Rouleur: Simon, you’re the rider with the most famous beard in the current peloton. You also now have a beard balm that’s just come out. How did that happen?
Simon Geschke: It started two years ago, with Charlotte [Meersshaut]. She’s from Belgium; she’s a big cycling fan. Her husband has a beard so one day she produced a handmade beard balm for him, because he didn’t like the products he bought so far, but he really liked her product.
They watched the Tour de France and saw me and my beard. So she decided to give me a sample at the Eneco Tour a few months later. She also gave me her telephone number for feedback. I contacted her and asked her if she would like to sell it a little bit bigger. She really liked the idea, and that’s how Geschke BeardBalm was born.
Being a bearded man yourself, are there any other riders in history, in the peloton, who you think, y’know, that’s a top beard? Have you got a top five of bearded riders?
The first time I saw a bearded cyclist was Sean Eadie, the Australian former track sprint world champion. I watched him together with my dad [Jürgen], because he’s also a former sprint world champion, and that’s the first time I saw someone with a big big beard on a bike. I thought ‘that guy looks really cool’. I was ten years old, so it was a long time before I could grow a proper beard.
Eadie just knocks everybody else out of the park because he had an awesome beard.
Eadie really stood out because beards were also unpopular at that time. Now it’s a little bit trendy, no? I also liked seeing Brad Wiggins with a beard, even though it was just for a couple of months, I think, for the Classics. I think that was really cool to see a former Tour de France winner riding with a beard. Geoffrey Soupe has a really good beard as well.
Do the guys in the peloton ever make jokes about your beard?
All the time. But I know all the jokes now so it keeps repeating itself. Whenever it rains they’re like “you must be nice and warm with your beard.”
It’s just jealousy because they know they can’t grow one. I was going to ask you about the heat. In a hot race, you must get hot?
When it’s hot, it’s hot, you know? I don’t think the beard changes things much. It’s not that I think ‘oh man, I would really like some air on my chin now.’ It’s hair, you just don’t feel it after a while.
Are there any disadvantages to having a beard?
The most annoying thing is when you spill a gel. When you have a gel in the final and by accident it runs down your mouth, and you have it in your beard. And there’s no chance to get it out so you have to wait and it has to stay there until you have a shower on the bus.
Have there been any studies of beard aerodynamics?
SG: They did, yeah. I think one famous bike brand got in the wind tunnel and they tested it. There was a margin of disadvantage, aerodynamically. Over 10km at 40kph it was around 0.2 seconds, so really small.
So when your DS has a look at you and says “come on, you need to sort your beard out,” you can actually quote those figures to him and that’s the end of the argument?
SG: Yeah, scientifically proven.
Which currently clean-shaven pro do you think would look good with a beard?
That’s a tough one. I would say any person looks better with a beard. Marcel Kittel would look awesome with a beard but he’s blonde, so he doesn’t have much of a beard. He definitely would look good with one, though.