Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lo Sport Illustrato 06/15/1950

A great find at l'Eroica in October was a stack of old cycling publications! Download the first offering here. It's Lo Sport Illustrato from June 15, 1950, and it covers hugo Koblet's Giro victory. A must for fans of la Pédaleur de Charme

The Cambio Corsa t-shirt

The long weekend has been good to get out some of those lingering projects. I had this idea for a while now, so I got out my meager Illustrator skills and traced an old design to make this t-shirt. The idea would be to find someone to print some up on a high-quality shirt and take to l'Eroica for a VERY limited run for friends. Any interest?

"It was good enough for Fausto/Gino, so it's good enough for me" and on the back "All I need is two levers and four gears" ... not literally, but that's my best English interpretation at least.

A Gloria Christmas, part 2

So my old bike collecting bug has gotten a little out of control in just one year's time. However, when I met Paolo (of Biciclette e Decadence fame) and found out about a friend of his who might consider selling what is my Holy Grail bike, I couldn't pass up. The Gloria Garibaldina is considered by many to be the ultimate Italian vintage bike to own. There were quite a few made, as Gloria was a goliath company until about 1960, but few survived in good, original condition (not that this one is totally original, far from it).

Gloria developed a way to pump out these fine frames in a large number for the time. One way of doing so was to stamp the head tube and distinct flower-shaped 'lugs' from a sheet, roll it and then weld the seam. If you pull the fork out and look inside, you'll see that the flower 'lugs' are in fact recessed from the stamping process! That means that the flower lugs this bike is famous for are not even really lugs! Add to it that many of the components were branded with "Gloria", the unique rear dropouts, and the nickel-plated 'lugs' and you end up with a beautiful representation of the highest bicycle technology of the day.

I'm only going to post this one photo for now, as I don't want anyone else to find it and outbid me! I hope to pick it up on the way home from Puglia. It's safe to say that my collecting is officially over because to me, it doesn't get much better than this!

PS - an update on Mrs. Masini's Gloria... the Maasland told me last night that the grips are made of ox horn!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A VERY Dachshund Christmas

Mrs. Masini commissioned these two paintings of our "children" for me for Christmas. They're spectacular!

Painted by our (also ex-pat) good friend Rachel, these Elizabethan-style portraits are always what I wanted to capture these two spoiled dogs. Now, they can live on forever in their finest garb! With a big heart and a shared passion for dogs, Rachel donates part of the proceeds to animal charities. Ours went to SPCA International's Operation Baghdad Pups project, which gets soldiers' dogs out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Gloria Christmas... part 1

Merry Christmas to all, first off! You may notice some ongoing changes to the layout of the blog - I'm done with Disqus. It basically led to zero comments this year, so it's back to Google's stock comment system. I'll be tweaking over the next few days... but let's talk Christmas!

We finally got some snow to stick here in Basel yesterday. It's been coming down in tiny little flakes for the past day and a half, so it's a white one here.

I've been holding out on posting this Gloria ladie's city bike until after I showed it to the Mrs. on Christmas day. It was promised to be done by my restorer, but he's Italian... sooo. Anyway, I can't wait to see it. We'll be in the area on Monday on our way to Puglia for New Year's. Note the internal rod brakes... very cool.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

And Suddenly... the Cicli Masini Headbadge!

Just one day after getting the decals, I got an email from Jen Green with this...!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cicli Masini Frame Decals... Ready!

I just picked up this VERY limited (in fact, you see all of it in the photo) run of Cicli Masini frame sticker kits. Production update of the 1950 Paris-Roubaix equipped frame: it's back from chrome, along with some of the parts. My post-Christmas trip to Puglia will include stops to Ciöcc to drop off the stickers, Enzo's to get the P-R shifter and some brakes, Ermes' to get the P-R repro axle, and then hopefully again to Ciöcc to pick up the painted/finished frame!

Yes, Mrs. Masini is a patient person!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Visit to Mavic

Last week I made my annual visit to Liquigas-sponsor and Cannondale partner Mavic. We did the usual contract details, material requests and questions... all after a very nice French lunch! Ivan Basso joined in the trip, as Mavic had organized a "day of champions" presentation to their staff with a number of guests also from the mtb and tri worlds.

Part of this included a nice presentation of the company's history projected onto a wall. From this, I was greeted by the usual ball-busting by mechanic-to-the-stars Archetti and Mario Scirea, when this photo came up... "Hey Masini, that's you!"

In fact, it was Antonin Magne, the first winner of the Tour de France on an alloy (Mavic-made) rim. From Mavic's site - "In the 1934 Tour de France, Antonin Magne tested these new rims in the utmost secrecy–they were banned by the rules, and so were painted in wood colors. Antonin Magne won the yellow jersey."

Ciclomuseo Gino Bartali

I recently had the chance to get to the Bartali museum in Ponte a Ema, just south of Florence. Once you're lucky enough to find it, try your luck at finding a parking spot in this tiny little village!

Once inside, you'll work your way up to the second floor, which houses various memorabilia of not only Gino, but various vintage bikes, photos, jerseys... the usual. There were three bikes in particular that were of interest to me. One was the Galmozzi-made track bike, which was under glass so the photos didn't turn out. Same goes for an early Bartali model. But I did manage to salvage this one... a Bartali mounted with the Nieddu-made Cervino shifter. Towards the end of his career, Gino invested into this system, which would eventually fade from memory after the introduction of the Campagnolo derailleur.

The museum is definitely worth the trip if you are near Florence. While not as bike-centric as the Bevilacqua collection, it has a decent amount of equipment to go along with the immensely important history of Gino.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cicli Masini, Serial Number 001!

Well, not exactly. This is the design that's in my head at least. That old green Paris-Roubaix frame should eventually turn into this. Call it my winter project. I hope to have a P-R bike, the Galmozzi Cambio Corsa, and after coversion - the Legnano should be my Vittoria-Margherita example. In my book, that's the big three from Italy as far as shifting systems go.

Details on this will be a handmade head tube badge and an carved Brooks saddle. Ciocc keeps threatening to see if he can't immortalize the brand with an old-school metal hinged logo mask for the downtube. Check the photo of the example he pulled out - Cicli Gamba, mod. Record.

I sanded the frame already and it looks great. The fork was rough and didn't match the lugs at all. Ciocc found another one for me that was nicer but still not a perfect match. I'm going with that one. He bent the legs out a bit and will put on the much-older dropout for me. Anyone have a better match for the "Riviera" style lugs?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Off to see the Shark

With all the vintage talk around here, you might think I've lost touch with Liquigas, however rest assured I was just keeping tight-lipped on all the news. I've been super-busy preparing for the 2011 season, ordering components, frames, etc. It'll also be great to work with a couple of American racers for a change (welcome, Ted King and Tim Duggan). Anyway, I'm off early this morning to see the Vuelta champ for a promotional gig. I managed to bother him as soon as he stepped out of the hospital after removing a plate in his collar bone! Poor guy - still recovering and here I come to bust his chops!

The future of stage-races, and the present of old-school riding slowly!

Two More Galmozzis

A recent trip to Dr. Frankenstein's lab (more on that shortly) presented the occasion of snapping these two Galmozzis that were offered up to me. Believe it or not, I passed even though they are in the right size range and both VERY interesting. The last thing I can afford right now are yet TWO more project builds that would cost a fortune to do correctly!

This lovely celeste has original colors. The red panel is great with original decal. The head tube badge is a repro. Would've been a great project for my first P-R bike, but I have another idea. This one shouldn't be repainted, which is what I need to do...

This one I first saw almost a year ago on an Italian website. It looked real rough but in the flesh, it's super-interesting. Enzo wanted to build it up with all original Simplex shifting, which really isn't what I'm interested in. After building a P-R bike, I think I want to mess with the Cambio Vittoria/Nieddu type shifters (I have a line on new boxed systems in Torino). He also says he wouldn't paint it, and I'm totally not into raw steel vintage frames!

Cicli Masini bike-to-be

So I may have found my frameset for the first and only Cicli Masini bike. It's an old Paris-Roubaix equipped (dropout anyway) frame, 56x56. The seller says that it was possibly made by Cinelli for the German market. We're trying to figure out the brand. Does anyone know of "Arrigoni"? That's marked on the headset and seatpost clamp. There seems to still be a Cicli Arrigoni in Padova, but I doubt it's the same. Anyway - this may be the next project bike now that the C-C Galmozzi is finished (still without photos for some reason).

Friday, October 8, 2010

My l'Eroica!

I woke up at 3:45 and started my adventure off by packing my bags and cramming as much food into me as possible at that hour. A half hour drive to Gaiole later and I was busily preparing the bike and everything I was going to need for a long day in the saddle.

In the square, I was among the first hundred or so to take the line. BUT - I forgot my stamp book at the car! By the time I had made my way back, a large group had already left. I'd just have to catch them on the first easy climb up to the Brolio castle.

With my limited gearing, I knew the first part was not going to be an issue, having ridden it the day before. When I got to the first gravel climb at Brolio, I found it had been lit all the way up on both sides by candles! In the 5:30 darkness, it was quite a site. It was here that I found some friends from Tommasini, who I would continue to meet up with during the first half of the day. Like 99% of the riders, they were on 80's bikes with rational gearing, so they had quite an advantage and would kill me on the climbs like the rest!

On the run into Siena, I was moving along quite well and got in with a German group who were dressed and equipped quite well. The bianca to Radi held a nice surprise for me. In my 40x15, I bottomed out the downhill only to take a quick right up a steep gravel climb! Mis-shift! I had to stop, mess with my wheel/chain tension, remount, head back down hill, turn around and shift for the climb! Luckily, that would be my only mishap of the day.

At the Radi ristoro (food stop), I found my friend Osvaldo, who was a team Liquigas bus driver and really surprised to see me and my old bike. We did the section to Piana together, as he was with a friend who needed to turn at the 135km route. At this point, I made the 205km decision and quickly found myself alone for a good 15km.

The long, steep gravel climb towards Montalcino had me pushing as hard as possible in my easiest gear. I was able to manage all but the final 100 meters, where I had to get off and walk. That is one tough climb on a normal bike! It took me a while after that to start to feel somewhat better, and the only part of the second 100km that I felt good was on the faster gravel sections, where I could use some bike handling skills and lack of fear of crashing to fly over the strade bianche and pass a good number of people. Of course, they'd pass me as soon as the road headed up! I got a number of looks and compliments on the bike. It was definitely one of the oldest bikes on the long course - I didn't see any older.

I did come across a young guy on a Galetti with cambia corsa. We talked at one of the ristori (where I guess I managed to forget to get a stamp!). He had a rough night's sleep in the campground and was feeling the effects of lack of gearing (his was far worse than mine, but he was half my age!). I last saw Massimo sleeping next to his bike at the Pieve ristoro. I'm sure he passed me later, but I was likely bleary-eyed on the ensuing climbs! Nice job, Massimo!

I never really bonked, but that's mainly because I ate as much as I could at the ristori. Two in particular were offering bowls of ribollita, which were lifesavers.

The finale went quite well, having also ridden that part on Saturday. I stopped in Radda and literally drank a huge banana yogurt (not the best idea, but I only had 10km to go at that point). I climbed up after that and then descended to Gaiole, crossing the line at 7:15pm, fourteen hours and five minutes after departing!

l'Eroica is the best fun I've had on a bike in a long time. Even suffering from the effort and the bit of digestion trouble, I noticed I was grinning for most of those fourteen hours (ok, except for that one picture up there!). I'm already planning my bike and how I'll attack this thing in 2011 with a Paris-Roubaix shifting system. There's no wonder this was listed as one of the top 50 sporting events to do recently.

Meet Vittorio Seghezzi, Gregario to Coppi and Bartali

On Saturday, I bumped into this stylish older guy with a powerful voice. I knew that he had to be someone important, and I was certainly right. Meet Vittorio Seghezzi, gregario of Coppi and Bartali.

From the book "Coppi's Angels" - 'When he was in his third, we were in second. When we were in third, he was in fourth. When we are at the limit, he seemed to have another gear: a fifth, a sixth, it was a mystery... As an amateur I wasn't bad - 23 wins. As a pro it was a different tune. I turned pro in '47 and my role was to help. Free days to try myself: zero. And after lots of work, to arrive at the finish was already a great success.'

How heroic were those days? 'In 1948 I was called up for the cadet's team for the Tour de France. My role was to help Ronconi, who the year before arrived fourth in the GC. On the second stage there was a huge crash. Fifty of us went down, and I broke my saddle. It wasn't like it is now: if I hadn't recovered my saddle, nobody would've given me another. I did 42 kilometers on my pedals with my saddle in hand. No help. I finished a half hour down, muscles destroyed, but with my back end still clean! I won't ever forget that.'

'I thought that would've been it for my misfortune, but I was tricked. One day I broke my crankset. Again, it wasn't like today: there was only one team car, and that followed the captain. I did 80 kilometers pedaling with just one leg, so the journalists wrote the next day that I was the "Enrico Toti of the Tour de France". I came across another bike, by luck. It was too small for me, but I rode it another seventy kilometers to arrive to the finish. By myself. I arrived outside of the time limit, but at least I arrived. That night I was last in the classification, and by the rules I should have been eliminated. But the jury looked me in the face, knew what I had been through, and kept me in the race!'

Enzo's Eroica Stuff…

In the Italian vintage bike world, there's one guy you go to if you're looking for something truly hard to find. While Ermes and Roberto have their own garages full of parts, it's Enzo who had consistently the coolest stuff on display at Gaiole's market during l'Eroica weekend. Here are a few examples…

This Campy clanger was just a bit too new to put on my Galmozzi. And at 350 euros, I'm glad. I'd seen photos of them, but not in the flesh (remember, I'm only a year or two into this).

This Campy chain guide, similarly, was too new to spend the 120 euros on. Same - first I'd seen one.

This shifter is a very rare Paris-Roubaix type of affair. Even Enzo didn't know about it, other than the flip-side has a hogged-out section with a gear inside that makes the shifting and chain tension action. "BRV Socrates Modena". Evidently, there were well over a hundred lever type shifters in Italy in the 30's and 40's, all leading the example of the Cambio Corsa and Paris-Roubaix.

This Brooks-styled bike caught my eye. It's a Renaissance bike, much like my Cicli Masini will be.

Finally, Enzo's wife bought a stack of head badges that weekend. Included were an original Masi, and this Galmozzi, both worth far more than their weight in gold. She wouldn't sell it to me, but promised that the next one she finds is mine. Of course, she has looked for five years for this one, so I'm not holding my breath!

After l'Eroica, I got an invite to Enzo's secret lair, which I have dubbed Dr. Frankenstein's Laboratory. That tale coming soon.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Meeting Masi

So my l'Eroica weekend started off with a trip to meet Alberto Masi at the famous Vigorelli velodrome shop. Ciocc invited me along, as he does a lot of work with Alberto (such as building most of his steel frames, and finishing most all new Masi products).

The shop itself is just a large workshop, with a hidden hallway leading into the back room, where Faliero must have done all the framebuilding back in the day. Alberto himself is obviously proud of the storied history that has its roots in this shop. As roads in Europe improved, post-war, bicycles had the ability to get faster and faster. It was Faliero who pulled the seatpost out of the frame and created what we consider modern road bike geometry. He built for most of the great champions.

Alberto told me a story of Hugo Koblet, who came in to pick up a racing bike built by Faliero. He leaned it against the wall, eyed it, asked for a cm lower saddle height, slapped his hands together, "perfect!". He grabbed it and walked out. This was in contrast to today's standards of millimeter-perfect, scientifically studied geometries and positioning. Alberto also told of Koblet's pink Studebaker waiting for him at the finish of the Giro that he won!

He was kind enough to give me a judgement on the two bikes in my car (the Legnano and the Galmozzi), which he was impressed by. The Legnano is not a reparto corsa frame, but was a high-end road frame to be sold in a shop. The Galmozzi was surely a high level frame, and he had nice things to say about it. From there, he saw my obvious passion for cambio corsa and pulled out a legendary piece of tooling...

Faliero's cambio corsa dropout alignment tool! He showed me the file marks on the side that his dad had customized.

Here is a similar tool that Steve M. sent me. It's a dropout jig for building a cc frame.

Alberto is aware of the American passion for the Masi steel frames. He also gets lots of requests from Japan and had a number of restorations on display, awaiting shipment to the far east.

In addition, there are a number of bikes hanging on the far wall from the racing days. A Faema frame, a Fuchs and a few other restorations.

Alberto was in a hurry to get to a lunch appointment, so he excused himself and invited me back when we could have more time to talk about the oldern days... I think I'll take him up on the offer.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Masini Coffee... at the Vigorelli!

So l'Eroica is over and I'm slowly digging through the photos while my body recovers. Where to start? How about last week, day one of my adventure. I was invited by Ciöcc to meet Alberto Masi at his shop on the side of the Vigorelli velodrome in Milan. To many, this is a holy place. Alberto's dad is considered by many to be THE maestro of Italian bicycle construction. Faliero is credited with coming up with the geometry of what we would recognize as a 'modern' bicycle. Anyway - that's another post altogether. THIS one's about what I found while waiting for Ciöcc to show up.

At Cafe Vigorelli, they serve... Masini Coffee! What a way to start my trip...