Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Road Safety


The Exceptionally American Problem of Rising Roadway Deaths

Why other rich nations have surpassed the U.S. in protecting pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

Click here to read this NYT article. If you can't get past their paywall, the bottom line is MORE people not-in-cars are getting killed in the USA rather than less as is the case in most other civilized countries.

Remind you of anything else in the USA? Reminds Zio of guns. Most other places accept some restrictions on ownership/use of deadly weapons to reduce carnage but in the USA there seems to be some "God-given right" to own a machine gun and to act as if the roads are only for motorists. Will this ever change?

On the subject of road safety, newly retired ex-pro Davide Rebellin was just run over and killed today on his bike here in Italy. There's talk here of making this 

part of the vehicle code, but we're not holding our breath.

RIP Rebellin

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving 2022

 Thanksgiving in Italy

Of course nobody but Americans celebrate this in Italy, but WTF? Why not roast a stuffed turkey (or chicken in our case) and enjoy all that goes with it?

Put the bird in the oven and get out the bikes! That's been our scheme since way back, whether here in Italy or IA or MA.  We have plenty to be thankful for and hope you do too.


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Piedmont cycling guide

 grande ciclismo in piemonte

While we're no longer operating Piedmont Cycling Resort, there's no reason YOU can't ride there and enjoy our former HQ - Hotel Ariotto

You can download this guide FREE! Just click HERE.

Friday, November 11, 2022

He's BAAAaaack!

 Super Gravel Monster lives on

Perhaps a bit less fugly than before? Zio thinks so. He missed having this bike to ride with Heather on her e-Bianchi Impulso allroad when they hit the local bike trail. Even with the fatter tires and suspension stem, the Torelli Gran Sasso was a bit harsh so having this back from the painter (grazie Michele Favaloro & Co!) is great.

No changes other than fresh paint and a new headset. Kind of an homage to Zio's original fire-road flyer, the Bridgestone MB-1 that was also red. Zio keeps thinking about a modern gravel bike but isn't keen on disc brakes so Campagnolo EKAR isn't really what he wants, which leaves his choices to components from those "other people" so it's "Super Gravel Monster" for now.

One other change is a 12-24 cogset in back. As a gravel bike a super-low gear like the 28 X 28 wasn't really useful while the huge gaps in the old 7-speed cassette in back were annoying. A 12-24 (hopefully) will close things up and make for less shifting on the flatter parts of the ride....or at least makes the gaps smaller.

Friday, October 14, 2022


 It never rains...

Except when it does here in Sicily and we certainly need it. But because it rarely rains the roads here seem to have no "crown" for drainage which means flooding and puddles that take a long time to dry up. Zio Lorenzo had this bike's brother "Bugno" down here years ago around this time of year but wanted something more secure when it came to trying to keep his feet dry and that ugly stripe off his backside.

Since "Bartali" is down here now and like "Bugno" has braze-on (though braze-in would be more accurate) fittings on the fork blades and seatstays, why not use 'em?

Great idea, right? Well, kind of. With 27 mm tires squeezed-in Zio had to file a bit of the fork crown away (more like thinning the lug as guys like Mondonico used to do, but never bothered-with on this fork) to keep 'em from rubbing, so good luck getting a fender in there!

So some creativity was in-order. Or butchery, some might say. Since no way would the full fenders fit in the tight space at the fork crown or brake bridge, Zio would settle for the most important half of each. With the stiff support struts, a simple attachment to the brake mounting bolt should suffice. That's the way they mount in the front so the rest of the fender was carved-off. A bit of reinforcement under the mounting tab secured things.

The rear was more involved as the intended snap-in mounting method wouldn't fit under the brake bridge either. So again the fender was cut-in-half and a similar brake bolt/tab mount was created, though space under the brake again was tight. But both are secured with threaded hardware rather than rubber-bands. While there's not much room for "mud" to pass under these "mudguards" the intention is just to keep Zio's feet and backside clean and dry when roads are wet.*

Meanwhile, the SuperGravelMonster is getting repainted so when he's back together this bike might get some 25 vs 27 mm tires mounted since SGM will then get-the-nod for unpaved roads. This should improve the clearance a bit, making Zio less nervous about that scraping noise after riding through muddy puddles! But either way his feet and rear-end should stay dry. Let it rain!

*Update: Clearance proved too small under the rear brake so the mounting tab was flipped. Now the fender sits above the brake entirely - not very pretty but now there's even room for a bit of mud without compromising the coverage.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Happy Birthday EROICA!

 EROICA turns 25

That's right, cycling's first true vintage event was started 25 years ago when Giancarlo Brocci and less than 100 others rode the first L'Eroica.

Harry & Leather at "L'Eroica Gaiole 2011 as "bandits"

Zio Lorenzo had read about it for years, thinking it was just up our alley when it came to cycling! We finally got there in 2011 though not officially entered. But we dressed up in (sort of) period costumes and rode (sort of) period bikes as you can see above (more about that HERE) to get out there for a taste. Needless to say we loved it!

Zio Lorenzo's home office decor

Since then we've built up a few vintage bikes and enjoyed not only bici d'epoca events in Tuscany but also in Piedmont and elsewhere. We'd likely be in Tuscany this weekend helping Brocci and Co celebrate 25 years but Heather's currently limited to riding her e-bike so maybe 2023? We also have plans to eventually ride the entire signposted EROICA route over a few days with someone else hauling the luggage.

Vintage bike ride numbers (so far)

As you can see above (and read here on the blog by searching for EROICA) we've enjoyed a lot of these vintage rides, every one of 'em infused with the spirit and passion for cycling that got both of us into it in the first place. We think everyone one of 'em owes a big debt to Brocci, we certainly do!

Buon compleano EROICA e grazie mille Brocci!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2022

World Champions 2022

 UCI Cycling Road World Champions 2022

Are you tired of looking at this image? Me too!

Congratulations and Chapeau to both Annemiek van Vleuten and Remco Evenepoel on winning rainbow jerseys this weekend. Zio Lorenzo is not a fan of either, but they both won in their own dramatic ways.

In the women's race you can't write a script like this! After breaking her elbow in a crash caused by mechanical failure just a few days before, the woman who has already won almost everything this year lines up to help her Dutch team, even pausing to wait for Marianne Vos, who one assumes was the designated leader of the team. Vos seems to indicate she doesn't have it on this day so van Vleuten is free to chase the breakaway. Too many up there are racing not-to-lose rather than win so she catches them in the final kilometers and stays away to win, broken elbow and all! Chapeau!

The men's race also had a not-to-lose scenario though it was for the silver medal as Evenepoel was long gone - typical of many of his race wins. He attacks from far out and dares anyone to come with him. If they do he usually rides them off his wheel and goes on to win. Zio's called him robotic in the past, but without race radios it's tough to make that call this time. Chapeau! 

But just like the women's race a bunch of riders ended up with nothing due to "after, after you!" as they neared the finish. Have modern racers become so radio-controlled these days that they don't have a clue about how to race without someone yelling into their earpiece? Reading some post-race quotes suggest that is exactly the case*. Safety is often cited as a reason radio earpieces (introduced in the early 1990's) can't be banned, but is there any proof races with radios are more safe than those without? And if they really do make things safer, how would someone justify holding a race where these so-called "safety devices" are banned? For another view more inline with ours go HERE.

On the other hand, Zio screams "NO Chapeau" to whoever was sitting in the TV image director's chair at this event. Too often he thought he'd tuned-in to "Rick Steves' visits Australia" briefly interrupted by a bicycle race! And even when he actually showed us racing images, this director would too often miss an attack, instead showing riders going out-the-back of the group. The Italian Eurosport commentators were as annoyed as Zio was, so there's hope the message gets through to those in-charge for next time. 

The travelogue even spread to the moto camera operators! C'mon, the race is going uphill and all we see is the crowds at the roadside? I enjoy laughing at the people wearing inflatable dinosaur costumes as much as the next guy, but I tuned-in for a bike race! Is this part of the modern cycling idea - that the thing has to be turned into a spectacle that people uninterested in cycling somehow enjoy watching? Please hire a TV director with top-level bike racing experience for next time, you are the International Cycling Union for Pietro's sake!!!

*To be fair, it does seem the organizers did a terrible job on the traditional chalkboard with time-gaps as described HERE.