Jun 30, 2008

A morning coffee with a brown llama

What's brown, stands about 5' 10" tall, have four legs and quite woolly?
A brown llama!

I had a pleasant surprise at work this morning. There's a morning TV show here in Vancouver called, 'Breakfast Television,' produced across the alleyway from where I work. Carolle phoned me to say that a brown llama named, Creme Brule, was a guest and awaiting her cue to go on. The show is broadcast every morning and on this particular morning it was held outside in the parking lot. All the better, because a barbecue was going up and a four legged guest was due up. Mind you, not as the barbecue!

About a half past eight in the morning I saw a woman next to a very large brown llama. Ok I had a second take as the rather large, brown, woolly llama was grazing on our little patch of grass. With coffee in hand, I walked over to the llama and talked to it's owner. The llama's from an Aldergrove, BC farm, fully grown around my height with big brown eyes. You never know about these llamas as I talked to the owner and spied from the corner of my eye. I've seen these critters spit, on TV, and I was ready to duck. Anyways it never happened, as I stood there it was quite surreal standing next to a real llama, my first. Creme Brule was very relax and quiet probably due to the early morning as she waited for her cue. It's good that the TV folks decided to have it outside today, as the alley was fairly quiet. On any given day it's like an F-1 race.

The owner said that Creme Brule arrived in her Chevy Astro van curled on the floor. No special vehicle for her. And that tomorrow she's part of a Canada Day event. Thats one busy llama. I wonder how much she makes on the talk show circuit? I never had the chance to ask that question. As they got the cue to go back on, I wished the owner and Creme Brule a good day. I walked back into work ... smiling.
I liked that llama!

Note: Although very close, the image above is not an exact representation of Creme Brule. I didn't get a chance to take a picture as having my morning cup of coffee took precedent. www.rosecottagellamas.com

Jun 29, 2008

Let's celebrate Le Tour!

Dance and music at the 1974 Tour.
Peugeot riders', Jean-Paul Danguillaume and Bernard Bouffeau (with accordion) taking a French break.
From: 'Le Tour, a century of the Tour de France.'

Next Saturday is the start of the Tour. What better way to celebrate it, with dance & accordion music.

One of my favorite photos!

Jun 28, 2008

The first British Invasion ... and more!

Good things to come?
Frenchman, Henri Sitek (Ouest Team) hands over a paper lantern to a smiling Tony Hoar. Hoar will become the first Briton to 'win' the Lantern Rouge at the 1955 Tour!

I'm fascinated by the last place finisher of the big stage races. My admiration is directed towards their tenacity and courage to stay involved right to the end.

The 1955 Tour de France:

Louison Bobet was the first rider to go into the history books to win the Tour three times in a row. This was a time of; national teams, wool collar jerseys and scratchy wool shorts, water bottles on handlebars, and riders carrying tires wrapped around their backs. Simpler times.

It also marked another milestone; the Tour was televised with recorded TV images, for the first time, to major French cities within hours of stage finishes. However, behind Bobet's historic win the British team of ten had a rocky race, with 8 riders abandoning. The other two went into the history books...

Tony Hoar was a relative unknown. He rode only 1 pro season, in 1955-56 for the Swiss base Cilo-Saint-Raphael Team. After the three weeks of punishment he would fight on to take the lanterne Rouge as last man. The first Briton to do so. Afterwards, Hoar was very popular on the post-tour criterium circuit.

British bike manufacturer, Hercules put together the British team for this Tour. Most notably was Brian Robinson, also riding his first Tour he finished a fantastic 29th. Hoar and Robinson were the first Britons to finish the Tour. And, Robinson was a rider destined for success as his high placings show before that Tour: Paris-Nice (8th) and La Fleche Wallonne (4th). And talented he was, Robinson would go on to win two Tour stages in 1958 & 1959. To cap it all off, overall win in the 1961 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. With his accomplishments, Robinson opened the door for other english speaking riders like Tom Simpson and Barry Hoban to enter into the European cycling world.

This was the start of the British invasion!

Talented Brian Robinson at the 1961 Dauphine. He'll win the tough 8 day race!

Down but not out.
Tony Hoar feeling the effects of the hard racing. He would fight on to 'win' in 69th place, 6 hours behind Bobet.

Unlucky Bob Maitland is tended to after a crash. He abandoned on stage 9.

Jun 25, 2008

Nice afternoon ride.

Pit stop at Prospect Park, Stanley Park. One more half lap before we break.

It's fun to get back in touch with the Wednesday afternoon ride at Stanley Park, Vancouver. I haven't been back riding here since the early 90's.
Fritz rode his beautiful De Rosa SLX. And he is eagerly working on his recently bought 'Proctor' from Edmonton. He's looking to equip it with Mavic. Steve had his Masi and Brian had his very nice 'Davidson' from Seattle. Han's is still waiting for his Master X-Light and word has it that a steel fork is available. We all wait with bated breath.
Ulli is off for a cross province bike ride to Banff in August. He mention going through the Coquihalla highway and over the Kicking Horse Pass. And he won't be alone. It's going to be a one way adventure as he's taking the bus back. I wish him a great ride!

Fritz on his way for water.
But his beautiful De Rosa remains. The red rims adds to this looker.
How about the Campagnolo aero waterbottle!

Nice morning ride.

I went out for a nice spin early this morning. My friend, Duane will most likely need our help after lunch. He's diagnosed with rectal colon cancer and  today start's his chemotherapy treatment. He's schedule for a 6 month course and it won't be pleasant. I know what he will be dealing with, because my brother is a cancer survivor. Although, chemotherapy ravages the body it will kill the cancer.  The doctor's figure this aggressive approach is best and he's young enough(47 years old) to take it. 
I thought about him as I enjoyed my morning ride. In fact, my own little problems pale by comparison to his. As life is so precious and short, I try to enjoy everything that life throws at me. No matter how mundane.

Keep ridin' and smilin' !

Jun 24, 2008

F is for Fans!

The crazy Dutch fan's on top of the 'Dutch mountain' L'Aple D'huez.

The Tour is coming.

The largest open free sporting event  in the world is the Tour de France. People from all over the world follow the race throughout the French countryside sometimes camping out. 

After Joop Zoetemelk's victory on top of the Alpe d'Huez in 1976, crazed Dutch fans have camp there for days among the half-million spectators. With the most wins by any country(8 wins) it's also called, 'the Dutch mountain.'

Here's to the fans, who maybe the true stars! 

Asleep at the wheel?
No problem. These fan's will know when it's time to wake up!
From: Ride-Cycling Review No. 38

Jun 23, 2008

Canadians back at the Tour? It's time.

I was happy to hear that Canadian hopefuls, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) and Michael Barry(Team Columbia) could be riding at this July's Tour. It's hard to believe but there is only 3 Canadians to ever ride the great race. Alex Stieda(first North American to wear the yellow jersey 1986), Steve Bauer(14 days in yellow, 4th place at the 1988 Tour ) and Gord Fraser(last to ride back in 1997).

Both guys certainly deserve a spot and would play important domestique roles for their respective teams. Time will tell as both teams are just about to announce their Tour rosters.

Ryder Hesjedal rode a great 2008 Giro.

Michael Barry(far right) leads the peloton at this year's Amstel.

With both riding well, I'm counting on it!

Jun 22, 2008

My five 'feet' impression

'My 5 feet impression.' I looked at it, touched it, liked it and bought it!

Toyota's early 'visual impression' before one would go down to the dealership to test drive. I drove my sister's 1978 Corolla. It was reliable and steady and I definitely had a 'positive driving impression.'

To borrow from the Toyota lingo; "Five meter impression."

It's the aesthetic appeal as the customer approaches the vehicle, gets in and drives the car for 5 meters. Now the designers believe that their car(namely the popular 40 year old Corolla) will sell itself within 16.4 feet. Toyota knows, a brand new Corolla rolls off a dealer's lot every forty seconds.

I'll put a slightly different spin on this and use this design/marketing principle and apply it to my cycling shoes.

My Five-feet impression with my Sidi Bullet 2 cycling shoes ...

As I opened the box and took them out I notice my elated sense of, "wow this is a beautifully made pair of cycling shoes." And my sense of smell was assaulted with the new plastic and synthetic material. As I tried them on they felt as comfortable like a moccasin. More to this, is when I started to ride with these booties. I feel faster with them on! I'm smiling. It's made an impression on me, I think's it working.

And you know, Toyota or Sidi designers may have something here.

Bike's of yesteryear. Without realizing, 'The 5 meter impression' was most likely applied, even back then.

Jun 20, 2008

the cinquecento

That's Italian!
At last year's Giro. Danilo Di Luca's cool pink Fiat 500!

Last weekend I ventured out to Fritz's Italian bike, motorcycle and car show in North Vancouver. And, one car that got my interest was the Fiat 500. This little Italian car was popular and production was from 1957-1975. Economy was the issue as it was modeled after the the rear engine mounted Volkswagen Beetle. The early model sported a 499cc engine with an astounding 50 mpg. It proved very popular and was embraced throughout Europe.

Everyone remembers the Ikea car. Nice cargo rack!

Before and after, the looks are wonderful. The new model reintroduced but unfortunately only in Europe.

Jun 18, 2008

The Tour Debutants.

Tour 1983 debutants; Robert Millar(left) & 'Patro' Jimenez(Colombian National Amateur Team) on stage 10.
The two mountain goats are alone and riding tempo to Luchon.
From: 'Tour '83'

Second place in the prestigious 1983 Dauphiné Libéré assured Peugeot's climber Robert Millar for his debut at the Tour de France. Pascal Simon & Phil Anderson started that Tour as co-leaders for Peugeot with support from Millar and Stephen Roche.

Disaster struck early in the form of bad luck during stage 3 over the cobbles of Roubaix. Millar fell 3 times over the pavé losing a whopping 16 minutes over winner, Rudy Matthijs. Least to say, Millar was looking forward to the 2nd week where the mountains awaits.

Stage 10(201 kms) would be his salvation, perhaps the hardest mountain stage into the Pyrenees from Pau to Luchon. And to be feared, grimacing with 4 major climbs: the Col de l'Aubisque, Col du Tourmalet, Col d'Aspin and the Col de Peyrosourde. Belgian ace grimpeur, Lucien Van Impe(at the remarkable age of 37) was the first over the top of the l'Aubisque snatching important points towards the KOM competition.

On the climb up the Tourmalet the magnificient Columbian climber, Patrocinio Jimenez accelerated with only Millar capable of following. As Millar neared the summit he would be the first British rider to win the Souvenir Henri Desgrange Trophy, a memorial to the founder of the Tour. Jimenez was first over the summit of the Tourmalet, a 2,113 meter monster - the highest point of the Tour. The Columbian, another Tour debutant, would do it again leading Millar first over the Col d'Aspin thus gaining maximum climbing points.

Up the final killer of a climb, the Peyrosourde, Jimenez appeared to be laboring when a fresh Millar made his move. He bolted passed the exhausted rider finally getting rid of Jimenez on the descent into Luchon. Pedro Delgado, another Tour debutant, was a dangerous chaser overtaking the Columbian within eyesite of the Scot. Robert Millar rode alone into Luchon and finished 6 seconds clear of the quickly gaining Delgado. For Jimenez, not known to be a good descender, placed fourth behind faster descender Pascal Simon.

Robert Millar(at 24 years old) became the first Scottish rider in Tour history to win a major mountain stage. "I knew when I got up in the morning I was going to win that day. I just felt it. I just felt that nobody was going to beat me that day. I was confident all day," Millar said afterwards.

An impressive victory after more than 6 hours over difficult mountainous terrain. What a debut for the young Scottish climber!

(Inset photo): No privacy here. Millar freshens up during his debut Tour de France, 1983.
From: 'In Search of Robert Millar'

Jun 17, 2008

This Bullet's right on target.

My new Sidi Bullet 2's. The classic Italian!

While  away in Edmonton for vacation,  I picked up the Sidi MTB Bullet 2 cycling shoes. After using them on my training rides ... the Sidi's are simply fantastic! I had two choices, a Lake road shoe  or the classic black Italian Sidi's. 

Ok both were the same price, but the Lake had a slightly wider toe box,  silver colour, and that there was no way on earth to walk in them. The Sidi's, on the other hand  has a ever slightly narrow toe box, which my wide feet  slipped comfortable into. What I also like is the classic Italian style and the black colour. And, oh yeah, I could walk around in them without fear of slipping, thus avoiding the calamity of huge  amounts of pain.

The Sidi's won out, without question. I always wanted a pair and hell,  the Italians know a thing or two about cycling shoe design. It didn't matter that the shoes are made in cheaper to produce, Romania. I don't care, the fit and looks are excellent and I'm in Sidi happyland! 

Thank's to Hans he  showed me the exquisite  issue #8 of Rouleur magazine, he bought on  the Rapha website. What caught my eye was the story showcasing Eddy Merckx's rare photo album. Also a profile on 6 time KOM winner,  'the Eagle of Toledo'  Frederico Bahamontes. If you don't know what I'm referring to, do have a look at it on the website:  www.rapha.cc 

Today was the first time I've looked at this unique magazine. Flipping through it, I'm utterly hooked.  I know you will be, too!

Jun 15, 2008

Bikes on Father's Day

Sunday was a great bike day for two reasons...

1. Fritz's annual Italian car, bike, and motorcycle meet. Waterfront Park, North Vancouver. Held every Father's Day.

Head badge of Wilier Trestina. The special metallic paint finish is definitely eye catching!

The Wilier Trestina.

Avid bike collector, Felix next to his unique crimped-tube Colnago Master. Only 85 or so were made before Ernesto Colnago pulled them from production!

The Gypsy would be proud. A Gios-Torino Super Record with Brooklyn team blue minus the pavé.

A beautiful Celeste Bianchi with a neat pump & bottle.

A retro cool Schwinn. Although not from Fritz it's cool nevertheless!

2. Vancouver Car-Free Day.
Unusual bikes, happy folks and closing 4 blocks on Main street with NO cars!

Jun 14, 2008

Superchampion & Superbikes!

'FUTURA' Master Colnago.


Han's dropped me a couple of cool shots from a fixie store on Main Street called, 'Superchampion.' These were just two of the very beautiful Colnago's on display by two internationally graffiti artists: Futura and Stash.

'STASH' Master Colnago.


It looks like tomorrow will be blue skies and sunny. And for something completely different...
Fritz will be overseeing his annual Italian car, bike and motorcycle show Sunday June 15th at Waterfront Park in North Vancouver!

Jun 13, 2008

All's stellar for this consistent Canadien

Mrs. Consistent gutting it out to the finish. Premont on her way to her first victory of the season.

I can't help but wave the flag. Canada's Marie Helene Premont(Team Rocky Mountain) continues to shine as she won her first World Cup #5 MTB race June 7th  in Fort William, Scotland.  Gutsy, tough and consistent I give the 2004 Olympic MTB silver medallist. With her first win of the season and wearing the overall UCI leader's jersey will put her in right for a very successful season.

Could Beijing be her gold mountain?

Jun 12, 2008

Monsieur Chrono & a late night date.

Jacques Anquetil's break into the big league of cycling happened in 1952. He turned professional, conquered and won the 142 km very long prestigious Grand Prix des Nations time trial race, at only 19. He would go on to win a total of nine, then the unofficial World Championships for time trialing. A young star was born.

He got into cycling to improve his standing and to earn money. His forte was the time trial and it showed with an excellent 2nd in the 1953 Baracchi Trophy. Not bad finishing after the winner, Fausto Coppi. By the age of 20, he was already an Olympic bronze medalist and national champion. He broke the World Hour Record, breaking Coppi's 1956 title, which many thought could never be broken.

Critics reviled him for his cool, calculated style of winning. He was pragmatic but was aloof. And he affirmed that a professional rider had a right to look after himself as he thought best, such as doping. His popularity was dented and won few friends.

But in 1965, after having won the Dauphiné Libéré eight stage race, he took an airplane to Bordeaux, slept for an hour, and at 1:30 AM started the massive 557 km Bordeaux-Paris endurance race. He fought exhaustion and 15 hours later ... won! "I did everything I could to make him continue. In the end, I kept him going by massaging his ego. He abused and insulted me, but in the end, gritted his teeth and won," said Raphaël Geminiani, his manager.

Sublime - yes, but he knew how to win. Afterwards he was called, 'the champion of impossible!'

A late night date. 1965, shortly after winning the Dauphine Libere stage race. The exhausted but determined Master Jacques & upbeat crew on the airplane to Bordeaux-Paris - which he won as well.

Presse Sports

(Top): Time trialing was his speciality. Innovation was his, alone. He sometimes raced without handlebar tape to save weight. His wool race jersey's and short's were tailored made tight for 'aerodynamics.' His pedaling style was toe down. And, he used special silk tires said to reduce rolling resistance.


"He was total harmony, sublime, a phenomenon. He blended with his bicycle like a musician with his instrument."

Jacques Goddet.

Jun 11, 2008

Le bon vivant: lust for life!

Jacques Anquetil enjoying his other two loves just 3 months before his death in 1987.

"bon vivant": a person with refined and sociable tastes, especially one who enjoys fine food and drink.

Best describes the great french cyclist, Jacques Anquetil. He was the first 5 time winner of the Le Tour and he did so without sacrificing the bon vivant lifestyle. His cool and calculating style of riding won him few friends, if any. And, Master Jacques never let the sport dictate his life. His diet was of a bon vivant. A taste for red meat, seafood, champagne, late night card games and women was what he naturally embraced. He was known to eat plates of shellfish washed down with a bottle of Muscadet wine during the Tour. He arrived to races in his sport car - playboy hip.

"I drink a lot of alcohol, in fact far too much alcohol. I hardly ever drink water except if I am thirsty in a race. I used to drink about four or five pints of milk a day, but since my former trainer, Julien Schramm, told me that it was toxic I drink beer instead," he stated.

Because of his single mindedness and strong willpower pushed him further into the rank of cycling legend. He claimed to train on cigarettes and beer but rode, with one thing in mind ... to win. He suffered too, when he over ate on roast lamb during the rest day in Andorra at the 1964 Tour. The next day in the Pyrenees, indigestion, nearly cost him his 5th Tour. Anquetil drank some champagne, placed in his water bottle by his director sportif Raphaël Geminiani, which helped him back in the race.

I admired his lust for life, but in the end it claimed him. In 1987, Master Jacques died of stomach cancer at the age of 53.

Next: 'Monsieur Chrono'

Jun 9, 2008

Back in the West Coast.

Mt. Robson(3954 m high), Jasper National Park, Alberta. Although the majestic mountain was shielded behind clouds it was still breathtaking!

I've just returned from my time off in Edmonton and, although very tired, I'm happy to be back. Sure, the time off was nice but I didn't get a chance to ride. The beauty of the Rocky Mountains provided a breathtaking background for the many clusters of cyclotourists.

I hope to get back on my Marinoni tomorrow with a new addition...

My brand new Sidi's. I can't wait to try them out!
Details soon...

Jun 3, 2008

Gone just for a week!

I'm gone! Into the nether regions called a vacation. Yes,  a week is what I have and I'll return on Tuesday, June 10th with more stories. I'm off to recharge.

Thanks for reading and keep on riding!


Jun 2, 2008

Last man standing or riding also wins!

 Alberto Contador came in first at the Giro...

German Markus Eichler performed admirably by staying in contention for the numero nera.

My money was on Italian Ermanno Capelli(Saunier Duval) but he abandoned on last Sunday's stage. As soon as  Capelli left, Eichler took over as numero nera and never looked ... forward. To honor  the last man of the race, the bike number on a black back was used.  The 26 year old Eichler(Milram) held onto that numero nera  right until the end. On the grueling stage 20, over the Passo di Gavia, he was dead last. A good sign for the numero nera.  Alberto Contador may've won the alccolades that go with it but Markus Eichler is something else to via for last without dropping out!  There's no cash offered  for the numero nera  but the young German rider was happy for the rare distinction. Which goes to prove that you don't have to be first to win.

Move over  Signor Contador, Herr  Eichler has one up from you. He's the first to finish last!

... but Markus Eichler finished in an magnificent last!

Jun 1, 2008

Bravo Ryder & Co!

One  rider overlooked from  Alberto Contador's Giro victory,  is Canadian Ryder Hesjedal. A commendable  45th place(above)  in today's final ITT stage.  And yesterday, during the tough Gavia stage  he finished a respectable 17th. Hesjedal finished this exciting Giro in 60th overall. 

The rest of the team did  well with excellent results in today's ITT.  Kudo's to; Christian Van der Velde(5th), Danny Pate(6th),  and David Millar(13th). And now the Slipstream-Chipotle  team is off to Switzerland for R & R and then to get ready for Le Tour! 

I'm sure that Ryder Hesjedal and company will continue on with even finer results as the season goes. As this Ryder proves, he would definitely be a welcome addition for le Tour!

(Above): Good reason to smile after almost 3 weeks done. Ryder Hesjedal(right) and teammate Danny Pate, relaxed and jovial, on stage 20.

(Top): Oh Canada! The Canadian champion on the ITT course. He rode consistently throughout the race to finish 60th overall. 

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