It is said that Robin Williams, who passed away on Monday, was the owner of more than 100 bicycles. He frequented the Tour de France on a number of occasions, perhaps most famously when he attended a key stage with rock star Sheryl Crow during the 2004 Tour. He was an absolute cycling fanatic who in all likelihood could turn any mediocre bike ride into something distinct and memorable.
Among Robin Williams friends were some of the sport’s most famous cyclists of all time, including Eddy Merckx and Greg LeMond. Recently, he visited the Team Sky service course where he undoubtedly was the centre of attention and made many laugh. He was utterly immersed with cycling both as a fan who followed the top level closely and as a rider himself, taking part in numerous charity rides.
It was LeMond who was the catalyst of Williams’ obsessions with all things bicycling. During the height of the pro rider’s career, LeMond invited Williams out for a bike ride when the two were both attending a celebrity event in the ’90s. The rest is history: cycling and Williams were a perfect fit.
His jokes about cycling were without doubt something to look forward to. One of his more famous quotes has a different ring to it, given his friendship with Lance Armstrong. Before the start of the 2002 San Francisco Grand Prix, Williams said, “The dope tests came back, they found traces of Viagara. It helps me ride long and hard, and I don’t need a kickstand.”
Nevertheless, his celebrity ties to the sport’s elite were a function of his stardom. He was also a down-to-earth superstar, particularly when he visited Freewheel Cycle in Dundas, Ont., while shooting the movie Man of the Year in 2005. Apparently, he used to hang out at the shop whenever he wasn’t required on set. According to shop owner, Vince Hoffman, Williams’s entourage had to come and pry him out the store after he shopped and mingled for an extended period.
Cycling was a part of his daily activities even when his contractual obligations as an actor prevented him from riding outdoors. In such cases, he’d ride the trainer to stay fit.