Monday, February 17, 2020

The circus comes to town!

This race starts a 5-minute walk from our house in Sicily!
Of course it's not a big race and will have few big stars but it's always fun when the "circus" comes to your town, right?

Contact us if you'd like to see the race, we're working on plans to ride and see Stage 4 on the climb of Mt. Etna.

More details HERE.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Giancarlo Brocci's crazy dream?

Above: Heather and Larry at Luciano Berruti's Museo Bicicletta

The internet cycling world's chamois got all-in-a-bunch recently with news that Eroica founder Giancarlo Brocci was meeting the UCI president. Fears of the big, bad UCI taking over "gravel racing" in the USA, a fad currently being pushed heavily by the bicycle industry were expressed. Below is what I believe to be the source of this panic, an article from Tuttobiciweb by Giorgio Viberti, roughly translated and edited by Zio Lorenzo.

The prophet of another type of cycling is called Giancarlo Brocci, a 65 year-old from Gaiole in Chianti (Siena). He has a degree in medicine, is an ex-politician, writer, musician, footballer and cyclist. The son of peasants, he's had an adventurous life, even as a bohemian, worked in health and sport, sang with a band, became a journalist and traveled extensively. He would seem an ex-flowerchild, but thanks to an immense passion for cycling he's discovered himself to be a very skillful manager.

In July 1995 he created the Gran Fondo Gino Bartali, with start and finish in Gaiole, the center of his world. Two years later, a new brand, "L'Eroica" was created: vintage cycling on dirt roads for romantics wearing wool jerseys, using metal water bottles and riding bikes as heavy as gates. 
In a short time L'Eroica has become the new fashion of cycling enthusiasts in search of ancient emotions, hunched over old steel bicycles with gearshift levers on the frame, brake wires outside the handlebars, clip-and-strap pedals and low profile wheels with 32 spokes.

There are now a dozen Eroica events all over the world from Italy to Japan, from Germany to the USA, from England to South Africa and from Holland to Spain. The "visionary" Brocci hit the mark, yet he never stopped dreaming. Today he will meet David Lappartient, president of the UCI to offer him another way to race by bike.

"Cycling is now a planetary phenomenon - says Brocci - but it's in a technical crisis and the riders are hostages of trainers and directors, far from the people and they race just a few times a year. The exaggerated technology has flattened class and talent, embalming the races and making everything more predictable and boring.

Today a tour is won or lost perhaps by a dropped chain. Worse, people are not able to admire athletes who are so thin, almost undernourished, with a thousand medical exemptions for allergic or asthmatic syndromes. Even a phenomenon like Fausto Coppi, 180 cm tall and 75 kg could probably never win a Grand Tour today. It's time to change.

But how? By rediscovering heroic cycling, the sense of adventure, of the unexpected, the search for new paths, if possible on dirt roads with return to offer the real, healthy effort and the values of sport not ruined by hyper-technology and subterfuge."

In practice, however, what will Brocci propose to Lappartient? "Unknown roads, no longer the usual classic climbs that everyone knows. Moreover, the Giro, Tour and Vuelta need new routes. Perhaps longer distances over 300 km with departures at night on bikes without super-low climbing gears so as to really see who makes the difference uphill. Computers and radios are banned as are supplies from the car and banned are racers falling below 6% body fat, thus giving a message of health and joy.

However, it's difficult to disrupt the business of professional cycling...nobody wants to do that. I'm thinking of a parallel circuit, such as Formula E for F1 or Superbike for MOTOGP, reserved for a selection of Under 23 or young pros, after a check to assess their physical and moral qualities. You could race especially in winter in South Africa, Australia and Latin America, hosting racers in common structures in villages set up with food and medical checks for all. And it would be nice to identify "heroic municipalities" countries to be relaunched also thanks to cycling which protect nature and unpaved roads as Roubaix does with their pave. One day perhaps a Heroic World Championship?"

Intriguing and romantic, of course. But who puts up the money?

"Italy, home of cycling, no longer has a World Tour team, sponsors have left because the current type of cycling does not excite so many these days. Shall we try something different?"

Click HERE for another article on this subject.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Amici sportivi e piu (Sporting friends and more)

Amici Sportivi

Our new friend Salvo DiNoto poses with Harry & Leather in the Giudeca neighborhood of Ortigia.

Salvo and his family run a tiny market just past the water fountain which means Zio Lorenzo stops there more often than not to get our daily bread. Sometimes he gets more than just bread, like this wine, which he's embarrassed to reveal the price of because it's so inexpensive, but really enjoyable.

Yesterday morning Zio picked up a bottle of this vino and some cheese and fruit to go with our daily bread, but somehow the fruit didn't get into his shopping bag. On the way back home from a bike ride we swung by to get it - Salvo had set it aside and as soon as Zio walked in he handed him the bag with a smile. 

He then came outside to admire our bicycles. One thing led to another and a time was set to ride together this afternoon. Off we went for 50 kms, some of it on roads he said he'd not been on in years! Salvo's been riding MTB's for years but scored a good deal on a road bike so he's learning about another facet of the sport. We're happy to help him and hope to enjoy riding with him regularly.

He's also our "go-to" guy here locally for bottled wine, always with something interesting that he can describe in detail and always at a fair price. 


Friday, January 10, 2020

"Mr. 60%" returns to World Tour pro cycling

 Zio Lorenzo's (aka Larry T) opinion on "The Eagle of Herning"

Not a typical topic for this blog, but a discussion here got to the point that Zio Lorenzo wanted to put the reasons he thinks the guy is an a-hole here for future reference.

"Mr. 60%" Please Go Home!

Any cycling fan can look up this fellow on the web and read about his career highs and lows. How he went from gregario to Tour winner in what seemed a blink of an eye, followed by years as a team manager/owner. You might say: "Yeah, so he's (just another)  dope-cheat, what makes him an a-hole?"

How 'bout his famous bike throw? Classy, right? Certainly team sponsors Pinarello and Campagnolo weren't too happy.

Someone asked for this to be added, his performance on the Hautacam climb at LeTour. Some might call this imperious or dominating while I'd call it being an a-hole almost toying with your competitors, which is how I saw it (after riding the climb myself) at the time.

Then there's an argument that in addition to a dope-cheat he's also a liar. More details on that HERE.

How many riders on teams under his control were NOT caught/sanctioned/confessed/implicated/rumored to be cheats in one form or another? Is it just a coincidence that the same guy looked after all those cheats?

Who ran the CSC team when this video was made?

He was ousted from the team shortly before this happened, but one has to wonder who inspired the scheme?

Zio also recalls a Giro stage, one with some narrow unpaved sections where the organizers would not allow team cars to follow the riders. "Mr. 60%" protested loudly and followed the stage on the back of a moto as if he was a team mechanic and was seen on TV having his moto driver swerve directly into the path of a competitor. Fair-play's not this guy's motto!

I'd say this fellow is certainly not as much of an a-hole as the guy known as BigTex, but he's close and as such should not be in control of a major pro team. What's next, BigTex' former team director (currently banned for life) or Tex himself comes back? Does cycling need this?

Pro cycling needs new direction - the question is from where might it come? Zio Lorenzo's no big fan of ASO who controls the Tour and other big races, but time and again they seem to be the "only adults in the room" when it comes to properly governing the sport. Is it time for them to break away from the UCI and take control?

Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019



Above: Christmas morning on the bridge to Ortigia 
Siracusa, Sicily

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2020!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Only in ITALY!


The day after we rode out to see the Trek-Segafredo training camp Zio Lorenzo's bike suffered a mishap as you can see in the photo below. The crack had obviously been there awhile but was never noticed during regular servicing. It WAS noticed once the chainstay was no longer connected to the dropout!

We were 20+ kilometers from home on this Sunday but managed to make it back riding very slowly, trying to keep tension on the chain to hold the parts together and keep the rear wheel from rubbing on the left chainstay.

During the slow ride back we began to think of what to do for a replacement bike for Zio Lorenzo? This bike can easily be repaired, but not instantly. We came down here with just one bike each with plans for more later, once we had a place to put 'em. He's got a couple of bikes in storage up north at our Piedmont Cycling Resort, so Plan A was to fly up to Milano, rent a car and spend the night at PCR. We'd take the broken bike with us, leave it there and then fly back with one of Lorenzo's other bikes. Enjoying a nice dinner and visit with our friends in Piedmont would be a nice bonus.

That was Plan A... until we checked on airfares. Seems the holidays are when plenty of Sicilians come back home from places like Milan, so while the flight up there was reasonably priced, the flight back home was not!
This little bike switch project was starting to look rather expensive!

Heather suggested a Plan B. Or maybe it should have been Plan G? "Contact Marco Gios" she said. "Instead of spending all the money with airlines, car rental companies, taxis, etc. we could spend it with them. You could get the GIOS you've always wanted (but really couldn't justify - how many bikes do I need?) and it would seem almost free. He's probably got a bike in-stock he can ship down here and you can simply swap the parts off your broken one. Perhaps best of all, we won't have to go anywhere, especially during the holidays." Brilliant! Ideas like these remind Lorenzo of why he married this woman!!!

OK, Plan G it is - that same Sunday afternoon an email was sent to Marco explaining Lorenzo's problem. Marco responded within hours saying he was sure he had something on-hand and would check first thing Monday morning. The GIOS showroom is usually closed on Mondays but Marco said they had plenty of business to do anyway so they'd be there.

Monday morning's phone conversation confirmed they had a bike in Lorenzo's size. Within an hour the price was agreed upon and transfer of funds completed. The price was truly not a whole lot more than we'd have spent to go up and get a bike out of storage.  

A GIOS Super Record 52 X 52 c-t with a Campagnolo Record headset quickly installed by Aldo, who also painted Larry's name on it was shipped out that same day!

By Wednesday afternoon in Sicily the bike was delivered. Lorenzo unpacked it and sprayed some anti-corrosion stuff inside right away and left it to sit overnight, as you can see above.

Thursday after lunch these photos were taken during the test-ride. This bike was so close in size to the one it replaced Lorenzo could even cheat and use the same cable housings, though some new inner wires were installed. He didn't even have to unwrap the handlebar tape!!!

Chromed head lugs and Campagnolo polished alloy. What's not to love?

Beautifully pantographed seatstay caps plus Aldo's (the son of the founder Tolmino) and Marco's (the grandson) names on a tricolore decal.

Just like Roger De Vlaeminck's! Where can Lorenzo buy the legs?

More beautiful chrome in the rear. Is the rear derailleur cable housing a bit long? Probably, but the shifting is better when it's a bit too long rather than too short.

A huge GRAZIE to Marco and Aldo!!!

PS-If one of these beautiful bikes strikes your fancy, we can take you to the GIOS showroom during your Piedmont Cycling Resort vacation. There's a good chance you could fly home with your very own frame/fork or complete, Campagnolo-equipped bike!*

*A personal visit to GIOS or FAVALORO can be arranged with the cost credited towards the purchase price of your bike. GIOS bikes can be delivered only in Italy while your custom Favaloro can be shipped to you when completed. Contact us for details.

Friday, December 13, 2019

A Great Place to Ride - SICILY

Cycling in Sicily

Don't just take our word for it but this area of Sicily IS a great place to ride, especially in the winter months.

As you can see in the photo, the Trek-Segafredo team agrees.

This mornning we rode over to check them out as they're only about 20 kms inland from us at a swanky golf hotel. As you can see, the boys were out riding just as we were, so there were just a few mechanics assembling some new bikes when we stopped by. 

As we rode in we passed a couple of guys out for a jog, some of them in Trek gear so perhaps a few of the staff took a break to sneak in some exercise of their own?

For off-season cycling our "neighborhood" in Sicily's tough to beat. If you'd like to join us, just let us know.