Thursday, February 13, 2014

R.I.P. Pirata, Pt. II

Argentin, Bugno, LeMond, Cipo, Gibo, Basso, Sagan... there are many others. Important champions during my lifetime. There's one difference with Pantani. He remains the legend to me not just because of his impact on Italian cycling, his tragic operatic life, his incredible fall. He is still a myth to me mainly because I watched him from afar... and thankfully, I never met him. They say you should never meet your heroes. Never got close enough to just meet him, get an autograph, or to know him as a person, friend or as one of 'my riders'.

A forum poster may have summed him up best (I know, what are the odds!?!) - Pantani had higher highs and lower lows than most, which is why his story transcends cycling and is more complex than 'just another doper' who died of an OD.

A little story from "Tutto Pantani" found here and recounted by new Italian ct Davide Cassani... in 1991, Gianni Bugno was deemed unbeatable. He had won the Giro along with three stages, finished second at the Tour, was Italian National Champion, and had just won the World Championship. Late in that year they raced the cronoscalata della Futa, both for pro's and amateurs. Bugno dominated, and Pantani crushed the amateur field but was just seconds off of Bugno's time! Cassani saw the little pirate after the race, with his cycling cap and team sweatsuit on. He wasn't happy to have dominated the race, but was obviously upset and silent, struggling internally with the fact that he had lost... to possibly the greatest pro cyclist of the day! As an amateur, no less!

So this weekend, along with celebrating the wife's birthday, putting Oragel on Dylan's first tooth, and shovelling yet more snow, I'll be watching "Tutto Pantani" and reading "The Death of Marco Pantani" again.

And, if I'm lucky enough to escape the house (we're getting our third snow of at least 8" in a week!), I'll look for a bottle of Giacobazzi Lambrusco... Marco's first big sponsor, and toast Pantani!

R.I.P. Pantani. Les Wampas tribute "Rimini"

Just found this on the eve of the tenth anniversary of Pantani's death. I still remember getting the news on RAI and sitting in utter shock. The songwriter once went to Rimini and thought it was such a sad and dreary place to go and die!

The lyrics of Rimini and the meaning are great... I especially like the last verse when the ghost of il Pirata returns with Blackbeard and their mates, crying vengeance and reducing Rimini to ashes!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

54 Years Ago Today... Fausto Coppi Passed Away

My first trip to l'Eroica saw me buying lots of old Italian magazines, including this issue of Oggi with  coverage of the funeral of Fausto Coppi.

In 2012, I found myself in Novi Ligure and decided to make the trip up to Castellania to see the Coppi museum, etc. Driving through the thickest fog I've ever encountered, I did eventually manage to break through and see the various tributes to their hero on the sides of otherwise useless brick towers and walls.

As I arrived a bit late (at least for rural Italian towns), the place was virtually deserted. I did manage to see the tomb of Fausto and Serse though.

I decided to wander around the little town and eventually found these two sights, along with oversized posters lit beautifully in the evening street lights. You can tell not much else happened or happens in this town!

The Coppi house was a great sight, if only it were open. Then, as can happen in Italy, I made the rash move to talk to the only person I could find walking around... He took me to his place, found his father, who is the caretaker of certain Coppi properties, is someone's third cousin related to Fausto, you know the deal... Anyway, a few coins to the old gal running the house and we're in Casa Coppi and I'm getting the inside tour from someone who knew the Heron.

Fausto or Serse's room... can't remember anymore!


And with a huge grin on my face and some more purchased books on Coppi, I headed back down to Novi in that thick Piemontese fog.

Viva Fausto!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Christmas Arrival

Thanks to my friend Brett from The Horton Collection, this photo of my hero Costante Girardengo (the FIRST Campionissimo) now hangs on the wall in the reading room. You can see evidence of the 1930's version of Photoshop in the jersey logo and the background.

Vai, Girardengo!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Some Winter Reading

Aside from getting the bib tights and balaclava out, winter also means more time by the fire struggling to get through some Italian cycling history books. Here is what's on the reading list this year...

Ganna went missing this summer only to be found a few weeks ago. His is a great story, the first real champion of the pioneer days of Italian cycling. His battles with the devilish cheater Giovanni Gerbi are great fodder to file under 'unbelievable'. I just finished this one, but it deserves another look, as the months it went missing left my memory of it a bit disjointed.

One thing Ganna lead me to was this book by famous sports journalist Gianni Brera, l'Avocatt in Bicicletta just showed up thanks to Amazon Italy. I know, Amazon is under fire these days, maybe rightfully so. But outside of eBay and a trip to Italy, how else are you going to buy this!?! Pavesi raced for a different team in each of his seasons from '04 until '19, sometimes two teams. He went on to manage the Legnano team for the better part of forty years!

Speaking of eBay, this rare and beat up original print of the Alfredo Binda memoirs turned up this spring. It's aged, rough and was printed during the fascist regime in 1931! The style is a bit aged as well, making for some tough translating!

This book took a while to get through the first time. It's the best story out there, of the greatest champion the cycling world has ever known (yeah, I just said that). 

Sante Pollastro was the Italian Robin Hood who grew up in the cycling-mad area around Novi Ligure. Poor as a child, he resorted to theft and eventually the shooting of a number of police to avoid capture. This book traces his steps and follows the threads that connect him with Costante Girardengo, the first campionissimo. The most intriguing connection would be at Paris' Velodrome d'Hiver, when Pollastro, a Gira tifoso, gave a famous whistle in the Novi 'dialect' to get the attention of, and eventually have a meeting with Gira. Rumor has it that Gira betrayed Sante, which eventually led to his capture. Don't confuse this book with the horribly-inaccurate RAI production of a few years ago.

My more-complete review is here. I only mention this book again, as the Kindle version just found its way into my iPad and I'll be pushing through it again.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cicli Masini Kit Available Now!!

I just received my first box of items, and they turned out great! Photos coming soon. Sizing runs pretty true as well.

Even better news is that my Jakroo storefront is online and ready to take orders! Pricing is great as well... you can now join Team Masini!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cicli Masini Team Kit

OK, so it's been more than a week. But the good news is that the Masini Kit poll results are in... and the kits are already shipping! The winner was the one I chose as well, and that's what's shipped! So without further delay, here it is. At some point, when I get the code, I may post a link or order page linking to the fine folks at Jackroo so you can get your own Cicli Masini team kit!

Arm warmers and two long-sleeve versions were also made... photos to (eventually) come.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cycling Garanimals

To go with my new kit, I'm getting ideas together to make the proper bike fashion statement. You know, what the bosses call 'branding'. My, how that word has crept in to dominate all corporate marketing discussions lately! I could simplify the conversation - I once called it 'matching' and before that, I had 'Garanimals'.

So here I go... let's match one happy tiger with another!

Being around teams for so long has left me with friends and favors from lots of different teams. Many ex-Cannondalers are now at Astana. Hence, I have this helmet on the way! These light blues might be tough to match, but at least they are in the big cat family, if not happy tigers...

And for sure the Sky blue is different than the Astana and Masini blues, but the shoes are far enough away from the helmet (not to mention the white legs in between that will match the white stripe), but here goes... from my friend Antonio at the greatest shoe maker there has ever been... the Chris Froome model from the Tour de France! Froome - he certainly is in the big cat family.

And finally for the eyes... I couldn't find anything from Rudy as they're in their fluo stage!

All this should leave me properly Fredded out. Hey, if you can't ride fast, you should at least look the part, no?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

POLL: Cicli Masini Team Kit

Designs are in! Vote now on your favorite version of the all-new Cicli Masini team kit! One week to vote and then I'll post the final version!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hen's Teeth & Four-Leafed Clovers

Saturday we loaded up the boys, Daisy and the Iver Johnson for a quick trip to Philadelphia. I have some parts waiting there for me, and needed to deliver the bike for some fairly odd cable routing. It was the first big road trip for the boys, who did great even in the Jersey Shore holiday traffic.

Our destination? Probably the greatest bike shop in the world for a vintage bike fan, Via Bicycles. This place is full of old bikes and parts! The only problem is that access to the 'good stuff' on the second and third floors requires a bit of an introduction or recommendation. Luckily, I had both. I first stumbled upon these Joel and Curtis while building up my first old bike, the Legnano. Joel quickly found the parts I was in need of.

This time, I had a couple of crazy requests. Basically, I emailed and asked for what amounted to a pair of limited edition hen's teeth, in original packaging, uniquely hand-painted and signed by their creator. Oh, and do you also have a four leafed clover, also 'New Old Stock' in original packaging? Their answer was a quick and resounding 'yes'!

I was in search of a set of old brakes to morph the Iver from a path racer to a road bike. I know, old American vintage doesn't really scream 'road bike' but I can't see doing a 150-mile ride with a coaster brake and nowhere to rest my hands! Joel found a set of Philco's that pre-date Campagnolo Delta brakes by about seventy years! They weigh a ton and require a double-headed brake cable (with the proper length housing, naturally). Talk about hen's teeth! A lot of the collectors on the message boards I troll don't know much about Philco's, and they know EVERYTHING - just ask 'em!

Part of my crazy l'Eroica replacement ride involves a stop in Torrington, CT. Of course, I was looking for Torrington spokes for my Lobdell rims and a pair of Torrington Star road pedals. Once again, Via came through for me. Four-leafed clover... found! Not only do they have Torrington spokes, but they have a couple dozen boxes of them in any length you need! These things haven't been made for decades, yet here is their selection as if they were DT butted spokes.

And finally the kicker - Iver Johnson hubs. I won't go into detail on this one other than saying that to call a shop and ask for a pair of 36 hole IJ hubs borders on the insane.

My box of hen's teeth and four leaf clovers. Hard to believe all that rust is worth hundreds of dollars!

My trip up to the third floor was what made my day, however. Imagine the show Hoarders, but in a good way - you know, filled with bicycle parts! The third floor was packed to the gills with turn of the century bikes, wood rimmed wheels, and everything else you would need to restore that old rust. In the workshop were a handful of Gormully & Jefferey bicycles - rare enough to mock my hen's teeth, and yet there they were, with a couple of G&J 'parts bikes'. Columbia's, Hartford's, you name it. Anywhere else and we'd be in a museum setting.

Evidently, some movie production team had called and requested the G&J's for a film they're planning. The only issue is that they wanted a matching set... painted BLUE! Oh, the horror! In these circles, you barely touch bikes that old, let alone repaint them! For those not familiar with G&J, here is a link to the Copake Auction we went to, where this G&J sold for $16,000!

So that was Philly. In a couple of weeks, the Iver will be ready to ride. Of course, it'll be heavier due to those brakes and my wallet will be lighter. But, it will finally be rideable and ready for my US vintage epic ride that I'm planning. Now if I could only remember what riding a bike is like...