Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Beer is the oldest alcoholic drink around. Experts estimate the famous brew dates back 6000 BC to the Sumerians. And what’s comforting for the riders is that it and other alcoholic beverages was well 'used' in the early days of the Tour.
Julien Moineau, originator of the beer chaser.
Beer was one of the accepted drink's amongst the riders. Shockingly, water was used sparingly during a race. The adage was, if you want to win a race give it to your rival. Those aluminum bottles on the handlebars were for sipping only. You can believe that dehydration was rampant in the peloton.
Alphonse Schepers with his 'bottle' 1933 Tour.
Champagne was often handed to the racers, from roadside fans. This early form of sport doping was widely accepted and encouraged and believed to be an effective stimulant. Medicinal wines like le vin Mariani was another accepted tonic. Wine combined with coca leaves was used for riders suffering fatigue. Unbeknownst to the rider is the dangerous addictive nature of the substance. Domestiques were also called, 'watercarriers' particularly on hot days raiding cafés to take virtually anything in liquid form: wine, beer, soda pop & mineral water back to their thirsty leaders.
During the 1935 Tour, from Pau to Bordeaux riders were welcomed by roadside table's of cold beer. The story goes, all but Frenchman Julien Moineau sped past the parched riders to win the stage by several minutes. Moineau and his pals was later found to have planned ...the beer chaser!
Beer break, 1921 Tour.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
After a stellar silver medal performance at the 1984 Summer Olympics & an equally amazing bronze medal feat at that year’s Worlds road race Steve Bauer vaulted into the world cycling limelight in 1985 with super squad La Vie Claire. He was affectionately known as Le Canadien around France.
Bauer had that certain je ne sais quoi. He worked hard as a domestique for Hinault and then LeMond. As his abilities grew he became team leader for Weimann-La Suisse finishing a credible fourth at the 1988 Tour. And he wore the yellow jersey an incredible 14 days completing 11 Tours & winning 1 Tour stage. La Canadien had that hard work ethic that the French naturally value and that’s why he was popular & respected.
Early in the 1986 Tour, Alex Stieda attacked on the first stage to earn enough time bonus points to become the first Canadian and North American to wear the yellow jersey. It was only for one day but the 7-Eleven American team proved beyond a doubt that they belong and with Stieda’s performance stepped rightly into history.
Stieda and Bauer worked as domestiques with understated gratification. “You do it with pride. I look at North American sports and without a solid team the individual is nothing. And without a solid team in cycling, you cannot win,” Bauer says.
Bauer paving his way in yellow, 1988 Tour.
Bauer uses the Canadian hockey analogy best. “These guys are all stars for people that understand the sport and are fans of it, because they know what is going on when they are watching it. It is like the Stanley Cup. The big names come to mind, the hot ones, but the real fan understands the guys that were doing the work in the corners. They see that. They don’t just see the stars.”
A typical domestiques attitude. I admire that!
A young Bauer (far right) lines up with LeMond & Hinault in 1985.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Every morning I routinely check to see how many hits I have on my blog. And to my pleasant surprise I discovered that I had well over my usual number. You can say I had an astronomical amount that was worthy of a look.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
"For some it's a bicycle race, for others it's Hell on wheels!"
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
French singer, Jacques Grello dubbed Swiss star Hugo Koblet ‘le pedaleur of charme’ for his fluid style of winning the 1951 Tour. His goggles were never out of place either on his forehead or wrapped over his left forearm. He always had a sponge to wipe off the beads of sweat from his brow. A pocket comb was always at the ready as he crossed the finish line. Better to always look good after a stage. The cycling press called him ‘as beautiful as a god’. And the women knew that too. The man personified cool.
The Eagle had that certain charm.
First Spanish rider to win the Tour was Federico Bahamontes. He already staked his place as a great grimpeur, winning KOM’s in all three grand Tours. He had an explosive character once throwing his cycling shoes over a cliff and calling it quits. But better yet he flew in the mountains and the ‘Eagle of Toledo’ was pure class at the 1959 Tour.
Another charmer was Charly Gaul. The little man could climb and his domain was the mountains and surprisingly the time trials. He was a temperamental sort and known to have a sad and timid face. But, his time was in the fifties. He was flying and won the Giro (1956/59) & the Tour (1958). With his boyish good looks he made an impression on the Italian women. Legend has it that he received up to 60 love letters some days.
Gaul was an heartthrob to the women.
René Vietto became the darling of France for selfless sacrifice. It was 1934 and the twenty year old domestique worked for Antonin Magne. He did so in the Pyrenees as his leader Magne fell during a descent and broke his front wheel. Vietto got the word and turned back up the mountain towards his unlucky captain. A 'wheel of fortune' turned for the French team as Speicher gave his wheel to Magne. Vietto gave his front wheel to co-leader Speicher and wept by the side of the road waiting for a spare wheel. Thus the famous image. The next day was more sacrifice as Magne broke his chain. Vietto gave him his bike and help Magne win that Tour. He did what every domestique was suppose to do.
Even Magne wasn't permitted to ride the victory lap without Vietto. That day he was crowned King René and a banner had the words: 'Long live Vietto, the moral winner of the Tour.' He was legendary and at his roadside grave on a mountain pass near his hometown is a holy shrine for cycling fans.
Charm certainly has it's rewards!
King René's self sacrifice was alluring.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
When the Factory Pilot’s came onto the market it harkened a new look in sports eyewear. That was in 1984. Give Oakley owner, Jim Jannard credit for designing a simple, protective and super light sport shades. Notably Greg LeMond, synonymous with the eighties with his three Tour wins was again the pioneer. Seems he called up Jannard to ask him if his shades came in various color lenses. That became Oakley’s stamp of approval. They were a hit.
The shades came in a cool protective soft sleeve in a black matte finish. Removable lenses for the changing light conditions. Along with the dark lens I bought a yellow lens for cloudy conditions. During the halcyon days of La Vie Claire at the 1985 Tour I marveled at how cool these things looked. LeMond introduced them. Canadian teammate, Steve Bauer wore them too as Panasonic’s Aussie, Phil Anderson. A mini invasion was on.
Before the Oakley’s the riders’ wore a majority of sunshades made from …glass. A safety concern was always there. If you crashed the glass would shatter and most likely cut you. On the other hand, plastic will not shatter and will provide that most important protective barrier.
Aussie Phil Anderson.
Even the Badger succumbed to the hardship of wearing his Raybans. On the run up into St. Etienne, Hinault fell and tore up his face fracturing his nose and blackened both eyes. He soon switched to the Oakley’s.
The American invasion actually started at the 1985 Giro where 7-Eleven was the first American team in a Grand Tour. The Oakley’s were introduced. They were new, cocky and brash very ultra cool.
Bauer (white jersey) & LeMond: part of the Oakley invasion.
With the advent of the Oakley Factory Pilot shades came a competitor from Italy. The equally fashionable Rudy Projects soon appeared on the cyclist’s face and …the plastic fantastic was on!
1986: A winner!
Eric Vanderaedan & Guido Bontempi were just a few of the European pros
to use the Factory Pilot's.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
2. You can only comment once.
3. You have until December 18th.
4. The winner will be chosen by random.org on December 19th.
5. I will announce the winner on December 19th.