Hennie Kuiper winning Milan San Remo in 1985.
This Saturday is one of my favorite races, Milan San Remo. Last year I was lucky enough be there in Milan and on the Poggio with the kind hospitality of Specialized, which made me fall in love with the race and the Tifosi even more. Growing up it was one of the few races that we got live on Irish television, in the glory days of Kelly and Roche. I have memories of Kelly literally bouncing of the walls on the decent of the Poggio in hot pursuit of a desperate Argentin. In that period there were not many riders that could get my support beyond “King Kelly” – but Hennie Kuiper was one. This type of rider comes along about once every 50 years (actually in these times of “saving your matches” I am not sure we will ever see them again). He could ride cross in the winter, finsh on the podium in the Tour, win on Alp D’Huez, win a hilly classic like Milan San Remo and Lombardia, win a flat classic like Paris-Roubaix, oh and he also won the Olympic road race and the World Championships. He could win solo or he could win in a sprint. A true Dutch legend, who when he decided to retire went home to Holland to a small cyclo-cross race at Oldenzall near his home, and rode for his own one last time.
I just returned from my first trip to Austin Texas, and it is no coincidence that I spent at least one hour of each day I was there in Mellow Johnny’s. It might be one of the best shops I have ever been to. They have the right balance of product, space and coffee (they serve Stumptown our favorite), all rounded out with some of the best and most helpful staff you could hope for. The space is in the old warehouse district and used to be a beer warehouse if I remember right. They have rides pretty much leaving the shop every morning with a mixture of levels. We were lucky enough to have our very own personal Mellow Johnny’s guide in Russell, who may well be the tallest cyclist outside of Holland (he is 6′ 7″ and his custome Land Shark has the largest headtube I have ever seen). He took us out into the Austin farmlands onto the “Flemish Loop” on a damp and hazy moring. Sitting behind Russell on a 25mph wind in your back return leg, is like sitting behind a Vespa motorpacing. There is no wind. Nothing. Just a hole that pulls you along with minimal effort. He is a “Super Dom” of pure quality, who to quote him “loves being second in command“. I wish I could have spent more time there, the riding seems great, plus I met two riders proudly sporting Elcyclista kit. That brought a smile to my face. It is so nice to see the kit out there and meet fellow riders who love design.
This is my first time seeing the Dekerf bikes, this shot from Bike Radar at the currently running NAHBS show. Super simple and clean Ti. Loving that pinstripe decal.
There has already been some great racing this season, but despite the “off-season” getting shorter and shorter, March and this weekend is where I really tune in. Although I did really enjoy K-B-K last weekend, and watching SKY click. It looks like they have already got their act together in their 3 weeks down in Mallorca. Business as usual for Cav? This weekend there is a race like no other, Strade Bianche. A race unique in character, and a serious test of fitness and mental strength, as it rolls through and over the stunning Tuscan hills. I selfishly almost pray for rain before this race making it a visually spectacular event, one better suited to maybe mountain bike skills than road.
As it happened they got a dry and perfect day for racing, and a lot of the classic stars showed their form. Cancellara, although not looking as dominant as days gone by, rode away when from the break when it mattered. I feel the “quickening“. One of my favorite riders, Van Avermaet, was animated and in the break, looking like he is setting himself up for another great MSR. Ballan, despite looking like he was riding someone else’s bike (what is it with that guys position? He looks awkward as hell) seemed to have good legs, and Roman “Christian Bale look-alike“Kreuziger seems to have come out of the winter with good legs. This time last year was the start of Gilbert’s romp of a season as he set the the pattern for many of the great one day races. This year, it is a bit early yet to start questioning his form and team move, but it is certainly different. Maybe the biggest stat of all from yesterday, that is either testament to the quality of the race (or riders not wanting to “go too deep, too early) is that out of 112 starters, only 52 finished.
Today the Paris-Nice “mini tour” kicks off, and despite wet conditions and riding conservatively, Wiggins delivered a smoking time trial. So far this season Sky and Omega/Quickstep seem to be the teams most settled and ready to race early.
Photographer and owner unknown
This is restoration at it’s best, if you can call it that. It was created by a company called Icon in LA founded by Jonathan Ward, that takes classic 4X4s and turns them into modern performance vehicles, keeping their classic good looks. This Bronco is in a custom matt volcanic grey, with a hint of metallic (we took the liberty of adding the pink Elcyclista stripe), a 5.0 Ford Coyote engine (the one from the Mustang) with manual transmission. They have literally reconsidered every item on this truck. They re-machined everything from door handles to the wing mirrors, put in architectural glass and redesigned the graphics on the Speedo. Now that is attention to detail.
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CATEGORIES: Design,The Other Stuff
Our friend Nigel Mason surely means to travel in style with what has become affectionally known as “Bike No.3″. A gorgeous custom steel Serotta all coupled up and ready to get on a plane. I can remember looking at colored brakes in the past and wondering if they could ever look good on a build. Well I think this build pretty much nails it, the perfect accent contrast to a masterfully crafted Serotta blue grey frame. Finishing kit Campy Super Record, Deda, PMP, Carbon Ti, amongst others, pretty classy. You will have to be out on the lanes of the south of England to see this one in the flesh. Or maybe the Alps later in the year….
I don’t know much about KCE, but every now and again I get a lovely little piece of art in the mail. They show up in a beautifully hand-written envelope, and contain handmade cycling themed prints. In this case above, a cycle cross brake cable hanger. For now they are going up next to my desk here at the Elcyclista Service Course. Looking forward to the next one…
CATEGORIES: Design,The Other Stuff
Our new friend Joachim Baan from the great blog Another Something made us very jealous this morning. He pointed us in the direction of his new custom frame by the Dutch frame builder Elian. Joachim is a relatively new convert to the sport, but like most of us appears to have caught the “Bug“. After meeting Elian on local ride, it sounds like they spent most of their time in the saddle talking about what would be the perfect ride, and here it is. Made from a rare Ishiwata Gallant steel, and with some pretty unique angles, Joachim has certainly got himself a true original. A minimal stealth like paint job, with the only sign of a decal being the original Ishiwata CrMo Tubing sticker. Also a nice touch with the vintage Campagolo Biothermal aero bottle to finish of a nice retro looking road bike with a lot of sourced vintage parts. Make sure to check out Elian’s site, he has made a great collection of unique custom builds of all types.
In his own words:
“The handlebars are from Kiprim, an old French factory, found in the same factory as the tubes. The seatpost is from the Taiwanese company Kalloy (now known as Uno Kalloy) and is from the early 80′s. The saddle is something I really like. It is made by the Dutch company Lepper, but the production of this model was ended long time ago. Elian saw the old molds and asked if they wanted to make a special series for him only, and they agreed. It was made in a thicker leather as the original, with a newly developed ‘chassis’ and in a lovely black leather, specially made for me”.