Thursday, April 27, 2017

La Corsa Rosa starts soon!

Above: Zio Lorenzo leads (briefly!) the train up Passo Campolongo

The 2017 Giro d'Italia begins May 5.

Ride these Legendary Climbs with us in July! There's still time to join us if you can act quickly. Our itinerary is a true "who's who?" of climbs made famous by the Tour of Italy.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

EROICA CALIFORNIA 2017 - the rest of the story


As a finale, photos and thoughts about our first out-of-Italy bici d'epoca experience.

Our bikes await the arrival of their sleepy riders. And it was COLD! We stayed at the Farmhouse Motel in Paso Robles. The owners were nice enough to let us come back post-ride (and post check-out) for a shower! That's hospitality!

Our first ristoro was provided by CASS WINERY, pouring some samples of their wine into clear cycling bottles for tasting if you wanted some "for the road".

Can you get a ticket for having an "open container" of alcohol while riding a bicycle? We enjoyed (most) of ours here. Larry didn't get any photos of ristoro 2 where they were frying potatoes in extra-virgin olive oil! MMMmmm!

Heather clowns around on Albabici's scooter. Motor-pacing anyone?

This fellow was walking by so we roped him into checking out our Huffy/LandShark tribute to his 1988 Giro d'Italia victory. Andy Hampsten was nice enough to pose with it for us.

Larry had no trouble stopping folks to ask if they'd let him take a photo of their gorgeous bicycle. Most of 'em were happy to pose with them. Grazie!!

Kind of sums up the EROICA feeling, no?

That sticker was on friend-of-the-blog Scott's beautiful LOSA bike.

Beautiful machines were everywhere, especially at the Coucours!

1984 Olympian Rory O'Reilly was there on his old team bike wearing his old team kit.

Great old bikes and great old riders!

This fellow was starting a goal of riding ALL of the EROICA events worldwide.  A nice challenge!

Larry just LOVES anything pantographed, like these brake calipers

Just another pretty bike.

And another...

...and another...

...and another.

Compared to the Italian events we've enjoyed, EROICA CA can't get an A-grade, but they did a great job. Suggestions to the organizers for the future would be period-correct music at the venue, more pasta at the post-ride pasta party and a more relaxed start time for those riding the shorter loops.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Benvenuto SILCA - Our newest Official Supplier

SILCA - Official Supplier to CycleItalia

Larry remembers reading somewhere the venerable Silca company had been purchased by an American. He remembered the Italian owner at Interbike over the years and wondering why he thought he needed to be there - everyone knew his floor pumps were simply the best - so why bother?

Larry chased down the new owner, Josh Poertner via the internet and sent a simple message - something about how great it was to be saving such a venerable name in cycling and how we'd gone out and bought Silca floor pumps after various other inflation devices supplied by others croaked under routine use. All the fancy "smart-heads" are of no use when the basic pump breaks down. Silca's were simple, intuitive and bullet-proof. He finished with letting Josh know that we were interested in helping him, all he had to do was let us know how.

Eventually the Silca Ultimate pump was introduced and the buzz began. Here was a product with a cost-no-object idea!  Almost $500 for a pump? Yes, but as long as you don't lose it or let it be stolen, you'll have it for the rest of your cycling life - and maybe your children's too!  We have an original Silca that's more than 3 decades old. Just make the best damn pump you can and charge accordingly, something all too rare these days! Another message of encouragement followed and then an offer of a "bro-deal" on this soon-to-be-iconic pump. Larry couldn't refuse! More about that HERE.

Once Larry had the Ultimate, the idea grew for a pump to demonstrate to our clients. Larry contacted Josh with a suggestion: the Ultimate was sort of the Campagnolo Super Record of floor pumps. Could he make a Chorus version? Same great guts but less expensive materials and a lower price? Josh was way ahead with this idea - the Super Pista already in the works! Above you see it posed (the black one) next to big brother.

Notice the gauge is even larger! Josh isn't worried about making his original product look bad next to it's lower-priced brother. He heard the calls for a larger gauge and here it is.

The handles are the same size, but the Pista features a simple wooden version vs big brother's fancier one with the fancy end caps. Both pumps work exceptionally well, making it almost a joy to pump up your tires instead of using a noisy air compressor.

We thought our new, full-carbon bikes deserved a super-high quality mini-pump to match and Josh and his wizards had it - TATTICO. Simple clip bolts on next to your water bottle like most, but the retaining strap is way better, not-to-mention the pump itself! Real quality stuff here, not like so many mini-pumps that either can't get enough air pressure in your tire to actually ride on, get so hot they melt or tire you out with the zillion strokes they require! Note the small hose - you don't think about this until you use it, then you realize how smart this idea is. Not new, but what in cycling is?

Close up photo of the pump head. Flexible hose and a lever to clamp it to your valve stem. What's not to like? 

Thanks to SILCA, our newest Official Supplier. We'll have a Super Pista at our HQ for you to try out and our new Favaloro bikes will be fitted with Tattico mini-pumps.

Grazie mille SILCA!!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

EROICA CA 2017 Part 1


Since we were sort of stuck in the USA this winter/spring, EROICA CA was added to our list of things to do. We were not sorry, this was probably as much of a true bici d'epoca event that could be organized in the USA!

Above: Hrach, Gianluca and Heather at the (cold) start

Of course the organizers have no control over the weather, which was COLD! At least at the start. We wore every bit of cycling clothing we had - including our rain jackets at the start. People asked us if we thought it would rain, but our reply was "NO, but this is all we have to keep warm!:

 Aboce: Heather poses at a spot that easily could have been in Tuscany

We thought the organizers did a great job, at least with the short (40 miles) course we enjoyed. This started at a civilized hour (8:30 AM) and after cappucini, we were in what looked like the last wave to start.

 Above: Gianluca arrives at the summit of the toughest climb.

Gianluca was lacking a bit of fitness, but you can see his class as a bike racer shows through. We had to drag or push him up a few of the hills but he was game to finish and was glad he did.

 Above: Heather rounds a scenic bend.

While we may have been up for the medium route, the 40 miles proved to be enough. We think more than a few underestimated the challenge of this event with its steep hills and many unpaved sections.

 Above: The organizers did a great job with scenic routes.

We really enjoyed this event.

Above: Heather, Gianluca and Larry celebrate the finish,

We'll have more to post in the next installment along with lots of photos of gorgeous bicycles.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Ten Commandments of Eroica Cycling

Above: Harry & Leather at Eroica Gaiole in 2011

We recently joined the Ciclo Club Eroica and included with our schwag package was a small diary to record our Eroica exploits. In the first pages they printed what could be called the Ten Commandments of Cycling.  Since we'll soon be on our way to EROICA CA 2017, we thought we'd share them with you here.

The Ten Commandments of Eroica Cycling

1. Cycling is the beauty of fatigue and the thrill of conquest!

2. The heroic cyclist seeks to know the history, soul, mechanics and legends of the sport. We love every kind of cycling and the use of the bike in all its forms.

3. We, heroic cyclists, greet other cyclists, respect all users and rules of the road. We try to facilitate other road users and to be civil and polite. We do not litter and participate in anti-litter campaigns.

4. We see our bikes as a means to a healthy lifestyle, to our wellbeing both alone and in the company of others. We are against the culture of doping in all its forms, as well as exaggerated training regimens.  When we follow a champion, we love those who are capable of being protagonists all year round.

5. We check to see if other cyclists are in difficulty, we stop when we should, we look around, we liberate our minds and enjoy the landscape when the pace allows it.

6. We, heroic cyclists, challenge ourselves and we respect performance and professional cyclists who race in a healthy way.

7. We think of the heroic cycling of the future, the kind of cycling that seeks values, the pleasure of adventure, discovery, the unexpected, the journey.

8. We think that the world looks better from the saddle. We work to ensure that institutions are attentive to promoting the intelligent and safe use of the bike. We help young people to get involved in cycling and we support their activities.

9. However, we seek to separate and combat those who manage our sport purely for business, because we know that cycling cannot be organized nor practiced without passion and heart.

10. We cannot miss l'Eroica, because it is our festival and our chance to celebrate with all those who share our ideas and values.

Note: These rules would sit well with Steve Tilford, a guy we knew casually and one Larry described as the "Keith Richards of cycling" for his wild appearance and seeming agelessness. Tilford was killed in a horrific highway crash early this morning. 
RIP Steve.

Friday, March 31, 2017

New full-carbon rental bicycles!

We have it! "Belloni" named after Gaetano Belloniwinner of the Giro d'Italia in 1920 has arrived at our shop in Iowa. We've shown photos of this bike, made exclusively for us by Michele Favaloro  with various other components installed for promotional purposes, but this is the way these new bikes will be equipped for you to ride in Italy.

You'll enjoy Campagnolo's newest-latest groupset, POTENZA. 11 speeds with compact (34/50) chainrings and 11-32 cogset will give you all the gears you need, whether going up or down. The revised brakeset will make sure you can control your speed as the new pad compound has received rave reviews. The brakes will grab aluminum URSUS Athon wheels as shown.

Larry LOVES the headtube logo. It reminds him of the old MV Agusta motorcycles. The headtubes on these bikes are a few centimeters taller than our previous bikes in an effort to get the bars in your perfect position. To fit Heather or Larry this means the stems have no spacers underneath, but we can put up to 3 cm under them if needed. Combined with our adjustable stems (same as our current bikes) we're sure we can dial-in your perfect position.

Although we've yet to ride this new bike more than up-and-down the block (update - Larry took it out later today for an hour and reports that it rides and handles just like our current aluminum/carbon bike, but at a weight of just 8 kg) but after spending 3 days with Favaloro at NAHBS and a few email exchanges about the final specs on the rest of the fleet, we''re confident about the ride-quality and have authorized the construction of "Atala", "Cunego", "Girardengo" and "Pambianco". to add to "Belloni"  so we can offer a range of sizes to fit most riders.

These photos show Michele didn't waste any time getting to work on the rest of the fleet! The frames are put into vacuum bags to compress all the fibers and resin used in the joints before being baked in the oven to cure and make everything a solid structure.

The air is carefully sucked out of each bag.

They're then baked under carefully controlled conditions. 

Four identical bikes (except for sizing of course) made this project a bit easier, at least that's what we hope!

Our small fleet begins to take shape in the Favaloro shop.

ALL of the tubes are round. We wanted a classic bike, but one made with modern materials. Round tubes also mean less wasted material, meaning lower costs as the Toray 3K carbon sheets Favaloro uses don't come cheap!

Neither does the equipment required to produce the frames. One more reason Italian guys who once brazed lugged steel frames in their shops all over Italy were reluctant to switch to carbon (or aluminum back-in-the-day) as the pros made the move away from classic steel frames.

We're not tossing out our classic steel bikes, but we realize more and more of you have ridden nothing but carbon-fiber bicycles and expect nothing less on your dream trip to Italy. We waited (and waited) until we could offer you 100% Made-in-Italy bikes built to Larry's specifications to match the ride and handling characteristics of our tried-and-true current rental fleet.

Beyond this, we wanted to highlight the idea that for the same price as a Made-in-China bike from the big brands (S, T, G, etc.) with a Favaloro you can get a full-carbon frame and fork created just for you - TO YOUR EXACT MEASUREMENTS. This is like buying a custom, hand-made suit at an off-the-rack price! Sure, a skilled tailor can alter your off-the-rack suit so it looks and feels good, same as your bike shop can adjust stem lengths etc. to dial-in your fit. But why settle for off-the-rack when you can have a true, made-to-measure bicycle for around the same price? 

While the big brands have the advantage of volume production and low-cost labor, they also spend millions on pro team sponsorship and other marketing/promotion, not to mention the markup from actual producer in China to the big brand importer/distributor plus the markup your dealer needs to stay in business. Even if you buy direct via the internet and cut out some of that markup you're faced with the same off-the-rack choice of sizes - too small, too big and close enough!

With far fewer people involved in the production of a Favaloro the price difference between off-the-rack vs made-to-measure or Made-in-China vs Made-in-Italy goes away. Think about this when it's time for your new bike!

We also wanted to let you try Campagnolo's latest groupset. Larry thinks they drifted away from their original philosophy at bit in the past, but with Potenza they're back - the same great performance of the top-of-the-line groupsets, but at a lower price. For that lower price you get lower-tech materials (aluminum and steel vs carbon-fiber and titanium) which weigh a bit more, though Potenza is competitive in the weight category vs similarly-priced Asian-produced rivals. For a detailed comparison click HERE.

The rest of the fleet will be ready by the time our Paradise in Piedmont tour begins. There's still time to reserve your place AND a Favaloro full-carbon bike. But don't wait too long. as space (and bikes) are limited.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


NAHBS 2017 was chock-full of so-called "gravel" bikes. Even our friend Favaloro showed one.

As you can see above in this photo of Larry back in the mid-1980's, this idea isn't really new. The bike was a Bridgestone MB-1 that Larry modified, getting it ready-to-ride just before walking into the old BDS bicycle show in Anaheim, CA to find that Bridgestone was now offering almost the exact same thing right out of the box!

Larry could have just waited a year...but who knew? This was a great bike for what they today call gravel riding, as in SoCal fire roads. Larry dragged it east to New England and quickly found out there weren't any fire roads there! This setup was far from optimal for roots, rocks and tight trails, probably why the bike wasn't a big seller?

Or was it simply 30 years ahead of its time?