Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bicycle Gifts: A Perfect Memento

Tuscany: Per Il Vino, Per Amore, Per Andare In Bicicletta
Michael Valenti

Imagine, rolling along the scenic, tranquil hills of Tuscany enjoying the gorgeous Italian views on a bicycle. If you have, you're fortunate. If you're like me, haven't done so but highly think about it, there's a second option. Why not enjoy one of the many outstanding posters, notably by Michael Valenti called, 'Tuscany.' Check out BicycleGifts.com - the premiere site for unique gifts and merchandise for bicycle enthusiasts. My favorite is the cycling artwork and there is an excellent selection to purchase.

Thanks to my sponsor, BicycleGifts.com  - and even if you are lucky to have enjoyed a bicycle trip through Tuscany... then, this fine piece of artwork would be a perfect memento.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Niki Tersptra: A Hell Of A Win

AFP/Yuzuru Sunada

It's been a while for the Dutch people. Servais was a teammate of mine in Milram. I learnt a lot from him when we rode Paris-Roubaix together five years ago. I'm happy to close this gap of Dutch wins, it's (been) too long. Since I was a little child and I started cycling, Paris-Roubaix was the most special race for me. Now I've won it, it's a dream come true.

I attacked at the right moment. The whole group was strong, every rider who was there had good legs. It's a stupid race, it's too old fashioned, but that's what makes Roubaix so special, and why I love it so much.

I didn't have one puncture. For the first time in Roubaix, I didn't have any problems at all. I was very lucky. Maybe I should go play the lottery now.

- Niki Terpstra

The 112th Paris-Roubaix is now done and dusted. The final 15km looked like a classic western with gunslingers ready for a dramatic finale. Whilst the big names were marking each other, with 6km remaining, Niki Terpstra floored it and rode to a hellish victory. The promise of the duel between Boonen and Cancellara was set. It never materialize. But, the strongest team had the cards in the deck, Omega Pharma had 3 riders in the top 10. A great victory. 

The seeds are sowing for John Degenkolb taking a sweet second place to go along with his Gent Wevelgem win. 

I love this monument, I love Milano-San Remo and I love Flanders. It has been a big dream of myself to win one of these big Classics and I was close today.

- John Degenkolb

photo: bettini

Trench warfare..
Arenberg Forest

The OPQS's used a winning combination...
28mm front and 30mm rear.

The exciting final 10kms...

Great race, fine finish - I can't wait until next year!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Enjoy The Legend

Paris-Roubaix is on tomorrow - get set, get ready ... and love the Legend!

To be honest, I think if you want to go and race there, you have to be pretty stupid. Your hands are shaking, your wrists are throbbing, your shoulders are stiff, your back is aching, your neck is pounding.... It's like a war zone in there.

- Henrich Haussler, IAM Cycling

There are two categories of riders with Paris-Roubaix: those who love it and those who hate it. The ones who hate it are the small ones who are good at hills. The ones who love it are the warriors, the tall ones. 
Maybe they are the crazy ones, too.

- Thierry Gouvenou, Technical Director of ASO

The five-stars are basically just ridiculous. You look at it, and it's not even a road. It's just a collection of pointy stones.

- Tyler Farrar, Garmin-Sharp. Trouée d'Arenberg is one of just three sections to earn the coveted five-star designation.

Mavic Neutral Support...

... here to help.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday File: Marinoni Time, 112th Time In Hell & Bauer's 1993 Stealth Bike - Redux

 Master frame builder,  50 year old Giuseppi Marinoni.
via Bicycle Guide, 1987.

Friday File starts off with a step back in Marinoni time...

I want to thank Curtis for sending me this 1987 Bicycle Guide article on Giuseppi Marinoni. This is extra fun for me because I haven't seen this before. After reading this, I'm very proud to own one of his creations; 1987 Columbus SL/SP double butted chrome-moly frame. Kudos for this throwback look; an insightful and revealing look of an old world frame builder prospering in the new world.

For Curtis, recent recipient of a stunning re-painted frame (my post here), it was this article that sparked him to Marinoni. Read further and you will see a fine photo of a Columbus steel frame - the same paint scheme Curtis opted for.

The Queen of the Classics, 112th edition of Paris-Roubaix is Sunday. The toughest 6 hr + , 257km cobbled classic on the planet and, perhaps, the most anticipated. Many have touted a duel between Boonen and Spartacus. Cancellara being the heavy weight favorite after his stellar win in the Ronde. What a colossal ride he did. It really all comes down to surviving over the 51km of cobbles and trying to avoid the punctures, mechanicals and accidents that are common place. The weather forecast calls for sunny skies. No rain, not since the last mud bowl in 2002, but there will be plenty of pain.

My pick to upset the cobbles cart...

The last time it was a muddy battlefield...

Johan Museeuw winning the foul 2002 race.

Monsieur Paris Roubaix, 1972

Recon today...

The great Ferdy Kubler honored...

Ferdy Kubler, now 95 years old, was honored with an Oak tree planted in his name.
via Tour of Suisse

The Ronde...

The most popular Flemish race.

Svein Tuft cam at the Ronde


Bauer power in the 1993 Gent Welvegem.

I don't know whether it's the anticipation for the upcoming race or the peculiarity of Steve Bauer's 'funny bike' designed for the cobbles. I notice a huge spike on my post of Bauer's stealth bike. I'm in wonderment, truly amazed, and interested where all my readers come from. It's fun to check that the readers come from all over the world. So, I'm back with some interesting facts on Steve Bauer's 1993 stealth bike ...

This bike was designed by Richard Dejonkeheere (brother of Motorola mechanic Noel). A 60 degree seat angle and 42/43" wheelbase. Bauer was out of contract by this time and agreed to try it and got a special contract with Motorola just to ride the bike. He trained on it for five months before trying it for Gent Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix. For the 1993 Hell of the North, Rockshocks and a 185mm crank were used - Bauer finished in 23rd.

Here's to a Flandrien Sunday!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thirty Years Ago: King Kelly Roubaix

Thirty years plus one day ago, Sean Kelly won his first Paris-Roubaix in Flandrien fashion. Here's the insightful yet riveting account by the legend Sean Kelly, from his autobiography Hunger...

There’s a myth that grew as my career went on. Some people said that if it was raining on the morning of a race, I would draw back the curtains and rub my hands together in glee. The perception was that I relished the bad weather, enjoyed it even, but that was certainly not the case. No one likes to be cold and wet; it was just that my body coped with the conditions better than a lot of others. I was just as miserable as everyone else, it’s just that I was able to keep pushing hard.
The week before the 1984 Paris-Roubaix, I got totally worked over by a bunch of Belgians and my team manager Jean de Gribaldy was not happy. He wasn’t in the mood for me to make the same mistake twice.
Paris-Roubaix is a horrible race to ride but the most beautiful one to win. I was in great form and as the rain fell the day before the race I knew my chances were improving. On race day it was grey and uninviting. Although the rain had stopped the cobbles would be wet and muddy. I knew I would be in for a hard day but I also knew a lot of riders wouldn’t fancy it in these conditions.
Even on a dry day, only around 25 riders have any hope of winning Paris-Roubaix. In the wet, you can reduce that number to a dozen. Of them, a handful are bound to crash or puncture at a bad moment.
The distance – 260 kilometres (162 miles) – and the fact that 55 (34 miles) of those kilometres are on terrible, dangerous, painful cobbled roads, known as pavé, is daunting enough. But as we rolled away from the start, heading towards the First World War battlefields, I knew I had to be careful and patient for at least the first half of the race.
As the race reached its critical phase, there were two leaders out in front, both from the same La Redoute team. Gregor Braun and Alain Bondue had broken away together and were working well together, although they were sure to tire.
Back in the chasing group, I had itchy feet. With 80 kilometres (50 miles) to go, I dropped back to my team car to have a chat with De Gribaldy, who was an authoritarian team manager. I told him I was going to attack. He told me to wait, fearing it was still far too early.
I talked to him again and still he refused to let me go. I was like a horse desperate to get free of the rope and run away.
With 45 kilometres (28 miles) to go, I could wait no longer. We came to the section of pavé at Orchies, and I accelerated. I looked back and saw that a Belgian rider called Rudy Rogiers was trying to get across to me. I decided to wait on the basis that two riders would be better than one.
Together, we chased down Braun and Bondue. Each jarring section of cobbles sapped the energy and the smooth sections of road between thepavé numbed the mind. Of all the big classics, Paris-Roubaix is the flattest, but don’t imagine it’s easy. There’s almost no opportunity to freewheel and gain any respite. It’s pedal, pedal, pedal, as hard as you can.
As soon as we caught Braun and Bondue, I went to the front to drive the pace. Braun was dropped immediately. Bondue hung on a bit longer than I expected but then he slipped on the cobbles at Camphin-en-Pévèle and fell. The cobbles there are really vicious, but Bondue’s crash was probably as much down to fatigue.
That left just me and Rogiers, not a rider I should have feared in the sprint. As we approached the finish in the velodrome at Roubaix, De Gribaldy came alongside me in the team car. His message was simple. "Whatever you do, don’t mess this up."
I had never been so nervous. Victory was within reach but Paris-Roubaix is a cruel race. A puncture now could rob me. I was worried the mud might jam my gears.
In the velodrome, I manoeuvred Rogiers to the front, where I wanted him. In the end, the sprint looked quite easy but it was anything but. I was tired and relieved.
The next day, with my cobblestone trophy on the kitchen table and my bike still caked in mud in the garage, my whole body ached. My hands buzzed from the constant vibrating on the cobbles. It was like pins and needles. My undercarriage was raw. When I went for a pee the burning sensation made me wince. Paris-Roubaix is the hardest single-day test a rider can face.
Having won the Hell of the North, the press gave me a nickname of my own: King Kelly. As nicknames go it was quite a nice one to have.

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