Thursday, March 21, 2019

Ciclo Museo Gino Bartali

Ciclo Museo Gino Bartali

As the cartoon character "Rocket J. Squirrel" used to say: "Now for something you'll really like." Compared to the mostly modern aesthetic of the NAHBS, we were really reminded of how much we like vintage bicycles or as they call 'em here- bici d'epoca.

Finally! We came and they were open.
We tried a few years ago but it was closed up tight with just a cranky voice on the intercom at the door growling at us.
Nowadays it's been taken over by the museums of Firenze, so things are more organized with a real staff and everything.
This is far from a Museum of Champions or the Ghisallo museum but if you're in the Florence area, it's not far away and worth a look.
They don't even charge you to get in!
It's basically one large room full of bikes.
Lots of bikes, not only bikes that Bartali rode,
but also bikes of his teammates and rivals,
along with other mementos,
photos and displays
including this cute way to display jerseys
and lots of photos.
Gino even had motorcycles with his name on them! We knew about the razor blades, but didn't see any of those here.

We popped into a little trattoria in the town for pranzo after our visit, including this bottle of vino. Cin Cin!

Museo Gino Bartali

Note: Visits to two great museums of cycling are available from Piedmont Cycling Resort: Museo di Campionissimi in Novi Ligure and AcdB in Alessandria. Contact us for details on a personal excursion during your stay.

Monday, March 18, 2019

North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show 2019 Part 2

North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show 2019 Part 2

NAHBS is more like the old Interbike show these days. Zio Lorenzo still enjoys meeting the people but even here with hand-crafted bicycles, he's less and less interested in the modern philosophy of cycling.

We'll share some photos of Campagnolo-equipped  or Made in Italy machines, as that's still where our passions lie.

For great photos of the winners and other coverage of the show, pop over to Cycling Tips.







The "King Cage" guy was there (as you can see above) bending up some of his iconic bottle cages. Zio Lorenzo had to grab a pair of the stainless steel road version show specials - "perche no?"

Perhaps the best part of the show was long-time CycleItalia client D. Hodge and wife Ann showing up to order a Favaloro Puma NTO complete with Campagnolo Super Record 12 (mechanical - bravo!) to be delivered in Italy when they join us in a few months. We hope to have some photos of the construction, assembly and final delivery in May,

Some of Zio Lorenzo's expenses to attend this show were provided by Albabici.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

North American Handmade Bicycle Show 2019 Part 1


Just a quick aperitivo for NAHBS 2019. Here you see Buddy and Marty of Campagnolo USA posing with Favaloro's entry into the Campagnolo-equipped bike category. They were kind enough to feature it in their stand - GRAZIE!

More soon....

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Strade Bianche Eroica Pro 2019

Strade Bianche Eroica Pro 2019

We've enjoyed chasing this race over the years since it started and since we were headed to the USA via Milano we thought "Why not go up early and see the race?"

First things first: a stop for sfogliatelle before our high-speed train ride to Firenze.

Where the nice folks at the rental car office upgraded us from our economy-class ride to this stealthy black Alfa-Romeo "Guilia" to blast around the dirt roads of Toscana. We didn't tell them of our plans. A very nice car with the exception of the modern driver "aids" like an annoying beeper that went off every time you changed lanes without a signal or got too close to the car in front of you. And Zio Lorenzo could find no way to turn the damn things off! AGGHHHRRR!

We headed south to Siena with a plan to see the race at our usual first stop. On the way we wondered how much longer, with the popularity of this event growing every year, can we expect to get away with chasing the race around without any sort of credentials? We'd find out soon enough!

Somewhere online Zio read a comment from someone going on about all the "new gravel technology" they hoped to see at this race. I had to laugh as this event's been around long before "gravel" was even in the marketing-maven's lexicon!

As you can see here, there isn't anything special about the bikes other than perhaps some fatter-than-normal tires. This reminded us of not-too-long ago when the BMC team showed up with tires marked 22 mm and the team staff claimed their riders would turn their nose up at anything marked any wider! The conditions here are not truly GRAVEL anyway, the white roads of Tuscany are pretty much dirt with some small rocks and pebbles around - you really don't need huge tires to ride on 'em as thousands prove every year at the epoca events run here.

Pretty much the same bikes used everywhere with perhaps an exception for Paris-Roubaix. Same high-profile wheels and slab-sided "aero" bikes, whether the riders like 'em or not! The winner was not riding his sponsor's brand of "aero" bike but rather their standard road machine...far from the whiz-bang, spring-loaded and/or rubber-bumped things they put some of 'em on at P-R

There were some regular folks out riding the course, perhaps getting a feel for it before Sunday's GranFondo? But they were eating well too, as you can see above.

We enjoyed the panini we brought while we waited for the race to arrive and the helicopter soon notified us that was about to happen. A bunch of race marshals were riding these strange 3-wheeled things with massive suspension members up front. 

And then, the race!

We like this spot as the parking is easy and it's close to a paved road offering easy escape so we can take a shortcut to the next place, Monte Sante Marie. 

As soon as the van with the ...

..."Fine Gara Ciclistica" signs went past we were back in the car following the race. The same team car you see above ended up on our tail as we raced over the dusty roads, so we pulled over and swapped places with the idea we'd use it to get through any roadblocks. We were pretty sure they were going to the same place we were and we soon were on the same shortcut, going at a pretty high-speed, but one easy for the Alfa!

But sadly, we couldn't get through the next road block despite being in-between two cars with race stickers! Oh well, we knew our good fortune had to end at some point.

We continued against the race route and nobody bothered us until the police began stopping traffic, so we pulled over to watch Diego Rosa still off the front by a minute pass by with the group soon after.

From there we continued on to Siena and the Piazza Campo to await the finish.

They had a big screen TV to follow the action as it unfolded. 

Once the race ended we headed over to one of our old favorite hotels, Quatto Gigli for a nice dinner and night's sleep.

Luigi is a wizard of wine and always has the perfect bottle to go with our dinner!

We headed back to Firenze on Sunday morning, but first swung by to see the GP di Larciano pass by. What a country!!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

CycleItalia's Great Pizza Shootout Part 6

              Who Makes the World's Best Pizza? Part 6

We'd seen lines outside this place just up the street from Sorbillo so we added Attanasio (sorry, no website so the link is to TripAdvisor) to our list of places to consider. We weren't sorry!

In distance from our apartment this might be the closest next to Petrucci and San Gennaro and we pass by here often on our way to our favorite panificio for fresh bread most days.

Both of our test samples were excellent! Heather remarked the crust was the freshest-tasting of any she's sampled while the sauce, cheese fresh basil was all top-notch as well.

       The marinara had us thinking of the current champ in this category -                    Michele, but in the end we gave both "best of the rest"

                                           Buon lavoro ragazzi!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

CycleItalia's Great Pizza Shootout Part 5

Who Makes the World's Best Pizza? Part 5

We have to admit this was not our first sampling of the pizza from Petrucci. We've enjoyed it to-go countless times already but thought it deserved a proper shootout opportunity.

The reason we've had it to-go so often is the front door of the place is...

...literally 20 steps from this door.  This door enters the courtyard of the palazzo where we rent a small apartment.

We've read and seen online video of various "Best Pizza in Napoli" features but all of 'em go off the rails with silly comparisons including fried pizza, street pizza that you fold up to eat or some gawdawful conglomeration of toppings that remind us of the "pizza-like-substance" so popular in the USA, where emphasis is so much about the toppings the crust might as well be a disc cut out of the cardboard box!

The essential feature of our Great Pizza Shootout is that we're comparing "apples to apples" as they say. We order a Marinara and a Margherita along with beers. We cut 'em in half so we can taste 'em both. That's it. 

We originally thought we'd compile rankings with points for this or that but decided that would result in a boring rating system that would end up making all the pizze seem pretty much the same. 

We ignore how charming (or not) the waiters are, how long we have to wait in line, how long it takes for the pizza to arrive at the table, even the ambiance of the actual pizzeria. The focus is 100% on the pizza!

Despite enjoying pizza from Petrucci so many times, we were excited to see how it would rate under our semi controlled conditions:

Based on our samplings so far we rate these as "best of the rest" just behind Michele and Sorbillo. Up to this point Michele's Marinara has been our favorite while Sorbillo's Margherita gets the nod, but these were very close to both. So close that we're certain we'll need another visit to Sorbillo at least before we crown any winners.

But we've still got a couple of months and the number of pizzerie left to try remains staggering. Are we up to the challenge?

A note on Petrucci: This tab was the highest we've paid so far as they add not only a 2 euro coperto but another 10% for service to your check.

Monday, February 18, 2019

"CYCLING" in Napoli

"CYCLING" in Napoli

Ugly, isn't it? Not the scenery, we mean the bike.

The scenery's just great!

Really great!

But the bike(s)? UGH!

Functional, but UGLY! We ended up "leasing" (I guess that's what you'd call it if you bought 'em with an agreement the shop will buy 'em back when you're done?) a pair of Scott Aspects to ride around while we're here rather than haul our ancient MTB's down from our HQ at Piedmont Cycling Resort.

Like our time in Rome, we soon found the cycling opportunities very limited, but were determined to not end up doing no riding during these four months. Above you see Heather in the Capodimonte park on Sunday.

Why these ugly bikes? The roads here are a lot like those in Rome. Not so much asphalt but plenty of paving stones of various shapes and sizes, making MTB tires much more fun (and safer) than anything narrower. 

Yep, you would do OK with your Paris-Roubaix roadracing machine as these roads are NOT the Forest of Arenberg, but a 2.3 tire on a 27.5 wheel is better, even if it takes a bit more effort - our object is to not lose all of our cycling fitness after all!

We went down to a local shop and threw a leg over a couple of bikes. With 29" wheels even the size M was way-too-big. The shop owner explained he didn't have any S sizes in stock - nobody wants to ride anything "small" he explained. So he ordered size S but failed to consider the smaller ones (wisely) come with 27.5" wheels, so these ended up a bit too small, especially with the ridiculously short stems common on modern MTB's.

We were kind of stuck since he didn't have much use for size S anyway and we didn't want to wait until when/if size M's could be ordered and delivered. So these bikes look even more dorky than usual with the seatposts sticking up above the max line. We supplied our own longer stems and cut the handlebars down to a reasonable width, which mostly fixed the very unstable steering characteristics in their as-delivered condition.

The result: way better than nothing and far easier (and probably cheaper) than hauling our own bikes down here. The low-end Big-S brand shifters and drivetrain seem to work just fine while the cheapo hydro disk brakes have yet to start squealing as they're prone to do. 
We'll ride 'em around until mid-May (hoping we don't snap the seatposts off!) and then hope the shop owner will honor his buy-back offer as we have zero interest in a pair of too small bikes!