Monday, July 8, 2019

La Langarola 2019

La Langarola 2019

The third in the 2019 epoca trilogy for us was this past Sunday. La Langarola has arguably the best scenery to work with since it starts and ends in Grinzane Cavour after a few versions in nearby Barolo. Zio Lorenzo's been to 'em all!

This year's event was held the same day as one at the Museo Ghisallo, which seems silly to us but there are only so many Sundays on the calendar. We hope that's fixed for next year as we missed some friends that would likely have been here.

The recent heat wave in Europe has moved on, but it's still warm... you can see above.

At the first rest stop Zio Lorenzo said CIAO to friend Luciano Rizzo who really looks the epoca part, no?

He not only looks the part, he paints it as well.

Larry says someday when/if we have a permanent place to live here in Italy, he'll spring for some original art for the walls as so many Italians do. Why not start with a painting like one of these?

Our next stop was the famous FONTANAFREDDA who always put on a nice spread, complete with chilled, sparkling vino! Larry can never imagine a place in the USA offering chilled bubbly in a proper glass to a group of sweaty cyclists, can you?

The "pasta party" at the end is always enjoyable, especially when you get far more than just pasts. Before the tajarin (piemontese for tagliarini) ragu there was carne cruda  (think of steak tartare) and after roasted potatoes, roasted meat and dessert. It goes without saying there was plenty of water and wine as well.

The awards ceremonies are always enjoyable with the women participants called up for gifts followed by the oldest, youngest and those who came from the greatest distance. Our award was kind of fake since we live in Italy now, but we didn't protest too much - would YOU turn down a magnum of 2016 Langhe Nebbiolo? We didn't think so!

Mille grazie tutti!! Ci vediamo prossimo anno!
(Thanks to everyone! We'll see you next year!)

Monday, July 1, 2019

La Mitica 2019

La Mitica 2019

Fausto Coppi, "Il Campionissimo" would have been 100 this year.
La Mitica has always been dedicated to his memory, but of course 100 years on it's an extra special occasion.

Starting and ending in the birthplace and final resting place of Fausto and his racing brother Serse - Castellania (now called Castellania-Coppi) this event is a highlight of the vintage cycling scene for us. Pietro Cordelli and his amazing crew do a fantastic job putting this together each year.

The rest stops (ristoro) are always amazingly well-stocked. Volpedo (above) serves up fresh peaches which are just coming into season in the area. Plenty of cold drinks and fresh focaccia are on offer as well.

As you can see above as we line up to depart Volpedo, the centenario celebration attracted a large turnout. We counted numbers over 300! At one point Zio Lorenzo raced up to the front just to get a good look at a rider on a gorgeous Legnano bicycle (with kit to match!) then slowed down to let the moving museum go past. Some take great care in curating everything to perfection (like #40 with the Legnano - BRAVO!) while others just drag their old bike out, throw on some old kit and join in. The atmosphere is nothing but fun and friendly.

Tortona always puts out a fantastic welcome. As we ride into the center of town along narrow cobbled streets, the public is out cheering with many in period costumes. In the main piazza there's a stage with live band and Pietro calls up various folks to say thanks for showing up. Above you see a group from London...yep, the UK. There were more than 20 of them! We were called up later, but our dancing could not rival the Brits or the Brazilians who also had a large group decked out in yellow and green vs the Brits blue and white.

There were famous celebrities there too (no, not the two above) including Faustino Coppi, Aldo Moser and the "pope" of the entire bici d'epoca movement, Giancarlo Brocci among others. We saw friends from previous events, including last week's Monsterrato. It's always great to see a familiar, smiling face!

La Mitica's might be the best schwag too. Above you see just some of the contents of the "pacco gara" as they call 'em - a commemorative bottle of local wine, a cool t-shirt, a local salami, local jam and (not shown) a really nice drawstring sack/backpack.

Finally, some of us (we don't know if this was limited to those who signed up early or what?) received this cute piece of jewelry with a caricature of Il Campionissimo.

Buon lavoro Pietro e tutti!!!

Grazie mille!!!!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

La Monsterrato 2019

La Monsterrato 2019

This past Sunday we enjoyed an event we've wanted to attend for a few years, but the dates just didn't line up.

In 2019 La Monsterrato was perfectly positioned on the calendar to begin our bici d' epoca series. 

The first thing we did was invite our friend Marco Gios to join us. He brought friends Andrea and "Marcone" along, both equipped with vintage Gios bicycles of course! We enjoyed a lively dinner on Saturday night (as you can see above) before retiring for our early morning start.

But not too early as the next morning we could ride to the start - the center of the action was in Camagna, just 10 kilometers from Piedmont Cycling Resort!

Above you can see Steve riding the vintage Gios he bought just for these events. Marco was kind enough to loan this bike to Steve last year to ride in La Mitica and now it belongs to Steve.  He'll ride it again in Castellania this Sunday with us. 

Above you can see Heather (l) followed by Larry with Andrea (r) in pro photos we copied from the organizer's webpage.

To Claudio and the rest of the hard-working BikeComedy crew:


See you next year.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in shoes in shoes

Zio Lorenzo's been a fan of Vittoria shoes since his first visit to an Italian bicycle shop, probably three decades ago. He hated the free shoes provided by a sponsor of "those other guys" though their SPD pedals were a hit.

This shop had every brand of Italian cycling shoe you could think of and then some....including Vittoria. They'd had a lot of success back with Stephen Roche but Lorenzo hadn't heard much about them for years, but after trying all the brands he bought the best-fitting shoes (isn't that what's most important with shoes?) for his feet, which were Vittoria.

A few years later his old friend "Chairman Bill" of Torelli signed up as importer/distributor for the USA. What luck!!! Now Lorenzo could help promote his favorite shoe brand and maybe even score some on the "bro deal"!

Of course the next time we were in Italy we headed over to visit Vittoria as they're barely an hour away from Piedmont Cycling Resort. We became friends with the family and made visits now and then and also saw them at industry shows and at a few races.

They recently introduced a new shoe - the Tierra. I know, "gravel" is the hot thing now, but if you like the ease of walking of the SPD (two-bolt, MTB style) pedal this shoe has a lot to offer beyond its gravel designation.

Zio Lorenzo with Edoardo Vercelli (son of the founder, Celestino a pro back in the day) at Vittoria HQ. Over the years they've sponsored many of the greats of Italian (and other) cycling though these days the costs of this are astronomical. More about that later.

Here's the shoe. It also comes in a sort of purple color but Zio Lorenzo thinks shoes should be black with rare exception. Laces have come back into style recently and these lace up nicely, making you wonder why they went away. Only time will tell if mid-ride adjustments become an issue, but the shoes fit like....well.....the proverbial glove.

Note the SPD bottom. Two-bolt MTB style cleats only with minimal knobby bits to keep 'em from contact with the ground so you can walk, drive the support car and even climb a ladder to load bikes in a pinch. With a carbon-reinforced sole and the reasonable contact area on modern SPD-style pedals, why anyone other than pros who get paid use three-bolt, slippery plastic cleats that wear out when you walk on them and then fail at the worst possible moment as a result is a good question!

Note the tricolore lace eyelets. These are the kind of details Italians put into their products. These shoes are 100% Made in Italy and each pair still faces final inspection by Edoardo's mamma before they go in the box.

These daze it seems there's a new shoe brand coming out every day, many with Italian-sounding names on them. Just like the rest of the bike business these days, most of 'em come from....China.

Of course the importer/distributors of these Asian shoes will claim they have their products manufactured in the best possible place on earth...but they're not so vocal when it comes to a question of where this might be. Zio Lorenzo asked this very question to a reviewer of a high-end pair of shoes priced at close to $500. The answer? "Not in Italy" Laws require labels to indicate country-of-origin so the reviewer could easily have looked at the tag sewn inside, but for some reason didn't want to divulge this. Why?

The reason is MONEY...profit. Getting $500 for a pair of shoes made in China results in a far larger profit-margin compared to shoes made in Italy. What can you do with this much larger profit margin?

Other than get rich if your shoes sell well, you can spend a lot of money sponsoring pro teams and riders along with other marketing efforts. If your shoe brand is part of a big bike brand or other group of products that are in-demand, you can even go as far as suggesting your dealers (the bike shops) stop carrying competing products that might actually be superior so yours don't suffer in comparison. 

Who benefits from this? It's not YOU!

Case-in-point: Zio Lorenzo heard from a long time bike shop employee a few years ago. This fellow spent his entire racing career using whatever shoes the shop stocked, which were pretty much always made in China. He'd laugh when Zio Lorenzo would go on about the fit and quality of Italian-made cycling shoes, figuring it was just him being an unabashed Italo-phile.

Until one race day. He forgot his racing shoes! Luckily for him another competitor had a spare pair in his size with the same type of cleat bolted on to 'em. What luck?! He strapped 'em on and raced.

The next time Zio was in the store, the guy told him the story of discovering the superior fit of ITALIAN cycling shoes as the shoes he'd borrowed were the best fitting cycling shoes he'd ever worn. The shop soon became a stocking dealer despite the protestations of the sales rep from the big-brand bike company!

As Vittoria says: "Italians do it better!" Try 'em yourself and see if you don't agree. I've never met anyone who went back to cheap Chinese shoes after they used those Made-in-Italy.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Drink up!

If a company wants to support the Giro d'Italia, we try to support them. Sure, we paid a few cents more to have this water in the support car but as long as the special bottles are in the stores we'll keep buying.

A few years ago we even switched the brand of sugar cookies we keep in the car from our favorite Galletti by Mulino Bianco to those from Balocco. They stopped the promo after a couple of years and we're back to the usual. It'll be the same with water.

W Il Giro!

Monday, June 3, 2019

FAVALORO - Made to Measure in Italy Part 4

      FAVALORO - Made to Measure in Italy Part 4

A dream comes true. Michele Favaloro and Dee pose behind Dee's new bike. Delivered on-time and exactly as promised.

Of course when the man who made it also personally delivers it, the final fitting and adjustments take on a very personal nature.

Note the guidebook under Dee's front wheel. Michele didn't like Zio Lorenzo's wooden block to compensate for the height of the trainer so to make it perfect down to the millimeter we used an old guidebook opened to the exactly level position. Favaloro makes Zio Lorenzo's perfectionist instincts pale in comparison!!!

The only smile bigger than this one was the one we saw when Dee rode the bike for the first time on the road. He'd spent a couple of days riding one of our Favaloro rental bikes until Michele arrived (Dee decided to come to Italy ahead of the delivery date) with his Puma NTO. He liked our rental bike very much, but he LOVED this one!!!!

Dee enjoyed a couple of rides with Michele on the great roads around Piedmont Cycling Resort before Favaloro had to return to work on some more of these beautiful machines. 

We can create an experience like this for you as well, just let us know.

Grazie Michele, Lorenza, Mattia e Giada!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

FAVALORO - 100% Made to Measure in Italy Part 3

    FAVALORO - Made to Measure 100% in Italy Part 3

Here's the bike, just back from the painter.

Complete with the proud owner's name on the top tube.

We should be taking photos of the delivery of the completed bike and posting them soon. Don't forget you too can have your own custom bike like this one, usually for less than you'd pay for an Asian-made big brand name bike that comes in only a few sizes and colors.

Grazie Michele!