31 August 2015

MOB - David Triple Challenge

Original post (in German and English) can be seen here.

David vs. MOB: Triple Ten Challenge

The Goal: Each of us to lose ten kg in ten months.
The competition: David vs. mob – who loses least weight has to pay
The bet: Who will achieve 10 kg first? Please join us and place your bet.

And these are our ideas:
The Weigh-In
On Sept. 1st we weight ourselves and this is will become for each of us our start weight from which we aim to lose 10 kg by July 1 2016.
Interim Target
On Feb 1st we would like to achieve a weight reduction of 5 kg. In case we don’t we will contribute each of us €75 or JPY 10.000 to a charity of our choice. In case David loses more weight than mob he will choose the charity and vice versa.
The Charity
David’s choice is “Orandajima Foundation, supporting children’s programs toward post-tsunami recovery in Yamadamachi, Iwate Prefecture.
mob would like to support Fluchtraum Bremen Fluchtraum Bremen is helping unaccompanied refugees of minor age in Bremen.
Friends, How can you join?
We would appreciate if you join our initiative and contribute to the charitiy. Our proposal is, that you contact one of us and set a contribution of x €/JPY for each kg that we lose by Feb. 1st. Any amount is OK. We wil inform you about the result and the winner of the competition and will ask you to contribute directly the committed amount to the chosen charity organisation. We will post the total amount and the names of the contributors on our websites,
Just in case: You will not get any money if we gain weight.
The Target
Our goal is to lose 10 kg in ten months by July 1st. In case we don’t achieve our goal we will contribute €75 or JPY 10.000 per kg missed to the winning partiy's charity. And we would like to ask you to contribute your committed amount for each kg that we have lost.

We are looking forward to your support. It is easier to reach our goal if we are supported by many of you: For us and for the children we like to support in Japan and Germany.

30 August 2015

A Visit to the Madonna del Ghisallo ... by bicycle

When planning my trip to Italy, I knew that I would have 6 nights between the end of my week with family in Tuscany and arrival at the start of PBP for bike check and preparation.  What to do?  Well, Verona for the opera and the history, Valpolicella, Lago di Garda and Chesini. Then a day in Cremona to visit the violin museum and even test a few instruments with one of the many luthiers who live and work there.

But what then?  A swing by Provence and Mt. Ventoux?  Not really time, and no desire to do any kind of punishing ride only a few days before the start of PBP.  A stop in Burgundy for some wine tasting?  Well, not really something I want to do alone, and mid-August is not good timing.  Instead, once I realized how close Cremona was to Milan, the choice was obvious.  A quick visit to northern Italy's business and fashion capital, and a day trip to the cyclists' shrine at Passo del Ghisallo, the Madonna del Ghisallo.  This is an iconic location for cyclists, the "spiritual home to Italian cycling."  And the climb from Bellagio on the Lake Como side features regularly in the Giro di Lombardia.

My hotel was on the SE side of central Milan, so I started by hunting and pecking my way through the city until I could get on a good road headed through the northern suburbs and toward Erba.  I would climb to Ghisallo from Erba in the South, not the Bellagio climb, but very nice once in the hills, and with its own delights.
Climb from Erba to Ghisallo

Climb from Bellagio to Ghisallo
First I got to ride the massive flagstone cobbles and tram rails of central Milan.  This was a great pre-PBP test for my bicycle setup -- would it fall apart or could it stand the constant vibrations?  I remember a rain swept final stage of the Giro a few years back that took place on these stones, and now I can see with my own eyes what commentators were discussing at the time -- this is not an easy place to ride on thin tires or at high speed.

Eventually I rode on a path through Parco Nord Milan, then on better roads.

It was very hot by now, maybe 36 or 37 degrees C.  I passed Erba, taking a road on the side of the valley that offered a nice view.

Then Canzo, the beginning of the real climb.  Then Asso (missing an "s" at the end, I thought). Part of the way up the climb, as the temperature cooled a bit, I passed a 1000 year-old church, built on an outcrop.  The road wound around its base and continued to climb.

Then before I had expected, I was at the top, the shrine in view and Lake Como stretching out before me.  A few meters away, there was a beautiful modern building set into the hillside, the Museo del Ciclismo Ghisallo.

Bike parking just at the museum entrance, of course.

The museum was almost empty, and I decided to visit it first before the shrine.  The man at the admission desk saw me lock my bike and offered "reduced admission, 5 Euro (instead of 6), for those arriving by bicycle".  I thanked him, and said "I came all the way from Milan ... maybe 4 Euro?"  ... but he was not having any of it.  His response "so it took you how long, about 90 minutes".  "Errr ... a bit longer" (actually more than twice that, some due to leisurely pace, some due to navigation on the way out of the city).

The museum building is gorgeous, and it is full of memorabilia of (mostly Italian) cycling history.  I highly recommend it, especially for someone with an interest in classic bicycles -- Bianchi, Colnago, Casati, Olmo, at least 3 Merckx, and on and on and on.  There is a lot of racing memorabilia (especially from the Giro d'Italia), and I could not imagine a better place to observe the evolution of shifting systems, tensioners, etc.  I took many photos, which you can access at this link. Better yet, stop by if you ever get anywhere close.

Leader jerseys from the Giro d'Italia over the years; also lots of world champion jerseys nearby
After the museum, I spent a few minutes in the actual shrine.  I wanted to make some kind of small offering and say a prayer for a friend who died in a cycling accident last year in California when he was hit while riding, struck by a car towing a horse trailer and driven by an inexperienced, teenage driver.  I did so, and saw Fabio Casartelli's bike from his fatal crash in the Pyrenees, fork bent a bit backward but otherwise not noticeably damaged, hanging from the rafters.
After a few moments' reflection, I left the shrine.  No time to go down to Bellagio, but I could dip a few hundred meters down the road for a view a bit further along Lake Como.
I headed back toward Milan.  By now it was close to 2PM and I was worried about getting lunch before the end of service hours.  I went off the main road and into the town of Asso.  It looked a bit as if time had forgotten it, but I could find one "bar" that served a grilled sandwich--almost a tuna melt.  It was much better than anticipated. The owner/server's mother came by as I sat, and we conversed in a mix of broken English, Italian and other languages (a bit of French).  She said she was from Switzerland originally, but had married and moved to Italy (Asso). Her (deceased) husband's brother lived in Connecticut ... but she had never visited the U.S. It was a nice interlude and I was glad to be off the "recommended route" for tourists.
some much needed basic food in Asso
Asso ... more cobbles, and not much activity on a hot August afternoon.
I retraced my route back to Milan, making good time and avoiding several mis-steps I had made on the way out of town.

28 August 2015

Cicli Chesini - The Bicycles of Verona, Part 3

In addition to its classic and modern steel racing frames, built to custom size, Chesini has a number of other products, some OEM, but all of them with plenty of Italian style.  They make some very nice "urban" bicycles, including "gentlemen's bikes" including the Vispula and Torpedo.

Handlebar built from the same tubing as the frame?!  Road disk.  Sleek light.

Branded crank ... with belt drive

Indeed, when I stopped by for my visit, there was a Chesini bike ridden by a visitor ... parked on the street just outside the Chesini shop.
They also sell kit, and various Chesini branded components.

I got two Chesini t-shirts during my visit.  This nice black one.
And one with the "classic" red Chesini logo
One of the shop windows
Where are the bicycles made?  Right next door, in the very same building.  At least, according to Osvaldo, that is where all the "important work" is done.

Chesini steel road frames are all custom orders.  The process will be familiar to someone who has ordered (or built) a custom frame before.  It begins with careful body measurements, either taken directly or submitted on a form.  Osvaldo, a mechanical engineer by training, is the designer and prepares the CAD drawings. After sign-off from the customer, the frame is cut, welded (or brazed) and finished, in Verona, by Chesini's master framebuilder, Andrea Businaro.  Separately, Osvaldo and the customer will agree upon the paint and graphics scheme, so that these instructions can be sent together with the completed frame for painting (after cataphoresis -- electrodeposition -- or chome plating, if applicable).  The main difference from many U.S. independent frame builders is the degree of specialization, with Osvaldo serving as the designer and running the business, and Andrea and other craftsmen doing the actual work.

For orders from Japan, Hiroshi Koyama at C Speed handles the interface with Chesini, make sure that they get the right measurements and the design details.
The back room
Drilling and cutting tools; jigs
Seat tube and BB shell held secure in jig
Close up of same
Reaming tools 
More supplies.  Sterzi = steerer?
Chesini's framebuilder, Andrea Businaro
Chesini product tester Giorgio Furlan, 1994 Milan-San Remo winner, and winner of
multiple stages of the Giro d'Italia during a career in the 1980s to 1990s.
In charge of Chesini's line of urban bikes
I did not want to leave Chesini, or Verona.  I wanted to enjoy the bikes, and to blend into the cool ancient churches, to look behind the weathered wood doors, to feel the cool, ancient varied stones, and to soak it all in for a few more days.

But Cremona, Milan, Ghisallo and Paris were calling.