Monday, August 31, 2009

Ernesto Colnago Coming to Boston Sept. 26th

Ernesto Colnago, and his nephew Alex Colnago, will be at WHEELWORKS in Belmont on Saturday, September 26th. The WHEELWORKS address is 480 Trapelo Road, Belmont, MA.
There will be a group ride beginning at 8am from Wheelworks led by Wheelworks staff and Soren Krebs, General Manager for Colnago America, Inc. Participation on this ride will be by invitation and pre-registration only. There will be some Colnago Demo bikes on hand for the ride, however the availability of sizes are first come, first serve. Riders should be intermediate level or more advanced and be able to maintain a 17 to 19 mph pace for approximately 40 miles. 40 riders will be the maximum allowed and you must be pre-registered.

Beginning around 11am, until 4:30 pm, Ernesto Colnago will be stationed at a small table in the fitting area of Belmont Wheelworks with a saddle, a sharpie, and a measurement drawing - along with his mystical creativity and talent, these are his tools to create the bicycle of your dreams. A trainer will be set up so Ernesto can observe riders on their current bikes and their pedal stroke. Even if you do not own a Colnago (yet) you are encouraged to bring your own bike & shoes as Mr. Colnago will see you on your existing bike, make adjustments, do a fit and recommend size and model. All bike brands are welcome!

Ernesto Colnago will also be happy to sign your Colnago bike or any apparel, books, or posters.

His nephew, Alex Colnago, will be on hand to translate, as Ernesto does not speak any English.

Pre-registration for the ride required, and recommended for the fit session.

Find all details here.

Photo: Ernesto Colnago

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tips On Coping With Those Long, Hard, Passes

You read yesterday's entry and have decided to sell your car or house to go cycling in Italy. If you are going to ride across some of the passes you will want to read these tips from Thomson Bike Tours, They discuss the proper taper period before a tour, and a strategy for success:

1) Tapering:

Taper before your trip. Trying to get in a last minute 100 mile ride to boost your endurance in the week leading up won't help. You'll be better off tapering to make sure that you are rested for seven days of challenging cycling.

How best to taper?

  • Do your last endurance workout 7-10 days before Day One of your trip.

  • Avoid "big gear" workouts for 2-3 weeks before Day One.

  • Avoid exhaustive aerobic workouts for the three days prior to leaving for your trip (roughly 5 days prior to Day One).

  • Intervals (LT) are okay in the last week, but should be avoided in final 2 or 3 days before your departure.

  • Active recovery ride (very, very easy) in the days prior to departure. Or simply rest, if riding isn't an option.

  • Treat the first warm-up day of your trip as a Warm-Up, not a race!

If you're looking to peak for your trip, you'll want to reduce volume in the week before but maintain your intensity. High volume makes recovery more difficult, and lower volume allows the rest required for replacing glycogen stores, while giving you time to psych yourself up for the hard efforts ahead. To the degree your schedule allows, you'll want to continue to ride, but keep in mind that you'll benefit most from decreasing the duration of your intervals while maintaining intensity. (E.g., take the following hypothetical TT interval schedule, counting down to Day 1 of your trip: Day 7 = 5x3 minutes at or above LT; Day 6 = 4x3 minutes; Day 5 = 3x3 minutes; Day 4 = 2x3 minutes; Day 3 = Recovery Ride [Easy!]; Day 2 = travel; Day One = Warm-up Ride) Notice! — these are not long endurance rides.

A Caveat: Avoid the mistake of too many/too high intensity intervals in this taper period. Your legs should remember to work hard, but not be fatigued going in.

2) Recovery on the bike:

  • Proper gear selection helps recovery even while on the bike, so let us remind you once more: heed the recommendations for gearing!

  • Don't go "gang-busters" every day. Consider the Grand Tour riders. Each rider has a role. No one is the first up the mountain everyday from day one, and no one is on the front of the peloton all the time. There's a reason for this...! Hold back a little (5% here, and 10% there) by choice, not just because your fatigue level demands it. Choose your battles, and aim to ride best on your preferred stages/routes. If you're one of the slower climbers in your group, don't tow everyone to the base of the climb(s). If there are rollers or shorter climbs leading up to the big Cols, start each small climb in a gear you know you can ride in, and shift to a harder gear if you are feeling up to the task. Start the short climbs near the front, then drift back if necessary so that you won't have to chase on the descents, wasting energy before the big climbs. When you hit the big climbs, ride your ride--not someone else's.

  • Food is an essential part of recovery, both post-ride and during the ride itself. This means you must eat (even when you don't really want to eat). However, it can be a mistake to wave the van driver over and/or stop for a snack each time the van is nearby. Such stops at the van may seem like a nice rest, but remember: your metabolism is running hot, and you're consuming calories almost as quickly as you're ingesting them, and standing around by the van chatting is just wasting precious energy, even if it's just for 5 or 10 minutes (four or five of these kinds of stops add an hour to your ride, and that hour can make a difference!). Consider, too, that each stop requires getting the blood and your muscles moving again. So, plan for a nice lunch stop, and otherwise stop rarely and briefly, carrying some food with you (yes... even on a fully supported ride!!) to refuel as you go. Similarly, if the weather calls for a wind/rain-jacket or vest, carry it with you instead of flagging the van and stopping to shed, then don, then shed, then don... (you get the picture, right?) your wind or rain-cape. These stops take energy that you will need for the next climb or the next day.

3) Long climbs can trump grade:

In Italy, the Mortirollo is feared for its steep gradients, but the Stelvio is 25 km long and sufficiently steep to tax your energy. The mountains in France are long and unrelenting--e.g., the Col du Galibier from the northern approach (including the Col du Télégraphe) is 34.8 km — yikes! And the actual climb to the summit (starting in Valloire) is 18 km with an average grade of about 7%, with a max 10.1% coming towards the top.

These kinds of climbs must be respected (often wind is a factor), even though they don't elicit the drama of extreme elevation profiles (16% +) in the nightly rider meetings. These climbs can fatigue a rider as much or more than steep ones.

To conserve energy it can be very helpful to work as a group up to and even throughout the climb, and, as before, pace yourself. Settle into a climbing rhythm that is comfortable for you. Focus on relaxing your upper body (loose grip on the bars, relaxed arms and shoulders) and putting all of your energy into your legs. Remember! You only get so many "fun tickets", so you have to spend them wisely. On a trip, you want to start the tour with a maximum number of tickets, and ride efficiently and smartly such that you still have a few to spend on the last climb of the final day!

Photo: Stelvio

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

8 Things I Love About Italy, by Bob Roll

Bob Roll, "Bobke", is a former American professional cyclist, author, and television sports commentator. He was a member of the 7-Eleven Cycling Team until 1990 and competed for the Motorola Cycling Team in 1991. In 1992 Roll moved to Greg LeMond’s Z team and added mountain biking to his racing accomplishments. He continued racing mountain bikes through 1998.

Cycling fans know that Roll, who has been teaming up with British cyclists-turned-commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, covers the Tour de France race for the Versus broadcasts. To call what Roll adds to the Versus broadcasts mere "color" is to undervalue the visible spectrum.

"8 Things I Love About Italy" by Bob Roll:

1) SICILY—Sicily is so achingly gorgeous that when you see it, if your Oakleys aren’t stained with tears you should check your chest cavity to be sure your heart is still beating. Most Sicilians have relatives in the U.S., and wherever we raced there, we were given a gracious reception. There are Ancient Greek ruins everywhere that the locals don’t seem to notice. If you can imagine a vineyard and orange groves growing inside the acropolis you are on the right track. I raced in Sicily many times, especially at the beginning of the season, and found it to be invariably fantastic. The island’s reputation as a mafia stronghold has kept the tourism riff-raff to a minimum and is refreshingly void of shops selling themed rubbish. Is the reputation warranted? Well, one night during the early season week-long “Week Of Sicilian Cycling” every single bike, car, mussette, cap, tire, cable and shoelace was stolen from the team hotel where the whole professional peloton was staying. After negotiations with the proper local “family” all was returned and the race resumed.

But as beautiful as Sicily is, it nearly always breaks your heart. The Giro started there in 1989 and as the defending champs we wanted to get off to a good start in the Stage II team time trial. A feral cat, black as coal, wandered into Sean Yates’ front wheel while we were flying at 65-70 kilometers per hour on a long straight downhill about five kilometers from the finish. We went careening in twenty different directions upon contact with the said cat and never regained that time lost. Still, I will always love the Sicilian landscape and the warmth of its people.

2) THE FOOD—Be real. To die for. Italian food is serious taste bud delirium. Is it possible to gain five pounds during a three-week Grand Tour? Oh yes, I did it two times out of three tries. Only a snowstorm on the Gavia Pass prevented a perfect record of weight gain for me at the Giro d’Italia. It is virtually impossible to find a bad meal in Italy, from the pizza to the pasta to the gelato to the wine and espresso, proscuitto to calamari to cappuccino. Wait, forget all that and just eat the cheese and drink the Barolo. And don’t forget the bread. And the olive oil…you get the picture! Italians from every region have a serious love affair going with their food and will not hesitate to tell you that the food from their region in every village is by far the best. I never argue, or hesitate to drop in for the yum-yum.

The Italian diet is as close to perfect for a cyclist as any cuisine on earth; complex carbs, great, lean meats, plenty of fresh seafood, hearty soups, fresh veggies and fruits and truly satisfying desserts. No wonder so many great cyclists come from Italy.

3) POLLUTION—Pollution is obviously a worldwide disgrace. At least pollution produced in Italy is the by-product of some of the most beautiful consumer goods on earth. From the simple perfection of a Lavazza stone top coffee pot to the curvaceous lines of the Desmosedici Ducati, nobody does functional elegance as well as the Italians. Have you ever seen a Riva running about the Riviera? How about a Ferarri wailing down the autostrada? How about Pantani parting the multitudes on his celestial Bianchi high on the mountain passes? Poetry in motion. In Italy, power without a dash of style is not worth the effort.

4) THE GIRO—The Giro d’Italia is the most beautiful bicycle race on earth. Of course, the Tour de France trumps all races in worldwide popularity, but it is a pale industrial behemoth compared to the natural splendor of the Giro courses. American participation in the Giro has been hampered by the popularity of the Tour de France to a certain degree and the realization by our top pros that it is the Tour and not the Giro that really pays the bills. Indeed, America’s best ever, Lance Armstrong, never raced the Giro, but won the Tour seven times. When Lance was at his best, could he have won the Giro? There is no doubt he could have. Lance’s preparation for the Tour was so precise it would have been ill advised to deviate from what became the perfect execution for Lance’s tour ambitions. I most certainly wish he had raced it, because I might have been able to cover the race for TV and get to spend another month in the land eternal. There was a time when many of the best felt like the Giro was the best way to get ready for the Tour. Hinault, Fignon, LeMond and Miguel Indurain all used the Giro to prepare for a winning ride at Le Tour. Greg LeMond was especially fond of the Giro as a preparation race for the Tour, but as the Giro changed in the late ’80s to suit a new galaxy of Italian stars, Greg abandoned using the Giro to get ready for the Tour. During the heyday of Francesco Moser and Guiseppe Sarroni (not pure climbers either one) from the 1970’s through to 1987, the Giro featured insanely long flat stages, punctuated with climbing stages that often times skirted the epic passes that were so prominent in Coppi and Bartoli’s days (both fantastic climbers). After Moser and Saronni retired, the Giro returned to the great climbs, and this enabled Andy Hampsten to win the Giro, the only American to do so thus far. The Giro traverses the Appenines which form a spine of mountains that runs north to south and when criss-crossed by the race makes even the early stages challenging. And thus, avoids the ten days of tedious flat stages that the Tour fans must typically endure before any fireworks in the mountains of France. Some of the Giro’s toughest days feature climbing stages just outside Naples, Rome and Florence. The verdant, fecund Po River Valley usually features stages for the flamboyant sprinters, personified by Mario Cippolini in recent years. Then, of course, the Italian Alps is the terrain so loved by the pure climbers. Recently, such luminaries as Gilberto Simoni, Damiano Cunego and the late, great Marco Pantani have flown over the Alps in regal majestry. Which leads me to the fifth reason to love Italy….

5) THE DOLOMITES—The rugged spires of these mountains shoot up nearly vertically and snatch your breath away when you see them. If there are more beautiful mountains, I’ve never ridden them. One hundred million years ago, the Dolomites were under water, and it is only recently that it was discovered that the Dolomites are actually a coral reef. Not only great climbs can be found here, but also marine fossils are common. The passes are now part of cycling lore and give us the great monuments that have come to be synonymous with our most brilliant legends. Legendary climbs like the Stelvio, Gavia, Marmolada, Sella, Pordoi and many more traverse these mountains and must be seen and climbed to believe. There is ton upon ton of hype in this world, but as cyclists, to miss seeing these mountains and climbing them at least one time is to have an incomplete cycling experience. One day we will all ride the Dolomites—if not in this life, then most certainly in their heavenly counterpart, the Kingdom of God.

6) THE WOMEN—And while we are speaking of heavenly bodies, I would be remiss if I didn’t say one reason to love Italy is the women. From Venus de Milo to Mona Lisa to Sophia Lauren, any red-blooded, living person can’t help but enjoy the scenery. The mind will drool and the glands will swoon and you will know that God is a man.

7) FAITH—Cycling in Italy has always followed a straight and narrow path parallel to many of the religious tenets of Italy. Reminders are everywhere, in the form of the Crucified Christ, that damnation and salvation are close at hand. It is the cyclist in Italy who cannot help but resolutely pedal towards the latter. When you are constantly reminded of the suffering of the Crucifixion it is impossible not to reflect on the close ties between cycling and religious life in profoundly sacred places like the Vatican, Rome, Assisi, etc. For the pedaling spiritual pilgrims, all roads lead to the Madonna di Ghissalo chapel high above Lake Como, and to hear its bells peal as the Tour of Lombardia passes by is as close to a religious cycling experience as one can have. The Madonna di Ghisallo is a religious site, as well as a museum of the most incredible collection of memorabilia you could ever dream of. Of course, it has also become the first of four tough climbs during the closing kilometers of the Tour Of Lombardia where many a race-winning move has been launched. Claudio Chiapucci and I once passed by on a training ride, and the Padre came running out when he saw Claudio and begged him for his race-winning bike from Milano Sanremo, which Claudio readily offered. You may feel most certainly free to avert your gaze from the reminders of religious passion everywhere in Italy, but you can also groove to them and feel the miles fly by.

8) THE BIKES—If you don’t love the bikes made in Italy, you may have picked the wrong sport to enjoy. Pinarello, De Rosa, Bianchi, Gios, Olmo, Basso, Rossin, Colnago, Kuota, Quattro Issi, Pegoretti, Willier Triestina, Tomassini and many hundreds of brands you’ve never heard of litter the marketplace and joust for our attention, strained to the limits by each brand more beautiful than the last. And it is the racing that has propelled the technical advances we can enjoy from the bicycles of Italy. The grace and beauty of Italian bikes are a natural progression of the countryside and millennia of staggering artistic endeavor we’ve become so accustomed to.

EPILOGUE—You must ride your bike in Italy at least once in your life to have truly lived well. Taste the food, look at the monuments, marvel at the scenery from the saddle of a bicycle and you will be changed forever (mostly for the better, I promise). Sell your car or house and get yourself to Italy.


Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Disraeli Gears Derailleur Collection

The DISRAELI GEARS website is an excellent source for derailleur information. The website is organized by Model, Brand, Country, Decade, and Theme.

In the Italian section you can find information and photographs about Campagnolo, Galli, Gian Robert, Gipiemme, Miche, Ofmega, Regina, Rino, and Roto derailleurs.

Photos: from Disraeli Gears: Campagnolo C Record, Regina America, Ofmega Mistral

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail

L'Eroica on a Fixed Gear

The following article was written by Eric Von Munz and appeared in COG magazine.

What began as a bet combined with a dare twelve years ago now attracts over three thousand of the world’s vintage bike enthusiasts. They descend upon Italy’s tiny Gaiole in Chianti for a two hundred and five kilometer ride through the Tuscan hills. Cog was lucky to be invited, and I was crazy enough to attempt the ride on a track bike. L’Eroica is a throwback to the sport’s days of old: steel frames with balloon tires, sprung saddles and waxed moustaches, with spare tires wrapped around woolen shoulders. L’Eroica is not a race, but an event of personal accomplishment. The course is anything but flat, and half of the roads consist of crushed gravel. This is the Tour of Tuscany. An adventure through millennia old countryside, lined with vineyards and olive groves. L’Eroica means heroic, and I was just about to find out why.

Undaunted, we took a few short rides around Gaiole, and then a longer one to Siena to better understand the landscape. I was feeling more confident, the climbs and descents felt easier, and the ride was a blast. Back in Gaiole’s piazza, more riders were arriving. Our two track bikes attracted a lot of attention-most had never seen anything like them. Passers-by would stop, check out the bikes, and then see the two of us sucking down giant bottles of Moretti. You could see it in their eyes: no brakes? Pazzo! (Crazy!)

Saturday was when everything came together. The city’s gymnasium filled up with vendors, collectors and registration. Other vendors set up tents around the grounds. It was unbelievable. Droves of people were arriving, searching for their name among the rest for their rider number and packet. Registration included a fresh Vittoria tube! Numbers in hand, I too joined the crowd to gawk at the show. Not only was it an outdoor second hand market strictly for bike freaks, it was a vintage bike show! Signs politely stated “MTB no gratzi” A complete chrome 1959 Masi Olympic Pista dropped my jaw. Gaiole in Chianti was completely overrun by cyclists at this point. Pete and I decided a quick 12k ride to Radda would be cool. The ride to Radda was a switchback uphill struggle, followed by a hairy switchback downhill slide, mixed up with narrow roads and Italian drivers. Over espresso and water in Radda we agreed that it was the hardest 12k we ever attempted. Now we just had to go back! The beer tasted especially great after that one.

L’Eroica begins at 5:30 on Sunday morning, and after the ride to Radda I’m looking at the climb/descent kilometer breakdown a little harder. No turning back now. Peter gives me his rear wheel with a tooth lighter ratio and a brand-new Panaracer RiBMo tire. Other riders stop us and ask about the track bikes, the S&S couplers. They ask if we are riding and I own up to doing the 205. They wish me luck, shake their heads and ride off.

Sunday morning’s chilly air came quickly. Papa had set up breakfast, with coffee in a thermos for us. I grabbed a handful of hard candies from the table and bagged them for later. Marc from Condor provided the timeless mussette that held my rider number and tools, with a mini around my waist for everything else. I left the lock in the room, gathered up Bucky and we headed for the piazza in the dark.

Like an alleycat, riders had a passport to be stamped at rest points along the course as proof of completion. Cued up with everyone else for that first stamp in the darkness I was shivering with anticipation, regretting not bringing a light. Then: bump! Follow the lights down the road! L’Eroica has begun!

The initial ride in the morning darkness was flawless, riding with a pack of people speaking a language I don’t know. Everyone was giddy and excited, and soon we turned onto the first stretch of strada, the crushed gravel side roads that this ride showcases. The white rock was easy to follow in the dark, but hid some surprises. The beginning stretch of gravel caused the first flat casualties, and repairs took friends with lights to accomplish. They were to be the first of many along this route. Dawn crept in along with hunter’s shotgun blasts, and the first station was reached. Some stops offered a grand spread of food, others were just stamps with a chance for water. This was a food stop, and close to fifty kilometers in. I felt great, and when I checked in there wasn’t too many numbers ahead of me. This wasn’t so bad!

The next thirty kilometers changed my mind, after the first fifteen-degree uphill on asphalt found me walking it. At the summit I’d mount back up and ride until the incline was too tough, hop off and walk to do it all over again. I reached the conclusion that destroying my legs on the uphill would be stupid, because controlling my bike downhill mattered a bit more to me. Whatever placement I had in the initial grouping was chucked like an empty Gu packet. Under the shadow of a castle in Montalcino I decided that I was not giving up, and I was going to enjoy this. I then turned around and was given a spectacular view that stretched for miles. Descending from Montalcino atop smooth asphalt was simply hair-raising. It was down. It was fast. Points were scary, because I was in no position to stop. Just grit down and go. At the 100k point I knew I was in it for keeps.

The groups of riders were more than friendly, as this was not a race. Classic steel ten-speeds rolled along with carbon. Riders would chat with me as I rode or walked, depending on my progress. Bombing a steep strada, I had to avoid the road bikes descending gingerly, and skid to control my speed. Everyone behind would erupt with laughter, while gravel spit out from my locked up wheel. As the kilometers ticked off so did my endurance. Every five kilometers along the route they have a specific L’Eroica sign noting where you are on the course, and the next closest city. The distance between them started to feel even longer, and I reached the point where my legs felt like nothing at all. With twenty more to go, the sun had completely set. It was dark, I had no lights, and I was approaching Radda. For kilometers, I had been looking for anything open-but it was Sunday evening in Italy. Vending machines? Nope. My mental carrot-on-a-stick was the thought of a giant beer in Gaiole’s piazza. We did this ride yesterday! That hill sucked! Just past Radda, in an even tinier city (La Villa) I spotted an open bar, and as I pulled in two German tourists exited. They took one look at me, covered in a white dust, and at my bike, and asked if I was a messenger in German. I answered in English, and laughing they asked if I was going to have wine now, after riding. Exhausted, I said no. Beer. I left them and had the finest beer ever consumed while considering the ride up that monster of a hill.

Numb, back on the bike and closing in on the hill separating Radda from Gaiole, I spot the L’Eroica direction sign leading onto strada away from the main road. Back again on the blue-tinted dark strada, I’m pedaling closer. It has been over fourteen hours at this point. Blindly following the strada in the dark, I notice a group of buildings ahead that look familiar, but at the distance I can’t be sure. Closing in, the house that we are staying in comes into focus, and I realize that I’m home. I can’t help but let out a whoop as I pass by, the final kilometer a steep descent skidded down into Gaiole’s piazza. My final stamp is stamped and they point me to the gym. My body is crushed. Legs still numb, I walk into the gym for the final, final point. They look at my passport, and hand me a tote bag with L’Eroica wine and olive oil, a candy from the region, and a small plaque commemorating the event. It’s all I can do to not start sobbing in joy. Composing myself, I strode back into the piazza and bought the hugest oilcan of Dutch lager ever made.

Photos: by Peter DiAntoni

You can also find a story of riding L'Eroica on a 3 speed Pashley Guv'nor here. Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pietro Reports from Verona

My friend Peter, aka "Pietro", filed this report from Verona where he's riding before hooking up with an Andy Hampsten tour.

"Eros (Poli) picked me up at 8:30 AM. He wants to try the Monte Baldo climb from the Adige River Valley. It was a little bit of a drive.

He found a parking spot and we biked along the valley for quite a while. As you can see, Eros is old school, no helmet. Finally, he said the climb would start. It was supposedly 16 km to San Valentino. Lucky for me, I thought this was the top (Ha! Ha! Ha!). If I had known that the penultimate highest point was at the 32-34 km mark, I would have had him shoot me and dump me into the gutter. According to Eros, Stelvio climb is 27 km, last 7 km much steeper than first 20. We will see.

We started out OK but my legs were heavy and I had to stop about 4 km into the climb to have a Maxim GU and recover. I actually started to feel better and got into the rhythm. A little coaching from Eros and a couple of times a hand on the back to push me along. Eros is strong. Of course, having ridden seven TdF, four Giro’s and two Vuelta’s (along with Paris-Roubaix, etc), what else would you expect.

Actually, the grades were pretty gradual, probably 6-7%. We did hit some sections with more of a grade but for the most part it was pretty constant.

We reach the “first” rest stop (other than Pietro putting feet to the ground; the Gruppo 1 cycling club always says if you stop you didn't do the climb....cruel) in 1 hr 40 min, probably average 9 Km/hr. I needed two cokes.

Of course, this older Italian man passed us on the climb. He must have been at least 65. Italians know how to ride.

So we proceeded again, some flat, some climbing until we reached the Cheese House. Now this was a stop!!!! We had a plate of cheese and meat with fresh bread. I again stayed with coke. Espresso afterwards. Eros had a beer and then finished the espresso off with a grappa. Now where do you find a place like this in the States? The Italians know how to do it right.

Of course, some more climbing. Finally, some downhill but a short stop at a bar along the road overlooking Lake Garda. Wow!!!!! What a sight, although we only saw a little piece of the Lake. Blue water. Cliffs along the coast. Wonderful sight!!!

I followed Eros down the road. We passed the slow cars. Maximum speed was 92 Km/hr (maybe 56 mph). Some ups and downs. The final descent at the bottom was really fast with sweeping curves. Feather the brakes a little, pressure on the outside pedal and lean into the curve. Many Kilometers of descent.

I tell you, the scenery was spectacular. You see the winding road, then houses or buildings. These are all older stone and masonry buildings. Beautiful. All this is out in the middle of no where. These pics only give you a small sense of the beauty. You have to ride this road to really appreciate how great it is.

On the way back to the hotel, another stop. Coke for me. Beer for Eros.

Great day.

Re-packing for Andy’s tour tonight. I brought too much crap. I have got to figure out what to leave behind. Thursday is rest day and bring bike box to the other hotel by the airport. Maybe meet Andy Hampsten.

Tour starts Friday, we climb Stelvio."

Photos: Eros, Eros and Peter, Peter

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Deda Elementi LOKOMOTIV Crankset

Deda Elementi will be delivery their new carbon crankset beginning next month. In the Deda announcement the "Lokomotiv" is described as a "revolutionary design for superior performances."

Size availability:
Crankarm length: 170 – 172,5 – 175 mm.
Titanium spindle: 24 mm.
11 speeds compatible.
Standard BSA 68 mm bb shell.

Two finishes:
1. HT High tech (carbon 3k glossy and dark metal polish).
2. IW Innovative White (painted white).

Weight: 696 + 94 grams approximately (crankset + bb set).

Delivery: 172,5 mm length September; all other lengths November 2009

Price: 440 Euro (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price, Tax Not Included).

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail

Giordana Cycling Apparel

Giordana technical cycling apparel is made in their own state-of-the-art manufacturing facility just outside Mantova, Italy. Every part of the process from pattern design, to printing, to the last stitch of every garment is done under one roof. Thus, every step of the process is controlled. This video, without audio, peeks into each step of the process:

If you are visiting Mantova you must try their famous "tortelli mantovani di zucca", a type of large ravioli with a pumpkin/amaretti filling.

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gran Fondo Internazionale Charly Gaul

The Gran Fondo Internazionale Charly Gaul, starting in Trento, was held August 9th. The gran fondo features the Monte Bondone climb made famous in the 1956 Giro d'Italia by Gaul, the "Angel of the Mountains".

The writer Roger St Pierre said of Gaul in the bad weather of that day in which a stage through the Dolomites ended with the 12 km climb of Monte Bondone: "Charly averaged just four miles an hour over the final uphill kilometres of that murderous stage (ed. note that took more than 9 hours) and collapsed at the finish, being taken off to the welcome warmth of his hotel, wrapped in a blanket. But he had assured his overall victory by beating his closest challenger on that nightmarish day by many minutes. The rest of the field was spread-eagled over several hours, some even having stopped for warm baths en route!".

Gaul moved from 11th to first place. Jacques Goddet wrote in L'Équipe: "This day surpassed anything seen before in terms of pain, suffering and difficulty."

Forty-six of the eighty-nine starters would not finish that day which started with light snow, turning into a blizzard with the temperature dropping to 0C on Monte Bondone.

Video, in Italian, of the 1956 Monte Bondone stage (begins at 2:11 of the video, Monte Bondone begins at 5:00; the earlier part of the video is of the previous stage on the Stelvio); Charly Gaul in FAEMA jersey:

Many of the gran fondos in Italy have a wonderful history behind them!

Photos: 2009 Gran Fondo Internazionale Charly Gaul (by Newspower Canon)

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

The Step by Step Colnago Paint Process

After an EPS frame has been built the frame moves on to the next next step in the process: painting.

It should be noted that not all Colnago frames are built in Italy, some are built in Asia. To its credit, Colnago has been quite clear which models are built where.

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Building of a Colnago EPS Carbon Frame

The EPS is the top of the line road frame from Colnago and is built in the workshop underneath Ernesto Colnago's home in Cambiago.

Tomorrow: the Colnago paint process

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Friday, August 21, 2009

Vittoria Retro Cycling Shoes

Vittoria has a new line of very Italian-style shoes called the "1976 Collection". The collection ranges from classic shoes with high-tech soles to suede shoes and to colorful models. More details can be found here. For their complete line of shoes visit

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Andy Hampsten on the Gavia Poster

These posters are now available, and there are a limited number of signed ones (specify in your order). Posters are 22" X 16" on heavy archival paper suitable for framing. Price is $30 + $5 shipping, please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. Personal checks preferred:
Hampsten Cycles
4200 NE 105th St
Seattle, WA 98125

Read Andy's account of that day here. Interested in riding with Andy? Read:
"Andy Hampsten and the Gavia (and a few other Passes)", Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Descending Passo dello Stelvio Handsfree

A wild video (and turn up the volume) of Giuliano Calore descending the 48 switchbacks of the Stelvio from the summit to Prato allo Stelvio in 1986. Note how he uses his heel. During the video he comments that he hit speeds in excess of 60-65 km/h.

Calore is well known for his exploits which include cycling up the Stelvio handsfree. More about Calore here.

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

De Rosa Timeline, Pre 1979/1980

Hilary Stone, of Bristol, England, has been working on a time line for identifying features of pre-cast lug De Rosas for some time. What follows is used by permission and is considered a work in progress by Hilary. Any comments and information left will be forwarded to help to make this a reliable guide.

"A precise and clear time line for pre-1980 De Rosas I think is virtually impossible – De Rosa at this time was quite small and the evidence from the frames suggests that De Rosa used a number of different lugs and fork crown that overlapped over quite a number of years. Almost no De Rosa frames from this time have any frame number.

Seatstay Cap Engraving
Team frames frequently have no seatstay cap engraving. Seat stay caps were also not engraved on the earliest De Rosa frames - my best guess is that the engraving started in the late 60s - 67 or 68.The first version has no heart in the O of De Rosa - my present guess is that this changed around 1973 to the second version. The second version has the heart in the O of De Rosa and this continued save for a few exceptions to the early 1990s.Circa 1976/77 (two frames are known) De Rosa used what appears to be a solid concave plug with an engraved heart on a few frames.

Team frames frequently have no heart cutouts. There seems to be two broad common types of pressed lug - ones with a short point and ones with a long point. On present evidence it looks as the two designs were in use together for several years probably something like 1972–1974. The long point definitely started before the short point lugs which seemed to come into use around 1972. And there are some medium point lugs which seem to be from the mid 70s. Most frames have heart cutouts in all lugs in the early 70s but there are a number with short and medium point lugs with only a heart in the lower head lug or in both head lugs but with no heart cut out in the seat lug. These seem to date from 1974-6. Cast lugs were introduced around 1979/80 - the cast lug frames are easily distinguished from the pressed-lug frames by the extension for the seat bolt. These cast lugs do not feature heart cutouts.

Fork Crown
Earlier frames seem to use a wide variety of fork crowns - quite a number around 1972–4 use a Vagner 4-point sloping crown. A 4pt flat topped cast crown was adopted sometime I think over the period 1973–5. These normally had a heart engraved in them during the 1970s; team frames generally were lacking the heart. Fork tangs were plain on the 1960s frames - they gained three round holes followed later by V shape slots - the later change probably around 1976.

Bottom Bracket Shell
A shell with six slots and two hearts – one in the down tube tang and one in the seat tube tang (behind the BB) was standard for quite a long period. At some point – maybe in 1973 a large heart cutout was introduced on some frames - most had additional heart cutouts in the DT and ST tangs but some not. Some later 70s frames used BB shells with four slots rather than six. When the the cast lugs were introduced, a new cast BB shell was used with six relieved areas in the shell.

Campagnolo short dropouts definitely indicate a frame built 1975 or later but it seems that De Rosa may have been slower to adopt the Campagnolo short dropouts than some other framebuilders.

Other fittings
The earlier chainstay bridges are larger in diameter and with round flanges formed with the tube. By about 1970 De Rosa used a slightly smaller diameter round tube with diamond reinforcements. These continued into the early period of cast lugs. The earliest bottle cage fittings are short studs - these continued into the 1970s probably until 1973/4. Gear cable guides over the top of the BB shell were standard on De Rosas from the late 1960s. Brake cable stops/guides (generally three) and DT lever bosses were I think introduced c1975/6."

Photo: Ugo De Rosa, 2009

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Monday, August 17, 2009

2009 UCI Road World Championship

The final elite men allocations for this year’s World Championship elite road race were released today by the International Cycling Union. The number of riders each country can send is based on a points formula. Switzerland, as the host nation, will be allowed field six riders despite only qualifying for three. The elite road race will take place in Mendrisio, Switzerland, on September 27th.

Countries will be required to submit their rider selections by September 16th.

Countries (some Italian practice) qualified to send 9 riders:
Italia, Spagna, Australia, Germania, Russia, Lussemburgo, Belgio, Gran Bretagna, Norvegia e Stati Uniti

Countries qualified to send 6 riders:
Sudafrica, Colombia, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Francia, Olanda, Slovenia, Polonia, Ucraina, Danimarca

Countries qualified to send 3 riders:
Tunisia, Argentina, Brasile, Canada, Iran, Giappone, Portogallo, Estonia, Austria, Svizzera (permitted to send 6 as host country), Slovakia, Croatia, Ungheria, Svezia, Serbia, Lettonia, Nuova Zelanda, Repubblica Ceca, Irlanda, Bielorussia

Countries qualified to send 1 rider:
Lituania, Finlandia, Namibia, Cuba, Cile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uruguay e Bulgaria.

Previous related story:

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Eddy Merckx's "Farewell Tullio"

Speech delivered by Eddie Merckx at Tullio Campagnolo's Funeral at Vicenza, February 3, 1983.

"Dear Commendatore Campagnolo, on behalf of the cyclists of all the world, of those known or unknown, I address to you from the square of this church a touched good-bye. You deserve to belong to our life's memories because, rider like us, you have known before us our fatigue and
you have helped us.

You have done it with generous intelligence that was the fruit of your goodness as a man and as entrepreneur. You have been the most faithful and precious of our helpers. You have arrived first for seven time, with me, to the goal of the Milano/Sanremo; you were with me under the snow the day I was climbing victorious, the road of the "Tre Cime di Lavaredo." I shared with
you every success.

In telling you good-bye in the name of all the presents and of those who regret not being here, I wish to repeat an act of faith heard in this church. You will remain with us, riders of all ages and of all classes, as a dear and unforgettable road fellow. A good friend.

I tell it to you in a bad Italian, maybe, but with an Italian heart because, thanks to you, there is a piece of Italy with your name on all the bicycles of the world. Your memory will remain always with us.


Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Cycling Monuments, Memorials, Plaques, etc.

This entry will be the collection point for information on cycling monuments, memorials, plaques, etc., which are dedicated to Italian riders and others in, and outside, of Italy. There are probably more of these than I can imagine. I am aware of quite a few already but please contact me with information that you may have. The information about cycling museums in Italy is contained here.

Tullio Campagnolo Memorial, unveiled 1995
Location: Passo Croce D'Aune (Belluno province)
It was during one of Campagnolo's races as an amateur that he confronted a problem which often faced cyclists of that period, removing a wheel in order to change gears (wheels had one gear on each side, one a climbing gear; the wheel would be removed and flipped). On November 11th, 1927, with snow covering the roads of the Croce D'Aune Campagnolo needed to remove his rear wheel to change gears. Because the large wingnuts that held his wheel on had frozen and his hands were too cold to budge them, he was unable to remove his wheel to change gears, and lost his chance at victory that day. As he struggled to free his wheel, he muttered five words to himself that changed the history of cycling: "Bisogno cambiá qualcossa de drio!" Those words ("Something must change in the rear!") and that simple event -- a wheel that couldn't be removed -- started Campagnolo thinking. He went back to his workshop, and emerged with the invention of the quick-release lever (in 1930) and, soon after, an early bicycle derailleur (1933).

The Marco Pantani memorial on Colle della Fauniera, also later named Colle Pantani, a climb first used in the Giro d'Italia of 1999 and on which where Pantani retook the leader's jersey.

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wilier Imperiale, and Carbon Manipulation

Wilier has re-introduced the "Imperiale" model to their line-up, sliding it beneath the Cento1. First introduced in 2003 it was quite a popular bike choice in Italy.

The design of the new Imperiale reflects the ongoing trend of carbon manipulation to increase performance and aerodynamics. The De Rosa "Tango" jumped to the head of the line a few years ago in this regard but it was too much for the marketplace. The Imperiale has these multi-shaped carbon elements:
- head tube nose-cone
- tube shaping in the lower fork blades and chainstays
- seatstays are wrapped around the top tube to create a shroud
- shaped down tube and seat tube
- integrated seatpost mast

What are your thoughts about these types of highly manipulated carbon designs?

Wilier USA will offer the Imperiale frameset for $2,899; with a Shimano Ultegra 6700 gruppo, Fulcrum R5 wheelset and Ritchey Pro bars and stem for $3,899.

Wilier has created a mini-site just for this model:

Photos: Wilier Imperiale; last photo: De Rosa Tango c. 2005

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Friday, August 14, 2009

Amalfi Coast, Amalfi to Positano

Another set of fabulous photographs from Jered Gruber, Assistant Editor of He was on a ride of the Amalfi coast between Amalfi and Positano in April. You can find Jered's stories at

April is a good time to ride along the Amalfi coast road, summer is not unless you have nerves of steel. The road in the summer is choked with cars, tour buses, and motorinos.

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cycling Museums in Italy, Part III

I have now updated the list of cycling museums in Italy with the addition of information about the Museo della Bicicletta "GIANNETTO CIMURRI" and the Museo del Ciclismo Colle del Gallo. For the complete, updated, list and descriptions of the museums see:

Photos: Bianchi used by Coppi at the 1953 World Championships (at Cimurri museum); the Museo del Ciclismo Colle del Gallo at the Santuario Madonna dei Ciclisti - Colle del Gallo

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

L’Eroica, the USA Version

Ed. note: this event has been cancelled; see here for details.
Below is the press release from L'Eroica USA announcing the planning of a L'Eroica style event in Colorado. The only observation I have is that what makes the L'Eroica in Tuscany heroic are the distances involved coupled with vintage road bikes. Also, L'Eroica, which began as a vintage bike only event, has moved away beginning this year from the "open" format that permitted bikes of any types over the last few years.

BOULDER, CO USA (August 11, 2009) L’Eroica USA announces today the planning of L’Eroica Boulder, a L’Eroica-styled event to be run outside Boulder, Colorado. The event, scheduled for Sunday, October 4, 2009, the same day as L’Eroica Italy in Tuscany, may be contingent upon financial sponsorship and/or official supplier sponsors so distributors, framebuilders and manufacturers and companies outside the bicycle industry are encouraged to reply.

L’Eroica Boulder is a “period” cycletourist rallye run over country roads North of Boulder, Colorado. Fashioned after L’Eroica Italy, an event conceived to preserve the “strade bianche” or white roads of Tuscany, L’Eroica Boulder is an energetic way to enjoy open spaces by bicycle in the ambiance of a bygone cycling era and of a simpler, gentler time.

Steeped in tradition L’Eroica Boulder is unlike any organized tour. The 30-mile route taking participants over a combination of asphalt and unpaved surfaces is the perfect balance to challenge not only the experienced rider, but to afford the non-cyclist an opportunity to display his or her “heroism”.

Gastronomic Feeds
Created by some of the nation’s most celebrated local chefs, the “feed” stations along the course of L’Eroica Boulder are gastronomic. Energy bars and gels are replaced with vintage refreshments of our ancestral hero’s of the road: aged cheeses, antipasto, craft breads, fruits, traditional hams and Italian wines that freely flow.

Although there is no official rule, L’Eroica Boulder is a “period” cycletourist ride and participants are encouraged to dress in traditional costume. L’Eroica Italy attracts big old men on big old bicycles in medium-sized old jerseys, but it is the argyle socks, cotton gloves, knicker pants, sport goggles, tweed caps and spare tires wrapped around woolen shoulders that turn a rainbow of beige into a festival of color.

L’Eroica Boulder is a friendly cycling event where classic steel single- and 10-speeds ride along modern steeds of carbon. A “period” cycletourist rallye, L’Eroica Boulder encourages the use of traditional, vintage-style bicycles from the last century (1930s-1980s): lugged-steel frame, balloon tires and sprung saddle. While L’Eroica Italy politely posts signs reading “MTB No Gratzi” or mountain bikes not welcome, L’Eroica Boulder allows participants to ride any bicycle type.

Exposition / Swap
Should the ambience of L’Eroica Boulder capture the desire for a piece of bicycle history, participants and spectators can invest in precious metal under the tented L’Eroica Exposition and Swap. Located at the start / finish area (Boulder Reservoir), the exposition and swap is where collectors, framebuilders, manufacturers and secondhand vendors display and sell vintage, traditional and modern bicycles, clothing, parts and other relics showcasing cycling history and life.

Evening Celebration and Gala
The day’s festivities conclude at the Boulder Theatre that evening for an awards ceremony and the showing of an Italian double feature: The Bicycle Thief (1948) and Il Postino (1994). Based on obtaining showing rights to the films other bicycle films (i.e., Bicycle Film Festival entries) may be considered.

L’Eroica Boulder is targeting the following newspapers, periodicals, radio and television to provide coverage of L’Eroica Boulder.

L’Eroica Boulder is made possible by financial sponsorship and through the provision of products or services from individuals and organizations. The benefit of sponsoring L’Eroica Boulder is for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with the event. Given the uniqueness of the event and past-time, it is quite possible that the Title Sponsor will become synonymous with L’Eroica Boulder, known as ‘aboutsponsorship’, ultimately providing a strong walled-garden sponsor relation between the event and the brand. In addition to Platinum, or the Title Sponsor, there are Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsorship levels available (ed. note: the press release listed a long list of sponsorship opportunites; contact L'Eroica USA if you are interested in these).

L’Eroica USA is a Boulder, Colorado-based production company specializing in the promotion of bicycle events from a simpler, gentler time. L’Eroica USA is planning L’Eroica Boulder, a “period” cycletourist rallye run over asphalt and unpaved surfaces north of Boulder, Colorado. Based on L'Eroica Italy, a L'Eroica offers surroundings and scenes from the "heroic" times of cycling: classic bicycles, tweed and wool riding apparel, vintage refreshments including Italian wines, and beautiful, meandering country roads. L'Eroica Boulder is a bicycle celebration of our open spaces and of a simpler life and time. To learn more about L’Eroica USA or the L’Eroica Boulder event planned for October 4, 2009, visit or contact L’Eroica USA by email at

Photo: event poster; riders in the 2008 L'Eroica in Tuscany

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail.

Video of How a Vittoria Tubular Tire is Made

A Vittoria video of the start to finish process of the making of a handmade Vittoria tubular tire can be seen here

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Adriano Zamboni with His Chesini

I like this 1951 photograph of a young Adriano Zamboni with the proud smile familiar to cyclists everywhere. His wool jersey proclaims his is a member of the Sports Club Verona Montoriese. His bike is a Chesini with a Cambio Corsa shifting system (the two shift levers are mounted on the rear chainstay). Later in his career, Zamboni won a stage of the 1961 Giro d'Italia in which he participated 6 times.

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Part III: Andy Hampsten and the Gavia (and a few other Passes)

Part III, and last, of Buzz Yancich's story of riding with Andy Hampsten.

Andy Hampsten and the Gavia (and a few other Passes), Part III

Alleghe, continued

As important as the riding is there is also the food, wine, story telling and camaraderie. We all enjoyed Andy’s wine tasting on the deck of our hotel overlooking the picturesque lake in Alleghe as much as that day’s riding.

Wine tasting and a few more stories

Not only did Andy make his own history racing in Europe but also had a front seat to it. We enjoyed his insights into Lemond and Hinault during the 1986 Tour and many other revelations about the world of professional cycling.

Culinary diversions:



Local Pear Grappa

Hampsten’s crew is hand picked from diverse backgrounds and they really add a great dimension to the trip. Journalist Bruce Hildenbrand who is a walking encyclopedia of cycling history, a former mountain bike racer now turned Lute maker, the lovely Elaine, amongst others and our “patron saint” Gerardo – an Italian bike shop owner who doesn’t speak any English and yet can seemingly communicate with you on a telepathic basis in the most humorous way imaginable. A sort of modern day Harpo Marx – brilliant.

Topping it off are the riders themselves. We had a great collection of folks including my now dear friends Bob and Susan Long, Ken Whiteside, Susie and Corey from Alaska and my riding pal Andy Bowdle. If you want inspiration, try riding and sharing great meals and many bottles of wine with folks who are curious by nature, have a constant smile on their face and know that with PERSISTENCE any obstacle in life can be conquered. That’s the way to live. Isn’t that why we all love cycling?

Dinner time - Salut!

Of course, any trip to ride in Italy is bound to be a unique experience whether it is booked through a cycle touring company or a solo effort. The riding is sublime but what sticks with you in the months after your return home is the hospitality, the respect towards cyclists, the food and wine culture and that daily espresso made by the local guy who makes you feel like an old friend.

Getting the opportunity to ride with Poli and Hampsten took the experience to another level. It is interesting that they are so different in their physical make up and personalities and yet they are very similar in their love of cycling and now showing others the joy of riding in Italy. It also struck me that both of these men put themselves in the right place at moments in their racing careers and then had the courage to seize the day under the most difficult conditions. Hampsten on the Gavia and Poli on Mt. Ventoux. It is a lesson for all of us. When your moment comes dare yourself to go beyond your comfort zone.

In this media driven sports celebrity age, it is also refreshing that such historical figures in the sport are frankly such decent guys who genuinely seem interested in making sure that your experience is the best one possible.

It is fair to say that I never expected the Italian cycling experience to be so indelible. We all became so enamored of our time in Italy that our group is headed back this September for another go at it.

To paraphrase Eros Poli: “I know everyone in America thinks that the best riding is in France because of the Tour, believe me I love France but, please, let’s be honest, the riding in Italy is better…the roads, the food, the wines…I mean, please, it’s just better.”

Agreed. Better yet, go find out for yourself!

Back in Verona at trip’s end with some of the crew for one last Aperol Spritz in the Piazza del Erbe before flying home.

Buzz and friends rode Hampsten S&S Coupler bikes designed by Steve Hampsten at:

Trips to Italy with Andy Hampsten are found at:

Most importantly, directions for making an Aperol Spritz can be found at:

Part I of Buzz Yancich's story:

Part II of Buzz Yancich's story:

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail.