Dec 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

And keep on riding!

A big thank you to all that stopped by to read my blog over the past year... I would like to wish everyone a happy & healthy 2010!

Dec 30, 2009

Turned onto Oversocks.

My new oversocks.

Just in: my gift to myself is the Prendas oversock. I've never had a pair so I'm looking forward to using them. There's plenty of cool days ahead as these blue beauties will be the right alternative when it's too warm to wear winter booties. My initial reaction is that these 'socks are well made with decent stitching around the cleat and heel openings not to fray. Of course, I'll have to take them out for a ride for the real test. They took just under 2 weeks to get here from the other side of the pond. I'm happy to finally have them!

Dec 29, 2009

Climbing with Perico.

Love my Reynolds jersey!

I was out for a therapeutic ride this afternoon and my thoughts were of Pedro Delgado. What a great rider he was. More so he showed that he was a promising grimpeur starting his career with Spanish squad, Reynolds. I bought the team jersey at Cicli Pinarello in Treviso and wear it with a certain pride. Pinarello provided the bikes, notably the striking red Montello SLX's were used for the team.

Going solo to Luz-Ardiden, 1985 Tour.

As I climbed my favorite hill I couldn't help but think back to his foggy climb up to Luz-Ardiden escaping splendidly alone atop the finish line. He beat back the Columbian dynamic duo of Lucho Herrera and Fabio Parra. No small feat. He switched teams earlier that year and rode for Seat-Orbea and perhaps it was lucky. He duly won the 1985 Vuelta and set about to conquer the Tour. His sixth place overall was good but showed that he suffered with a relatively weak team.

It was around 5 C today cloudy, although not foggy, but enough to give me an impression of that lonely but satisfying ride back at the 1985 Tour!

About to win the 1985 Vuelta.

Dec 28, 2009

A holidaze plug...

My plug for Port!

Sunday was wash day for the bike. A good thing it was filthy. I'm enjoying the extended turkey leftovers and many drinks and we just finished a nice bottle of Portuguese port. The holidays are a good excuse to have more than usual to drink and the port is certainly a treat!

Dec 26, 2009

With a beer chaser...

Early days before a long stage...
Riders equipped with 'drinks.'
From: 'Télérama Hors série Tdf.'

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.

Dec 23, 2009

Les Canadiens: Stieda & Bauer.

A 1986 smile...
Alex Stieda is the first Canadian to wear the yellow jersey!

Two Canadian riders conquered the Tour de France in the eighties. Call it la premiere of epic portions for a small emerging cycling nation.

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.

Allez Canadien!

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.

Dec 22, 2009

A finalist for the 2009 Blog of the year!

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.

The good folks over at Competitive Cyclist named yours truly, as a finalist for the 2009 blog of the year. I was floored and here are their kind words...

"Another finalist is the Cycling Art Blog. It purports to be about both cycling and art, but mercifully it sticks mostly to cycling and it's a sure daily (or so) fix of photos you've never seen before with just enough narration to teach you a postcard-length history lesson. It's not just vintage stuff, either. It covers all eras. The Cycling Art Blog does perhaps the most noble thing a blog can do: Every day giving you 30 seconds of complete escape."

Although I didn't win. I am more than happy to be a finalist. Again, I would like to extend my warm wishes to the kind folks at Competitive Cyclist!

Dec 20, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like XMas...

Thankfully, the only snowfall is in the form of decoration.

Rushing (aka. shopping) about today as it's the last weekend before Christmas. I'm finally starting to feel the festive mood, or wait is that from the drinks I had?

I haven't put any major rides in as I'm shutting down for the holiday break. However, there's a few more days of commuting left. Lucky for me, due to the nature of my work, I'll be off from December 24th to January 4th. Enough time to put in a ride, read and watch more dvd's.

No doubt I'll be celebrating with plenty of liquid cheer and thinking of a few more posts until the year end. I always find it's a good period to sit back and reflect upon the past year and look forward to the upcoming one. I'm a hopeless optimist. In fact, I placed an order with Prendas in the UK and anxiously awaiting my order. I'll let you all know as soon as I receive it.

Until then, I want to thank all the readers that have visited my blog over the past year. And I'd like to wish everyone a happy Christmas and a joyful new year! And in between the merrymaking and more merrymaking ...I'll slip in a few more posts!

All images are...
My visual ramblings with my point & shoot camera!

Dec 19, 2009

The winner of the cycling cap giveaway goes to...

The winner receives the Ryder cycling cap from Galstudio.

Congratulations to Sylvia-Louise Handbags as the winner of the 500th post cycling cap giveaway!

I planned to use to choose the number but the site was down. So in it's place I used Random Number Generator.

Huge thanks to all that left a comment and it's been fun. I'll won't be waiting so long to have my next giveaway!

Dec 18, 2009

500th post giveaway!

Tomorrow I'll be drawing the winner of my 500th post give-away for a beautiful cycling cap from Galstudio. I'll post it Saturday and I want to thank everyone for leaving some very interesting comments. Thanks to all & good luck to the participants!

Dec 16, 2009

What's in the fridge: A taste of a Significant Other.

Two significant companions!

I'm looking forward to spending time with Matt Rendell's, 'A Significant Other.' And I have a welcome addition of a tasty twelve of Belgium's significant three beers. As the weather is turning back to a normal, dull, overcast and wet ...I'm grinning.

It will be highly interesting to read this version on the Centenary Tour. And after watching the excellent dvd, 'Hell on Wheels,' I can't think of any other way to share it with Matt Rendell's account.

As for the beer, it's Belgium and a powerhouse cycling nation too. And what better way to toast to 100 years of the Tour de France!

Dec 15, 2009

Hell On Wheels.

"For some it's a bicycle race, for others it's Hell on wheels!"

This is the German trailer for the great film, 'Höllentour: Tour for Heroes.' A mind riveting adventure into the heart of the 2003 Tour de France. If you haven't seen it do so the trailer is just a teaser for what awaits. Full respect goes to the guys on two wheels as the camera lens follows Erik Zabel, Rolf Aldag, Andreas Kloden & Alexandre Vinokourov. The cinematography is stunning as you are catapulted into the fantastic world of pro cycling within the beauty of France. Historical footage is here to provide that important gateway to the past Tours. Even back then it was hell.

So sit back pour yourself a nice glass of Bordeaux and enjoy...

Be forewarned you will get addicted and like me watch it many, many times!

Dec 14, 2009

A fear of cramp.

To a new drumbeat!

Watching 'The Greatest Show on Earth' I'm enjoying how this is one of the finest cycling films made. Merckx enters into sainthood by winning his fifth record tying Giro. He joins legends Alfredo Binda and Fausto Coppi.

Jose Manuel Fuente battles the Cannibal in the Dolomites and the drama begins. I'm winded watching Fuente fly up towards the Tre Cime d Lavaredo. Fuente narrates his fear of climbing in the form of cramp. He had earlier episodes that stopped him. But just watching him on this inhuman climb was extraordinary.

"Being a mountain specialist is hard and involves a lot of pain," said Fuente. Both chaotic and captivating the climb is pure hardship. "The gradient is 1 in 6 and the temperature is -2 Celcius," the narrator says.

Also disconcerting is the perfect sound of a drumbeat that acts like a sinister death march. Fuente rides beautifully never being caught by a chasing Merckx. For most of it, riding in a deafening corridor of screaming tifosi Fuente manages to outlast his foes; Baronchelli, Conti, Merckx & Gimondi for stage win.

Each time I watch it I still get a kick out of how incredible Jose Manuel Fuente could climb!

Giro 1974...
Fuente & Gimondi.

Dec 12, 2009

The Pedaler's of Charm.

Never a hair out of place for Koblet!

We all know that cycle racing is one of the toughest sports around. A rider must have the obvious physical strength and will to succeed. I believe that these rider's charmed their way to success and became legendary...

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.

Dec 9, 2009

"You're Crazy!"

My winter commuter look!

This morning was -7 C. I believe it's a record temperature, for me, to ride my bike. The weather looks even colder for the next few days. Snow is in the forecast. And, I'm not ready to walk ...just yet!

The last time I walked to work was last December where the snow fell and we were snowed in for a few weeks. Walking is not my favorite way to commute. I'd rather ride. Even, Guy (le Grimpeur) said I was tough like my Albertan heritage. Call it a stubborn willingness not to bend to the weather.

Bahamontes looking spiffy.

Thats my commuting look. What you don't see is that I have layers on underneath. And that winter vest keeps my body core warm. I'm not immune from jabs at work. My boss have said, "you're crazy!" to me a number of times. Makes me even tougher. I'm taking it as a complement.

What is interesting is what other riders wear on a winter ride. Back in the earlier days, the fifties/sixties that is, riders wore predominately wool garments. And what caught my eye was knicker bockers or knickers. Pants above the knee offset with long wool socks. Socks look like a pair for cross country skiing that I had growing up in Alberta. I like the urban style.

Vittorio Adorni (second from right) with knickers.

Dec 7, 2009

Looking through those cool shades.

LeMond buckles up wearing his Factory Pilot's!

My first cycling sport shades were the Factory Pilots from Oakley. How I wished I still had them. They’re retro cool now, rare if you could find them. As a fashion icon from the eighties they were trendy not unlike the hair fashion of that time.

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.

1933 goggles...

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.

Dec 3, 2009

My special 500th post + Giveaway!

To my 500th post....
and many more!

I can’t believe it. I’ve reached a blogging milestone. This is my 500th post!

Many thanks to all that have looked in over the past two years & two months to read my stories. It seems like a lifetime ago I first sat down to blog. My start wasn’t always so smooth. I had doubts if I could actually put thoughts to my computer screen let alone draw anyone to read it. But, after the first few posts I managed to find my cycling legs. Now I’m freewheeling with a lot of fun! Special thanks to Carolle for pushing me in the right direction!

Without further ado, to celebrate my 500th post I’m introducing a special giveaway…

All you have to do is leave a comment. It’s easy. Tell me your thoughts or just say hi. I’ll be giving away this fine cycling cap from Galstudio!

Here’s the deal:

1. Leave a comment. And have fun with this.
2. You can only comment once.
3. You have until December 18th.
4. The winner will be chosen by on December 19th.
5. I will announce the winner on December 19th.
6. Good luck everyone!


Dec 1, 2009

that 70s feeling!

Fuente taking a shower with his bike...
Who said that a climber can't have
a sense of humour?

The seventies were surely occupied by the reign of the Cannibal. He won countless of races, but what made it more exciting was his rivals. He had to have them to win. Gimondi, De Vlaeminck, Maertens & Ocana were some of those men. But one man that made him hurt in the mountains was the great Spanish grimpeur, José-Manuel Fuente.

Merckxs on Fuente (Maglia Rosa)...
"Fuente was undoubtedly the most astonishing climber I ever met.
He was capable of actually sprinting on the steepest slopes
and then maintaining a high rhythm for a long time.
He gave me serious problems in the 1972 Giro!"

Like many of Merckx's adversaries, he had the ability to win more races than he did. The Merckx's era was in place and many talented riders' were just fighting for the crumbs of second place. Fuente was cut from the same mode as Ocana. An excellent climber capable of winning grand tours!

"The great revelation."

Next: "A special post."
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