists as he fought with his jersey. When the road suddenly curved, our Bobke went straight into a muddy ditch, splashing spectators along the way. His bike careened onto someone’s driveway, where he somersaulted over the handlebars. Finding a tall hedge to hide behind, he bent over and his bowels had their own Tour de France breakaway. Finishing, he looked around for some leaves, but only found a nice French family incredulously staring at him from their picnic site on their front lawn. Roll smiled, grabbed a linen napkin, wiped himself, then amazingly grabbed a piece of cake and ran back to his bike.
Now, it’s one thing to have the mindset to grab the napkin; it was an emergency situation. But to also brazenly grab a piece of cake at such a moment-well, that’s priceless. Roll finished a crappy 63rd of 131 finishers in the ’86 Tour.
Bobke played a critical part in Lance Armstrong’s post-cancer training. In April 1998, Armstrong invited Roll and cyclist Chris Carmichael to the backwoods of North Carolina for a 10-day training camp. Armstrong needed training partners as he entered the height of the cycling calendar. As Carmichael drove Roll through the Carolina boondocks to the cabin where all would meet, Roll asked, “Hasn’t Lance seen ‘Deliverance?’ I mean I like L-I-K-E you guys. Don’t force me to love you guys!”
The group rode the hilly country of Watauga County near Boone, N.C. Armstrong nearly killed them both. In his book “Bobke II,” Roll recalls after seven hours of non-stop riding, dealing with wind, endless hills, NASCAR wannabes and honest-to-God, deep Southern-fried, 100-percent authentic, mountain gnome, psycho-billy freaks, Armstrong was focused not on rest but downloading his heart rate monitor, checking stock market prices and sending and receiving emails. And Roll? He was strictly old school, his feet propped up in bed listening to Gaelic folk songs about the potato famine. Near the end of the 10-day hell fest, Armstrong took the group on a non-stop, 16-climb ride that left Roll “crawling like a salamander in my 21- cog, blowing chunks of lung.”
Armstrong was tested at Appalachian State University. Roll wrote that Armstrong’s progress after just one week was astounding. Roll warned of a Texas twister coming and called on all “freaky-deaky, kookie-pukie, dipped-in-dung road hogs to tighten down the ratchet buckles.” The Texas twister wouldn’t calm until the end of the 2005 Tour de France.
Roll once made a list of 51 things to do before you die. A few suggestions were to ride across the U.S. and stop in every podunk town and never, ever race across America; pick a year and ride a bike more miles than your car; go to a bike camp, preferably one run by a bloated, alcoholic ex-pro; own a pair of titanium salt and pepper shakers; do RAGBRAI towing a keg of beer in a Burley trailer; ride over the Golden Gate Bridge; ride your one true love on your handlebars as you whisper sweet nothings into your love’s ear; ride the Natchez Trace and Blue Ridge Parkway; and ride naked at 3 a.m. past your local police station with a Walkman duct-tapped to your left butt cheek, listening to “The Sound of Music.”
Bobke ‘s Ten Commandments should be a required memory exercise for all you two- wheelers out there. Close your eyes and visualize God appearing in front of Roll one night during the Giro d’Italia holding two Bloody Marys, asking him to jot down a cyclist’s Ten Commandments.
X Thou shalt not take the name of Eddie Merckx in vain
IX Thou shalt be screamed at by one Grewal or another
VIII Thou shalt be screwed by one cycling federation or another
VII Thou shalt have your bike destroyed and luggage lost by airlines
VI Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s bike swag
V Thou shalt pee in cup eventually
IV Thou shalt be thrashed, trashed, crashed and smashed by someone younger and stronger than you
III Thou shalt wear your helmet on every ride
II Thou shalt not touch thy front brake while negotiating off-camber switchback turns
I Thou shalt crash and look like a fool sooner or later
Halleluiah and Amen, Brother Bobke!
Filed by admin at May 26th, 2006 under MS News