Oct 31, 2009

LeMond's in the fridge!

Gift from the Gods...
LeMond & Don de Dieu.

I'm enjoying a flashback with Greg LeMond's 1986 & 1989 Tour wins. Huge thanks to Guy of Le Grimpeur for lending me a whole stash of cycling dvd's. And what better way to share these dvd's is with a nice Quebec biere called, 'Don de Dieu' (translated; gift from the Gods).

Does Quebec do anything half way? Not that I can think of especially when it comes to their beer. This beautiful triple white ale comes in a most welcome 9% extra strong and weighing in at a respectable 750 ml. Perfect to keep one company while watching LeMond beat a feisty Badger and blowing away a even feistier Laurent Fignon in the final time trial. Great footage from the time that I got into cycling and also good to see all my favorites; Bauer, Kelly, Millar & Theunisse battling.


Oct 29, 2009

Tea for one.

Taking a tip from the cold weather classic riders'...
In case you're wondering my choice was Traditional English!

One of the comforting aspects of cold weather riding is switching from plain water to hot, strong tea. It was bitterly cold yesterday about 8 Celcius/overcast and a biting wind made it a challenge. I wore layers and even wore a neck gaiter and touque (that's a warm knitted cap, eh!). I was tempted not to go on my usual hour and a half route but I packed a uplifting waterbottle of hot tea and honey. It made the ride that much better. I have to figure out to insulate it by putting some wrap around it. Or I could get an insulated bottle. Anyways, the hot tea/honey was most welcome!

Oct 28, 2009

The Return of the Toreador.

The toreador commanding in yellow.

Luis Ocaña was ready. Ready to win the 1973 Tour. Why? The Cannibal opted not to ride it. He already won an historical double by taking the Tours of Spain & Italy and a multitude of classic’s. Unexpectedly the Cannibal was full and graciously stayed away.

The door opened for the rest to step through for a chance for Tour victory. Most were resigned to be pretenders but some were at the doorstep looking in. José Manuel Fuente, Bernard Thévénet, Raymond Poulidor and Cyrill Guimard were those riders.

Ocaña remembered his 1971 tragedy of the col de Mente that cost him overall victory. A lung infection had him abandon in 1972. So, he set for revenge. He was steadfast to take this Tour. Six months of intense training before had him ready for battle.

The spectre of bad luck struck on stage two as a dog forced Ocaña and ten others to the road with minor bruising. If that wasn’t bad enough his BIC team manager, Maurice de Muer threatened the team if they did not work solely for Ocaña then they would all be ejected. The fear of God was in place. Ocaña knew of the pressure and proceeded forward in the winning move on the stage to Rheims. He gained time on all his adversaries especially climbing ace José Manuel Fuente.

If there was one rider to challenge him it was Fuente. To the ski station at Les Orres repeated attacks by Fuente were countered by the astute Ocaña. The toreador won that stage. No matter what Fuente could throw wasn’t enough to shake Ocaña. At Luchon Ocaña took a commanding lead and distance himself from Fuente. Poulidor had a scare falling off a ravine and crawled back up with a bloodied blow to his head. He quit the race.

Only one could challenge him... Fuente.

So strong was Ocaña that Fuente slipped in the overall standings to third. Another stage win to the Puy de Dome & the final TT cemented Ocaña as the clear victor. A great win perhaps an empty one. I believe Ocaña would’ve loved to beat up on Merckx …instead!

The tired champion.

His supreme authority over the 1973 Tdf gave Ocaña the title: the sovereign!

Oct 25, 2009

A true toreador.

The toreador gave Merckx something to think about!

Luis Ocana was a true toreador. An aggressive hero in every sense with courage to wrestle with Eddy Merckx. Nineteen seventy-one was the ring for the toreador to enter and Merckx as his bull to wrestle with.

Ocana will don the yellow jersey after he wins the
stage into Orcieres-Merlette!

At the 1971 Dauphine Libere, Merckx already felt the strains from his Spanish adversary. With repeated attacks from Ocana (1970 & 1973 Dauphine winner), Merckx just managed to win his only Dauphine by only 54 seconds from Ocana. Even at Paris-Nice, Ocana hung ominously close to finish third from Merckx. No wonder with the upcoming Tour, Ocana had thoughts to challenging the Cannibal for victory.

As few riders' were only distant competition for Merckx, Ocana offered up as perhaps the closest rival to the Cannibal. Born in Spain but raised in France this toreador understood what it was to be French but with a Spanish heart.

Ocana like a true toreador commanded and dictated the race winning the Puy de Dome stage. And, on the stage to Orcieres-Merlette he stung the Cannibal by gaining nearly 9 minutes and taking the yellow jersey. The day to Luchon would be different. The fight was on as Ocana fought side by side with Merckx through the Pyrenees. The day was black as a tempest of a storm broke out. Hailstones pelted the riders' and mud flowed onto the roads. On the drop of the col de Mente, both riders fell on a bend. Merckx got up and went off.

For Ocana took a wheel from his manager and Agostinho then Zoetemelk slamed into him at high speed. He doubled over a painful expression of broken rider. He left the Tour with severe bruising. His glory to win the 1971 Tour was rudely taken away. At the end of the stage Merckx refused to don the yellow jersey out of sympathy for Ocana. Merckx even talked of abandoning the race, but he eventually decided to continue. He knew it was not the way to win.

As for Ocana, he was broken but the toreador would fight his way back to win the 1973 Tour ...without his absent rival Merckx!

The storm erupts...

Oct 23, 2009

The Queen Reigns Supreme!

Getting better with age...
Queen Jeannie getting closer to her fifth win!

Last week, Jeannie Longo keeps on winning by a adding the Chrono des Nations TT to her long palmares. She won her fifth TT and is the women's record holder.

At 50, she certainly keeps on ticking!

Oct 21, 2009

A Marinoni: I Second That!

My Big 'M.'
Back after a fall ride!

There’s a huge chance that I will be an owner of a new bike soon. I’ve been looking and searching for a suitable replacement for my 1987 Marinoni. Don’t get me wrong. It’s more of a semi-retirement. I don’t have the heart to flat-out retire it. I ride it everyday and with each passing day it’s a joy to ride. It’s like a fine wine. Getting better as time goes.

My first road bike was a 1980s Cambio Rino. Solid steel bike I called it my ‘Blue Monster.’ Unfortunately I crashed it and had to get rid of it. Actually I went out for a ride and woke up in Emergency. Appears I slipped on some gravel, fell on my head and passed out. Never wore a helmet. When I came to I had broken my collar bone (left side) in two places. I have the calcium deposits to show for it. And then the hospital orderly brought out my badly damaged Rino. It was toast. Afterwards I bought my custom made SL Marinoni.

What bike you may ask? Well, another Marinoni. Either the road racer; ‘Piuma’ or the Sport Tourer; ‘Sportivo’. Of course in steel. It wasn’t too difficult to decide on another Marinoni. It’s well made in the fine Italian tradition of a very well built and comfortable machine. Originally, I wanted a bike for commuting. With full fender capabilities with the option to remove them. Now, it’s not so critical but I would love to have a responsive bike too. I’m used to the racing geometry. I want to take it for long rides and feel confident going uphill as well as burning it on flat roads. I’m sure I can’t do wrong with either model.

I’ll check out the local bike shop very soon. And maybe just open a bottle of wine!

Stay tuned…

Marinoni 'Steel is Real' Club!

The Piuma Racing Bike.
Shorter chainstays.

The Sportivo Tourer.
Longer chainstays able for full fenders, a big plus here in wet Vancouver!

Oct 19, 2009

Heaving upwards to le Col du Tourmalet!

Robert Millar after beating up on
the Col du Tourmalet!

When I heard that the 2010 Tour de France will feature the feared Col du Tourmalet, I rubbed my hands in glee. Twice it will be on display. And I must cheer the Tour for this choice. It will mark 100 years since the Pyrénées were first used by the Tour. It's the highest point in the Pyrénéen nightmare at a numbing 2115 meters. The first rider to reach the summit will receive the special prime, Souvenir Jacques Goddet. It will be tackled twice and the riders will have a much needed rest day in between climbs.

The high life...
The beautiful Col du Tourmalet, 1952.

Robert Millar started his first Tour in 1983. Riding for Peugeot he knew on the toughest stage 10 to Luchon he had a chance for victory. Call it cocky. He followed Columbian Patro Jimenez up reaching the Tourmalet to be the first British rider to win the Souvenir Henri Desgrange Trophy. What followed was equally amazing. Millar finally got rid of Jimenez and rode into Luchon and into Tour history as the first British rider to win a major mountain stage and to win the Desgrange Trophy!

Millar about to break Jimenez.

Oct 17, 2009

Cyclocross Heroes.

Roger De Vlaeminck in 1981.

The Gypsy at home on the uneven terrain!
From: 'Fabulous World of Cycling.'

It's Autumn and the battle over terrain is cyclocross time. Originating from France in the early 1900s, Octave Lapize was one famous rider to use it for training. Lapize benefited from the merits of cyclocross to help him win the 1910 Tour de France. It's natural for many road racers to thrive and excel at cyclocross. Tour champs like; Jean Robic, Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault enjoyed mucking it up. And three traditional countries that are the top nations in 'cross are Belgium, Holland and the Czech Republic.

Paris-Roubaix has the special parallel with cyclocrossers. How about the muddy faces, bikes caked with it and the awful surfaces & the gritty conditions. One famous rider was Monsieur Paris-Roubaix. Roger De Vlaeminck trained especially for his favorite test. It wasn't surprising that he conquered four Roubaix's. He was adept at 'cross an competed every winter in 10 to 15 cyclocross races. Monsieur P-R won 110 'cross races including the 1968 world amateur title and the 1975 professional title. No wonder he flew over the stones!

Jean Robic 1950 world cyclocross champ.

Jacques Anquetil in 1965.

The Badger in 1980.

Muddy & unbowed!
From: 'Fabulous World of Cycling.'

Oct 16, 2009

Michael Barry; le domestique the writer.

I watched a wonderful profile on TV5, from France, on Columbia High Road’s premier domestique Michael Barry. Showing how durable the Canadian rider is. An accomplish Olympian he’s proven himself as a climber in the professional ranks. His recent win was a stage at the 2008 Tour of Missouri. In fact, his domestique role is to position speedster Mark Cavendish in the final sprint. And he’s cool with it. I respect his role as a support rider. Barry, at 33 years old, provides the team the important veteran leadership. And it shows that he still has a lot to give. I wish I could find it on line but I could only come up with this excellent mini profile.

Oct 14, 2009

The Sting of Castelli.

Castelli always with the champions.
Greg LeMond in 1984.

Rumors have it that the origin of the iconic scorpion logo by the Italian cycling apparel company Castelli involved a mistress born under the sign of Scorpio. We can’t be sure but it leaves a captivating mystery.

Louison Bobet on his way to winning Ventoux, 1955 Tour.
His world champion jersey was custom made by Castelli.

I felt the sting of the scorpion back in my twenties. There wasn’t much offered in Edmonton. But, I managed to find a wool jersey stamped with the scorpion. It transported me to the time of gritty rider’s of the seventies & eighties sporting majestically Castelli wear. For me the scorpion logo represented cycling.

These days it’s not so elusive to find. The famous brand is readily available. Although I have gear from other brands I do own a Castelli jacket & knee warmers. As you know I love history and proceeded to dig up some interesting facts on the famous scorpion.

The company is 133 years old and started out in 1876 by Vittore Gianni in Milan. It’s extra special when many of the cycling greats at one time were loyal clients. Alfredo Binda, five-time Giro champ, wore the gear. In 1939, Armando Castelli bought the Gianni company and kept the stars of cycling as satisfied customer’s. Notably Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi.

Coppi employed Castelli as his personal tailor. And he soon supplied for professional teams. And it didn’t stop there. Louison Bobet, Rik Van Looy and Jacques Anquetil wore the Castelli apparel.

Armando’s son, Maurizio started his own company, in 1974, called Castelli. And the scorpion was born. In 1978, Maurizio first used lycra as the material for cycling shorts. It was a success. Eddy Merckx wore a Castelli skinsuit for his world hour record in Mexico.

The mid 1980s with the dye sublimation process.
Paolo Rosola (Sammontana-Bianchi) sporting the new look!

The breakthrough came in the mid-1980s as Maurizio pioneered the dye sublimation process which allowed sponsor’s names and graphics to be printed on the fabric. The sponsor's names can now be promoted everywhere on the garment. Virtually most professional riders’ wore the famous scorpion at one time or another. And when you put a Castelli on you’re wearing cycling apparel steeped in tradition and innovation.

The God of Thunder...
Castelli winning again at stage 6 2009 Tour de France.

Oct 12, 2009

Sign's on Thanksgiving.

Today is Thanksgiving day for us Canadians. I rolled out for a quick hour and a half spin with my camera fixed on signs. As the mercury reached about 9 Celcius, a blast of Fall's breathe, I bundled up with layers with my trusty booties to keep me warm. I took it rather easy as I may not get a chance for a good ride until next weekend. Rain is in the forecast all work week so the fenders are back on for tomorrow's commute. I was glad the Sun was present but it was still cold enough to keep full gloves on.

Anyways here are some interesting signs on my route with a much needed post ride bonus...


Ok this one is on the side of a grocery store.

The ride ended with a Thanksgiving day reward;
Carolle's French Pear Cake!

Oct 11, 2009

Kelly's Un-Splendor Ride.

Hanging on by the skin of his back...
Kelly was the eager sprinter but it wasn't a 'Splendor' ride!
From: 'Fabulous World of Cycling.'

Early Hiccups for the Ironman...

After his servitude with Freddy Maertens's Flandria team Sean Kelly switched to his second pro team Splendor. It was 1979 and with the promise from leader Michel Pollentier, he would be co-leader and the main sprinter.

Domestique hardship under Maertens served to toughen the Irishman into a sprinter. But, it proved economically one-sided for only Maertens. A change to a new team with a chance to win with a higher salary beckoned him. Even disgraced Michel Pollentier under the aura of the 1978 Tour doping scandal guided an willing Kelly to leave for brighter shores.

Splendor was a new team and there were logistic problems. Under wet conditions the bikes brakes were inoperative. Not a good start. Wheels disintegrated over the cobbled roads of the classics. The disheartened team said the bikes were unfit and with their safety at risk removed themselves from the dangerous Paris-Roubaix. Tyre punctures occur at a daily frequent rate. Alarmed team riders thought that the tyres used were inferior.

The team's bikes did improve and with the added addition of ace sprinter, Eddy Planckaert to strengthen the team was the door out for Kelly. His old mentor, Jean De Gribaldy invited the disillusioned Kelly back to his fold. In 1982, Kelly led a new team Sem-France Loire, and there ... he began a new cycling life!

Oct 9, 2009

Foglia: the end of the world in the fridge!

Ca c'est d'la bière un complément parfait avec le livre de Foglia!

One of my all time favorite beers is from the province of Québec called, ‘La Fin du Monde.’ Translated: the end of the world. What a wonderful title for a beer. It’s fantastic probably due to the slightly spicy taste & the 9 % smile you obtain. Brewed to honour the great explorers who believed they had reached the end of the world when they discovered America. What a better way to pair it with the book, “Le Tour de Foglia.”

Written in French, Carolle is translating it for me. It’s about the journalist, Pierre Foglia. He writes a column for Montréal’s La Presse newspaper about his coverage of the Tour de France. His coverage is from 1992-2003.

On a somber note… Le Maillot Noir.

Fabio Casartelli, the 1992 Olympic road race gold medalist, has one chapter for himself. And rightly so. It’s called, ‘Le Maillot Noir.’ All about the untimely and tragic death of the young Motorola rider that hit face first on a concrete wall at the 1995 Tour. His memorial is on top of the Col de Portet d’Aspet. I’m always sadden when I look at the grisly bloody image of the twenty-four year old rider curled in a fetal position on the road. Foglia reminds us how shock turned into mass mourning for the cyclists and fans alike. The next stage, the peloton marked respect for Fabio Casartelli by riding in close formation as a funeral cortège allowing the Motorola team to the finish line uncontested. A cycling code of conduct was observed with homage to a young fallen comrade. Very moving.

In his honour, the white jersey competition has since been named the 'Souvenir Fabio Casartelli'

I’ll be posting more stories about Foglia’s insightful book in the upcoming weeks.

Hommage à Fabio Casartelli.

Oct 8, 2009

Lucho's rise to the top.

El Jardinerito on top of Alpe d'Huez!

Stage 17 to Alpe d’Huez, 1984 Tour de France.

Colombia had reason to smile after seeing their Lucho Herrera climb up the famous mountaintop to win. “El Jardinerito” (the little gardener) skillfully passed the struggling Badger to win the Queen stage of the Tour. Only Laurent Fignon could keep pace trailing in 49 seconds later.

Twenty-five years ago, Lucho Herrera became the first Colombian amateur to win the most glamorous stage of the Tour. It was monumental. In the 1983 Tour, the Colombians sent a ragtag bunch of riders. A year later, the Colombians sent a better team with a special climber that paved their way to the top of the Tour and the cycling world!

Colombian radio was already screaming as Lucho flew pass the struggling Badger!
From: 'Tour 84.'

Oct 6, 2009

Eastern Promises.

Stardom for...
East German, Olaf Ludwig as he wins the green jersey, 1990 Tour.

Twenty years ago, a Russian revolution bulldozed through East Germany then across the Eastern Bloc. The Berlin Wall crumbled and with that a new sense of optimism. The Communist cycling programs had its share of incredible riders. German Reunification & Russian ‘glasnost’ gave way for their most talented riders for the big time… Le Tour de France.

The Soviet Bloc was disintegrating and a new cycling world was opening up. The 1989 Giro d’Italia was the first grand tour to invite the all Russian team, Alfa-Lum. Two Soviet amateurs finished in the top twenty. And the Alfa-Lum squad finished 3rd overall in the team standings. Notable success.

A first taste of honey...
Soviet Ivan Ivanov (2nd from left) looks over at
Lucho Herrera, 1989 Giro d'Italia.

Tour organizers took a cue from the Giro and in 1990 made internationalization of modern cycling closer by inviting the Alfa-Lum team. Even former East German amateurs turned professionals for teams: Panasonic, PDM & Chateau D’ax.

The Colombians were here, too. When in 1983 they first rode the Tour as amateurs. Now, the Soviet riders made the first move. Viatcheslav Ekimov wore the white jersey of best young rider for ten stages. Ekimov was a huge talent riding for Peter Post’s Panasonic team. He was known as, ‘Moser of the Amateurs.’ An accolade well represented on the track winning Olympic and World gold medals.

Dimitri Konyshev was impressive. You may remember him from the 1989 World road race in Chambéry, sprinting for a well earn silver medal behind winner Greg Lemond. At the 1990 tour, the fast Russian won a stage & wore the polka dot jersey for four stages. His teammate, Djamoldine Abdoujaparov also got his first taste of the Tour. And would return to be the unstoppable sprinter from Uzbekistan.

It was the right move for the Tour to do. Capitalizing on a failed Eastern Bloc. The race was more exciting as ever. As East German, Olaf Ludwig, started his career as a serious amateur. He won stage 8 into Besançon and to cap it off won the green jersey at his first Tour. Thus, becoming a serious grand tour jersey winner.

These new professionals were a mirror reflection of their mighty sports programs. They were tough, adaptable and quite capable to compete with the rest. With the advent of the new world order in 1989, the large cycling window of opportunity opened for them …and equally important with a promise of freedom!

A Long and Winding Road...
Dimitri Konyshev (far right) means business as he
rushes for a fine silver medal
at the 1989 World Road Race, Chambéry.
In good company with Greg LeMond(1st) & Sean Kelly(3rd)!

20 years ago ...
Bam! Down goes the wall.

Oct 4, 2009

double happiness!

Fall in Vancouver...

When we reached a high of 15 degrees C under friendly sunny skies it can only mean great weather... and a bike ride!

Oct 3, 2009

Wow factor!

The classic Colnago Master X Light Molteni.

Eddy on his Colnago. He
knew back then!

Like all of us, we've seen countless images of Eddy Merckx riding his Molteni Colnago to his well published victories. After many years his exploits on his Molteni has turned into hero worship. I'm on to that. In fact, I like the new look of Colnago's Master X Light Molteni. It's beautiful signature orange is ... WOW!

Colnago introduced the Master X Light steel frame in Molteni orange with the historic blue banding. And what better way to say so in the retro script. Pair it up with the Zabel blue frame and this classic Master is an instant classic!
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