Friday, August 3, 2018

Pedala forte, mangia bene!

Pedala forte, mangia bene!

Yes, this is a tattoo! A total surprise when we saw this photo of our slogan inked onto the calf of a client who joined us awhile back.

Needless to say, we are flattered.

Join us and find out for yourself why someone would have our slogan permanently written on their body.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Alessandria Citta delle Biciclette

Alessandria City of the Bicycle

It might sound boastful, but with the recent opening of this wonderful new museum (born from an exhibition in 2016) Piedmont Cycling Resort can now offer you not one, not two but THREE wonderful museums of the bicycle within a 2 hour drive. 

This one in Alessandria is barely 30 minutes down the autostrada! Uncle Larry was fortunate to visit yesterday, the last day before they close up for their summer holiday break.

These Alessandria city ordinances limited the use of the dangerous velocipede in the city limits. Yes, the city that later was the UCI headquarters and one of the centers of bicycle production almost banned their use in the beginning!

This museum concentrates on local brands, builders and racers. 

Giovanni Maino was known as the Enzo Ferrari of bicycles

Think you could operate this shifting system? Gino Bartali won the Tour de France using one like it in 1938.

This 1922 Maino had two speeds -  that is as long as you were willing to undo the wingnuts, yank out the rear wheel and reinstall it the other way round!

This restored bike is said to have been used by Costante Girardengo, the first Campionissimo.

This Nilux was used in 1949 by Luigi Malabrocca, the famous maglia nera from nearby Tortona.

This Fiorelli bike was used by the Champion of Champions - Fausto Coppi.

This Peloso I didn't learn much about, but it's gorgeous anyway and was made in this area.

I love the front brakes on these old bikes - super simple!

This one was raced by Giovanni Gerbi, the "Diavolo Rosso" from Asti.

The museum features replica workshops like this one of Giovanni Meazzo, but they're not actual workshops but photo murals! Amazingly realistic - looks like you could grab something right off the shelves!

Check out the front fender ornament!

Chromed steel and polished aluminum, the golden age of cycling!

It really looks like you could just grab a wrench!

Larry's workshop is a bit less messy..but not much.

But his workbench is NEVER this bad!!!

The charming Isabella showed me around the museum, explaining a lot of the exhibits. GRAZIE MILLE!!!

Piedmont Cycling Resort will offer visits to AcdB next season, just one more reason to join us!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Addio Piero Coppi

Our dear friend Piero Coppi passed away a few days ago. It's been twenty years since we first met him. We'd driven up to Castellania with the idea of mapping out a cycling pilgrimage to the birthplace and final resting place of Il Campionissimo and his brother.

There's a town building next to the site and the door was open. Turns out the mayor was in! The mayor was Piero Coppi, first-cousin of the famous  brothers. He was pleasantly surprised to find Americans showing up here to pay their respects and couldn't have been more welcoming. We promised to bring some clients out there next year. He gave us his phone numbers and asked us to call in advance.

He wanted to meet our group, telling us he feared the memory of his famous cousins Fausto and Serse was fading, especially in places like the USA. He'd never visited there, telling us he made ONE airplane trip that scared him so badly he declared "Never again!" We called in advance and showed up midday - to be met with chilled water, spumante and some rice-based cookies that came to be known as "Coppi-cookies". With Heather translating a great time was had by all.

Lunchtime was approaching so as we prepared to say arrivederci, Piero asked what our pranzo plans might be? We really had nothing arranged, this being the first time on this route we never know exactly where we'll be when it's time for lunch. Hearing this, Piero grabbed his telefonino and made a quick call. "OK, that's settled" he said. Responding to our confused looks he said, "Follow me" and hopped into his car. Our group of cyclists trailed behind, followed by our van - to a tiny trattoria a few kilometers away. This was Piero's hangout and he beamed as he marched his new Amici Americani into the dining room.

Antipasti, primi, secondi, even homemade gelato, one flavored with lavender! When it was time to go we found we could not get a check...the whole thing was on Piero! He was so excited that we were helping to keep the memories of his cousins alive he made us promise to return the next year - and to call in advance!

We did - almost every year, sometimes more than once. Piero seemed to love our visits, always insisting on treating us to lunch. All we could do in return was to share some CycleItalia schwag, which he really liked. Being in the world of cycling he had something that none of his other cycling pals could have - though we'd bet he'd have given them anything they liked!

Each time we'd say goodbye and talk about next time or next year we'd wonder if this might be the last as Piero was getting up there in age and always seemed to have a new health problem once he stopped riding his bike. He even rode with us one time, meeting us on a rare, mostly flat part of a route we'd laid out, joining us for a panino at the end before turning around to ride back to his car. This time we paid, which brought we never tried it again. He was just too generous, something the current mayor of Castellania reminded us at the service.

We last saw him around the end of the Giro d'Italia this season, just a few months ago. We tried to meet up again at La Mitica this year but he wasn't up to it. That turned out to be the last time we spoke with him.

Everyone we brought out to meet him was charmed and the turnout at the service proved he had a lot of friends. Faustino Coppi was there as was Marina Coppi, Egidio Coppi and Sergio Coppi, Piero's brother. A few of Fausto's old gregari showed up too, I'm sure they remembered Piero as the little cousin who bragged when he won his first (and only) bike race. When he told Fausto about the win, Il Campionissimo replied, "What happened? Did everyone else fall off?"

Piero Coppi was no cycling champion, but to us he was a champion of life.

RIP Piero

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Uncle Rick's Cycling Adventure

Our friend Rick (at right in red) joined us 15 years ago. Wow! How time flies!

This time he brought his own riding buddies, (l-r) Ivan, Robert and Chris to enjoy Piedmont Cycling Resort. They opted for an excursion to ride the famous Cervinia climb. Above you see them ready to go.

The stone switchbacks are the most iconic place on this climb and they're great for a vantage point to watch the rider's progress.

I must admit I've seen plenty of Campagnolo logos tattooed on bike riders over the years, but this was the first time I've ever seen "Il Campionissimo" Fausto Coppi featured this way!

Ivan will stay on for an extra day but the others head home tomorrow morning. 

Grazie mille tutti!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Grazie mille - ALBABICI

CycleItalia's Piedmont Cycling Resort presented by Albabici

That's a mouthful, right? We can use PCR for now.

Albabici's Gianluca Caliari, partner Violetta and son Nicolo paid us a visit recently. We did some cycling, some dining and some drinking - hey, it IS "pedala forte, mangia bene!" after all, right?

There's little doubt this is a cycling-friendly place, a recent cycling article on this area called it "Tuscany without the crowds" but we think it's even better than that.

Not only are there no crowds, there's a much greater variety of food and wine to be enjoyed here as well as peaceful roads that meander over and around what the locals call the "dolci colline" (sweet hills) giving you many options on your daily cycling route.

Join us and find out for yourself!

Monday, July 9, 2018

La Langarola

La Langarola 2018

Can you have so much fun that you fail to take enough photos? Yes!

Above: The start of La Langarola was in Grinzane Cavour in the Langhe region of Piedmont. This is the land of Barolo and Barbaresco. Larry enjoyed the 1st edition in 2016 but was excited about the move from Barolo to Grinzane. Frankly, it didn't seem the folks in Barolo were all that keen on the event while the mayor of Grinzane was quite the opposite.

The local community seems to really support the new edition. The first ristoro was at a bike hotel (rival for our Piedmont Cycling Resort? Kind of) where fresh watermelon was served as well as the usual focaccia, pizza, bananas and lots of liquid refreshments.

Above you see photos of the ristoro at Fontana Fredda. This one featured their own sparking wine, salami, cheese and grissini as well!

The Langarola folks laid out a great route for us, one that included some challenging and scenic un-paved (sterrata) sections as well as not-too steep climbs, welcomed by the single-speed riders. Those old bikes tend to have fatter tires so they go well on the unpaved sections but are a lot of work to pedal up any sort of hill.

The pasta-party at the end might have been the best one we've ever enjoyed. Full Piemontese pranzo - roast beef with tuna sauce, egg noodles with ragu, roast pork and roasted potatoes, and a panna cotta dessert. Plenty of water and wine in a nice setting with wide-ranging views from Grinzane. It was a warm, but clear day but most were happy to have the ride completed by midday.

Buon lavoro tutti! La Langarola's a must-do on our calendar from now on. The nice organizers will let YOU ride in the event on one of our classic rental bikes so we'll see you in 2019!

Monday, July 2, 2018

How was YOUR weekend?

I think we might need another weekend to rest up after this past one!

On Friday Steve and Heather rode the famous Cervinia climb, then on Saturday we went off the watch the Italian National Championship roadrace for pros in Darfo Boario Terme and then Sunday we rode vintage bikes at La Ghisallo. Whew!

This is Damiano Cunego's final season (this may have been his final race) so the team was paying tribute on the back of their bus. One of our rental bikes is named after him. BRAVO CUNEGO!

During the early circuits the organizers were having a private lunch right on the finish straight while not-too-many others had yet arrived to watch.

We decided to grab some quick kebabs and then head up to the steep final climb for close-up action as you can see above.

This was one of those nasty steep (17% in spots) climbs that's mercifully not-too-long but it's gotta hurt just the same as some of those in races like L-B-L. Even in the later circuits we could be really close...close enough to see the slight smile on the lips of Elia Viviani as he almost drafted Domenico Pozzovivo up this for the final time. A sprinter of his caliber had to know the tricolore was his, as the run-in to the finish was downhill or flat and none of the fast-finishers were up there. 

For a guy like Viviani, outsprinting the likes of Pozzovivo and Visconti was like childsplay.

We made it back in time to enjoy dinner at one of our favorite places, Melograno in Terruggia before hitting-the-hay since we had to be up early on Sunday to get to La Ghisallo.

After a very relaxed start around 9 AM they routed us downhill from the shrine and museum though the narrow lanes of a few old villages, then up to the start of the Muro di Sormano for refreshments. Lots of Sunday cyclists were trying their legs on this climb on their modern, carbon-fiber machines, making for a great contrast between those and the steel and polished aluminum bikes of the past.

We'll accept that you must be of a "certain-age" to prefer this look but it's hard to imagine many of today's bikes being saved, polished and ridden 50 years from now, but who knows? The one above, branded Locomotief was said to be made in Holland by the company later renamed Gazelle.

CHIORDA was a brand from Bergamo, hometown of Felice Gimondi who went to greater fame riding a Bianchi. His daughter Norma was here riding one of Felice's old bikes along with a contingent of guys also dressed in Salvarani team kit. We asked Norma to wish her father well as he recovers from a crash last year at Eroica Gaiole.

One of the rest stops provided by the organizers was a gelateria! We were treated to the cone or cup of our choice with two flavors. A great idea on this warm day. Above you can see that Steve agrees.

This was our finish reception. A great way to end the final climb to the shrine and museum. Sadly, they ran out of food by the time we made our way to the pasta party, but the promoters ordered pizze for us! Grazie mille! The non-gelato rest stops had foccaccia, fresh fruit, lots of tasty pastries along with plenty of water and soft drinks. 

France's Cyril Guimard put his name on some bikes back-in-the-day but we'd never seen one other than in photos. We don't know who actually produced these bikes and didn't have time to ask the person offering it for sale.

The event was dedicated to the memory of Luciano Berruti, the face of l'Eroica and vintage cycling in Italy. A mass was said for him in the tiny chapel and one of his bicycles was blessed and presented for display in the museum. We were lucky enough to meet him both at l'Eroica Primavera and l'Eroica California. RIP Berruti.

Mille grazie to La Ghisallo's organizers for their warm hospitality and friendship!!!  

W La Ghisallo!