Thursday, January 29, 2009

Le Jeu de Eddy Merckx.

www.cyclingboardgames.net

This wonderful Belgian cycling board game came out in 1970. Eddy Merckx was a marketers' nirvana selling a wide range of unlikely products: cigarettes, chewing gum, insurance and music records. Just to name a few!


Simplicity in great design!





Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bianchi: the seventies.

Felice Gimondi,
1978 Bianchi - Faema.

The seventies spawned great Italian teams. Bianchi was at the front of the pack. They dominated with mega star, Felice Gimondi as captain. The classy celeste never looked better...

The tale of the blue-green.

Many stories abound as to how Edoardo Bianchi founded the famous celeste color for his bikes.
The color was created in honor of Queen Margherita's eyes. Another story was after the Milan's sky. And, during the Second World War, the Italians mixed surplus green paint with blue to produce the famous color. And lastly, it was a paint mix up just days before the Giro. Nobody knows for sure but the origin of the beautiful color is legendary! 


1975 Bianchi - Campagnolo:

Giacinto Santambrogio.

Foresti Gianfranco.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Le Tour Calling!


I just put down the book, "Push Yourself just a little bit More," by former Clash road manager, Johnny Green. An enjoyable account of behind the scenes at the 2003-04 Tour. I feel that I'm having a few drinks with him as he takes us through a journey of rock n' roll & cycling. A fun & raucous read that kept me smiling until the end!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Les Glorieux: 'The Hockey Sweater' & 100 ans.

One of my favorite short films!
www.nfb.ca

I usually blog about cycling history, but, it's hard not to write about my other love: hockey and the Montreal Canadiens. As a young boy growing up in Edmonton, when winter started, I couldn't wait until after school to go out to the outdoor rink. For me, in the seventies, Les Canadiens was THE team because of their fantastic Stanley cup wins. The team was all about style, finesse & passion. They knew how to win.

In 1980, Roch Carrier wrote, 'The Hockey Sweater - Le Chandail de Hockey.' The National Film Board of Canada turned it into a short film. Many Canadian kids & adults know it and it stands as a popular piece of Canadian literature.

What a wonderful film together with the storied Montreal Canadiens, now celebrating their amazing centennial!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lead out man!

Jean Robic.

Frenchman, Jean Robic stood almost 5 feet tall and weigh a scant 132 Ibs. Maybe because it was due to the 'Napoleon complex,' that made this tiny athlete an obnoxious & spiteful personality of the peloton. He wasn't dashing or even good looking. Fellow riders called him, 'Biquet' or kid goat. And after fracturing his skull at the 1944 Paris-Roubaix he started to wear a leather helmet. And with huge ears sticking out, he was called, 'tete de cuir' or leather head. Journalists already endured him, 'le farfadet de la lande Bretonne' - the hobgoblin of the Brittany moor. His 'popularity' was just beginning...

The 1947 Tour was dubbed, 'the Liberation Tour,' as a new France emerged from out of the ashes of the war. Robic was twenty-five, his first Tour, a newlywed, rode for the lesser western regional team, and had the right amount of cockiness to challenge sentimental favorite, Rene Vietto. The tiny Robic rode on a 19 inch frame, turning very long 172 mm cranks while pushing 44X21. He won three stages and was at the top of GC. On the final stage Robic attacked dropping his main rivals including the race leader Pierre Brambilla and won the Tour into the Parc des Princes without having worn the yellow jersey. L'Equipe named Robic, Jean le hargneux - the fierce. Post war France had a new hero.

Leatherhead in the mountains, 1947 Tour.

In the 1953 Tour, Pyrenee stage to Luchon, his climbing was still good but he was too light to gain time on the downhills. With the help from his director sportif, his aluminum water bottles were filled with lead. At every summit, Robic was handed what appeared to be a 'normal' bottle ...only to rocket him down into victory in Luchon. The next day he crashed and withdrew from the race. He rode the Tour again in 1954, '55 and '59 without finishing.

In 1980, Jean Robic tragically died in a car accident on his way home from celebrating the Tour victory of Joop Zotemelk. He was only 59!

Robic mania, 1947 Tour.
All from: 'Cycling's Golden Age.'

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Waterboys.

Belgium waterboy, Rene Van-Meenen rushes back towards his teamates.
Unfortunately, he would not finish this 1963 Tour.
From: 'Tour de France.'

Waterboys.

Years ago, at the Tour & Giro, riders would stop at roadside cafes for a few drinks. These tireless workers would dash in and take from the shelves & refrigerator mostly anything they can fit into their back pockets. In those days, it was all glass bottles. And riders struggled with the enormous bottles sticking out of their sagging jerseys. Carrying that huge weight was insane. The smart ones would carry a bottle opener. On a hot long day, beer was a welcome item along with soda pop, fruit juice & mineral water. The cafe staff would be pleased as punch to have most of their cold drinks 'rob' from them. And rightly so... 

The next day Tour officials were surprised by the very expensive bill! 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Stetson with a Kangaroo.

The strong Aussie presence.
Anderson proudly wears the maillot blanc!

I remember watching  Phil Anderson come in to win the Gold medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games road race in Edmonton. The following year he moved to western Paris and joined the AC Boulogne-Billancourt. It was a professional school for professionals readying them for Peugeot. In 1980, with his apprenticeship over, Anderson graduated to the big time signing with Peugeot. Fellow anglophone, American Jonathon ‘Jock’ Boyer rose through the very same ranks of ACBB, back in 1973. Four years later, in 1977, the determined Boyer joined the smaller French team but with big pockets, Lejeune-BP. The cycling path of the two riders would cross again, into the 1981 Tour.

Both riders made their debut in the 1981 Tour de France. Australian, Phil Anderson known as ‘Skippy’ (after the TV kangaroo) and better yet, my favorite nickname, ‘Dr. Teeth’ with the biggest set of ivories ever to grace the peloton. He already had success in his first year winning the Prix de Wetteren race and a stage at the Etoile des Espoirs. Boyer, was well known in France, spoke French and was cocky enough for wearing a Stetson. He was a lone Yankee maverick trying to fit into the traditional European cycling world. The 25 year old Boyer was a vegetarian, bringing huge amounts of nuts & fruit to races. He stood out. The Tour asked him to wear a special Stars & Stripes jersey. All the better, becoming the first ever American to ride the Tour thus attracting the potentially enormous American market.

A pioneering spirit: going forward.
Jock Boyer's special Stars & Stripes jersey symbolized the first 
American presence at the 1981 Tour.
From: 'Fabulous World of Cycling.'

Anderson's role was to support leader  Jean-Rene Bernaudeau, and soon discovered he had more to give than his captain. With Bernaudeau out of contention, the Aussie finished a formidable 3rd in the Pyrenean stage to Saint-Lary-Soulan. Bernard Hinault was second behind stage winner Lucien Van Impe. After marking Hinault on top of the Plat d’Adet and top placings in the previous stages, Anderson became the first Australian/non-European rider to wear the yellow jersey. Dr. Teeth started to show his fangs. The next day’s time trail finish to Pau, a mere 30 seconds behind winner Hinault was the end of his yellow jersey. The 23 year old Anderson lost it but he was proud of his debut. He even fought hard for the white jersey losing out to eventual winner, Dutchman Peter Winnen.  

Anderson's golden day.
A strong 3rd place at the time trial stage to Pau.
From: 'Fabulous World of Cycling.'

The Aussie finished 10th overall. Truly a gutsy first Tour ride and he sent a firm message that he was an upcoming force to reckon with. On the other hand, Jock Boyer rode well protecting leader, Hinault. He finished as high as ninth on stage 10 from Le Mans- Aulnay sous Bois. The trailblazing American finished in 32nd place overall enough to leave the door open for his fellow countrymen to ride through.

History is about to change...
The cheeky neophyte marking the badger into Saint-Lary-Soulan.
From: 'Tour de France.'

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Anew Day.

My Marinoni & front mudflap and still lots of snow. 
Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver.

Today, I jumped back on the bike with a mission: to rediscover my riding legs & test my much anticipated mudflap!

I rode for an hour and enjoyed every pedal stroke. A chilly day out (4 C) as I negotiated what little snow we have left on the side streets. I wasn't fooled, there's still a little and I took care. Vancouver had its share of record breaking snowfall. Around 110 centimeters in 4 weeks! A good sign to see other fellow cyclists back out on the road. Its been well over a month since I rode. And the mudflap worked extremely well, catching a lot of road grime. No doubt it will have a great working relationship with the fender. I actually changed the design and put together both to form one. The extra stiffness actually makes the mudflap from moving about. I hot glued the two leather pieces & set it aside to dry. Drilled two holes into my plastic fender & fastened the mudflap with black tie wraps. Then, to finish off a dab of hot glue on the end of the fender to hold it firmly in place. 

I'll give the mudflap a high mark of A+. And I'm glad to start off anew year of cycling!

My working mudflap.
Thats a chunk of snow on the road!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

To Hell.

Detail from: 'Crevaison l'enfer du Nord, 1986'
All images © 2007 Richard Lee - All Rights Reserved.

Paris-Roubaix is a special race that holds a spell over me. I admire all the riders involved. Just to finish it is an achievement, but to win it is .... pure masterpiece! I have launched my art print on the Etsy website. You can click on this link to view and  purchase, 'Crevaison l'enfer du Nord, 1986.'

Questions?  Please feel free to email me at: info@cyclingart.ca

Thank you!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

An eyeful.

Braveheart with goggles at the ready.
From: The Unknown Tour de France.

For the past week I'm enduring a painful stye on my eyelid. Now, with the help of anti-biotics it's slowly healing. If it doesn't drain itself by next weekend, I'll have to go see a specialist for relief. That means lancing it. Crossing my fingers that it doesn't go that far. Which leads me to think of how much hardship racing cyclists had to endure back when there were unpaved roads...


During his riding days, the 1937 Tour winner, Roger Lepebie was particularly mindful of the terrible road conditions he encountered.  “The roads were dreadful. There were potholes that we used to call birds’ nests, pebbles, dust, gravel. We got lots of saddle sores because of the dirt, the cow dung. It was easy to get infected." said Lapebie.

Goggles were key in deflecting the copious amount of road grime from the riders' eyes. I'm sure styes were a common affliction back then. And, to think that something so practical would become a wonderful emblem of that era. The graceful Swiss star, Hugo Koblet, along with his matinee idol looks  gave cycling that added dimensional star quality. He was always seen with his patented goggles on his head or usually wrapped around his left forearm. 

Koblet's 1951 Tour:

Flamboyant: with goggles on.
www.scratch.tv.it

In 1950, Koblet became the first non-Italian  to win the Giro d'Italia before claiming victory in the Tour of Switzerland. His star was already rising as he entered the 1951 Tour de France. The 26 year old manhandled the 'stars' of the peloton; Geminiani, Coppi, Magni, Ockers into submission. On stage 11, Brive to Agen, the Swiss soloed to victory. After he crossed the finish line, he took time to look at his Swiss watch pulled a comb and sponge from out of his pocket to groom himself before meeting the astonished fans & journalists. He suavely collected five stages and was dubbed, 'The peddler of charm' by songster Jacques Grello and  'Apollo on a bike'  by L'Equipe. This classy rider rode into Paris as the 1951 Tour victor commanding a 22 minute lead over second place finisher, Raphael Geminiani. 

Style: 'Apollo on a bike.'
From: Cycling's Golden Age.

Months later, Koblet contracted a mysterious venereal disease in Mexico. He never was the same graceful rider again and retired in 1956. Then, in 1964, he left as fast as his star ascended crashing his Alfa Romero into a tree. Was it marital or debt problems? Suicide is suspected... 

Hugo Koblet was only 39!

'The pedaler of charm!'
From: Maillot Jaune.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bianchi: the golden years.

The fifties was cycling's 'Golden Age'. Bianchi was carried on the wings of one, Fausto. Famous for the memorable celeste. The team had many other 'stars'. Here are a few beautiful Bianchi cards depicting great riders from that great era...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Don't blink, you'll miss it!

On a cycling team, one group of special people are the soigneurs. Taking care of food, clothes & escorting riders. During race situation, where timing & quick wits are essential, everything is done on the bike!

A typical day in the team car.
One of the many chaotic moments for soigneur & rider alike.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Linocut.

'On the pave.'
My dynamic cycling linocut!

All images © 2007 Richard Lee - All Rights Reserved.

I'm exhausted and happy after completing my first linocut since art school days. I started right after I picked up the supplies last Wednesday. Four days later, with plenty of effort, its done. 

The linocut is a printmaking technique invented  by the German expressionist artists of Die Brucke formed in Dresden, 1905.  To start, a sheet of linoleum is used. The same material used in contemporary flooring. A design is cut into the surface with various special, sharp blades. Ink is applied with a roller and impressed onto a substrate(paper). 

My finish cycling image is 4" X 5" on a 8" X 10", 140 Ibs, cold pressed acid free, natural white, watercolour paper.

Tedious & very involving work.
I'm cutting into the linoleum.

And ...my linocut tools.
Ink, brayer(roller), cutting tools w/blades, the 'cut' linoleum!

I'm looking forward to my next one! 

Friday, January 2, 2009

Introducing my clipless pedals!

Thanks to Hans, my first clipless pedals.

Here's to the launch of my new 'Cycling Art Blog' header...

It's a new year. I have something to admit. For sometime now, I've been riding on clipless pedals shedding away the traditional Campagnolo pedals & toe clips. My trusty Marinoni is used both as a training & commuting bike working seamlessly well with my clipless pedals. It took me a long time to make the switch. After some twenty-one years, I finally knuckled under. Today, all cyclists can thank Bernard Hinault for introducing the new clipless pedal technology dating back to 1985!

The 1985 Giro d'Italia...
From:'Tour 85.'

The pioneering, clipless pedal-ing, patron.
Stage 10 to Paola.
The Badger powering full tilt with his new LOOK pedals!

Twenty-four years ago...

In the 1980's, the French ski-binding company LOOK (with Hinault as advisor) developed the one click pedal system that was both easy & efficient. The badger 'stepped' into the new clipless pedals at the 1985 Giro d'Italia. With the goal of winning a third Giro, he spearheaded the powerhouse La Vie Claire super team with support from a young 23 year old, Greg Lemond. 

Against the strong rival Francesco Moser, Hinault fought throughout that race with the outcome undecided until the final stage time trial. Both used all the available technology except for the pedals. Hinault used the new clipless pedals & Moser used the traditional. The Italian won the exciting stage, however, the Frenchman conceded only 7 seconds to take that Giro by only 1 minute 8 seconds. Did Hinault win the race due to the new pedals? 

No doubt it helped. And, most importantly he guided &  paved the way... improving pedal technology for all!


One huge & nasty spill, no time to pull out, 
all on traditional pedals.
Hinault was not in this pile up!

Take three.
Moser(2nd overall) & the smiling Badger victorious with his 3rd Giro!

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