Wednesday 9 July 2003
Pix of the Day: Devil Who Holds His Own Records
CREDITS (L. to R.): click below for host sites, click thumbnails for picture page.
 © Rekord-Klub SAXONIA  Sage Cycling  Guardian Unlimited
Centre picture is © Jacky Naegelen/Reuters on Brian T. Sage's cycling web site.
Right hand picture is © Roberto Pfeil/Associated Press.
Any day now, television viewers of the Tour de France will see Didi Senft, whose appearances have become one of the institutions of the Tour. A decade ago Didi attended his first Tour dressed as the Devil, and yelling (link for the above centre thumbnail picture - scroll down the linked page to the image below the cartoons) maniacal encouragement to the riders with his now familiar cry of "Ai-ai-ai-ai-aie!" He is accompanied by a giant bicycle on a towing trailer, and he is now such an attraction in his own right that the organizers will not let him set up too close to the finishing line in case he causes a crowd control problem. He now stations himself about 20km from the finish, and for his final appearance the riders pelt him with empty water bottles as a small token of their appreciation for his efforts. Many race fans pose for a picture with Didi as a souvenir of their visit, and proof of their attendance.
Didi is not just some publicity seeking show off, but a true bicycling fan, and a record holder in his own right. He has travelled from his home in Kolpin, Germany, to visit many of the other major bicycle racing championships such as the Giro d'Italia. He has also built the world's largest bicycle. This machine is not just some flimsy showpiece either, but is actually rideable for those brave enough to try: at 25ft 7in (7.8m) long and 12ft 2 in (3.7m) high, considerable skill is needed to stay on board.
Didi is an employee of a company named LuK, a manufacturer of automotive transmission systems. He is the "advertising partner" according to a Luk news release, though they do not seem to make capital of the Devil's fame. Didi has a long held ambition to open a bicycle museum. Although sponsored in part by his own employer, it was local brewery Schussenrieder (map page on German language web site) that finally came good with the deutschmarks. Jürgen Ott the braumeister has made a farmhouse available close to the Beer Mug Museum near the Upper Swabian town of Bad Schussenried, where Didi is able to exhibit all his record breaking bikes, curiosities, and bicycle inventions.
More power to your trident, Didi!
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)