Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mont-Royal, mes amour!


La beauté du Mont-Royal, Montréal.
Great for a picnic &... a bike race!


Back in 1998, I lived in Montreal and took in the Women's World Cup road race on the famous Mont-Royal. It's not really a mountain but a huge hill, but the folks call it a mountain. That year Jeannie Longo finished in second under wet & rainy conditions. After that year I grew more and more interested in the race.
Last Saturday, Montreal was again the host of the 12th UCI Women's World Cup. It's the only one held in North America. A tough 12-laps of 10 kilometers totaling 110 kms. Going up the famed Mont Royal, about 2 kms and down through technical twists and turns around Jeanne-Mance park finishing on Park Avenue. It's a beautiful setting for a picnic but extremely challenging for a bike race. This year the grueling course left it's mark with close to 50 riders not finishing. Only 33 did as the race was already decided after Emma Pooley (Cervelo) stayed away after the first kilometer and soloed to victory after riding alone for 11 laps. Simply amazing!

I plan to make a much needed trip back to Montreal, sometime soon, to see this exciting race!


La courageuse Britannique.
Emma Pooley (Cervelo) alone in front for over three hours!
(above & below): www.cyclingnews.com


Le podium finale:
(l to r): Emma Johansson(2nd), Emma Pooley(1st) &
Trixi Worrack(3rd).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Speeding Past & The Workshop.


Two more photos...



...along with Fritz's donated De Rosa celebrating the Cannibal's achievements!









Today I received an interesting email from curator Caelan Griffiths hosting, 'Speeding Past Bike Maintenance Workshop' for July 9th. Here are the details...



Speeding Past Bike Maintenance Workshop

July 9th 2009, 5pm

Learn to do adjustments to brakes and shifters!
Assess your bike for damage and repairs!
When to lube what!
Pasta dinner!


Vancouver BC, Friday, May 29, 2009 – Il Museo is hosting Our Community Bikes in a bike maintenance workshop as part of Speeding Past / Pedalare Nel Passato bicycle display.

The workshop will last approximately 3 hours and pasta dinner will be served! Cost $40 for
non-members and $30 for members of the Italian Cultural Centre, students and low-income participants. There is a maximum of 8 participants so please call to book your spot!

Speeding Past / Pedalare Nel Passato tells the story of the Italia Bicycle Club and the China Creek velodrome where they once raced.

The Italian Cultural Centre is a not-for-profit cultural organization that promotes the best of Italian culture, sharing it with all the other communities in Vancouver, in order to endorse a vibrant and colourful multiculturalism. You will find ample bicycle parking and Renfrew Skytrain station nearby: 3075 Slocan Street (Grandview Hwy), Vancouver BC.

Consider taking the Central Valley Greenway to find us!




Contact:

Caelan Griffiths
Curator
Tel: (604) 430-3337
Fax: (604) 430-3331
Email: curator@italianculturalcentre.ca

http://www.italianculturalcentre.ca
http://www.ilmuseoitaliano.blogspot.com



Friday, May 29, 2009

The Italian job.

Denson(right) & maglia rosa, Motta at the 1966 Giro.
Vin Denson, nicknamed 'Vic.' Because 'Vin' means wine in French.
Became the first Briton to win a stage at the Giro.


I watched Carlos Sastre conquer today's exciting Giro stage to the top of the inactive volcano Mt. Versuvius. An impressive solo win for the Spanish grimpeur, his second of the race. I couldn't help but think how it would be just to win one stage in this great race...

In 1966, Vin Denson riding for the Ford-France team had that very chance. Denson was given the orders to ride and protect teammate Julio Jimenez after the spaniard became maglia rosa after winning stage two. Protection was hardly enough as the partisan Italian fans pelted the two hapless riders with garbage. The problem was that a non-Italian was wearing the maglia rosa!

During the evening team dinner before stage nine, Denson had asked for an extra helping of pasta and promised that he would win. Joke or not, Denson won that 210 km race to Campobasso. He became the first Briton ever to win a stage of the Giro.

The next day's questionable headlines read, 'La droga de Denson e un piatto di ravioli ... Denson's drug is a plate of ravioli!"


Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Photos of Speeding Past!


Patching with Concrete, 1967.
After years of cycling use. The track had to be refinished for 10 more years of racing!


Ciao a tutti!

The Italian cycling exhibition, "Speeding Past or Pedalare nel pasato" is an incredible historical document of bicycles & photographs. Just looking at the fantastic photographs gives the viewer the important focal point ... in Vancouver's cycling timeline. The 1954 Commonwealth Games or the Empire Games was the impetus for the China Creek Park Track. Along with the invaluable support from the Italian cycling community the track stayed on until 1980.

Here are some of the great photos from this fine cycling exhibition!






Construction site with earthen banks, 1953.



China Creek Park, 1958.
That's the medal podium from the 1954 Commonwealth Games.




Track racing.


The finished track.
An impressive view.


Track & road cyclists, 1957.




Ed Barry & Mario Brunoro on a Tandem, 1958.
They won the one mile race in the 1958
North American Championships!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

MOTTA Grazie!

1966 Giro d'Italia interviews.
(l to r): Bitossi, Gimondi and race leader Motta.
www.jamd.com


Gianni Motta looked quite likely the next champion his fellow countrymen yearn for. In his first year as a pro he took a smashing victory in the tough 1964 Giro di Lombardia, the "race of the fallen leaves." Fans were already talking Campionissimo. For cycling mad Italy were still mourning the loss of their beloved Coppi, since 1960. The fans got more in return in the 1965 Tour de France. Motta came ever close (3rd) behind winner, Felice Gimondi. Could Motta & Gimondi be the two burgeoning heroes for a weary Italian nation?

Perhaps, 1966 was Motta's crowning year as he won the Swiss stage race, the Tour de Romandie. His early good form translated a week later at the Giro d'Italia. He grew increasingly stronger by forcing the feared Jacques Anquetil into submission. Motta took two stages, the points classification, the overall and relegated beleaguered Maitre Jacques to third overall behind compatriot Italo Zilioli.

As all good things stood, Motta then became uncharacteristically, enigmatic. In 1967, on advice of an eccentric doctor he adopted the diet of ... the American astronauts. The promise of fantastic results was his if he followed a quirky training regimen. He would ride some 500 kms a day eating hardly anything...

During the 1967 World Road Race in Heerlen Netherlands, Motta lost due to fatigue, and came in fourth while doing a large portion of the work. Merckx won that race for his first of three World cycling titles. Later that year, Motta would claim a rare success at the Tour de Suisse and further on in 1971, his last major win at the Tour de Romandie.

Gianni Motta rode on with unfulfilled greatness. The promise of winning soon gave way to disappointment for his fans and he never did win the number of races expected of him. By 1976, Motta retired and manufactured his own bikes.


Dominating!
Motta wins one of two stages, 1966 Giro.



Out in front wearing the maglia rosa!




His early seventies of woe,
Motta shows his disppointment.
From: 'The Fabulous World of Cycling.'

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Giovanni Battaglin: his first Giro.

1973 Giro.
Italian neo-pro Giovanni Battaglin, leading star Felice Gimondi.
www.cyclingwebsite.net/


Italian great, Giovanni Battaglin rode the 1972 baby Giro, the amateur Giro d'Italia to victory and the next year was signed up for his first professional team, Jollj Ceramica. Only 21 years old he was a promising talent as he prepare to battle against the Cannibal at the 1973 Giro d'Italia.
That year, Merckx had already won the Vuelta and headed into the Giro gobbling up six stages leading from the start in Belgium to the finish in Trieste.

"That was the era of the Cannibal, when he rode for Molteni and led the Giro from start to finish. I also rode consistently well and finished on the podium. Felice Gimondi was second behind Merckx and I was third at 10-20 in my first season as a pro," added Battaglin.


A hard fought first Giro!


He almost won his first Giro stage coming a very close second behind Gimondi on stage 18 to Monte Andalo. In fact, he lost by half a wheel to Italian champion, Gimondi. And, when asked how it was as a 21 year old neo-pro to ride head to head with Merckx, Gimondi & Jose-Manuel Fuente?


The young Battaglin (far right) staying in contention with Super Merckx.
From: 'The Fabulous World of Cycling.'



Battaglin said it best, "I had a lot of admiration for them. They were untouchable but the reality was that I was right up there with them, so I just had to ride. I just had to go for it!"


This was a start to a great 11 year career as a professional!



Saturday, May 23, 2009

A look at Speeding Past!


Opening ceremonies;
with the help from an traditional Italian hand crank siren!


How perfect it was today, sunny & warm somewhere in the late teens and with a nice spin in the morning out of the way. Carolle and I ventured out to the cycling exhibition, 'Speeding Past' (At the Italian Cultural Centre Museum, until August 5th). A rather nice table was set up with delicious pizza and other morsels to be had.

We met Guy and settled in for the opening monologue from the curator. He welcomed all of us and promptly skipped the last two pages of his prepared speech to usher us into the show. I talked to contributor, Fritz along with Paul, Dave & Brian of the steel bike club. Hans was not here as he was vacationing in France. With the formalities done, anticipation grew as we entered the Museum.


Let the music begin!


Many eye-catching bikes lined the room. Most from Felix (not present) & Fritz. What was wonderful was the large group of folks present. Owner, Giuseppe from Campione Cycles was present along with a striking, 'Camerotti Viadante' steel lug beauty decked out in Campy Centaur. I had the chance to talk to former bike racer, Bruno Tonietto who was the original owner of a beautiful 1974 Holdsworth track bike. He used to race it on the velodrome. Now, Fritz owns it.

Tonietto was a pioneer, one of the handful that had the great opportunity to race on the China Creek Track, here in Vancouver. It all started in 1954, as the city hosted the British Empire and Commonwealth Games. The China Creek Velodrome was built as a venue for track at the Games and cost $72,000. Located at Broadway & Glen Drive placed on a natural slope and centrally located it was thought to be ideal. At the time of construction the area was a natural gully and Broadway was raised on a trestle over a stream at Glen Drive. In 1980, the track was removed to make way for Vancouver Community College.

I talked to a volunteer who recited a charming story to us about her parents meeting at the track. Her mother would always go over to watch her father race. They eventually married and moved happily closer to the track.

Two hours later, it was time to go. We found it an enjoyable & informative exhibition on Vancouver's cycling past... except that by the time Guy and I stepped out for the pizza, it was long gone!

It was fun and I'll be posting more pictures in the days to come.

Forza Speeding Past!



The 'Italia Bicycle-Club' wool jersey with
trophies from inductee, Mario Brunoro.



Is that Gilberto Simoni's 2003 maglia rosa?



Former track racer, Bruno Tonietto admiring his old Holdsworth...
now owned by Fritz!




A Holdsworth 'Reynolds' track bike.




1959 custom built Schwinn of Mario Brunoro.



All images © 2009 Richard Lee - All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lucho's monument.


Winning on a high note!
Lucho Herrera's fantastic monument in his hometown of Fusagasuga, Colombia.
www.panoramio.com


Luis 'Lucho' Herrera was one of the finest grimpeurs to come from Colombia. He was the winner of five King of the Mountain Jersey's and the first South American to win a Grand Tour (1987 Vuelta a Espana). About a month and a half ago, a Columbian writer emailed me praising me on my posts on Lucho. He wrote an impassioned article on Columbian cycling, his love for Cafe de Columbia and especially on Lucho Herrera.


After watching this candid video, I can't help but question how a guy that look so fragile & thin can be a monster in the mountains? He was an utterly amazing talent and helped Cafe de Colombia 'rise' to majestic heights. After the 1985 Tour, rumor was that Bernard Hinault wanted KOM's Herrera for his La Vie Claire team. Even the astute badger knew. Herrera didn't acquire the nickname, 'The butterfly of the Andes' ... for nothing!


'

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Today we ride!



We're riding towards the University.




Nice & sunny this afternoon as my brother, Ron & I departed for a very relaxed ride. I thought about Jean Bobet's book, "Tomorrow We Ride," about his riding exploits with his famous cycling brother, Louison. It's on my wish list. And it was so good to have that brotherly ride together. Shooting the 'shit' while spinning on the bike. I can understand Bobet saying, "We always understood each other best on bikes. We always needed a bike beneath us."


A much needed one for the road...

The fine Italian 'gusto' coffee!


Before we started, we had a much needed Italian coffee and I let him use my floor pump. He's riding on a Kona Blast aluminum MTB, and on badly underinflated tires. Both of his tires were 40 psi, about a half less from his recommended pressure. Now, at around 80 psi he's riding comfortably. I don't know how he could ever ride on underinflated tires. So, I took him on my UBC route, cruising along SW Marine Drive stopping for a nice chat at Jericho Beach. We rode back and it was Ron's longest ever ride (1 1/2 hours). It's not always about the quantity... but the quality!


Taking time out at Jericho Beach...














Between the two trees, out in the distant is a cargo ship!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Giupponi's secret weapon.

Climbing with ease?
A closer look showing Giupponi on the new Colnago with
the distinct double tubes.


Twenty years ago at the 1989 Giro d’Italia, Flavio Giupponi (Malvor-Sidi) was a heavy Italian favorite for the overall. He was second the year before and fifth in 1987 and served as lieutenant to former Giro winner, Giuseppe Saronni. Under the tutelage of Beppe he finally came into his own showing great prowess to win the big race at home. Saronni’s career was on the downslide and the younger Italian showed promise. He was a very good climber and expert rouleur. And proof of his talents shone with a gutsy win under horrendous conditions of wind & rain on the mountainous stage 14 to Corvara.


Malvor-Sidi, 1989.
The team introduced a special Colnago in their arsenal!

Giupponi had a two wheel secret weapon in the guise of a new Colnago ‘Carbitubo’ frame. Colnago introduced this new carbon frame with a rather odd double oblique down tube for increase rigidity, useful for the sprint and riding safety. Ernesto Colnago reduced the weight, with the use of carbon, and allowed the rider to transfer his power to the wheels by saving energy. Working closely with his star rider, Saronni, a radical if not better Colnago bicycle was created. Colnago wasn’t alone, he seeked help from Ferrari Engineers. Cylindrical tubes were devised to give chief Malvor-Sidi riders’ (Saronni & Giupponi) an edge. The carbon fiber tubes were screwed and glued with an aeronautic compound to the aluminum fittings. As a result, greater riding stability both on the flat and downhill for the rider.


Flavio Giupponi rode that Giro, well. Only to find one Laurent Fignon unbeatable. Giupponi finished the 1989 Giro in second place… with a little help from Colnago!




Giupponi slogging to a stage 14 victory into Carvara on the Carbitubo.
Giro images from: 'Tour 89.'


Saronni protected between his two teammates on the Colnago Carbitubo.



Colnago+Ferrari=
The Carbitubo, introduced back in 1989.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Viva la Vuelta!



After putting down the fine book, "Viva la Vuelta," it's by far the definitive book on the Vuelta a Espana. Unfortunately, it has been perceived as number three in order of the great stage races; the Tour & the Giro will always run one and two. Call it an inferiority complex. This race started back in 1935 and annually since 1955 and has survived the bitter hardships of; civil war, dictatorship, money struggles, famine and political violence. This smart/insightful compendium by Lucy Fallon & Adrian Bell is so well written and researched that it deserves a place in any cycling library.

Foreign riders arrived with their powerful teams to dominate. Dictating the race over the ill prepared Spanish riders most common right up to the seventies. Stars like Merckx, Anquetil, Hinault, Herrera, Kelly & Maertens stood out as conquering riders. But, it truly is the Spanish heroes like Fuente, Ocana, Delgado, Heras & Contador that provides the catharsis for the troubled Spanish nation.



Early years.
The running of the riders & bulls!




I enjoyed reading this fine book on this great race and I highly recommend it.

I'm a fan!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Felix Redux!

Swiss made, the Mondia 'Special'
right next to a classic Pinarello!



And without further acclaim, I'm happy to present the last installment of my memorable visit to see Felix's amazing bike collection. Here's a few more images from his historical group of thirty, steel frame bikes (except for the aluminum Guerciotti).

Swiss made, Mondia, started in 1918 and made high quality racing machines. The company, which is no longer in business, made three top frames: the criterium, the touring and a cyclo-cross model. Felix's, Mondia 'Special' touring frame is a beautiful red and made with Reynolds 531 steel tubing.

Sante Pogliaghi made sought after road frames for top riders like Merckx. The Milan based frame builder also produced high ended tandem & track frames, too. He passed away in the mid eighties and the manufacturing rights are owned by the Basso brothers.

Giuseppe & Angelo Mondonico began building top frames in 1929. The famous Italian brand still produces great steel frames, today. Felix mentioned to me that he had his exquisite Mondonico measured by Antonio Mondonico, and stands to be his favorite ride!


A classic Pogliaghi.







More interesting items to see
in the back!








Felix's top favorite, Cicli Mondonico!

All images © 2009 Richard Lee - All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Speeding Past... The Italian Connection.


Early track racing here in Vancouver!

I’m plugging the ‘Speeding Past/Pedalare Nel Passato’ exhibit at the Italian Cultural Centre Museum. It begins this May 23rd (12:30 PM) to August 5th here in Vancouver. What is planned will be a display of film showings, history and notably a contribution from some friends…

Fritz & Felix will bring along a few of their fine two wheel specimens as part of the show.

And it’s all about Vancouver’s rich Italian-Canadian bike racing history with emphasis on the important Italian contribution.

If you’re in or around the city, please check it out and get ready as this much anticipated exhibition will be, literally, Speeding Past.

I can’t wait!

The address:

The Italian Cultural Society
3075 Slocan Street
Vancouver, BC

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More bikes n' things... from Felix!


Gios!

The very rare and strangely placed 
seat stay of this beautiful Colnago Master...

Nisi Rim detail...

Felix's favorite ride...
His made to measure Mondonico!





This could be Felix's lovely Gios Torino Super Record.


The beautifully lugged British Hetchins.


All images © 2009 Richard Lee - All Rights Reserved.
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