Oct 29, 2010

Classy Canadian

1986 Proctor...
Rare & truly Canadian, more images here.

Yesterday, on my visit to Jett Grrls bikes, my eyes bulged at the site of a Proctor bike. It was a bike for repair, so unfortunately it wasn't for sale.

It was a beautiful steel road bike with down tube shifters. After seeing this gorgeous bike, I thought of the famous steel frames born in my old hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. When I raced, in the eighties, many top riders were lining up at local races with Proctor bikes. I always thought of them as exotic a one of a kind and born to ride. I did some online investigation to find out more about this great Canadian frame.

Brad Proctor was the builder of these fine frames. During the eighties I was riding and chummy with Joe and Kathy of Velocity Cycles. I bought my Marinoni there. Proctor worked at High Country Cycles and started making steel lugged bikes. I believed he even started in the late seventies. Robert Townsend was the owner of High Country Cycles and he joined forces with Brad Proctor to produce the Proctor-Townsend frames. These frames are highly prestige made from Reynolds 531 and whenever I think of my eighties Quebec born Marinoni, I think of the Edmonton born Proctor-Townsends. Proudly Canadian bred and born.

These frames are coveted, very collectible and highly sought after. The last time I talked to Fritz, some months ago, he had just acquire a Proctor frame to his amazing collection. I smiled. But, they are rare to be sure. If you ever find one... buy it, or if you're lucky to own one ...enjoy!

Oct 28, 2010

Joe Parkin: Come & Gone

After reading Joe Parkin's very engaging, A Dog In A Hat I was left hanging and wondered what had happened to him after his Belgium cycling odyssey. An exciting time to be a bicycle racer in Europe made more unique from an American racer maneuvering through the old world of Belgium cycling. Five years in the trenches, I say.

I'm finished reading the much anticipated sequel, Come & Gone, and found it hard to put it down. This time it's 1991 and he's back on the domestic US scene appearing always to scramble for a new contract. What makes me interested or because I always identify with the blue collar worker, the also ran. And, that's who Parkin is, going from one race to another ... surviving. He sometimes wins. His exploits are of struggle and frustration tying to refit in cycling America. The glory of the struggle keeps it all interesting. And his storytelling is unpretentious, passionate, and humorous. I'm laughing at the Euro style mullets.

Again, huge thanks to our friends at Velopress for sending the copy!

Oct 26, 2010

World Dreams

Will Routley in the GP Québec.

After last month's successful Québec & Montréal ProTour races, the Canadian Cycling Association initiate a bid to host the 2015 UCI World Road Championships.

UCI President Pat McQuaid made it known that Québec City can be a potential host. It's the right step towards globalization of cycling and concrete support granting Québec City/Montréal 5 year ProTour Licenses.

Event organizer, Serge Arsenault is a popular figure in Quebec cycling. He was the organizer in the former men's Montréal World Cup from 1988 to 1991. And, now after bringing the ProTour in Québec, he's looking towards the possibility of having the 2015 Worlds in La belle province.

Although, the decision will not be announced until the 2011 World Road Championships in Copenhagen... I have a good feeling as to where I'll be in 2015!

Oct 24, 2010

Stage 10: Bikes, Books, & Beers Podcast... Belgium Bound

Stage 10 is on!

Belgium cycling has it's plethora of heroes and unsung heroes. Eighties American cycling pioneer, Joe Parkin was one brave rider to take the plunge into Belgium. He moved there in 1986 and more often struggled to carve his place as an American cyclist in Europe. Riding for second tier teams, he was a determined journeyman and learned the Flemish language and fought the battles on and off the bike.

Guy reviews the two excellent Joe Parkin books, 'A Dog in the Hat' & 'Come & Gone'. Huge thanks again to our friends at velopress. Joe Parkin was a 'Dog in the Hat', the phrase means something that looks out of place. Like an American rider in Belgium in the late eighties.

From an unsung hero to a revered hero we switch gears and talk about Philippe Gilbert, the classic hardman of Lombardia. I reveal something special from my eighties cycling experience. And, we give our thoughts on the new 2011 Tour & Giro routes favored especially for the grimpeurs.

We're both sporting Galstudio's fine handmade winter cycling caps; Guy has on the Bobet and I wear the Condorito.

The season maybe over but we both talk about our favorite riders and what they may achieve next year. I love funny commercials. And sticking with the Belgian theme we enjoy a favorite beer along with this classic video.


Finishing on a high

Martin's classy escape!

'Bouncing' back from his early exit in the stormy Tour of Lombardy, Daniel Martin (Garmin Transitions) took the 19th Japan Cup in Utsunomiya.

An excellent finish to a successful season for the classy grimpeur. He conquered the Kogashi climb and with invaluable team support solo to victory. Martin caps off a fine season; Tour of Poland (stage and overall), Tre Valli Varesine (win), & Giro dell'Emilia (second).

With this great performance, Daniel Martin looks ready to fly even higher next season!

Oct 22, 2010

More Jens to come!

No wimpy broom wagon for Jens!

Jens Voigt is an amazing & unique rider. Probably one of the top rouleur riders around. With his way with words he's turned into a media darling, often leaving us all smiling. Also, his aggressive & plucky style of riding (usually hammering off the front) garnering a huge legion of fans. I'm one.

Now, the popular German juggernaut will join in to help the Schleck brothers in the pursuit of winning the Tour. His seven year tenure with Saxo Bank came at the end. The team seem to implode after the Schlecks decided to leave for the new Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project. It wasn't a surprise that a large portion of the team has left or in the midst of leaving.  

The 39 year old Voigt will add his high level of cycling experience, humorous candor, & steely determination to the new team. His love for the bike is legendary. How about last years spectacular fall on a descent of the Col de Peyresourde? He crashed due to his front tire exploding, bike damaged, body bruised and no support car.

Voigt quickly refused the advances of the broom wagon and received a spare junior bike. Way too small for him he jumped on the yellow bike with toe clips. The team car was way out ahead. Bjarne Riis soon found out and made arrangements to leave a bike with a policeman. Voigt rode over 15km where he met the policeman for the crucial exchange. He made it to the last group finishing about a half hour after the winner.

Refusing to quit... the Jens way!

Oct 21, 2010

Classic Gold!

Philippe Gilbert starring in...
Classic Gold, from the school of hard knocks!

Worthy of a second look...

Philippe Gilbert has to be one the toughest classic riders. His ride in the Giro di Lombardia is nothing less than scintillating. After winning the semi-classic at the Tour of Piedmont he blasted through the storm of Lombardia to win his second edition.

This one look the hardest as just 34 riders out of 195 starters finished. Gilbert has a very good classic palmares; Lombardia (2009, 2010), Tour of Piedmont (2009, 2010), Paris-Tours (2008, 2009), Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (2006, 2008) & Amstel Gold Race (2010). Only a few missing. 

After his wet Lombardia victory Gilbert said, "It was a very difficult race. It was cold and there was water everywhere after all the rain. I just kept believing. I'm used to conditions worse than this."

Perhaps, his competitors are thankful that the season is over. They won't have to see him win ...until next year!

Oct 19, 2010

rock n' Rollin avec Francaise

Allez Rollin!

Newest recruit to Marc Madiot's Francaise des Jeux team is Dominique Rollin. It's an excellent move for the classic specialist. Even Steve Bauer offered him a position on Spidertech, which he declined. The Quebecois wanted to be part of a European based team and he now signs for a squad that is classic-ally oriented.

It should be a good fit as FDJ DS, Marc Madiot has plenty of experience to past on to the 'horse from the north' on the subtleties of winning on the pavé. Madiot won Paris-Roubiax twice in 1985 & 1991. Rollin has the natural talent as a tough classic rider. He finished 33rd in this years Paris-Roubaix. Then second overall in the Tour du Poitou Charentes this past August and a good sixth at the Commonweath Games in Delhi. 

He'll learn valuable cobble lessons from veteran Fédéric Guesdon, the 1997 Paris-Roubaix champ. Pierrick Fédrigo will arrive from Bbox Bouygues Telecom and he will be a lethal threat in one day races.

With Cervelo, the Quebecois primary role was to work for Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler. With FDJ, he will be able to express his spring ambitions namely; Tour of Flanders & Paris-Roubaix. There's no telling how far Dominique Rollin will go .... but a big classic win is on the horizon!

New squad, new bidons.

Oct 17, 2010

Fall-ing over

As the days are becoming shorter, we're living Autumn. Next to Spring, it's my favorite season to ride in. The weather is cooler, my comfy wool jersey is back on and the leaves are turning colors. Here's some of my images to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby.

Race of the falling rain

mano a mano... Belgian style!

Classic monster, Philippe Gilbert, took control over a decimated field to repeat as deserved winner of the Tour of Lombardy. Great race to the hard men, only the tough stayed involved, 34 out of 195 riders finishing the torture. Gilbert was amazing looking fresh in the the cold, soggy conditions. It looked more like a old time Belgium classic race, on the final climb of San Fermo, he powered away from an on form Michele Scarponi to win his second Lombardy.

Scarponi summed it up best, "Second is still an excellent result. I was beaten by a true champion who was born to ride and win the classics."

Oct 15, 2010

A turn of a new leaf

Tomorrow's last great monument of the season, Tour of Lombardy, will fall. The Italians call it la Classica delle Foglie Morte, "the Classic of the Falling Leaves." A beautiful last call to the cycling season as it takes place around picturesque Lake Como.

Fifty years ago in 1960, race organizer Vincenzo Torriani added the Wall of Sormano. He wanted to avoid sprint finishes so he introduced this monster climb. Around 2km with a staggering 22% gradient. Belgium Emile Daems was one of the few to be able to ride up it and then win the race. Most of his fellow riders walked up it.

This classic has always been the domain for Italian riders. They won 65 editions. Perhaps, the iconic Madonna del Ghisallo hilltop chapel is the presence of the race. It's on a 10km slope and sits as a beacon to all cyclists. With it's collection of bicycles, jerseys, medals from past champions' it serves to protect the riders. The great il Campionissimo, Fausto Coppi won this race a record five times. A bronze bust sits outside the chapel and to me he looks like a silent sentinel to the race.

This 2010 race will be hilly and a climber like Dan Martin is a hot favorite. His season has been very good winning the Tour of Poland, Tre Valli Varisine & a second in the hilly Emilia. Sean Kelly's three wins; 1983, '85, '91 was the last three Irish victories. I believe Martin can do it.

Yet, he faces stiff competition. Vuelta maestro, Vincenzo 'the shark' Nibali, is primed and hungry to add a monumental bite to his palmares. Alexander Kolobnev seems to be the rider looking in. This year, the Russian was fourth in Emilia, 2nd in Liege-Bastogne-Liege & seventh in the World Championships. He will be looking to better last year's third place with a monumental victory. Those are my top three.

It's bittersweet to see the season come to an end. In all, an appropriate Italian way to end ....beautifully!

Oct 14, 2010

World form

Two stars shone at the Gran Piemonte. First star, Philippe Gilbert was back as a repeat winner blasting away from Leonardo Bertagnolli (2nd) & Matti Breschel (3rd). The Belgium fastman looked very much in control and made it known to all that Lombardy is next up on his plate. Maybe, that certain world sting is fading as he seems set on a stronger finish as the season winds down this Saturday.

Newly crowned world champion, Thor Hushovd gets second star for showcasing his new stripes in this semi-classic. The God of Thunder made his debut as the new World Champion and although he finished in fourteenth just honoring the magical jersey was pure class. He postponed surgery to remove a plate and six screws from his left collarbone to ride in the World jersey. Lombardy is his last race of the season.

He said, "It is the attention on me that has changed. People keep looking for me to pull me this way or that way."

I'm sure he won't mind the attention!

First race in the rainbow...

Oct 13, 2010

Ice Packed!

Keeping cool in the heat.

Forty degrees plus in the heat was the nemesis for the Men's & Women's TT at the Delhi Commonweath Games.

Canada's Tara Whitten took care of the heat with a ice pack on her back as she won the 29 km flat out and back course in 38' 59.30". As the reigning world champion in the omnium and points race, Whitten closes out the Delhi Games adding to her three bronze medals in the points race, the individual pursuit, and in the team sprint with Monique Sullivan.

Whitten wasn't the only rider to use ice. "I wondered about energy and the heat. All riders worked hard with ice towels, ice vests, and ice chairs to keep our core temperatures down," said Whitten.

Linda Villumsen of New Zealand took silver (4.85 secs) & Julia Shaw of England grabbed the bronze 10.22 secs back.

It was Millar time as the Garmin man won gold in the Men's 40 km TT. David Millar's performance was amazing taking 55 secs from second place Alex Dowsett of England and Australian Luke Durbridge 1'01" behind. Millar looks to be a favorite in this Sunday's Chrono des Nations in Les Herbiers, France. Something tells me, champagne will be on ice!

Millar Time!

Oct 12, 2010

Frank Vandenbroucke: Lived fast too quickly.

Last year, Frank Vandenbroucke was found dead in a Senegalese hotel room.

Only 34, the star rider was making an attempted comeback from his storied yet sordid cycling career. In 2009, he rode for Cinelli-Down Under team and already had success. Out of contract he was looking for a team for 2010.

He started like a young fireball at 19 turning professional. Some said he started way too early too young for the rigors … and pitfalls of professional cycling.  Yet, he was good, so good he impressed all with his riding talents that he was unfairly labeled by the press as the next Eddy Merckx.

His first six years saw him riding a huge wave of wins, totaling 51. Vandenbroucke or VDB as the cycling press crowned him won big races. The wins were huge: Ghent-Wevelgem, Paris-Nice, Het-Volk, Liege-Bastogne-Liege & two Vuelta stages. He was the next Eddy Merckx … wasn’t he?

Like a fireball burning brightly it started to fizzle. Two failed marriages resulted in depression. His cocaine use in one relationship was cited. He was known for his rows with his teams. Drunk driving charges, police finding a huge amount of doping substances at his home & the suicide attempts saw his decline.

He started in cycling winning his first big event at 17 years old. Unresolved problems with his parents stunted his early years.  Meteoric rise to the pressure filled heights of cycling had its shared problems. With the sinister drug taking providing an uneasy partner with his cycling.

Frank Vandenbroucke died of a double pulmonary embolism. The Belgian newspaper Le Soir described VDB as cycling’s “enfant terrible… the James Dean of his generation. Frank Vandenbroucke lived too fast, and died too young.

Oct 10, 2010

Stage 9: Bikes, Books, & Beers Podcast... French Style

Stage 9: Bikes, Books & Beers by Bikes, Books & Beers from Bikes, Books & Beers on Vimeo.

We're on Stage 9....

And, there's a French theme so what better way than to support it with a favorite team from the seventies/eighties .... Renault. Thanks to Guy for supplying the iconic cycling caps and I present my review on what stands as one of my all time favorite reads, Laurent Fignon's 'We Were Young And Carefree'.

But, wait there's more... Guy introduces what will become a 'classic' book, 'The Spring Classics' sent from our friends at Velopress.

There's plenty to talk about with the Autumn Classics; Giro dell'Emila, Paris-Tours & Giro di Lombardia. And, we go post-Worlds as we share our thoughts on the God of Thunder going over the Rainbow, down under.

And, of course, we have a tasty beer to wash it all down with. On this Thanksgiving Day, I raise my glass ...Santé!

Oct 9, 2010

Sean 'Kas' Kelly

King 'Klas' Kelly

On Friday, I was over to see Tyler at super champion bike shop for business. I have always been a Sean Kelly fan, so I ask if I could photograph this fantastic Vittoria poster. This is a gem of a shot of King Kelly circa 1986. Great image of Kelly sporting the iconic Kas kit on his Vitus bike. I want to thank Tyler for letting me photograph it. I love this poster!

Oct 8, 2010

Paris-Tours: Cult of the Flahutes

The return of the French after 42 years...
1998 Paris-Tours winner Jacky Durand embraced by
the elated 1956 winner Albert Bouvert.

The great Autumn classic Paris-Tours is on this Sunday. It was first held in 1896, sound familiar? Paris-Roubaix also debuted in the same year. Perhaps, not the same hellish fury as Roubaix, Paris-Tours is virtually flat and yet made for the 'Flahutes'.

Flahute style...
Bouvert lunges to the line to win the 1956 edition,
little did he know he was the last Frenchman to win until 1998!
This image & above from: The Spring Classics.

Flahutes are the tough hewn riders attracted to the worst roads and weather (pavé, rain & snow) of the northern classic races. French journalists nicknamed their Flemish neighbours Flahutes, riders raised in the hardship of industrial northern Europe after the Second World War. Think of the old time Flahutes; Brik Schotte (winner 1946-47), Paul Maye (1941-42, 45) and some of the recent ones; Erik Zabel (1994, 2003, 05) & Johan Museeuw (1993).

In the early years, Paris-Tours ended in a Velodrome like Roubaix. Times have changed and the 252 km long race ends on the famous Avenue de Grammont, the long (2.7 km) run into Tours. Known as the Sprinters' Classic it has offered lone dramatic finishes like the breakaway by Richard Virenque, who in 2001, cruised alone for victory. And, the French riders are the second most decorated behind the Belgians. At one point it took 42 long years between victories. Frenchman, Albert Bouvet won in a sprint to win in 1956 as "the last French winner of Paris-Tours" ...for 42 years. Jacky Durand, in 1998, finally put an end to French cycling's longest drought in a classic. Bouvet was so overjoyed he hugged Durand on the podium.

Belgian Flahute, Philippe Gilbert will be back to defend his last two victories in the event. But, is he rested from the World's in Australia? Even if it's not his day then the French Flahutes are itching to win with the likes of Romain Feillu or Jimmy Caspar.

It promises to be a classic race... bring on the Flahutes!

Belgian Flahutes...
De Vlaeminck, Schotte, Merckx & Van Looy.

Oct 6, 2010

Memorial Frank Vandenbroucke

A Belgium Classic.

It was known as the Binche-Tournai-Binche now called Binche-Tournai-Binche Memorial Frank Vandenbroucke. In remembrance to the former classics rider who died last year on Oct. 12th in Senegal. Won by Italian, Elia Viviani it was held on October 5th and at 200 kms a good lead up for Paris-Tours due up this Sunday.

I like the description of lunch, by a FDJ soigneur, with the true and trusty ham sandwich & apple tart.

Next week, I'll have a special post on Frank Vandenbroucke!

Oct 4, 2010

L'Eroica Love

Another reason to ride your pre-1987 steel race bike in Tuscany. And, don't forget your wool jersey!

Oct 3, 2010

Thundering the World

Hammer blow!

Thor Hushovd's day in the sun exploded with meters left.

I must say, seeing Phillipe Gilbert showing his strength on the last climb, he looked the man to win. Disappointing for the race ready Belgians. They showed that they had a formidable team throughout the thrilling six hour plus race. For the first time, I watched the World road race from start to finish and enjoyed it. Although, it left me exhausted right up to the very dramatic end. I was surprised by the hard working Italian team missing the podium for a second year in a row. Crushing end for the Squadra Azzurra with Filippo Pozzato on the outside in fourth.

Thor Hushovd flanked by Matti Breschel (2nd) and
Allen Davis (3rd).

The God of Thunder, like his nickname, was worthy of the win and remained relatively quiet throughout the hilly course. He may've loss his ability as a pure sprinter but capitalize as a smart all-rounder. With meters left, his patented sprinting sting was back as he charged on top of the World.

What can be better? Hushovd would looked mighty wearing the rainbow jersey, winning next year's Paris-Roubaix!

Oct 2, 2010

grande gruppo

Forza Italia! 

It was Italy's day as Giorgia Bronzini outsprinted Marianne Vos (2nd) & Emma Johansson (3rd) for victory in the Women's Road Race.

Perfect race as Bronzini waited and bolted past Vos for an amazing sprint. The Italian squadra took time before the start with a special gesture to teammate Marina Romoli, who was seriously injured in a training accident last June. And, Bronzini dedicated her victory to former team coach, the late Franco Ballerini.

More reason to amore Italia, this is their second World Women's Road Race Championship in a row. Last year Tatiana Guderzo won the gold.

They are the grande gruppo!

Oct 1, 2010

A Unique Third

Twenty-one year old Guillaume Boivin makes history as the first Canadian to podium at the U23 World Road Race.

Nice job!
The unique podium.

Steve Bauer's SpiderTech Team is most likely jumping for joy as the Quebecois rider galloped in a mass sprint of about 45 riders to the uphill finish. It looked like tight group as they charged to the line. A great sprint by Australia's Michael Matthews to take it from Germany's John Degenkolb. Then a desperate surge by Taylor Phinney (already World Champion in the U23 TT) & Boivin as they both took the unique bronze. Phinney looks poised and strong for next season with BMC. And, Boivin was certainly gunning for the World stripes. He signs for two years with SpiderTech.

Looking at the photo finish, it was indeed a dead heat. Very exciting!

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