Oct 30, 2012

At the Heart of the Action

April 7, 2013

That's an important date, I have it memorized. Last month the UCI confirmed the dates of the 2013 WorldTour series. You all probably guessed that it's ... Paris-Roubaix!

You may have seen these fine videos of the heroic Mavic Neutral Assistance team, ready just like an army for the battle in hell. Join these guys in autos and motos as they help any rider in need (flat or mechanical). They know the 258km route well as they juggle to keep the riders and themselves in a balance state of control chaos. It's amazing to see that these skilled yellow superheroes zip in and out of the action at times dangerously close to crashing.

The Mavic Servic Course Neutral Support was created in 1973 and pressed into action at that year's Paris-Nice. Their famous motorcycles first made their appearance at the 1984 Paris-Roubaix.

It's only six-months away until P-R, and I'm wishing for cobbles slick with rain and mud. That b&w image captures the muddy 1960 edition. The weather is a key factor that determines the outcome... the other rider luck. Always an exciting race to follow because there is so many dynamic 'riders' ready to become legends.

When the cyclists have a flat or mechanical and there's no team car in sight...
they can always count on these riders in yellow!

Oct 28, 2012

Keirin: The Japanese Art of Track Cycling.

King Koichi Nakano is the all time winning cyclist
on the Japan Pro Keirin circuit.
Courtesy: Guy Dedieu

If there was anything that resembled hardcore racing on a track then this must be it.

Keirin. ..

Motor-paced cycle racing where track cyclists follow a speed-controlled start. The riders, follow the derny (pace-maker bike) for the first few laps of the eight-lap race. The riders are jostling for position but must remain behind the back wheel of the derny. It steadily increases speed before pulling off with two-and-a-half laps to go leaving the riders for the mayhem sprint to the finish.

Keirin is massively popular in the 'Land of the Rising Sun.' Originated in 1948, to help rev up the low economy. The government made 70 velodromes and, notably, to license the sport for gambling. I discovered Keirin is the only sport license for gambling in Japan. To get to the top is not easy, only 10% of applicants are accepted to the Japan Bicycle Racing School where they learn rules, etiquette, skills, and how to gamble. Here are the numbers: reportedly, about 1.5 trillion Yen is gambled each year, equivalent to 15 billion Canadian dollars. Huge numbers. With 47 velodromes around the country providing a gambler's mecca for cycling.

Massively popular and even massively gambled on!

Here's a wonderful video from nowness.com on Keirin: Speed Racers... Inside the High-Octane and Lucrative World of Japan's Cycling Spectacle. Enter the strange and interesting world of the cycling samurai!

*Note: I want to thank Michael for informing me that Keirin is not the only sport license for gambling in Japan... Horse racing and motoboats are the other two!

Oct 26, 2012

Friday File: Bravo Marinoni... Hour Record: 35.728kms!

Congratulations to 75 year old, Giuseppe Marinoni!

On October 20, famous frame-builder Giuseppe Marinoni rode to a new world one hour record (74-79 age group)!

This incredible feat happened in Brescia, Italy. I'm only commenting from the pictures from Cycles Marinoni's Facebook page. So, if anyone has more detailed information regarding his hour record please send it my way. What I can say is what the Hour Record is...

The World Hour Record is greatest and most famous distance on a bike in one-hour. Track bikes (like the one above of Marinoni) were the norm performed on a velodrome. In 1968, in the high altitude of Mexico City, Ole Ritter broke the record of Ferdi Bracke (Rome, 1967). Eddy Merckx did it better in Mexico 1972 (at an altitude of 2,300m). The UCI, in 2000, concerned that the record was lost in technology (bikes were far in design from the Merckx's era and the modern era) established two records:

UCI Hour Record: Normal track bikes with normal riding position. Same equipment as Merckx.

Best Human Effort: Aero equipment, disc wheels, aero bars and of course aerodynamic rider positions allowed.

Giuseppe Marinoni with Paolo Savoldelli 2002, 2005 Giro champion.

Note: Thanks to Angelo (Italian Cycling Journal) for giving me the 'heads up' on Marinoni's amazing feat!

Fiorenzo Magni (1920-2012).

Vanishing Act...

The UCI has pulled back their legal action against Paul Kimmage. Donations to his defense fund climbs steadily, last time I checked at $83,800. UCI has decided not to re-allocated the results of the Tour de France from 1999-2005. Armstrong vanishes from those results. The second place finisher doesn't move up. Then again many of the podium finishers were suspect in doping investigations. The LA slate is devoid of his past...

Oct 25, 2012

The Legend of the Tour

As you all know, Le Tour's new 2013 route was announced.

I must admit I wasn't initially excited, with the avalanche of LA news tumbling in. One item that caught my eyes is this trailer for the upcoming film, 'The Legend of the Tour.' It's currently in production and after seeing the gritty imagery of the past rekindles that exciting nostalgia I seem to have temporary lost.

Sure, LA is part of the trailer whilst it is in pre-production I have a feeling he won't be in the final cut. That's what I hope.

Is it me or have I lost a little bit of cycling love? Sadly, I feel that I've been raked over hot coals and finally told the sobering truth.The truth that quite a few of us, myself included, have waited to arrive. A doping battle, of sorts, have already started. Tour director Christian Prudhomme, announcing the route firmly said, "Doping is the enemy. The Tour will be stronger than doping." A rallying cry?

Pièce de résistance...

I would like to call the 2013 Tour, 'Le Nouveau Tour'. A mountainous route, within the confines of France, the island of Corsica will become the Grand Depart. It is the 100th edition; l'Alpe d'Huez climbed twice and Mont Ventoux returns. Sixty-five kilometres of time-trials not long enough for Bradley Wiggins to contend to defend his title, but it may be a silver lining for Chris Froome. The traditional Bastille Day stage on July 14, the longest at 242 kms ends with the mythical ascent of Mont Ventoux.

The pièce de résistance will be the final stage on July 21 inside the grounds of the Versailles Palace. An historical backdrop with the 17th-century chateau. A break from tradition, eight laps of the Champs Elysees will send riders all the way around the Arc de Triomphe finishing about 9 p.m.

Within the doping specter of doubt, and optimistic trailer along with the inspiring words from Cadel Evans...

For those who are disappointed with the situation right now: do not despair, do not abandon us now we are in our best years, preparing things for our most important moment yet - the future.

Oct 23, 2012

Ride On with Bicycle Gifts

Fixie Apres Velo Men's T-shirt.

If you are like me, a bike enthusiast, then I would like to direct your attention and invite you to visit bicyclegifts.com

I'm very please to have bicyclegifts as one of my long term sponsors. They are a US-based online premium site for gifts and merchandise for bicyclists, cyclists and bicycle enthusiasts. You can find a large, and I mean large, selection of cycling-related vintage posters (my favorite), original posters, clothing, jewelry and more.

Ride on over and visit Bicycle Gifts!

Oct 21, 2012

Road Tested: Autodrop Ltd Embrocation

(l to r): Autodrop Uwharrie & Pisgah Embrocation.

I finally got the chance to ride Saturday. So, I broke away from my work duties for a quick and much-needed spin.

The temperatures were optimal at 9C (48.2 F) cloudy, windy with a hint of rain. Normal Autumn conditions here in Vancouver. More importantly, it was time to use the Embrocation from Erich and Barry of Autodrop Ltd. They graciously sent me two 2-oz tins of their home made Embro for me to test.

I was so eager to use it I tried it last week and the weather gods were against me, it started off cool then turned to rather warm. The moral of the story don't use Embro when it's warm. Oh well, so much for the quirkiness of the Autumn west coast weather.

The day before I shaved my legs, as it's appropriate to wait at least 12 hours before applying it. How do I know? Erich and Barry sent me important instructions, to use it during temps of 35-55F and to remove with dish soap & rag. Armed with this valuable information I opened both tins bearing the unique names of: Pisgah and Uwharrie. I did some research and I discovered a North Carolina connection aptly named for the Pisgah National Forest and the Uwharrie mountain range. Both are a rich mixture of shea butter and beeswax. The scent stands out; Pisgah has a cedar scent and Uwharrie is mint scented. It's rather concentrated so I use a small amount to cover my entire legs. Good touch on the metal tins, a welcome departure on the too common plastic and squeeze tubes.

I admit, I've never used embrocation previously and I had the belief that my legs would smell so strongly that I may turn heads. Well, not quite. The scent is pleasant and not overpowering without being perfume like. And really, where it does matter is the slight burn, and I mean that in a good way, that accompanied me on my chilly ride. I started to feel it's warmth just after applying it. As a result, my legs were more than warm not feeling the cold air. The Autodrop Embro is a worthy and important companion to have on a chilly ride. I'm now looking forward to my next 'cold' one.

Thanks again to Erich and Barry of Autodrop Ltd!

Autodrop Ltd is now offering a bundle deal...
Your choice of Uwharrie or Pisgah 2-oz tin, Red Dots Cycling Custom Lion Cap
& Lion sticker!

Oct 20, 2012

Japan Cup: Fumy-nated!

How about some good cycling news?

We can all use it.

There is racing this weekend, yes racing in the 2-day Japan Cup. The criterium is over, won by Jaroslaw Marycz (Saxo-Bank). I discovered this entertaining ORICA-GreenEDGE video of Japan's no 1 son, Fumy Beppu. This video is extra enjoyable, it's a fun back scenes look as the camera follows Beppu as you witness the cool cycling culture of Japan. Do you know what a typical Japanese breakfast is?

Co-starring 'retired' Robbie McEwen who is the Technical Advisor/Sprint Coach. It's cool to see him riding the criterium with pretty good moxy. All eyes are on Japanese star, Fumy Beppu as he tries to out duel McEwen. You may be surprised who finished second and third.

Tomorrow is the big road race held in Utsunomiya and last year's winner is here, Aussie talent Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) will look to repeat. 2010 Japan Cup winner, Dan Martin is also riding and there is a certain 1-2 punch with Garmin eyeing victory. Liquigas is riding their final race before leaving cycling and they bring a heavy team bent on winning with Ivan Basso and Peter Sagan. Another team that will close this season is Steve Bauer's SpiderTech squad. Bauer announced that the team will not race 2013, looking for sponsorship for 2014 WorldTour status. They have a good lineup that will be threatening for a Sunday victory; Ryan Roth, Francois Parisien, Hugo Houle, Ryan Anderson & Brian Vandborg.

I found this ORICA-GreenEDGE video uplifting, amidst this turbulent time, a feel good infusion of cycling fun!

Oct 19, 2012

Friday File: Honoring Fiorenzo Magni, Rabobank Walks and Coffee Time

The late Fiorenzo Magni sporting Nivea skin cream...

This morning, I awoke sleepy eye and turned on my computer and was suddenly awaken by the sad news of the passing of the great Fiorenzo Magni.  He was 91 years old and was the third man in the golden age of cycling. He is part of the important and famous sacred trinity of Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali.

As the third great Italian rider of his era, he mainly rode in the shadow of his more famous rivals. But, of course, that doesn't mean he always rode in the background. He was built for flatter races and not as a super climber. True, he had class to win three Giro d'Italia (1948, 1951, 1955) but he was built for the cobbles of Belgium.

The forties and fifties was the time for the Italian Magni ... in Belgium.

The Tour of Flanders...
a favorite for the Lion of Flanders!

The Tour of Flanders, was the perfect race built for the Italian. Long, flat and tough. Magni more than rode well and shocked the Belgians going to the front and basically putting the rest of the riders in the hurt locker. He punished his fellow competitors becoming the first rider to win the Tour of Flanders three times in succession (1949, 1950, 1951). Belgians love his panache and honored him as the Lion of Flanders.

This great rider contributed in another way that would stay forever in cycling...

He was an astute business man and recognize declining bicycling sales as auto sales rose. The rugged and bald Magni turned to Nivea skin cream to sponsor his team. The extra-sportif was born. Thanks to Magni this was a commercial success as many more extra-sportif jumped on bicycling's new face.

A fantastic tribute awaits, as Giro d'Italia organizers will dedicate the maglia rosa of the 2013 Giro to Magni.

More stunning news, and this one will take time to settle as Rabobank leaves its long sponsorship of professional cycling. Following the publication of the USADA report, the bank will halt sponsorship (after 17 years) of its men's and women's pro teams at the end of 2012. Also, Rabobank rider Carlos Barredo is under investigation by the UCI following analysis of his blood profile in the biological passport doping program.

Bert Bruggink, board of governors, pessimistically said...

It is with a heavy heart, but it is an irreversible decision for our bank. We are no longer convinced that the international professional cycling world is capable of creating a clean and honest sport.

Rabobank walks...

David Millar tweeted,

Dear Rabobank, you were part of the problem. How dare you walk away from your young clean guys who are part of the solution. Sickening.

Commercial Damage...

I'm reeling that the bank, with a total sponsorship of 15 million Euros a year leaves the high profile Dutch Rabobank team in a cycling crazy nation that has as many bikes as people. I hope I'm wrong here when I wonder how many more sponsors are contemplating leaving the sport if the UCI fails to act on doping. The ball is back in their court where they can finally turn it around and deal fairly and quickly to the rejevenation of the sport. The UCI will hopefully come 'clean' this Monday with their announce decision on the USADA 'reasoned decision' findings.

Giant killer... 

The title sponsor sadly leaves but there is a glimmer of good news that Giant Bicycles is considering taking over as sponsor of the Rabobank team. It looks to make sense, they already supply bikes to the team and have their European headquarters in Lelystad, the Netherlands.

So, as cycling rolls on shaky ground let's all do this today...

Oct 18, 2012

Peddlers - Cycling's Dirty Truth

David Millar...
a phoenix emerging from the ashes.
photo: Tim De Waele

In the wake of the Lance Armstrong tempest, I just finished listening to the captivatingly sordid two-hour BBC radio broadcast; 'Peddlers - Cycling's Dirty Truth.'

I want to thank Hans for giving me the heads up on this much needed pardon the pun, 'shot in the arm' listen to of the shocking revelations centering on the dark Lance Armstrong's doping affair.

It's both sickening and a joy to hear the floodgates of truth open. Of course, I won't reveal anything other than the 'figures' in this sordid tale are here and candidly interviewed with equally candid answers...

Tyler Hamilton (former Armstrong team-mate), Emma O'Reilly (Armstrong's ex-masseuse), Matt DeCanio (former cyclist), Dr. Michael Ashenden (cycling doping expert), Jeremy Whittle (Times Cycling correspondent) and David Millar (completed a two-year doping ban).

If you haven't listened to this broadcast, then I urge you to ...because it's too important not to miss!


Oct 17, 2012

Roule Brits

The 1961 Great Britain team at the start of the Tour.

British cycling enjoyed if not the most successful cycling season ever. Bradley Wiggins winning the 2012 Tour, Great Britain's golden home performance in the Olympic Velodrome. It was stellar. However, it didn't come over nite...

Think back to the 1955 Tour. Ten Britons made history and became the first British team to take part in the Tour de France. By stage 12 only Brian Robinson and Tony Hoar were left from a decimated team.  Brian Robinson finished in 29th and Tony Hoar the lantern rouge. The first Britons to finish the Tour.

And then it was the great Tom Simpson.

In his first professional season, 1960, he finished fourth in the world championship, came within one stage placing of winning the yellow jersey in his first Tour. In the 1962 Tour, he wore the maillot jaune for one day and finished sixth overall. He was a classic star also winning; Tour of Flanders (1961), Bordeaux-Paris (1963), Milan-San Remo (1964) and the Tour of Lombardy (1965). The crowning achievement is his 1965 world road race title. His star status made him the biggest impression in Europe. From the excellent book, 'Roule Britannia' by William Fotheringham...

'Most Frenchmen of a certain age still associated any English cyclist racing in their country with Simpson. At the start of the 21st century, new British stars such as David Millar were hailed as 'le nouveau Simpson.'

Barry Hoban held the record for most Tour stage wins (before Mark Cavendish) at 8. He holds the record by a British rider for most Tours completed - 11 out of 12 (1965-1978). Vin Denson was the first Briton to make his name as a domestique. The first Briton to win a stage of the Giro in1966. His true love was to support. "I loved the idea of being well-respected and trusted, and not having too much responsibility."

The Foreign Legion, as Rupert Guinness called the English-speaking, talented riders arrived in the late-seventies through ACBB cycling club of Paris. The legionnaires were many and some of the big names were: Paul Sherwen, Allan Pieper, Sean Yates, Graham Jones and super climber; Robert Millar made their mark in cycling and the Tour. An English invasion. I'll add the Irish and Aussies, too. Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche, the anti-hero turned hero: Paul Kimmage and Phil Anderson were all former legion members.

In the 1987 Tour, a British team called ANC Halfords competed. Although, they were ill ready to take on the massiveness of the Tour... they did try. Malcolm 'the Sheffield Flyer' Elliot emerged as the only rider of the team to be competitive earning the bulk of the team's prize money in that Tour. He went onto success winning stages in the 1988-89 Vuelta a Espana.

In the nineties, Chris Boardman was the rider influential to increase funding for the Tour of Britain. His 1992 Olympic pursuit gold, breaking the world hour record 3 times, 1994 World Track Champion and 3 stage victories in the Tour propelled him to importance for more funding in British cycling.

Due to the legacy, British cycling success continues Team Sky; Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins. I may have missed out on others who contribute to the British cycling reign but that would result in perhaps in another post.

When we first saw the beautiful British Superfine Wool we knew this would become a classic cycling cap. I said this would be perfect and immediately called it the, Brits winter cycling cap. And, who wouldn't love a 100% wool winter cap? The British have a rich cycling history and I believed, from the beginning, our Brits winter cap was destined to become a classic. You can now see our Brits in November's issue of Bicycling Magazine... Chapeau!

Oct 14, 2012

The Belgian Rambo: Bike A-Blazin'

Rambo will bring it to the table for another season!

Rambo is returning...

Wait! That's not Sylvester Stallone. Although, I read somewhere online Rambo: Last Stand is upcoming.  I'm referring to 41 year old Belgian classic action hero tough guy, Niko Eeckhout!

That means he will be the oldest rider in next season's peloton piping Jens Voigt and Chris Horner. Now, that's to assume that Horner is returning, as for the other two veterans they have confirmed riding the 2013 season.

2001 GP van Steenbergen...

Niko Eeckhout is a standout rider starting in 1993 for Collstrop. His break through season was 2001 for Lotto-Adecco with 11 victories showing his Belgian classic strength in Dwars door Vlaanderen and GP van Steenbergen. His biggest victory was 'beating up' on Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert to win the Belgian National Road Championship. 

Why Rambo? He's known for his stocky build and his unrelenting toughness in severe conditions; rain, wind, cold & cobbles. His last victory was last August as he rode away to win solo at Schaal Sels-Merksem. With this win in hand he made his decision to continue on for another season.

I'm very happy he will be back riding in his 5th season for An Post Sean Kelly. What better way to flex his riding muscles under the guidance of King Kelly... a perfect match, with bike a-blazin'! 

Oct 12, 2012

Friday File: SpiderTech Rolls To 2014 & Bruising Omerta

Steve Bauer rolls on to 2014...

Friday File time, I'll start it off with....

Steve Bauer and his surprising announcement that Team SpiderTech will not ride the 2013 season, instead placing his attention in acquiring financial sponsorship. They are Pro Continental now, and hope to move up to WorldTour status in 2014.  I was wondering what will happen to their riders and newly acquired US Road Champion, Tim Duggan. Sad news for Canadian cycling fans...

Good news: on Twitter they have found "teams for 2013", "'we've found a spot for Timmy, annoucements soon" and "none of the riders will take a financial hit for 2013"

Since 2011, the ever-hard working Steve Bauer and staff has built a solid and respected cycling team complete with great results. Now, Bauer feels it's time to push the envelope and find that big corporate sponsor(s). To reach this WorldTour goal requires plenty of money. Tricky negotiating ahead in this recession turbulent time but I'm more than confident that he will be back and enter 2014 with a valuable WorldTour ticket!

In the light of day...

In light of the doping news, I'm re-reading 'Rough Ride,' by Paul Kimmage. The groundbreaking truthful account of cycling/drugs from the embattled anti-hero now spinning into hero. His Defense Fund has climbed, thus far, to just under $59,000 looking like a runaway train of growing public approval. And, also to writer David Walsh who deserves equal admiration for unveiling Armstrong in his two books, L.A. Confidential and L.A. Officiel.

I was very shocked and sadden when news first broke when USADA revealed the 11 teammates who had testified against Armstrong. Michael Barry broke my unwavering admiration. As Le Metier of the peloton a stalwart of hard work ethos on two wheels, he admitted to doping during 2003-2006 while riding for the infamous US Postal team.

He said, "I apologize to those I deceived. I will accept my suspension and any other consequences. I will work hard to regain people's trust."

Barry was pressured to dope and later regretting his decision, an admission that was shared in statements by former Postal riders: Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriske.

Today was another outpouring of sorts to clean the doping air with the rightful departure of Johan Bruyneel. He still faces a board of arbitration next month. The Radio Shack Nissan Trek team is on their own rough ride. Fabian Cancellara wants Bruyneel to go and has stated, "I don't know if I can still work with him."

As it is, I'm still a cycling fan, but since Wednesday's shit hitting the fan gory mess, I wonder how much cycling will be left to enjoy. Hitting rock bottom could be the key to starting anew. I feel as much cheated and let down to be disappointed and sicken by it all. 

But, I'm learning to forgive those that admit wrong.

Oct 10, 2012

1985 Marinoni: A Special Part 2

Unique in a special way...
Dave's 1985 Marinoni Special.
courtesy Dave Yee

For those of you who are proud Marinoni owners, soon to be or just aficionados of the fine Canadian frame builder...

Here's a follow-up on my Q & A post with Dave, the 'special' owner of his 1985 Marinoni Special. I want to thank Dave and his Uncle Jeff for providing me with some very interesting and humorous insight on Signore Marinoni. I think it's a perfect way to end Dave's Marinoni Special feature and also fitting because on September 30th marked the 75th birthday of Guisueppe Marinoni.

This except is from the original owner, Jeff Yee...

This frame was ordered to replace my Cinelli frame, which was nice but just did not feel right in races. The standard engraving on the lugs and fork crown were the traditional ‘M’ but for a slight price increase could be ordered with either the Fleur-de-lis or the Maple leaves. The fork crown and bottom bracket are Hitachi.

The tube set was a Columbus SL set with a Columbus SP down tube. This was a common practice for Marinoni, sort of his blend to give the frame a little more stiffness.

The original frame color was blue. It was re-sprayed in '87. The standard rear chrome stopped just below the brake bridge. But I asked to have the seatstays completely chromed to highlight the engraving.

The grouppo was originally Campy SR, but I took a chance and wanted to try out the new Mavic SSC since there were so many positive write ups.  In hindsight I should have stayed with the Campy...

Another thing that Marinoni did that no one else did was to stamp the serial number on both the bb and the fork steerer tube. I remember one incident when one of my friends got his bike stolen, and the thief had stripped off all the paint and filed off the serial number on the bb. Then one day he actually had locked up the bike just outside our bike shop, and my friend recognized his frame (even when cleaned down to bare metal) because he had drilled out holes in the rear dropouts. He phoned the cops and proved that this was his bike because of the four digits on the steerer tube! What are the chances...

When he first started making framesets up until the mid-eighties, he was strictly building them for racers and not general population. His location up in Terrebonne was off the radar. You had to know of someone who knew someone to find out where he was. And when you arrived, most of the time you were greeted by Giuseppe himself! Most of the general riders had ordered their frames through dealers instead.

You couldn't tell him how to build up your frame back then. He would ask you several questions, then measure you on his frame jig, ask you what color you wanted and that was it! He was sort of like the ‘Soup Nazi’ on Seinfeld! He was known for throwing out potential clients when they were too demanding.

It was only in the mid eighties that custom work, and paint jobs could be ordered (Alexi Grewal's Pinarello had a lot of influence on how paint schemes would change). That's basically why I had it repainted. Colnago were the first major company to start with the wild paint schemes (they were the first to utilize the cross hatch pattern).

This certainly answers a few questions I had on my 1987 Marinoni. And, it opened up vivid memories for me, of that special time. I would assume my frame is also Columbus SL with the Columbus SP downtube. Unfortunately, I wasn't offered any extras such as the chrome seat stays, Fleur di lys or Maple Leaf fork detailing. Although, I would have gone for the Maple Leaf in a heartbeat. Alas, mine was not a Special model. I'm very glad to know Marinoni was keen enough to stamp both the bb and the fork steerer tube as an added precaution. I knew very little on the Mavic SSC gruppo, only that a few pro teams were using it, ie Cafe de Colombia. 

Happily, Campagnolo was my only choice and it came down between the more expensive Super Record or the least expensive Nuovo Record. At that time, I bought two Marinoni bicycles, one for myself and my brother. So, armed with a tight budget I went with the NR, which I do not regret.

On my 1984 trip to Treviso, the hospitable Giovanni Pinarello took me on a tour of his factory where I saw the new and colorful Alexi Grewal 3-tone painted Pinarello's... very memorable.

One final word, it's hard to believe that Guiseppe Marinoni was a sort of the 'Soup Nazi' back in the day. I imagine, with a demanding customer...  he would say, 

"No Marinoni for you!"

Giuseppe Marinoni & son Paolo,
GP Gentelmen Sept 15, 2012.

Oct 8, 2012

Enjoying the ride on Thanksgiving.

Overlooking the Richmond Skytrain bridge looking westward.

Today is Thanksgiving Day and it's the first time back on my bike in 8 days. Comforting to know that I'm finally rid of that stubborn cold I had for the past few days.

Canadian Tire(s)...

In between production of replenishing more fast selling winter cycling caps and a new batch of Piccolo Pouches, our studio is...well busy. Carolle and I are slowly getting the upper hand on the production. One thing, I'd like to thank Bicycling Magazine with special emphasis to senior editor Jennifer Sherry for having our Brits winter cap on the,  '12 Stylish Cycling Caps' feature. Due to this, it's generating for us very positive response from folks world wide for our winter caps. We even sold a Brits in Switzerland! The rise in popularity is overwhelming, in fact, the article will be out in November's issue of Bicycling Magazine and I look forward to picking up a copy or two.

It's unheard of...

the steady Summer-like weather here in Vancouver. Today was a sunny and pleasant 18C. I felt chipper enough not to miss this weather love fest and proceeded to go for a spin to Richmond with camera in hand. It was a bike love-fest, so many cyclist enjoying the balmy Autumn day. I have been living in Vancouver for twenty or so years now and I've never seen October this sunny and warm. Ok, I checked the weather forecast (a preoccupation of mine) and the rains are coming this Friday but until then ...I'm very thankful!

Richmond Skytrain bridge looking North.

Oct 6, 2012


A few hours before the start of the final classic of the season, the 106th edition of the Paris-Tours.

Known as the sprinter's classic, it's a long and relatively flat course until the last 30km of three short climbs: The Cote de Crochu, Cote de Beau Soliel and Cote de l'Epan. The three hills are enough to loosen the legs of the riders and get them ready for the final dragster finish.

My favorites for this 235.5km Autumn epic goes to the surging young talented, John Degenkolb, last year's winner Greg Van Avermaet and Juan Antonio Flecha. For Degenkolb,  5 stage wins in the Vuelta and 4th in the world road race and destined for more success can cap off with a prestigious French victory. Greg Van Avermaet can win it and emulate fellow Belgian Philippe Gilbert (2008-09) with 2 straight victories. And, for the Spanish Flandrien Juan Flecha, it would be a perfect way to bow out before he leaves Team SKY for his move next season to Vacansoleil-DCM!

Oct 5, 2012

Friday File: Spanish Armada & Rydering on Hockey's Thin Ice

Ryder Hesjedal...
a classic sixth place in
Il Lombardia.

Friday File time...

On our recent bikesbooksbeers podcast: 'Revolution', Guy and I discussed whether Canadian cyclists even know that Ryder Hesjedal is the 2012 Giro champion. Naively, I'd like to believe that most cyclists I see riding by knows this important fact. Then, again, we're not cycling mad Belgium or Italy the passionate land of cycling. We're a young humble hockey nation wrestling with the disappointing fact of a NHL player's strike. This hockey season seems close to going up in smoke. But, as the smoke gets hazier on the ice, cycling continues to roll along, right towards to the Tour of Beijing.

I just learned that Ryder Hesjedal will line up to lead a strong Garmin-Sharp squad with the goal of perhaps a stage win or even better the overall win. He inches ever closer to a major classics victory, riding to a strong sixth place in Il Lombardia. There is a glimmer of cycling hope. I remember after our Canadian Giro moment, my cyclist friend, Jim (who knows nothing about cycle racing) said to me, "How about that Ryder guy?" The rise of cycling as an all-important sport is already here and it won't be long before every Canadian cyclist knows who Ryder Hesjedal is.

Start list for the Tour of Beijing, Oct. 9-13.

The 2013 Giro route looks quite mountainous and time trial-heavy. France, at least for stage 15, will star with the famous summit finish of the Galibier. Remember the Giro of the 70s when Eddy Merckx ruled? The Tre Cime di Lavaredo returns! And, the Gavia and the Stelvio mountain passes will give this most highly interesting Giro my thumbs up!

Le Galibier is waiting.

Cima Coppi...
Passo dello Stelvio

After Il Lombardia, Purito said...
"Since this morning I just felt that things would go right. I saw
people getting tired during the race and I was feeling good. But I 
didn't think I'd be going to the finish on my own."

Joaquim Rodriguez's Il Lombardia victory moves him past Bradley Wiggins in the World Tour ranking to first place. Purito is the number one World Tour ranked rider with 692 pts and Wiggins is second with 601.

The Classy Cat rode on many Colnagos.
Here's the world champion on the C40 in the
2001 Giro di Lombardy.

Oscar 'the cat' Freire, three-time world road race champion, has retired after an amazing 14-year career. The 36 year-old classic specialist failed to win his fourth world title and decided time was right to bring the curtain down in Valkenburg.

Oct 4, 2012

Autodrop Ltd: Lion of Embrocation

Operation Lion Embrocation!
courtesy: Autodrop Ltd.

I returned from my morning of errands and happily discovered Erich and Barry of Autodrop Ltd. had sent me a special package. In the package, I found 2 tins of Embro greeted by the Lion sticker and a handwritten note with important instructions...

Wait 12 hours after shaving to apply...

Best in use during temps 35-55F...

Remove with dish soap & rag.

Yes, as the temps are starting to dip to a noticeable chilliness (is that a word?). I am looking forward to using the Autodrop Ltd. Embrocation. I can tell you I have never used embrocation, so I eagerly look forward to using it. I'll have a review forthcoming. As you may know, Red Dots Cycling recently produced a striking custom cycling cap for Autodrop Ltd. Both available here.

Thanks very much to Erich and Barry of Autodrop Ltd. for sending the embro!

Oct 2, 2012

One More Time with Panache!

Il Lombardia is now over, and a good thing for newly crowned world champion, Philippe Gilbert.

The great Felice Gimondi turned 70 years old and
was honored at the start in Bergamo!

He crashed out in the last great Monument classic of the season, during a rainy descent after climbing the Mur di Sormano. A climb that looked every bit painfully steep as advertised. But, no matter, Gilbert can rest assure that he gets to wear the coveted rainbow jersey into next season. His crash was plain, bad luck but hopefully his world championship win will energize him for a fruitful 2013.

Reign for Spain!

Il Lombardia was a true test of attrition. Some 54 riders were left and finished a massively tough race. Cue in the rain, at times pelting the riders to add misery to an already epic day in the saddle.

Descent dazed!

Worthy winner, Joaquim Rodriguez who rode like an hardened Belgian classics rider, bolted away on the final Villa Vergano climb. He cut through the rain soaked roads with a confident ease.

Ryder piling on the pressure...
Contador in the hurt locker!
via Graham Watson

Ryder Hesjedal put in a very good ride, befitting the Giro champion, but missing Rodriguez's attack. He couldn't get organize with his fellow chasers and rolled in for a credible sixth place. It was a great day for Spain, Samuel Sanchez was second and Rigoberto Uran in third, a spectacular finish for the young Colombian who recently won the Giro del Piemonte. Can the big win be far behind for the Colombian? It's a matter of time...


IL Lombardia results.

Uran Uran!
Giro del Piemonte

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