Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ciöcc Restores the Cicli Masini, SN 1

It took a year... planning, parts collecting, weekend trips to Ciöcc's shop to work on it, but the final result was worth it. Here is a look at the work that went into the Cicli Masini, serial number one, plus some pre-l'Eroica beauty shots!

It'll never get this clean again!

Every bike needs a strong head tube badge. I think this turned out great.

Spinning spokes just behind your shift lever... what could go wrong?!?

Here's the business end of the Paris-Roubaix shifter.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Le Coq Sportif Seems Ready for l'Eroica

Only nine days left! I have a cramming session this weekend, with LOTS of hours anticipated in the (hard leather) saddle, even if raining.

L'Eroica 2011 - le coq sportif Teaser from Le Coq Sportif on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Cicli Masini Paris-Roubaix is Ready for l'Eroica!

With just minor chainline issues, the Cicli Masini Paris-Roubaix is ready for l'Eroica. Check out the not-so-deft shift on my local strada bianca! Hoping to break 14 hours this year. With five speeds instead of four, I hope it'll be enough to make the difference, but my fitness is also half of what it was last year!

l'Eroica Is Only Two Weeks Away!

I've finally started to train on the Masini for l'Eroica, which is only 14 days away! Dai, forza! See you there!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Headed to l'Eroica? See Guerra in Mantova

If you're headed to l'Eroica and have some time before or after to explore northern Italy, I highly suggest stopping in the beautiful city of Mantova and its little museum dedicated to local hero Learco Guerra, winner of the '34 Giro d'Italia and Giro di Lombardia, '33 Milano-San Remo and FIVE successive Italian national championships on the road. The museum consists of just a couple of rooms willed with his various mementos. There was just one bike on display, an old Maino, and lots of jerseys, trophies, photos and the like. I particularly enjoyed reading through the many old newspaper and magazine articles from back in the day. I may be posting up some translations of the more interesting pieces.

The 'Human Locomotive' started his racing career late, at twenty-six years of age, but rapidly became feared on flatter races. Propped up by the Fascist government, Guerra was pitted against Alfredo Binda, the favorite of the communists!

Learco didn't even have a proper racing bike until after 1924 when a local cinder track was built. Sensing something in the twenty something bricklayer's assistant, Silvio Negri told him, "Where do you think you're going with a bike like that? Don't worry, I'll make you a bike myself, and you'll become a champion!" Truer words were never spoken! Negri secretly built the bike, in fear of Learco's father finding out. Guerra soon founded the Aurora society, acting as president, director sportif for the track and the team, and was the society's only racer!

THE definitive photo of Learco Guerra.

Later, after getting a contract with Maino and twice helping his leader Antonio Negri rejoin the peloton after flatting, Guerra was called up to race the Giro. He then summed up his philosophy... "Maybe in life, winning isn't so important. It's more honorable to race with courage!" And in the pioneering days of pre-war cycling, it took courage just to head out on those horrible roads for those ridiculous distances.

As a DS, Guerra shined as well. With riders like Hugo Koblet, Carlo Clerici and Charly Gaul, he would take four Giros d'Italia. His last champion riders were Vittorio Adorni and Gianni Motta.

As with my other recent posts, this one again includes a book on the subject. This time, I wasn't able to find the comprehensive book on Guerra, but instead, just this little square, locally-produced piece. It's a nicely written summary of Guerra's life and career. Crazy thing is that I bought it at the Nuvolari museum, as the Casa Rigoletto didn't have anything for sale!

The museum is just off the main square in Rigoletto's house. His friend and famous race car driver Tiziano Nuvolari has a less-furnished museum just a block away.

I stole a shot of this photo. Guerra, dog lover! Gotta love him even more!

Guerra's Maino. His first pro team was legendary.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fausto Coppi, 9/15/1919

Where to begin? 92 years ago today, Fausto Coppi was born. Superlatives don't do his career justice, and I don't have the knowledge (or space) to do his story right either. What I can do is lead you to a great book that should be read by any cycling fan interested in our sport's great history. I recently finished Fallen Angel, the Passion of Fausto Coppi by William Fotheringham. I quickly read this on my last trip, and in this age of instant communication, tweeted the following exchange with the author.

Ain't the internet grand? I hope to bump into him someday and discuss - I have a feeling we share interests!

The next Coppi account that I shall attempt (shortly) is Beppe Conti's Fausto Coppi, a rather exhaustive look at his life written in that difficult Italian prose that sometimes challenges my meager abilities. It's like comparing the USA Today to Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum.

With that, Viva Coppi!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Giro 1914, il più duro di tutti

Just finished this great little book which retells the amazing 1914 Giro d'Italia, 'the hardest of all.' This version, the last before a break for the war, set the following records: Longest stage ever (Lucca-Roma, won by Costante Girardengo); lowest average speed (23.374 km/h); biggest gap to second place (1 hour, 55 minutes, 26 seconds); longest time to finish a stage (19 hours, 20 minutes from Bari to l'Aquila) and the fewest number of finishers (eight)!

The book has tales of intrigue (the flatting of eventual winner Alfonzo Calzolari's tires while his bike was on his back while walking up a climb), pure suffering (overall leader Giuseppe Azzini going into crisis mode on the Macerone climb only to be found the next day in a granary sick and near death), more intrigue (an anonymous letter supposedly from Bianchi to Stucchi's Alfonzo Calzolari saying that he would 'never win this Giro'), and even the occult (Calzolari's pre-race meeting with the local fortune teller who conveyed that he would win the race, but only after risking even his life, which I can't remember how, but seems to have been partly true).

After maneuvering to win the race on protest that three leaders had latched onto a car on the toughest of climbs, the Bianchi team literally fell apart as one after another crashed out or retired. After the race, the light blue and white constructor, the strongest team by far but having failed to register one finisher, fired the entire team!

My first complete book in Italian (even though thin), this was a rare gem that has sent me into yet another area of l'eroica... pre-war racing, unheard of distances and struggles, flip-flop wheels (not the faux fixies of today), horrible dirt roads, little to no support, etc. There were two categories in this race, the isolati and aspiranti, who were vagabonds of the race - no money, support, teammates, or even food. Just poor souls racing for the chance of a contract or even a meal!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Eurobike for the Vintage Set

Eurobike is an incredible trade show, with its promise of the latest technology collected under the old zeppelin hangars. I made the trip this year from the US as opposed to the three hour drive from Basel, in order to talk with some of our sponsored athletes and technical sponsors. This time of year is always stressful, as negotiations are in full flight for the coming year, or in some cases, even further out.

In between meetings, I always take the time to roam around and find the new cool stuff, but for the past two years, I've taken a different view of things, now that my vintage obsession is just that... an obsession. There seems to be a lot of folks who are looking back for inspiration, whether from their company's heritage, or just from a design standpoint. The results are sometimes hit-or-miss, but I totally appreciate it! Here is what I found, photos thanks to a crappy Android loaner phone.

This Via Veneta ladies bike, with gold and leather accents was almost as cool as Mrs. Masini's Gloria

Either for my Bianchi or one of the Mrs' Glorias, I NEED a newspaper holder.

This Ambrosio featured a carbon frame with similar gold details. Ciöcc wasn't impressed!

Who wouldn't want panniers by Ermenegildo Zegna?

Always interested in logos for inspiration. I'm working on a 20's-30's version of the Masini logo for a new project... more on that later.

DeMarchi dates back to 1946 with this (repro'd) Atala jersey.

I wanted this helmet by Casco since last year.

Finally, and this wasn't at the show, but I ended up buying them anyway... repro goggles as made famous by Mantova's Tazio Nuvolari, and as worn by his paisano Learco Guerra! Self portrait by Android... ugh.