Monday, February 15, 2010

The Fons

The original Fonsarelli.

Alfons De Wolf's career was coming to a close just as I started my courtship with the bicycle, so I never really got to enjoy his years as a PRO rider. The Fons was among the multitude of Belgian riders that endured life under the impossible shadow of a recently retired Eddy Merckx.

Now, I know Belgians are brimming with passion, knowledge, and talent in the world of cycling, but it's profoundly delusional to expect another Eddy. Thus, I have a soft spot in my heart for any Belgian rider, especially if it elicits images of a cheesehead in a black leather jacket whose schtick is being cool and giving the thumbs up all the time .

It says on Wikipedia that The Fons is now a funeral director in Antwerp. So it goes, as they say. Still, I'd like to give a shout out to ol' Alfons. He may not have been the next Eddy, but he was the original Fonsarelli.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Franco Ballerini

Picture courtesy of

R.I.P., Franco. You were one of the greats.

Not So Well Adapted

I'm resurrecting the old Colnago Master Olympic and figured I'd adapt the 1" headset to something new and fat. As in something that will take a 31.8 bar fat. I did some research and decided that the Nitto was too much for too little, Dimension was ugly and heavy, and Deda was just right. I put my order in and then patiently awaited my new bridge to tomorrow.

I installed the Deda adapter at the appropriate height and slapped a stem and bars on and had a look. Aaauuuuugghh!!!!! WTF? The elegant transition from the sparkling Record headset to that old 1" quill stem was replaced by some inbred, reject cousin with an adam's apple the size of a grapefruit. Repulsive.

I had some reservations about the quill adapters for quite some time but finally figured I was just being curmudgeony. Now, I know I wasn't being a curmudeon, I was enlightened. The only way these abominations look halfway respectable on a bike is to have your stem slammed, ala MM and his trusty rawhide mallet. And that usually says to me that your bike doesn't fit so well, or the rider concentrated too much on the stems surrounding him in the 4's race as opposed to the finish line.

As quickly as I had the adapter installed, it was pulled out and replaced with an old ITM 105mm 1" quill with that familiar 26.0mm hole for the bars. Now that's classy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Peloton Diaries Vol. Hinault

It's a long time between posts. You'll be happy to know it was time well spent with my WayBack Machine.

As most of you know I'm of the opinion that Bernard Hinault is pretty much the greatest character in cycling of all time. I thought I might as well learn a little more about the man by going back to 1978, just as Le Blaireau was coming into his second year as a professional cyclist. He was hungry, ambitious, cerebral, and even a bit of a scoundrel in those early years. And apparently, had quite a thing for Van Halen.

16 February 1978

Today was no good. Bad legs, bad weather, bad breath. At least I had the opportunity to show the two fat bags on the Rue my arse. How many times do I have to deal with a dozen bastards challenging anyone that dare passes? Too many I say. Stop. Please.

At least Lucien is back tomorrow...

17 February 1978

Fantastic! It blows my mind! It makes me move! Lucien brought a music gift from USA called Van Halen. This music really drives me and I can feel the heavy guitar licks with passion. The second song "Eruption" is like anything I've ever heard. Like a freight train driving to heaven. And just when you think it's over it dives straight down to hell with an incredible thundrous take on "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks. This album will be in my head throughout the spring classics for sure. It inspires and soars. I am not afraid to say Le Tour is now mine.

19 February 1978

Ohhh. My head still hurts this very moment from Friday. After training for six hours with Cyrille on the motorbike and showering up, we went to Marcel's disco with Lucien and Marc. Old Cyrille was really going off. An incredible dancer for a guy that says he can't race anymore because of bad knees. I guess it was the Pernod moving him. He says he couldn't even get out of bed yesterday to take a shit.
While Marc was turning his charms to some beautiful women-they really seem unable to resist him. Lucien and I really got into it about French pop vs. American rock. He says that if you take away the loud guitars, all you have is a bunch of homos humping microphone stands in their mothers athletic clothes. I nearly punched his neck for that. He may be right about the fruitcakes in Foreigner, but David and Eddy are all testosterone. When I said Francois Valery was a talentless hack basterd with dirty knees, Lucien got the crazy eyes and tried to grab me, but all he did was fall off his chair and throw up. Game over. I win, Lucien. Get used to it!

20 February 1978

Rode with Marc, Lucien, some new kid named Cherry...Charry...Charly...Cha..something like that. Man, he was short. I couldn't understand a word he said through all those crooked teeth and Rhone accent.
Marc started to make fun of him during the ride by making mongoloid sounds and chewing on his tongue. DaDaaaDaaaDaaahhh. Lucien and I were hysterical and had to stop pedaling so we didn't pee ourselves. The kid was a good sport about it, though. He even bought us all espressos at Jacques' Cafe in Saint-Malo.
I was feeling feisty on the way home and attacked midway through the boring stretch on Croix au Merles. I poured all I had into breaking them. The kid was the first to pop. Now it was us just us three maneuvering for position. I glanced back and saw the poor kid, head down, falling behind meter by meter at every pedal stroke, his shoulders rocking.
I could tell we all had that taste in our mouth of adrenaline and sweat while still searching for the missing element, domination. All convinced we be the first and only to drink the sweet Victory Cocktail. The three of us kept on driving daggers into each others guts, click after click. Then, just as I turned a powerful gear to the front, I hear Marc doing the mongoloid thing again and lost it. Lucien and I seized up with laughter and short coughs from the effort while Marc scuttled by and disappeared around the bend. DaaDaaaaaDaaaDaa.... What a cheeky bastard move...

21 February 1978

I went out alone today for nearly eight hours. It was another gray one and I'm starting to forget what the sun feels like on my skin. I kept plugging away though. There was another group of cyclo-tourists that couldn't handle a passing. I drilled them good and close. Just barely brushing the hair on their elbows as I passed them again at twice their speed while drinking from my bidon. They were all red and swollen with effort in the face and searching for gears with feeble clicks and clacks coming from their broken machines. God, how I enjoy destroying people.

24 February 1978

I've been riding alone the past few days and am really loving the solitude and time to clear my head. I ride with that song "Ain't Talkin' bout Love" in my head these past few rides. When he says that he's been to the edge, I know exactly what he means. I've been there too. I look down and I see that past is prologue. I see that I am imperfect and rotten also. Though, I also understand that I must take what is before me. I must grab it before the next greedy hand comes along to claim it for themselves. I need more hours, more devotion, and more tenacity. As David says, "I've got to be, baby."