Thursday, April 15, 2021

Stop Covid Part ?


Zio Lorenzo has been vaccinated! Yes, the supposedly poor and dysfunctional healthcare system here in Sicily has somehow come through for him, partly due to the efforts of his wife's pestering (via email) various authorities over the past few weeks to get him a slot for a shot as an over 65 resident of Italy.

So yesterday afternoon he showed up, filled out various forms, waited in various lines and spoke to various nice people working at the vaccine center just off our tiny island and eventually (the whole thing was done in 90 minutes) walked out, climbed on his shopping bike and headed home.

With an armful of Astra-Zeneca vaccine and an appointment for a second dose July 1. Was he afraid of this vaccine because it's not currently approved in the USA and has been linked to some blot clot issues like J & J's?

NO, because he checked out the facts. The risks of dangerous blood clots are lower than being hit by lightning and certainly lower than the odds of being hit by a careless motorist while enjoying bike rides almost every day. They are literally "one in a million" and depending on who you ask, not much different than the other vaccines currently in use.

Zio's advice: Get vaccinated with whatever the medical authorities have to offer! PLEASE! The odds of waking up dead from Covid-19 are many, many, many times higher than known risks from any vaccine. The sooner we all get vaccinated the sooner we might be able to enjoy life more without fears of catching or spreading this plague!!!

And the sooner you might be able to join us for la dolce vita in bicicletta at Piedmont Cycling Resort!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Dual disc brakes?

 More brake than you'll ever need!

Ever since disc brakes for road bikes were introduced Zio Lorenzo thought there should be two of 'em up front, just like the ones on the motos he raced back in the day.

Like on "Monster Zero Jr." in the photo above. These 13" floating steel rotors pinched by (then) state-of-the-art Lockheed calipers would stand Junior on his front wheel in an instant if you wanted, or slow you down from 150+ mph in order to make it through turn 1. No fade, just consistent braking, lap after lap.

Zio Lorenzo has a fantasy of a "Super Monster Gravel" bike so he was interested enough to email our friend Mauro Mondonico at Colnago...asking how Campagnolo was able to make the same lever/master cylinder work with one or two brake calipers...

He delighted in revealing (as they call 'em here in Italy) the pesce d'aprile.

Buon lavoro Colnago!!!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021



Springtime's a great time to replace your old helmet so why not get one that matches your CycleItalia kit?

Our friends at Albabici and Limar are making this special edition Air Master casco available to you at a special price via their online store.

Email Zio Lorenzo for your special 25% discount code.

Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter)

Sunday, March 28, 2021

With Wings on Their Wheels - Campagnolo


Zio Lorenzo's not big on podcasts but he enjoyed this six-part series about Campagnolo* very much. He found it sort of buried on their website and then searched for the English version.

To listen in English go HERE

For Italian go HERE

Buon divertimento!

*Disclaimer: Campagnolo NA is an official supplier to CycleItalia/Piedmont Cycling Resort

Friday, March 12, 2021

Tire Wars - now it's clinchers vs road tubeless?


Tire Wars Deja Vu - Clinchers vs Road Tubeless?

Above: a couple of our favorite (clincher) tires* both run with Michelin A1 butyl tubes.

Is there a changing tide these days? We covered tubular vs clincher almost a decade ago, but some things never seem to change. Instead of tubulars you're now supposed to chuck those old-time clinchers as enthusiast magazines and websites tout the supposed benefits of "road tubeless" (as in special rim, special tire and liquid sealant) for a few years now, but is the marketing bullspeak falling flat?

Zio Lorenzo will admit you have to be way, way into this subject to listen to stuff like this. but he recently did (well, most of it anyway) so you wouldn't have to.

That Big-S company, the one that uses a slogan something like "Innovate or Die" (or used to anyway) seems to be backtracking on their push for road tubeless tires with liquid sealant inside, an idea that Zio Lorenzo can almost completely understand for low-pressure MTB tires, though for us good old inner tubes are still just fine, whether its on road or off, 26" or 700 c. No messy sealant required - in case of a puncture just pop in a new tube, pump it up and be on your way. 

Of course the pros aren't going to do that, their team car will be along in seconds to change their wheel...or as is the case more and more nowadays with "improvements" like disc brakes and thru-axles, to swap out their complete bicycle.

The whole tubeless road scheme seemed way too much like the push for disc brakes - less about actual improvement and more about making whatever it is you have now obsolete so you'll lay out some big cash for a bunch of new stuff, whether it's an entire bike for disc brakes or just new wheels/tires/sealant for road tubeless. Various advantages were touted, none of which seemed to be all that advantageous to us, so we've not even bothered to try road tubeless so far.

But wait! Now the Big-S seems to be suggesting (or vice-versa) to their sponsored pro road cycling teams that good ol' (in this case latex, something else we have doubts about even AFTER trying them) inner tubes are the way to go, even in tires and wheels specifically designed and manufactured for road tubeless? They're even claiming lower rolling resistance despite a small increase in weight. 

Zio Lorenzo's personal guess is few want to fool around with messy sealants when the claimed benefits seem almost a fantasy compared to the ease of installing a simple inner tube. Team mechanics couldn't help more-or-less admitting as much in the podcast Zio listened to.

It's also interesting to wonder if (for a change) pro teams are no longer blindly accepting whatever their product sponsors insist they use and just getting on with it? Of course there's always the fake labels and brand names slapped onto whatever they've already been using (sometimes for years) with success, just to confuse the consumer and make the sponsors happy, but in this case it seems they rejected the road tubeless concept (as in not having a separate tube to contain the air) in a way forcing the sponsors to re-think their idea...or at least their marketing. 

Clinchers are even OK for the cobbles of Flanders now but for some reason they're still hesitating on using them for Paris-Roubaix, despite the "Hell of the North" being won by Frederic Guesdon using Michelin clincher tires (with tubes) way back in 1997.

What's that, Deja vu all over again?

But wait, HERE's an attempt to salvage the entire road tubeless idea! Tougher to install, takes special tools but the pro teams that use 'em can at least claim to really be using road tubeless, right? But aren't these foam things also TUBES...just of another type...a type that costs a lot more and is a pain to install?

Update: “It’s the first Monument (Tour of Flanders) won with clinchers. We’re really proud. It’s about using the best, Specialized has the best and we just execute. It’s truly unbelievable!" said Ricardo Scheidecker, Elegant – Quick-Step’s Technical and Development Manager. 

Which is 100% wrong as noted with the 1997 Michelin reference above while some have pointed out Milano-Sanremo 1990 was also likely won using similar clincher tires. And let's not forget those Big-S tires are (like everything else they sell) not made by them but in this case a private label product of Lion Tyre..parent company of Vittoria.

*Disclaimer: we get nothing from either Vittoria or Michelin

Friday, March 5, 2021

Omerta in the bike biz...of a different sort

 Omerta in the bike biz...of a different sort.

You may have seen this article. We published a post recently complaining about the bike enthusiast press downplaying or ignoring things like these, but this is kind of the reverse. How?

In this case it would be hard to downplay or ignore the failure of a bicycle ridden by one of the big stars of the sport, especially when so many video images of what could have been a catastrophic failure went viral.

So what did the bicycle enthusiast press do instead? If you read the article we provided the link to (and copied the photo from - so we're using it to promote the article so we hope copyright lawyers don't come calling) you might conclude (as we did) the author is trying to blame the rather embarrassing failure on the technician who put this bike together instead of the people who manufacture and market these products.

There's also a sub-headline about torque wrenches and carbon grip paste, which implies neither were used to assemble this bike and somehow led to the handlebar breakage.

Seems rather easy to blame (but not name) someone rather than call into question the quality and/or engineering of the handlebar, especially when you think of the potential advertising revenue, product-review junkets, etc. the bike brand might bring to a cycling website vs the (so far) anonymous mechanic who put this bike together. 

Sadly, the mechanic won't likely defend himself against this as who pays his salary? You almost never hear a bad word said about a sponsor's products unless maybe it's a malfunction that happens time after time or in a key moment of a race that leaves someone very HERE.

Further, in the comments section the author spends more time trying to counter arguments that quality control or intelligent design might be lacking here despite this same bicycle's already well-documented shortcomings with a different component - the seatpost.

So this is not OMERTA, but a big dose of finger-pointing, seemingly trying to shift responsibility for this failure away from the manufacturer/marketer of the products. Since this article appeared the bike maker has issued a warning against continued use of these bikes which would seem to indicate a bigger issue than a ham-handed technician's assembly work.

We don't expect much in the way of facts here, this is just another angle on the OMERTA idea. If you want a carbon-fiber handlebar we'd suggest looking at makers who seem to understand the unique properties of this material and how it must be designed/engineered and manufactured to be able to withstand the forces involved.

Here's one.

UPDATE: MVdP won Saturday's Strade Bianche race riding his usual bike with a lower-spec (as in cheaper/heavier..and perhaps stronger?) bar/stem combo which also required using a fork to match. Holes had to be drilled into the frame since the original setup has all the cables/hoses running internally through the bar/stem and headtube. More details and photo HERE.

UPDATE: Now the bike brand is asking owners of these bikes to ship them back (to Germany, Taiwan?) for a replacement handlebar/stem combo that's been reinforced, but they won't have these replacements available for months. They promised a rebate of around $1000. while also promising a fix for the seatpost issues with these bikes. Will that resolve all the ill-will caused by someone's expensive toy being sidelined for months and make them consider this brand again when it's new bike time? Details HERE.

Even more issues with carbon** HERE, but at least they're not making excuses for these folks using their customers instead of doing their own R & D.

FINAL UPDATE: Go HERE  Zio Lorenzo's favorite quote from this is - 

“We all know bikes are the new toilet paper." 

What? As in use 'em once and flush them away?

Disclaimer: Ursus is an official supplier to CycleItalia/Piedmont Cycling Resort
** All CycleItalia rental bikes have steel or aluminum steerer tubes for reasons like these.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Cheap Ruche!

 Cheap Ruche...can it be real?

Anyone who has joined us at Piedmont Cycling Resort is aware of our fondness for this wine. Ruche is a rare wine from Piedmont and the production zone is within easy riding distance from the resort. 

There's a sign along the roadside as you enter the town of Castagnole Monferrato (the center of the wine production with only 100 acres devoted to this grape) that says: "If someone offers you a Ruche, it's because they like you."

That's our philosophy and most of the dinners we host at the resort's ristorante feature this wine. The taste is unique and pairs well with the foods of the Monferrato region. One year we had enough groups for enough dinners to exhaust the ristorante's supply! We begged for more but were told the bottling can be done only around the full moon so we'd have to wait!

Eventually the supply was replenished but the joke about how the CycleItalia guests drank up ALL the Ruche persists. We're not ashamed as this wine deserves its cult status. Some of our clients have told us it can even be found in the USA and they delight in sharing something they're pretty sure their friends have never tasted.

We were up in the region last summer and bought up a selection of Ruche wines to bring back to Sicily to go with our Piedmont-themed dinners. Sicilian wines are great but sometimes we want something different, especially to go with the food from the Piedmont region like risotto.

Not too long ago we found some cheap Ruche wine here in Sicily, at LIDL of all places! This store is kind of like the Trader Joe's of Europe you might say - they have products from all over the world as well as specialties from the local region and elsewhere.

They have a regular promotion called "American Week" where we score bottles of real maple syrup (from Canada) as well as some pretty decent peanut butter, all at very reasonable prices.

So when we saw this Bricchidorati Ruche at about 1/2 of what we'd pay in a supermarket in Monferrato (and you can't find it here in Sicily) we bought a case! Today Zio Lorenzo grabbed what he thought was one of them to go with our pranzo of Carlo Zarri's "Enchanting Langa Salad" followed by a vegetable risotto.

The label looked similar but not quite the same, so after lunch down he went to our "wine cellar" to compare. You can see the two bottles in the photos and upon close inspection notice the description on the back is identical so it's a reasonable guess the LIDL cheap version was produced and bottled for them by Luca Ferraris, a name you can see along the road we take out of Castagnole Monferrato, for us one of the most scenic stretches of road you'll ever cycle. Their version is called Terre del Parroco and our guess is they supply the bottles filled and sealed with just the DOCG strips on the neck so LIDL can add their Bricchidorati labels and sell 'em in their stores.

We'll be on the lookout for more of this at LIDL and if you ever see this wine at your local wine shop, be assured that it's the real thing and it's good, as the DOCG should suggest.