Friday, December 25, 2020

Happiest Holidays 2020

 Happiest Holidays 2020

 Wherever you are and whomever you're with during this difficult time we hope you can find some joy in this season.

2021 can't get here fast enough!!!

Harry & Leather on their tiny terrace in Sicily Christmas Day 2020

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Let's get FAT!

Let's get FAT!

Nah, we're not talking about the extra pounds you might put on at holiday time or what you might gain from restricted activity due to the pandemic, we're talking TIRES.

Zio Lorenzo's been musing about a super-monster-gravel bike project but so far has been too cheap to pull-the-trigger on one. Your can read more about that HERE.

Meanwhile, he's now mounted up these way-fat tires on the ancient MTB. These babies are FAT!!!

Fat, fat, fat!!! The old Schwinn "balloon" tires come to mind, but these are high-quality tires with a supple carcass and great ride, perfect (as they note) for making your old 26" wheeled MTB into something more useful....which really means fun, right?

Since Zio Lorenzo no longer has interest in bouncing around over big rocks (or worse, falling off and landing on 'em) he was looking for a way to turn this old bike into something more fun to ride on non-asphalted roads and the old daze in SoCal.

How fat are they? Check out the images here with the calipers showing just how fat they are. They remind Zio of the racing slick tires fitted to some small GP-style motorbikes!

They say knobs and such are only useful when there's mud or soft-enough dirt for 'em to dig in and let's be honest - how often is that the case? So why slog along pushing those squirmy (and noisy) knobs around? The GEAX tires put on this bike for riding around Rome were the eye-opener as even with their knobs, compared to the moto-inspired, stiff-carcassed Panaracer Dart and Smoke we previously used on these bikes they rolled like silk tubulars! 

These bald fatties seemed a logical next step. A fast, twisting paved descent could be BIG, BIG, fun on this bike...the V-style brakes work pretty well paired with the proper brake levers ... and there's a big contact patch of rubber on the road. But of course first ya gotta pedal it up to the top!

But for now it's providing some fun and keeping Zio from coughing up the thousands of euros for that fantasy super-monster-gravel bike.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Greg LeMond receives Congressional Gold Medal

 Congratulations CHAMP!

This news reminded Zio Lorenzo that he never followed up THIS post from awhile back. Here's the rest of that story:

After our great interview at the 1989 Giro, where LeMond had some encouragement with a second placing in the final chrono stage in Florence we hoped he'd a) show up at the Tour a few weeks later and b) be willing to indulge us as promised with some interviews.

To this end our boss at the tour company even flew over some Mexican food items in his luggage, knowing "The Champ's" fondness for them. He figured handing them over was the perfect excuse to remind Greg that we had a group there and were excited to see him do well...and of course grant us some time to speak with our group.

The chase began with handing over the goodies and trying to find a time and place that would work for LeMond. These were days long before team buses, in fact the place we finally caught up with LeMond was some sort of school where the riders were put up for the night in a huge dormitory.

Yep, you read that right - some of the biggest stars in the sport had to share quarters with the rest of the peloton! We got there early to stake out our spot and wait for LeMond to arrive, taking a look around in the vast room where beds were set up, imagining 100+ tired pro cyclists snoring away all night. They even had those huge, round "sinks" where 20 people could gather round and wash their hands all at the same time! A lot of the glamor of being a pro cyclist at that time drained away after seeing this.

We waited outside as other team cars arrived with the riders inside to set things up for massages, bike servicing, dinner, etc. LeMond, as one of the protagonists (I can't remember if he was in the yellow jersey on this day or not) was certainly going to be one of the last to arrive after media interviews, etc.

So we waited...and waited. We had staff members staged around to watch for his arrival and let our group know, just-in-case Greg decided to sneak onto the grounds from a different entrance. We'd been promised an interview and we were going to get one!

Other ADR team vehicles arrived but none of 'em had Greg inside. Our guests began to mill around, distracted by the arrival of other teams but we tried to corral them, not wanting "The Champ" to show up and have to wait, the boss wanted to usher him right over to our waiting group the minute he climbed out of the team car.

When the moment arrived, the look on LeMond's tired face was not encouraging but he brightened up quickly as the Americans started shouting his name. The boss led him over to the waiting group where he sat down on the grass in front of us and started talking.

Just like back in Italy, he talked and talked. Various other fans would come over but not understanding enough English would soon wander off. Finally an ADR staffer showed up and almost dragged LeMond away to his massage, etc. as our group applauded. A future interview was agreed upon quickly and the details worked out, so off we went.

The final week of LeTour had our interview set up at the team hotel near Aix Les Bains but some late arriving clients delayed our arrival so long that LeMond was already going to dinner by the time we arrived.

"The Champ" seemed almost as sad about this as we were but suggested we try again - "What about the last day?" he asked. "There's a time trial starting in Versailles. We could do it there before I start."

Yep, a guy battling to win LeTour was willing to spend time with us before what was the most important time-trial stage of his racing career. With no money changing hands. The boss said we'd get back to him before we went out to explain to our group that we'd arrived too late but were trying to reschedule, despite already thinking that getting the entire group out to Versailles from our lodging near the Champs Elysees would be impossible.

There was some private talk amongst the staff of sneaking out there on the day, but we knew that wouldn't be fair, so the idea was dropped. Instead we took a train out there just to congratulate LeMond on his fine effort, figuring he had zero chance of making up the time gap to overcome Laurent Fignon in the yellow jersey.

We went back to our hotel in Paris and later out onto the Champs Elysees to see history being made with LeMond putting in an amazing performance to win LeTour 1989.

Thanks Greg!

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Book Review: GIRO 100

 GIRO 100 by Herbie Sykes

Zio Lorenzo's a big fan of Giro d'Italia history books but his Italian reading comprehension's not really good enough to get all of the subtleties or metaphors in Italian-language books on the subject.

To the rescue come guys like Herbie Sykes! GIRO 100 was created after Sykes sought out and met up with 100 different people involved with La Corsa Rosa over the years from racers, directors, organizers, sponsors and others.

There's a great chapter about our friend Aldo Gios which would make the book worth the price on its own but Zio found the other 99 just as interesting and entertaining.

Sykes' MAGLIA ROSA was such a great book we couldn't resist adding a copy to a promotion we did around our friend "Chairman Bill" McGann's The Story of the Giro d'Italia when it first came out. If you enjoyed those books you'll love GIRO 100.

There's probably still time to get a copy for the cycling enthusiast on your holiday gift list. Click HERE to get one.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Why we moved to Italy - Part Infinity

 Why we moved to Italy - one more reason

Above is just one more reason we moved to Italy more than two years ago. Above you see a loaf of bread, commonly called ciabatta since it's kind of like a kind of slipper. Think of the flip-flops many people wear. Zio Lorenzo can hop on his shopping bike and in about 5 minutes arrive at a panificio where he can buy a freshly baked one of these still-warm from the oven, for about 75 US cents. If he's too lazy to do that he can walk about 200 feet to a local alimentari and buy one (that might also still be warm!) for about $1.20 US.

Back in Iowa (or even in toney Santa Barbara when visiting the in-laws) something like the "bread" shown above was about the best he could get. This "ciabatta" cost more like $4 and even right out-of-the-oven (it's a par-baked thing you finish baking at home) wasn't even close to the quality and taste of the real thing. A lot better than nothing, but one of these things each day adds up to some real money vs the pennies we spend here.

And don't even get Zio started on the gawdawful stuff sold as bread at places like Panera! Zio still remembers going in the newly opened franchise in Sioux City and asking to see where they actually MADE their bread, only to be told by the manager it all came off a truck...already mixed up, formed into loaves and FROZEN, then simply baked on-site, the same way the Subway sandwich shops do theirs. Even worse, their arrival hastened the exit from the city of the one guy who actually made and baked good bread, though his was also far from 75 cents a loaf.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Addio Celestino

 RIP Celestino Vercelli

Celestino Vercelli (in white above, with son Edoardo in black) founder of Vittoria Shoes has passed away.

Zio Lorenzo has worn and loved their shoes for years, even back when he had to pay for them! But once he met the people who made them he loved them even more, especially the founder himself along with his lovely wife Ileana who works in the shoe factory every day. 

We visited their home/factory in Biella numerous times and even dined with them a time or two. Celestino couldn't resist telling us about his favorite local training routes, a few of them were even incorporated into one of our tours along with an overnight stop in Biella.

There are too many blog posts about Vittoria here to list, but you can easily find them using the blog search tool.

Edoardo now becomes sort of like Valentino Campagnolo, a son charged with continuing the work of a giant once he's passed on. We know he's up to the task.

We offer heartfelt condolences to the Vercelli family.

Our friends at have a good interview with Celestino Vercelli HERE.