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Archive for the ‘Bicycle’ Category

If there is a symbolic difference between the age of the steel bike and the more recent developments in titanium, aluminum, carbon fiber, not to mention wood and bamboo, it must be the slow disappearance of the Frame Pump. According to the Velominati, there can be only one exception to abandoning the Frame Pump and it comes with quite a few requirements. Although I do not follow those rules in full, I do qualify for coverage under Rule 30 by carrying a Silca frame pump and, yes, it has a Campagnolo metal head, on the Moseman. I didn’t know I was making the correct choice 30 years ago, but I’m now very relieved that I did.

But, I am no retro-grouch and as recent readers will see, I’ve embraced the duality of the cycling enthusiast of a certain age: traditional brazed steel and full carbon fiber monocoque frame and fork. And, I’ve made a halting move to eliminate the Frame Pump on the R3 by carrying CO2 cartridges, albeit in a seat pack in direct violation of all things the Velominati hold dear.

While CO2 cartridges work just fine, at least if applied correctly and you only need one or two on a ride, the modern cyclist is left looking over his shoulder. I carry two at a time, but always wonder what happens if I goof up with the first, use the second, then have another flat? Should I carry the discrete mini pump in the pocket of my kit as a backup? If so, what’s the point of CO2?

I’ve concluded that CO2 is fine for jaunts around town or within close proximity to light rail, buses and taxi cab territory. For longer rides, it’s better to enjoy CO2 in that certain malt beverage recovery drink than as an inflator of punctured tires.

You will be needing one of these. photo:bike tester.com

Approved for Frame Pumps. From Velominati.com. photo:bike tester.com

 

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Whither 60 years-of-age?

For l’Eroica, it’s obvious. You do not have to worry about registering by staying up half the night to get in the internet line. Unless the rules have changed, anyone 60 years-old and up can register for the event regardless of the total number of registrants. I presume the organizers know that there aren’t that many of us who will want to ride. But, looking at the pictures of the event, you may wonder if anyone “under” that age is registered.

Another value or state of reaching such an age is the Landmark Birthday Gift. At least, for me that was the case. It was an easy choice for my wife, who simply said, “I want you to get a new bike.” The sub-text was that this may be the last bike you will get to buy, unless we’re talking about a used beater for going to the grocery store. Or, put another way, the gift would close the door on the Velominati Rule 12 proposition.

It felt like cheating, though, to consider a new bike. The Moseman pictured on this site has served me well for more than 30 years. Would I be turning away from an old friend, a trusted partner, in favor of some bright shiny object? Yes, and no. In the end, I had to at least get a taste of modernity. My choice? A Cervelo R3 (Ultegra build). The choice seemed congruent since that particular frame has been used in the Spring Classics, which run over some less-than-modern roads. Good excuse, though, right?

I suppose I might have gone with another steel bike, perhaps a more contemporary ride with all the latest components. But, I decided to go all out, at least at that price point. I cannot say there is no going back. I will be back on the Moseman again. I just don’t know when. But, at 60, my l’Eroica options are wide open.

What you get when you turn 60.

What you get when you turn 60.

 

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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Giancarlo and all the good people of L’Eroica should be honored. In the home of Fausto Coppi comes La Mitica. While I have every intention of riding another L’Eroica, I’m eager to ride this and the Retro Ronde. It’s not a slavish interest in the minutiae of vintage bicycles; it’s the culture that surrounds the period when bike racing was not dominated by expensive sponsorships, radio communication with the team, armadas of support vehicles. Don’t get me wrong. I’d jump at the chance to spend some time as a spectator at Grand Tour events. And, I watch plenty of TV coverage of the pro circuit, attend local events and read as much as I can.

But, there is something that inspires me about participating in events like this. You feel somehow more connected to the origins of the sport and to a time and place that seems original. I fight the cynic in me that says these events are produced as a way to build tourism interest, especially among people “of a certain age” who have the means to travel and harbor nostalgia for a period they probably never lived through. No matter.

It can only be a matter of time before an event like L’Eroica or La Mitica is held here in Oregon. For that, I cannot wait.

(Thanks to Rory Mason and his blog, Masini’s Breaking Away blog, for alerting me. Links to that blog, please visit it, on the home page here.)

A vintage ride in the land of Coppi

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Riding over the strade bianchi leaves more than just a satisfying impression and memory. Your bicycle collects a little bit of that history as either dust or mud or both. The 2011 version of L’Eroica was run under blue skies after more than a week of clear, autumn weather that hovered in the mid 80’s (High 20’s C). This left the white roads powdery on top of the stones.

The final sector, L'Eroica 2011

Climbing the final sector of gravel to Castello Brolio, L’Eroica 2011. Photo by Brad Sauber, InGamba

My several training rides included time on the gravel and often over some of the same sectors that I would enjoy on the day of the ride. I developed several layers of the buff-colored dust on my kit and the various frame parts and components. It was easy to submit my jersey and shorts to the washing machine. I couldn’t bring myself to wipe the dust off the bike.

I’ve heard that athletes are superstitious, baseball players being overachievers in that department. I don’t think of myself as an athlete, but I am sharing that particular characteristic. I don’t know what I imagine might happen if I remove the fine dust from a down tube or a chain stay, but I cannot seem to do it. Sure, the Moseman would benefit from a thorough cleaning. And, I’ve been careful to keep the drivetrain in good shape. But, that dust. It just won’t come off the rest of the bike.

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That didn’t take long. Registrations for those of us who don’t live in Italy and are under 60 have ended. But, you knew that, right? Possibly the world’s most popular one-day cycling event is sure to sell out fast. There are ways to get in, but this post is really about the training, not the event. I’ll say more about registering in a moment.

If you even imagine that you will ride L’Eroica, now is the time to train. Need some inspiration? Watch tomorrow’s Montepaschi Strade Bianche on Universal Sports. Sad to say that my cable carrier doesn’t air US, but it is available online. You will view the very roads over which L’Eroica is ridden and get a sense of why this is a ride you will want to do sometime in your life.

But, training? I look out the window at the gray mornings that barely glow before 6:30 and question why I want to get out of bed. Last year, I was excited about the ride in a way that could be interpretted as really scared about how difficult it might be. And, how much I wanted to make a good showing. Motivation enough.

Here are a quick few suggestions that are by no means unique, but will get you started.

Stationary bikes or roller: Use them during the gloomy, dark days, but ride intervals. Nothing will give you a head start on the road like intervals inside.

Strength training: There are plenty of good books about strength training programs and there are coaches and personal trainers. I used the former, in particular, “Weight Training for Cyclists” along with other guides. When you face a 12 percent grade on the white roads, it’s not just strong legs and low gears that get you to the top.

Ride the sterrati or unpaved roads: Slap on the 28mm tires and leave them on the bike. Find some unpaved roads to ride, but make them part of a longer ride rather than just a practice piece. You’ll gain confidence on the stones and feel how they change the ride.

Since I never know quite what readers want, other than great pictures of bikes and components, leave comments about this and other posts. If you want more on training, I’ll spend some time with it.

Sold out registration? No problem. There will be at least two more chances to register, though at higher rates. Those will get you in and provide funds for the L’Eroica charity. Or, do it up right and contact inGamba about their tours. There is a long-weekend version and a full week along with additional tours that include L’Eroica. You’ll never eat, drink and ride so well. I might even see you there.

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I’ll have more to say on this soon and on the Brooks England blog, but this past weekend saw more dust on bikes and riders than even L’Eroica can claim. I’m talking about the Cross Crusade Series held in Bend, Oregon, where fall and winter rains have not yet arrived, making a race course that would otherwise be sloppy mud look like something out of a Mad Max film.

I plan to post something with Brooks on the cyclocross racing and the Oregon Handmade Bike Show from last weekend. Until then, enjoy a couple of photos.

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Arrived in Piazza Ricasoli at 2:45. Just a bit less than seven hours of riding. The rest of the time was spent eating and drinking. More later.

20111002-145048.jpg

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