Phil Read used to vomit. Often.
When the so-called Prince of Speed (because Giacomo Agostini was its king) was at the height of his powers in the late 1960s and early 1970s most Grands Prix were staged around street circuits, where he knew full well that one mistake might be his last, never mind the fact that he was fighting for FIM world championships, just as Fabio Quartararo, Pecco Bagnaia, Aleix Espargaró and others fight for world championships today.
Read and his rivals lived a knife-edge existence between risk and reward like few before or since. He admitted that the combination of the two often had him doubling up over the toilet before a grand prix, the hideous rush of adrenaline causing him to vomit before he steadied and dressed himself for the fight: pudding-basin helmet and a leather onesie. Not much use when meeting a brick wall at a hundred and fifty hundred miles an hour.
Despite all this, Read made history. He was the first rider to win the junior, intermediate and senior world championships – 125s, 250s and 500s in those days – an achievement that even now has only been matched by Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez. That’s how special he was, in an age when every GP season stole several lives and no one seemed to care.