Sunday, June 26, 2022

La Mitica 2022

 La Mitica 2022

Geez, almost a month with no posts!! What have we been up to?
Heather has been running some academic conferences, we enjoyed a trip to the Aeolian Islands and last week we came up to Piedmont for a couple of weeks.

Since CycleItalia/Piedmont Cycling Resort has been closed, we have a lot of stuff that we no longer need. We'll keep our own stuff up here as we intend to visit regularly but we need to get rid of a lot of bikes, parts, equipment that's no longer needed. So Zio Lorenzo is going through it all bit by bit, bike by bike, box by box.

Of course we've been riding and eating well along with some other activities like La Mitica, our favorite bici d'epoca event. Today Zio went to Castellania to see old friends and enjoy old bikes, taking his vintage Bianchi around the short (55 km) route.

Zio in Volpedo, the first ristoro.

Heather was off running in the ancient Nemean Games in Greece so Zio was a uomo solo...but not al comando like Fausto Coppi though the Campionissimo's son Faustino was a guest-of-honor on a weekend all about Fausto (and Serse) Coppi.

La Mitica is our favorite epoca event for a lot of reasons including the amazing, hands-on management of Pietro Cordelli and his staff, the festive stop in Tortona and the general atmosphere. We've enjoyed all the epoca events we've attended but La Mitica stands out! And for some reason the normally fearsome "rampina" climb this year didn't seem so hard - perhaps because the sterrata surface was more firm and the temperatures were not too hot?

Buon lavoro Cordelli & Co..see you next time!!!

Monday, May 30, 2022

Thoughts on Giro d'Italia 2022

 Giro d'Italia 2022

Start in Avola
La Corsa Rosa 2022 was challenging to say the least. Will it go down as a vintage edition? Probably not as the course revealed back in the fall of 2021 looked really, really tough and turned out to be just that. I mean just watching it on TV! It was not only a test for the competitors, a real last-man-standing battle of attrition, but a real challenge to watch day after day.

Let’s start with the good stuff: who can’t love the story of Biniam Girmay, the audacity of Mathieu Van der Poel, the “Christopher Reeve as Superman” looks and sprint domination of Arnaud Demare, the never-say-die long range attack of Alessandro Covi, the surprise of Trek-Segafredo’s young Spaniard (the next Hindley?) the over-performance of underdog teams like Alpecin and Intermarche, not to mention the spectacular scenery and massive crowds along the roads saluting Vincenzo Nibali in his final season?

We like Magro and Co on Eurosport

Then there’s the winner, Jai Hindley, taking revenge on the team who kept him off the top step of the Giro podium back in 2020 with a bold, last-chance attack on the Giro’s queen stage to put an insurmountable gap between him and INEOS team leader Richard Carapaz. This is a guy who came a long way around the world to Italy to learn his craft, winning some races in the Australian National Team jersey and racing with an Italian team based in Abruzzo. A guy who hasn’t seen his parents since the Covid-19 pandemic began and the first Australian winner ever of the Giro d’Italia.

The Torino stage was exciting

But watching the race was sometimes a struggle, even for me, an unabashed Italo-phile. Was the course too hard? Not in my opinion, why not have an edition for climbers rather than “kite-men”? Were there not enough big names racing? Plenty showed up but quite a few never made it to Verona, but that’s part of a Grand Tour, you have to first finish to finish first. There did seem to be a lot of racing not-to-lose, even Italian commentators talked about boring stages and blamed a lot of it on the current technology and the “numbers game” that is modern cycling under current UCI rules. That’s not the Giro organizer RCS’ fault is it? Perhaps the Giro could make their own rules and ban power-meters, heart rate monitors and the like? But we still had exploits like from guys like MVdP and Covi, just not enough of them. Plenty of social media keyboard lions whined about boring stages, but I figure anything not LeTour or without “their” rider in the race and doing well is going to get complaints, so who cares what they think?

Gios Raduno visits La Corsa Rosa

In the complaint department, I have two: One was the sport-washing of the Orban regime in Hungary. I know RCS needs the money but I thought Israel was a bad idea, now Hungary? Will Moscow be next? Second was the video coverage. There was lots of talk last year about the poor TV production quality provided by Italian national broadcaster RAI. This year’s TV images and some interviews were provided by a private group, EMG I think it’s called. While their images never suffered during inclement weather…wait a minute, there was NO inclement weather, the EMG director too often seemed not to understand how bike races work – countless times missing attacks and deploying his camera motos at the front and back of one group of riders while none covered other groups. There were plenty of TV motos but they were rarely in the right place at the right time. RAI’s coverage has been superior even if we were sometimes left with no images if/when the weather went bad.

Bring back RAI!

The interviewers provided by these people weren’t very good either, asking banal questions way too often and why so little of Bradley Wiggins on the moto? He’s one reason (Riccardo Magrini is another) we watched Eurosport coverage vs RAI’s…at least until Magrini and Vladmir Belli started arguing, especially when RAI cut to commercials. Adding Moreno Moser to the Eurosport commentary group was a great idea!

I WILL throw out some criticism for RAI - their Processo alla Tappa show was too often a let down. Bring back Alessandra De Stefano as host, per favore! Same with the morning show, Beppe Conti is great but please, please find someone else to be the host!

Perhaps not a vintage edition but looking back over the three pink weeks, my time in front of the TV and seeing the race live, in-person was well spent. I’m already looking forward to the 106th edition!

Here's another take on Giro d'Italia 2022.

Sunday, May 29, 2022


 GRAVEL...far from new...but..

...this one has a twist. Heather's new Bianchi has something different. Can you tell what it is?

Above is a clue.

And the rear wheel hub is the giveaway, Mahle's E-bike Motion X35 system. Their X20 system looks even better and we're currently begging Favaloro to check it out with the idea of having something weighing around the same as our beloved steel bikes, yet with a battery and hub motor like X20. There are already bikes on the market weighing 11 kgs while this aluminum Bianchi is double that...but rides a lot like a normal bike when the motor is off...and you're not going uphill.

Yeah, we know, E-bikes are cheating. And Zio hates disc brakes, thru-axles and Shimano components...but when your doc says limit your heart rate to X and your husband complains that you're holding him back, what's the solution? The coolest thing about this is (now that we ditched the cheapo wire-bead tires, slapped on some non-flared handlebars and a decent-length stem) is the computer-controlled motor assist. Heather straps on a heart rate monitor and tells the bike to assist ONLY when her heart rate gets to a preset level. So when Zio Lorenzo is going too fast, the motor kicks-in and everyone's happy! And sometimes Zio has to chase uphill!

While we're on the subject of happiness, here's one of our ex-rental bikes, a Torelli Gran Sasso that we named after Gino Bartali. Zio Lorenzo wanted a winter-beater so his gorgeous Torelli 20th Anniversary bike can stay clean when he doesn't want to slog around on the ancient MTB with the drop bars and 50+ mm slicks...which he's now having repainted.

With this addition to the fleet, he now he has this "Low-fat" to go with the fat slick-equipped "Full-fat" bike and his regular "No-fat" road bike. This bike may end up an all-rounder like Heather's e-Bianchi, but for now Zio's skipping the motor...but by the time we get Favaloro talked into the X20 system......?



Friday, May 27, 2022

GIOS Raduno 2022


One of our favorite events - part of why May is a special month in Italy for us. Not only La Corsa Rosa but the annual GIOS Raduno, this year the 5th time the GIOS family has gathered in Volpiano. In 2016 Zio Lorenzo was invited despite not having a GIOS bike. We missed the next few but were back in 2019. This was the first since then due to the pandemic and the first time both of us had our very own GIOS bikes.

Celebrities and old guys from the past show up to pay their respects. Here (l-r) is famous cycling author Herbie Sykes hawking some of his works alongside the son of Brooklyn team massagiatore Bruno Ragona flanked by Aldo Gios and Ragona himself.

Eventually the ride formed up and left the GIOS showroom, following Marco Gios in the car. Our destination was an intersection with the Corsa Rosa start in nearby Rivarolo Canavese. It's great to amble along seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones - all fans of GIOS biciclette.

Eventually you need a break, even if at this point your jaw is the only thing tired! Fons De Wolf always flies in for this event, posing for anyone who wants a photo. When you ride next to a pro like this, you really can see the class and grace they display.

We eventually arrived at the race intersection where the race passed by. Someone's mother phoned them and said they showed the Giro gruppo passing by the GIOS family, most dressed in Brooklyn or GIOS livery.

Post-ride everyone was treated to lunch at Papi-Break, which just happens to be next door to the GIOS showroom. As we got ready to depart post-pranzo we couldn't find Aldo Gios to say arrivederci. Marco led us to the club GIOS as you can see here, where Aldo was dining with friends.

Everyone left with great memories and this bottle of wine. Mille grazie to Marco, Aldo, Silvia and everyone who put on this great annual event. We keep our blue bikes in Monferrato so we can ride 'em in this event as well as the rest of the time we're up north. We'll be back up there in late June in fact... ride 'em some more.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Giro d'Italia - TORINO

 We go to the circus...again!

First things first, we always say when it's time to see a race live, in-person. That means lunch! We headed off from our base in Monferrato Saturday morning towards Torino for Giro d'Italia Stage 14, around the hills surrounding "the Detroit of Italy"
The eatery Heather scoped out, right on the course as they arrived and very close to the loop they'd do twice, turned out to be sort-of closed. As in the cook had the day off since the owner figured road closures would kill her business for the day. But she relented, saying she just couldn't turn people away on this warm day, so out back we went to enjoy cold-cuts, etc. NOBODY complained, least of all us!
The race arrived before we could even pay the bill, but we soon were over where they'd pass by twice, setting out our "W Magro" banner as usual. This shady spot would soon become popular. An older man on a red DeRosa rolled up and explained he was a friend of Magrini's, asking if he could take a photo to show Magro? "Ma certo!" was our answer to a guy who turned out to be (too late for Zio Lorenzo to get a photo) none other than Cristiano DeRosa! Yep, one of the sons of Ugo himself.
The race came by soon enough, with attacks all over the course. A very exciting stage to say the least, especially as Vincenzo Nibali did well. Once the course was clear we headed down the hill towards nearby Volpiano for Sunday's GIOS Raduno.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Giro 2022 Avola-Etna

 The circus comes to town!

La Corsa Rosa came back to home soil on Monday to be greeted by rain! Yep, sunny Sicily, where some journalist remarked they'd need an acclimation-day to get used to the searing heat of Italy's deep south after the first three stages, saw a few teams ride on trainers under their bus' awning rather than hit the road.

It was the same for us, though instead of riding on rollers we rode off to LIDL during a break in the weather.

We weren't the only ones as you can see above - the Wolf Pack staff had come directly from Belgium and were stocking up. It's not just a sponsorship for them, they actually shop there. Turns out teams were at hotels not just up in Catania but all around us, including the swanky golf resort Nibali and Co. used a few years ago. Seemed like the RCS bigwigs were there too?

As we rode out towards Avola Tuesday morning we saw team vehicles heading out from hotels all along the coast. Too bad the previous day was so wet, we would have loved to see all these guys out stretching their legs on the "rest" day!

The roads were still wet Tuesday morning...our bikes need a bath now, but the sun was out as were the crowds in Avola, barely 30 kms from our front door.

We did the fan thing at Lollo Caffe from Napoli, even scoring an espresso.

And thought about Eddy Merckx at Faema. Note Zio Lorenzo's garb here - far from searing heat today!

A sharp-eyed fan spotted newly-retired Sicilian Giovanni Visconti (the linked-to piece needs updating) despite all his incognito clothing and bike! Still the same brands but all understated now as nobody's paying him to look like a billboard. But he's still out there riding a bike!

We weren't too far from the stage, close enough to see various riders go towards the presentations.

Including Arnaud Demare

The smiling Biniam Girmay

Sicily's hero Vincenzo Nibali

And Maglia Rosa, MVdP

After MVdP was presented to the crowd, we headed out onto the course to fly our "W Magro" banner but didn't manage to get on TV (again), then set off for home. We got back to flip on the TV to see they'd covered 67 kilometers, while we'd covered barely 30 in the same time.

W Il Giro!

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Drink up!

 A proper victory celebration!
Amazingly in the land of Champagne (where the leader of that big race in July wears a yellow shirt) it is no longer legal to celebrate winning a bike (or any other) race with an alcoholic drink. Yep, no more spraying sparkling wine around there, but not here in Italy, grazie Dio!!

They say the first to spray was Dan Gurney at LeMans 1967 and La Corsa Rosa has Astoria as their official bubbly. Of course this is Prosecco but it sprays just the same.

Last year we ordered some of the officially-branded bottles from Astoria and before La Corsa Rosa was over we'd enjoyed them all and ordered more! We enjoyed one of the last of those during the Giro d'Italia team presentation earlier this week, so it was time to re-order. We keep at least one for a souvenir of course. It might still contain wine...or maybe not.

Some friends of ours saved us a bottle from 2019, one of the big ones with Astoria decals on the side, just like the ones sprayed on the podium. As you can see above it looks good with a matching lampshade in our living room.

One way or another, enjoy some Prosecco over the next three weeks, OK? We keep a bottle in our fridge at all never know when it's time to celebrate!