Showing posts from October, 2010

It's all about the motor.

It's a funny sport, this cycling.

You can't just look at a guy and tell if he's any good.  It's not the size of the leg muscles, or the physique.  It's what's inside that counts.  The heart and lungs' collective ability to feed leg muscles with a rich supply of oxygen, continously.   It's all about the motor baby.  Good plumbing, good power.

Look at Coppi.  No no no... I mean really look at him.  Here's some photos  taken after he won the 1949 Tour de France by Paris Match.   Does he look like a great athlete?   More like a concentration camp victim - with a body marked, broken and crooked by crashes, malaria, and a childhood probably devoid of the necessary vitamins, minerals and those US government recommended daily servings of the four basic food groups.

None of this stopped Fausto from dropping everyone on the Izoard though.  In cycling, it's not what you can see, it's what you can't.  His blind masseur-guru Biagio Cavanna had it ri…

Gus...cycling's lost soul.

For many cyclists today– cyclosportifs, road racers, and triathletes, cycling has become so much… I submit too much… about ‘the stuff.'  Or as the Brits say, ‘the kit’.  You know, Monocoque frames with integral seatposts. Aero carbon wheels. Power meters with GPS. Electronic shifting. Electrolyte replacement recovery concoctions.  So much of the talk these days is of ‘the stuff’, and the edge it promises.  Manifested by the incessant pursuit of what’s new and shiny - and fed by the planned obsolescence that makes the industry go round.  Big eyes and small round ooohing mouths coveting the lightest, fastest, coolest.   Expensive toys, for big boys.

This appetite and desire is carefully fed by multiple glossy magazines, and cycling websites that put any piece of technical information or knowledge literally at your fingertips.  More info than one can find time to digest.  It's addictive fuel for a gear-driven lifestyle, this cocktail of glossy photos and streaming video that com…

Flandria bikes: The red guard is back!

After some months of a what was a placeholder website, it appears the new Flandria bikes site is up and running.

Seems like those enterprising guys who rescued the Flandria brand have relaunched the range in a big way in both Belgium and the UK.

Check out the new site and range here.  There's some great old videos of Flandria heroes in action.

Their new bikes are a blend of the timeless Flandria graphics applied to modern carbon technology and design.

Kudos to the new Flandria for offering a range of executions so true to such an important tradition.   The word 'important' gets used all the time in the vintage car world, particularly when replicas are discussed.  We tend not to give it the same reverence in cycling.

The classic red guard materiaal.  Sweet.

Good enough for Freddy Maertens jongen, good enough for you!

Photos of the day: Muro di Sormano

Ouch, that's steep.

Dismayed by what he perceived as a Giro Lombardia that had become too 'easy' a classic, director Torriani discovered and inserted a new steep climb into the 1960 -1962 races - the Muro di Sormano.  
For 2010, it's next door neighbor the Colma di Sormano is on the route.  Let the pigeons loose!   They should have used the Muro instead.

Just following the Madonna di Ghisallo, it's brutal.  1.7 km of climbing to 1107 meters altitude. Average 17% grade, with stretches at 25%.   4 hairpins.   Now that's what I'm talking about.

World champion Ercole Baldini used a 44x29 in 1960.  Anquetil used a 42x27.    Van Looy was pushed up by spectators.   Anquetil was quoted saying it would be impossible to ride up.

It was a climb conquered in those years by names pretty much forgotten nowadays.  Imerio Massignan.  Emile Daems.  Jo de Roo.  Vito Taccone.  Fortunately not forgotten by those local afficionados who saved and repaved the old broken climb just…

Lessons learned running with a Badger...

Watching the Tour de France this year made me think a lot about the impact of 'radio and watt meter-controlled-racing'.  Of being a slave to the numbers, to  technology.   It may make for optimal athletic performances, but the digitally-controlled racing that results can make for a 'less-than-optimal' sporting spectacle.

It made me think about Bernard Hinault.

Somebody once said, "you shouldn't meet your heroes, you'll be disappointed,"  I beg to differ.

Back in 1989, I was fortunate to find myself working with LOOK as the marketing manager of their US distributor at the time.   Hinault, just a few years retired after a legendary career, was working for LOOK - a new cycling brand built on his sweat and Bernard Tapie's cash- in a promotional and consulting capacity.  I first met him in Venice at the LOOK international meeting.  Over three days in one of the world's great cities, I quickly discovered this was not the guy portrayed in the Ameri…

Jamestown Classic: A race for a Rare Vos

Here in southern New England, we've got our own 'face of the falling leaves:'   The season ending Columbus Day Monday closer in Jamestown, Rhode Island.    Two laps around a beautiful island in the middle of Narragansett Bay.   Just under 40 miles. Perfect final fling for ending the season, hopefully on a upward note.   For many, a final chance to salvage something from a season that didn't live up to expectations.

OK, I know it's a bit of a stretch, but some of the ambiance did faintly resemble that I felt at the Giro di Lombardia I attended two years ago to watch the pro race and participate in the GranFondo.  A peloton snaking past residences overlooking magnificent waterfront views.   The indian summer weather, leaves not quite falling yet.  Knowing you're on borrowed time to wear shorts, but reluctance to let the reality of this enter your mind.  A sense of stealing one last great weekend, forestalling the inevitable challenges on the climatic and calorie …

Cyclocross: After 31 years, it's just as hard, just as fun...

...and a heckuvalot bigger.  It seems misery really does love company.

On Saturday I rode my first sanctioned cross race since the Plymouth, Mass US national championships in 1983.   Having a UCI 2.0 race in Roger Williams park just 10 minutes from the house left no excuse.  So after one 30 minute session practicing dismounts, one pretty-darn poor evening training race performance, and a night-before spent building up a hand-me-down lighter cross rig, I was ready for a good ol' 45+ carve up.   Nothing like a race as your maiden voyage to christen a new bike.

Hein?  Serious, specialized preparation you say?  Bah, don't need it meneer.  You see, I'm very proud to be the original cyclocrosser from the seaside town of Beverly Massachusetts - now US cross' epicenter as it's the current hometown of Tim Johnson, Lynne Besette and Jesse Anthony among others who know their way around on mud and grass.

My first cross race was way back on November 11, 1979, in Ipswich's B…

Photo of the Day: The most wonderful time of the year...

Centuries pass.

But thank God some things never change.

Constants embedded into low country cultures. One mainstream, one niche.

Overijse.  Gloucester.  Koksijde.  Plymouth.  Doesn't matter whether the cold Atlantic is east or west.  Mirror image, same scene.

A gathering of 'working people'.  Wind.  Mud.  Snow.  Ice.  Low grey skies.  Effort.  Community.  Cold feet, warm feelings.

Discussions.  Apprehension.  Waiting.  Preparations.  Anticipation.  Moving, seeking out the perfect observation spot.

A contest of speed and strength, favoring the snel and sterk.
Silly hats.   Beer.  Laughter.  Ruddy faces bellowing. Guttural exhortations to encourage the suffering.  A pause, time  for more beer.

Finally, a winner.  A brief, low key celebration, appropriate to the event's station.

Observers with knowledge lurk with respect and reverance, supporting the combatants.   No losers.  Only participants with ruddy cheeks, rubbery legs and oxygenated irises from the natural drug…

Raging Bulletin - Fast Eddy's rant du jour.

"Gli è tutto sbagliato, gli è tutto da rifare!"
   (It's all broken, it all has to be done over!)
                                        - Gino Bartali

Lots of big happenings in cycling-land in the past 48 hours, Cafesupporters.   Contador. Mosquera; Garcia. Sevilla.  A doping trifecta.

Flahute and I are fired up.   Sick of watching the same old doping soap opera acted out.  It's droll, and now it's getting boring.   And boring is bad.

Hey, I'm the paying customer here, I've got a right to sound off.   Why's that?  'Cause like you, I'm the dude who uses my own hard earned cash to buy the products this sport sells.  The mags.  The bikes and equipment.  The kit.  The Books and DVD's.   The event entries.  All of it.  You name it, I've bought it.

And, I'm the guy who rides not for financial gain or glory, but for pure unabashed love of the sport.  That gives me the right to sound off.

And after 35 years of silence, I've now o…