Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Bikes, beer, cars

 Bikes, beer, cars. 

Our friends at BikeRaceInfo had a story about a big merger in the bike industry. Scroll down from this page to read it, but the basic story was:

Dorel Sports, the parent group of Cannondale, Schwinn and GT will join up with Pon Holdings, the parent of Cervelo, Santa Cruz, and Gazelle

So, just like beer, a few big companies own most of the brand names. It's no secret that most of these groups have their bicycles made in one or more of the big bike factories in China, just like most of the beer companies brew their beer brands in massive breweries. You wonder if it's not all the same stuff with only the bottles and labels changing?

Did the automotive industry pioneer this? The bike biz certainly took a lesson from them when it comes to the infamous "planned obsolescence" with model years and a constant churn of new this or that, quite often the same thing with a new color or logo, just like the old General Motors days when there was a Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Cadillac but not much difference other than the emblems stuck on 'em or maybe the dealer you bought yours from.

Meanwhile, Specialized is half-owned by Merida while Giant makes most of the bikes sold with Trek brand names on them and Grimaldi Industry AB owns CrescentBianchiMonarkGitane and Peugeot, so what are you getting?

There's certainly nothing wrong with those bikes unless perhaps yours has been recalled . But Zio Lorenzo will throw in a plug here for bikes made by real people with their own hands, like Michele Favaloro

Just like craft or micro-brewed beer, you CAN find something different, probably better and quite likely at a competitive price since these smaller makers don't have to inflate their markups to buy expensive advertising via pro cycling teams or sponsoring NFL games on TV. 
Example: Dee (shown above) paid far less for the Favaloro bike in the photo than the Bianchi bike he'd been considering, not to mention having it made-to-measure vs a choice of too big, too small or close enough.

Meanwhile we're working on an announcement about Piedmont Cycling Resort 2022. Check back soon!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Il Lombardia 2021

 The Race of the Falling Leaves

Back-in-the-day this was called Giro di Lombardia, but now it's Il Lombardia for some reason. But it's still basically the end of the season and final of the five cycling Monuments of each year.

We've seen it live before and enjoyed it pretty much the same way this time - kind of the reverse of Milano-Torino a few days ago.

Our plan: check-in to a 4-star hotel (in this case Saturday afternoon) in the high city of Bergamo, not too far from the finish.

Enjoy the broadcast coverage of the race on a big-screen TV as they get close to the city and the final steep climb which (should) decide the winner.

Then run out to the street to see 'em pass live, up-close!

Homeboy Fausto Masnada raced up this climb alongside the eventual winner Tadej Pogacar and the Bergamo crowd went nuts!

Sadly for them, he couldn't get away from this year's L-B-L and TdF winner and had to settle for second. But it was another great race, really kicked off by the attack of another race-to-win guy, Vincenzo Nibali.

We met some old friends for dinner that evening and hope to enjoy another nice day of cycling at Piedmont Cycling Resort before heading back home to Sicily.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Milano-Torino 2021

 Milano-Torino 2021

We boarded a plane for the first time in awhile to fly to Milan. Why? To visit our friends at Piedmont Cycling Resort while picking up a few things from our storage there and to see a few of the end-of-season races, starting on Wednesday. We stopped by Volpiano to visit our friends at GIOS on the way to Torino, who kindly gave us a sack of foccaccia

Friend Jacek Berrutti (son of Luciano) had been there earlier with so much that Marco and Aldo couldn't eat it all. Like donuts it's a thing best eaten fresh, so we gladly took it off their hands before we got back in the car to drive along the route. The idea was to start close to the famous climb to the Superga basilica, where the race finishes.

We parked the car, unpacked the bikes and followed the race route towards the climb. After a missed turn we started up...and up. Zio Lorenzo stopped just to take this photo at the 3 KM-to-go marker. It had nothing-to-do with his tongue being tangled up in the front wheel spokes. Really!

Next time you think of Milano-Torino as a flat race since there are no mountains between the two cities, check to see if the finish is here, as this IS a climb! We were in our lowest gears, standing at times on the double-digit percentage parts, but as you can see above, we eventually made it.

Here's a shot of the basilica, certainly an iconic finish for this historic race.

The RASPINI salumi people were up there, handing out free samples. Perfect to go with our foccaccia! A local bar provided some liquid refreshment so we hung up our banner and sat down to wait for the race.

But first, a little roadwork?!?! We've seen paving work being done just a day or so before the Giro d'Italia arrives but this was a new one...patching potholes an hour in advance? Mamma mia!!!

Soon enough, the race arrived. The poor guys had to do this climb TWICE!

Great for us of course since we could see 'em climb past us twice. Roglic and Yates led up the final time, both looking much stronger than anyone else. Post-race a quick ride down the way the race went had us back on the flats in no time and back to the car to pack up and return to our hotel for a hot shower by 7 PM. 

From there it was off for some dinner at Vineria del Pozzo. 

We'll enjoy riding our bikes around in Monferrato for a couple of days before heading east to Bergamo to await the finish of Il Lombardia on Saturday.

La vita e bella!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Living the Dream Part Infinity

 Giro di Sicilia

They're calling this The Race Across Beauty Today's start was in Avola so we had breakfast and climbed on our bikes to go see it.

We often ride out to Fontana Bianca, the out-and-back along the coast makes for a 50 kilometer (about 2 hours at our slow speed these days) ride from our front door.

Avola's only about 5 kms further along the coast with the start right on the seafront. We left the house at 8:30 AM and rolled up at the start just before 10 AM as the teams were being introduced. We really like the colors and the logo for this race, it's a shame that (so far) there is nothing in the way of t-shirts or other souvenirs.

This being sort of a low-key race it was easy to get fairly close to the sign-in though you had to be wearing a mask and there were barriers to make sure nobody got too close to the riders. This year the spread of Covid-19 at the bike races seems to be far less, we hope it stays that way!
As you can see, a pretty low-key event.
The Shark of the Straits was there leading the Trek-Segafredo team. Someone said this was his last race for the team but we wondered about Il Lombardia? Why wouldn't he race there?
Vincenzo Nibali next to brother Antonio
After the presentation we rode out onto the course to put up our W MAGRO banner, a salute to our favorite cycling commentator Riccardo Magrini on Eurosport. We'll bring it with us to the northern races next week as well. 
The race finally began though we were on the wrong side of the road for us and our banner to get on TV. Oh well!

A nice ride back home the same way we came. We sort of got stuck behind a group of old guys on the narrow highway section out of Avola which had Zio Lorenzo wondering why people bother with 9, 10, 11 or 12 cogs in back when they ride along in the biggest gear on the bike, cranking a cadence of 40 on the hills? We had to slow down for 'em each time as the road was simply too narrow to pass in the late-morning traffic.

They continued down the 115 highway while we turned off onto quieter roads....that go the same way. We'll never understand why so many folks ride on that busy road when a much quieter one runs closer along the coast? Zio Lorenzo did it only a couple of times, eventually thinking there's got to be a better route. Pulling up the maps showed a much nicer road, one that we enjoy regularly but wonder why so many prefer to battle with high-speed traffic? Could it be so they don't have to shift gears?

Once home we enjoyed some lunch and tuned-in the race on live TV. Both RAI and Eurosport had coverage. Things like this are why we title these posts "living the dream" as how often can you ride your own bike from your front door and see races like these?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Now, that's (a little) better!

 Not Fugly

The bike painted up for Italian national champ Sonny Colbrelli is a lot better looking than that awful DeRosa thing we showed awhile back.

Now that Colbrelli is also European champ, will this bike be ditched for a boring white one? We hope not.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Thoughts on La Vuelta 2021

 Thoughts on La Vuelta 2021

We'll be going up to Piedmont Cycling Resort next month to discuss our plans for 2022. Before that we're excited about Il Giro di Sicilia though we don't know anything about the route yet. While up north we also plan to see some of the end-of-season races like Milano-Torino (Zio Lorenzo really wants to watch from the Superga climb) Gran Piemonte and perhaps even Il Lombardia.

Otherwise, not much to report from here in Sicily where the summer heat is (finally) going away and we're enjoying ride, eat, repeat as usual since we moved here for good back in 2018. 

We hope you are safe and healthy in this pandemic and looking forward to next summer when things (we hope) might be more back to normal?

Meanwhile, "Chaiman Bill" of BikeRaceInfo has posted Zio Lorenzo's thoughts on La Vuelta 2021. Go HERE to read 'em.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Thoughts on LeTour 2021

 Thoughts on LeTour 2021

Our friends at BikeRaceInfo published Zio Lorenzo's essay. You can read it HERE.

Since comments can't be made on that site, feel free to add yours here.

Vive LeTour!