Monday, December 4, 2023

Award Time?

 The Biggest POS in the Sport Awards

Image stolen from here

Another WTF, sadly. Jan Ullrich is the subject of a new docuseries where Zio assumes (based on other reports online and on TV) he admits to doping during his career.

Zio read and enjoyed "The Best There Never Was" so there was no surprise when "Kaiser Jan" admitted his sins as part of this docu-series. But when BigTex, the narcissitic sociopath (not surprisingly) had to weigh in it's time to call Tex out.

The nerve of this guy rivals a certain US 2024 presidential candidate. He puts himself on the same level as "Kaiser Jan" and "Il Pirata" - two racers who demonstrated remarkable abilities long before there was any suggestion they were involved in the use of illicit substances, while Tex was alleged to be on-the-juice when still a teenaged tri-jock! Further, some say Tex's physical attributes can not explain his success - without doping.

Then, to make it worse Tex said: "This is the price to pay when you are the best in a sport, you are a symbol. It took me ten years of struggle to get out of that hole."

As Tony Soprano's mother used to say, "Poor you!" One of these people is dead, while the other has struggled with plenty of problems and as far as Zio knows, is far from rich. Meanwhile, Tex seems to have more money than he knows what to do with, but still struggles with narcissistic sociopathy. Does this sound like Tex to you:

Narcissistic sociopaths seek to ingratiate themselves with power, money, pleasure, and other niceties and do so at the expense of others. They might lie, cheat, steal, and manipulate to get their way, and disregard other people’s feelings, needs, wants, and even safety to achieve their goals.*

Sounds like BigTex to Zio! He thinks this punk should be ignored whenever and wherever possible and hopes that perhaps one day he might get the psychiatric help he so badly needs even though it didn't work out so well for Tony Soprano, but for 2023 he gets the blog's POS award!!!

*sounds a lot like that 2024 candidate for US President too, no?

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Another WTF?

 Another in the WTF? series

This. WTF?

Really? The UCI lets this go on? Guy racing at speed on a twitchy chrono bike depending on a man in the follow-car's guidance via his radio earpiece?

Zio's been ranting against various electronic gizmos pretty much since the Motorola team introduced the team radio to the pro peloton years ago. Things have only gotten worse with touchscreen gizmos mounted on the handlebar stem to provide all kinds of data to the rider: heart rate, power output, GPS-mapping of the route and gawd-knows what else?

Zio is concerned about how dull racing can be with riders looking at these gizmos instead of where they are going, not to mention being directed by instructions through their radio earpiece, something noted in a recent issue of Bicisport magazine feature on Giuseppe Saronni who laments these things turning riders into marionettes.

But is Zio the only one that thinks these things are dangerous rather than just mostly useless "tech" for "tech"s sake? Kung's crash is one thing, then there was this. And Zana mentions Gino Mader who similarly missed a turn and crashed, losing his life in the process?

We'll never know if poor Gino was doing the same thing as Zana, but will it take another incident like these to make the UCI seriously consider banning these things? How do they make bike racing better or more exciting to watch?

Riders do a lot of talking about their safety and how nobody is looking out for them. How seriously do they expect their complaints to be received when they do things like these, putting their own lives in danger?

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

"Winter" in Sicily

 Another day in paradise

Fat guy poses in front of Etna

Apologies (as usual) if you're freezing your a__ off somewhere cold and snowy. We're not.

Zio loves this time of year when it cools off (but we're still in shorts and short sleeves, though he's switched the closet over so warm-weather stuff isn't the main thing) the vino novello arrives, along with the new olive oil and new oranges.

The photo is from our local bike trail where the view of Etna is rarely this clear. The smog of Catania usually covers the lower slopes while clouds (or smoke from the volcano) covers the higher parts.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Good News in the world of cycling!

 And now for something you'll really Rocket J. Squirrel would say.

Well, at least Zio likes it. First is news that clothing brand RAPHA, dreamed up by marketing-mavens who wanted to make the profits of companies like ASSOS without a shred of their history or heritage (so they just made it all up) is losing millions. Did the marketing-maven-mojo die? More on that HERE.

Even better news is that Cinelli is making bicycles in Italy again! Not made with lugs but at least Made-in-Italy with the famous Columbus steel tubing. More on that HERE including a video that made Zio smile.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Time to hang up the wheels?

 Time to hang up the wheels?

No, not us! We'll just ride e-bikes. Perhaps this guy? As our friend at BikeRaceInfo, "Chairman Bill" McGann likes to say, "There's so far no cure for the common birthday", yet the former top pro in the linked story constantly blames his equipment for his huge decline as a competitive bike racer.

He does it herehere and here, just to point out a few times. And currently the blame goes to an error made setting up the new bikes provided by his team...3 years ago?

Michele Favaloro dials-in a new bike for a CycleItalia client.

Really? Zio Lorenzo was a bike-fitter back-in-the-day, using the original New England Cycling Academy's "FitKit" method, taught to him by the bike shop owner he worked for. We charged for the service and each job was signed-off by the owner (the guy with the diploma) so Zio has some experience in this area.

He made this video to help CycleItalia clients get accurate measurements from their bikes to help him to set up bikes for them from our rental fleet. I guess this former Tour winner should have watched it too?

How could you screw this up? Setting saddle-to-handlebar distance is the second thing Zio does after setting the seat height! This pro says the distance from his handlebar to saddle was off by 3 centimeters, causing back pain. Duh. Zio understands the guy was broken-up badly in his crash before going to this team but he was unable to feel a 3 cm difference and nobody ever bothered to compare the measurements from his old team bike...for 3 years? What measurements did they use to select the frame size, stem length, etc, when he went to this new team? Aren't these people supposed to be pros?

So much for all the maniacal attention-to-detail and "marginal gains" claptrap used to explain his and his former team's success. If he's really this clueless one has to wonder if his success was due to something else maybe? This was a guy who couldn't seem to get out of his own way until he joined that infamous British team, already at 25 years of age.

Lots of race wins and doping allegations followed. He's as recovered from his horrific crash as he's ever going to be, so perhaps it's time at nearly 40 years of age to realize "Chairman Bill" is right and call it a career?

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Cycling is the new.....

 Cycling is the new...what?

Image copied from HERE

Zio Lorenzo was thinking about the state of cycling just the other day and now this? Who is the customer for this? $15K seemed to be the price-point for industry "bling-mobiles" with another brand announcing one seemingly every month. Sales are down post-pandemic on bikes priced for the masses so is this the answer? I guess the rich always have money to blow.

Zio can remember back when he got into cycling in a way more than just riding his Schwinn Supersport (basically a Continental with aluminum rims) around for transportation. He bought an SR "Semi-pro" with the then-new Shimano 600 groupset in the mid-1970's. The "bike boom" was perhaps just ending but the gasoline crunch had yet to happen.

Cycling for fun was kind of a hippie thing back then and when Zio bought a real racing bike and pinned-on a number most of the participants showed up in beat-up "econobox" cars worth far less than the bikes on top of them. Greg LeMond was winning in Europe by this time and it seemed everyone embraced the Euro-centric idea of cycling.

Things were going well until LeMond hung up his wheels. A new American fellow came on the scene with very different ideas on Euro-centric cycling. While he may have embraced it at the start, he soon became a "kick their ass, eat their cheese" xenophobe...a textbook ugly American.

American cycling seemed to change too. The hippies or blue-collar cyclists seemed to vanish, replaced by hedge-fund managers who were way into the "you are what you buy" mentality. Zio saw this first-hand at the bike shops he worked in. Before this, someone in the market for a pro-quality bike would spend some time discussing it with us as we figured out what would be the best bike for them. Most of the time it was built-up from the frame with components chosen by us and the client.

But once "BigTex" came on the scene cycling changed. Sure, multi-national sponsors had come in due to LeMond's success but this was different - clients now came in and almost demanded the "best bike" as if there was such a thing. Zio remembers a client insisting there must be such a thing since the moto mags would declare a certain make/model of moto the best and he'd go out and buy one. Surely the same was true for bicycles!

"Tex" wrote a book titled not-about-the-bike but now it WAS about the bike! Things have only gotten worse since then and now we have a $25K e-bike for these hedge-fund managers to enjoy.

Before you think Zio is throwing-in-the-towel and saying there's no hope for cycling...there's (at least in Italy) the vintage movement.

All the old hippies are here perhaps? And some young ones too? For sure the people who made cycling what it was and something both Zio and Heather became interested in all those years ago are here. One could claim it's "You are what you ride" here too, but it's very rarely something you spent a fortune to buy. It's usually something special, maybe your father's bike or a barn-find you lovingly restored.

So each time Zio is dismayed by news of the next "bling-mobile" he can go downstairs and admire his lovingly restored and now well-used vintage Bianchi or Heather's vintage DeRosa. Both are here in Sicily with us now, ready for La Barocca.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Roma, California, Napoli

 A Quick Trip!

Well, it started out well - we flew to LAX on this plane from Rome after flying there from Catania the day before. A museum visit with one of Heather's colleagues and some great porchetta sandwiches set us up for the 12+ hour flight the next morning.

We'll NEVER understand why/how the food on ITA Airways can be so awful!? Most people think Italian food is the world's best so how can they serve crap like this? The Italian tourist people should investigate!

We arrived at LAX, rented a car and enjoyed 4 days of festivities around a family wedding, including a Sunday BBQ. Thanks Bob! And congratulations Amanda & Scott!

We headed back from the land of "everything costs extra" on Monday. We paid $10 a day to park a car under the hotel, $8 extra each morning for someone to make us cappuccino (both were included in a stay Zio Lorenzo did earlier this year in another SoCal hotel, so perhaps it's just the Hyatt people that are so greedy?) This at a place where the (only) guy at the reception desk was dressed more like the janitor and had to be asked to put down the phone, stop swinging his keys around and check us in! I guess good help IS tough to find these days?

Then there were the ITA Airways folks at LAX check-in where the same small roll-aboard bags we came from Rome with + a small backpack somehow became too heavy (more than 10 kg total) to take guessed it...we coughed up more money! $140 to be exact AND we still had to check one of our roll-aboards. So we PAID for the opportunity to wait at baggage claim, wonder if our bag would get lost or if someone would open it and help themselves to the contents - all things that have happened to us in the past. This was NOTHING but a matter how many flimsy reasons the check-in folks came up with...and worse...the flight was far from full and we'd carried these same bags onto a (notoriously greedy) Ryanair flight from Catania as well as ITA from Rome. No issues or extra charges on either flight, nor with our return to Catania from Napoli with the same bags.

Next it was off to security where the LAX TSA staff seemed to have been trained by the Gestapo. They barked orders through megaphones and acted as if every passenger should be 100% familiar with their security procedures, no matter what they might have gone through elsewhere. A nice farewell from the USA...not!

Back (finally!) in Italy after more bad airplane food (created we assume in LA so maybe we shouldn't complain?) we took the nonstop train from the Rome airport to the central train station and then boarded a high-speed train to Napoli. Less than two hours later we had a "room with a view" as they say!

And a nice greeting when we checked-in to our Napoli hotel, staffed by smiling, friendly people in suits and ties - real pros who take pride in their work, though we DID have to pay room service ($7) to bring up some glasses and a corkscrew to the room so we could enjoy this nice gift.

Breakfast wasn't included with this one-night stay but with one of these just steps away, who cares? Our next stop was here to enjoy a real espresso and stock up on espresso to take home, then on to the MANN before pizza for lunch. Some walking around Spaccanapoli filled the time before we caught our flight back to Catania.

Needless to write - but we're glad to be back home!