An interesting article published in 1897 in London’s National Review was originally intended to dissuade women from pursuing cycling as it was considered unbecoming for them to do so. Some doctors argued that bicycling was an excessively taxing activity, unsuitable for women, telling that it could induce exhaustion, insomnia, heart palpitations, headaches, and depression.

“The unconscious effort to maintain one’s balance tends to produce a wearied and exhausted Bicycle Face.”

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It begins to take shape!

Here are couple of pics of how things are going so far on this vintage gravel bike winter project:

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Adapt and conquer!

Vintage bicycle components are often wonders of simplicity. They were designed to do a specific job with lightweight, reliability, ease of use and often with a little bit of style. Sometimes when you are trying to get more versatility out of a bicycle you must also work to expand the capability of the components. After all, the complete bicycle can only do what it is possible for it’s individual components to accomplish. Following is a summary of some of the modifications I have undertaken to adapt these otherwise unremarkable components into more functional versions, so that the complete bicycle it is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

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Re-interpreting the wheel?

These days, even with the many categories of bicycling that are now currently popular, it is still easy for vintage cycling enthusiasts to see their projects through the narrow lens of a “period correct” view. That perspective can limit what a project bicycle could become to whatever they did “back in the day.” If we consider where cycling is today then we have many more options as to what a bicycle can be. Randonneuring, gravel biking, cross bikes, touring and commuting are all disciplines which are gaining in popularity while traditional road racing has entered a kind of decline. In deciding how to build this Girardengo I will adopt a broader view of what a bicycle can/should be. To re-interpret a classic bicycle with the possibilities of today in mind!

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Entry level racer

This Girardengo is an early to mid-60’s intermediate level frame and probably just the sort of bike that a beginning racer might ride. Not top shelf but still good enough for local competitions and a pretty good performer overall. A bike like this would have been the envy of many aspiring young bike racers on a Saturday morning back in the day!

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Sometimes it is hard to categorize a unique type of bicycle. This Girardengo in all likelihood began life as a proper Italian city bike, probably 5 speed, with fenders and an upright riding position. Not a race bike by any means, rather a very civilized and practical means of transport. I have however re-invented it into another category altogether!

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Well, that’s what I’m calling it!

What exactly is a Condorino? Well in the direct translation from Italian it means little condor. However, in the world of bicycling it is a reference to a unique style of handlebars most often seen on Italian city bikes. The resemblance to a bird wing like shape of the bars is the reference. The “condorino” handlebar is a uniquely Italian concept with Bianchi, Legnano, Torpado and others having offered this style of bars on their city bikes over the years. To me it offers a sportier upright riding position than the more common swept back style of bars do. Not often seen in the US they are also a quite comfortable riding position even though they may be a bit narrow for some tastes.

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Well, it took about 6 months from when I initially inquired about this bike to actually receiving it. The process was somewhat delayed by the pandemic but continued to move forward regardless. I have to say that in the end it was worth the wait!

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15 years a Randonneur!

I became a member of Randonneurs USA in 2006 as RUSA #3100, just 8 years after the organization was formed. The things that initially drew me to randonneuring were simply the idea of riding my bicycle over long distances, often through new and interesting countryside and usually with a good friend at my side. The traditions of the sport, the self sufficiency, determination and resourcefulness required to do these rides were characteristics that I valued and admired. But, over my years of participating in the sport I’ve noticed that some things are changing and it has me thinking…..

My riding partner Clair Jensen on the Central Coast in 2006

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Four and counting!

My information page, the Girardengo Barn has prompted many people who are seeking information on Girardengo bicycles to contact me, hoping to get more information on the marque. Occasionally some of those who come seeking knowledge on their intended project end up not following through with the plan to restore the bike and move on to something else. That is the case with this frame which was offered to me as a result. This is the Fourth Girardengo bicycle to find it’s way into my stable!

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Sheltering in shop!


Well with the current situation requiring that people stay at home, I have found time to make some progress on getting the workshop organized. Creating a productive and attractive workplace from an empty space is a challenge. The room seems large at first glance but when you put in a few bicycles, motorbikes, ski gear, a convertible, wood working shop and other storage, well it soon becomes obvious that you don’t have as much space as you thought!

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Piemontese

After a fruitless effort to identify the marque of this bicycle I have decided that it should not remain a no-name bike. Lacking its true identity I can at least give it an alias, or perhaps a stage name. Bicycles have personalities of sorts and any name should reflect that. To give it a signature to display on the down-tube seems only proper. A few of the naming criteria for me are as follows: First, that it be Italian, offers a complimentary image, and should reflect something about the character of the machine. Italians bikes are often unique to the region in which they are manufactured, in the case this bike the Piedmont region of northern Italy. That makes this bike Piemontese in origin and would also make a fine label for this bike. Hey, I think I just invented a bike brand! (more…)

This is the second post in a series on the creation of my recently ordered Battaglin Marosticana.

From paper to Steel!

My Marosticana on paper.

To order a bicycle from Officina Battaglin the first step is to find out who you are, or more precisely what your measurements are! To get to the proper end result you must start with the basics.

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Officina Battaglin

Officina Battaglin is the workshop founded by Giovanni Battaglin, the legendary cyclist who won both the 1981 Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana in a span of just 48 days! In 1982 Giovanni began producing bicycles in his home town of Marostica in Italy. He produced bicycles for several major racing teams who realized many victories through the 1980’s and 90’s. However, the bike industry is always hungry for new technologies, and so in the late 90’s the workshop started experimenting with lighter materials like aluminium and carbon. Sadly, as demand for steel bikes diminished, the company shuttered the factory where these fine steel frames were built. The equipment sat unused and the skills of the craftsmen who built them began to be lost!

The revival of a classic line!

After a time, Giovanni began to reflect on the state of things and asked himself if “saving weight was the only thing that mattered?” After 12 years of professional bike racing and more than 30 years as a bicycle manufacturer he recognized that something was missing. So, in 2014 he decided to go back to brazing custom custom steel frames and dusted off the old machinery that was still in the workshop. With the revived Officina Battaglin brand, he returned to his roots, and resumed production of  the exceptional racing frames that had made his name known all around the world.

Giovanni’s son Alex now manages the workshop in Marostica, Italy where they build custom steel bikes to each owner’s specifications, with comfort and craftsmanship as their hallmark. Each frame made features custom geometries designed by Giovanni Battaglin himself, is finished beautifully and bears the founder’s signature. It’s the place where the legacy of Giovanni Battaglin is being revived as the only maker of Italian steel bicycle frames that is also a Grand-Tour winner.

The Marosticana

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No Number

Here is another Girardengo example which was recently acquired and then set aside for the future. It came as the frame only, without any components or fork. Mounting holes for badges on the head tube as well as the seat tube are typical of an early to mid 60’s Girardengo. There is no frame number at any of the likely locations so that adds a bit to the mystery.

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The end of the Oregon Trail?

Well, we have been in Utah for over 26 years but the time has come to make a change. We are entering that “downsizing” time of life and are relocating to Oregon City, south of Portland Oregon. We have family in this area and have visited for years so it just makes sense.

The new shop is still a work in progress!

It is a big job moving most of what you own over 1000 miles, but our move is more of a slow motion transition and we will have a foot-print in both Oregon and Utah for a awhile yet. While the overall goal is to downsize a bit there is also an opportunity to up-size the workshop space. I should be able to gather all of my cycling interests and do a nice reorganization of the shop space. This will provide me with the space to create a nice display for some of the old and special bikes as well as some work space for not only cycling, but other interests such as motorcycles and wood working. I should even be able to sneak in a paint booth! I know that winter can be long and gloomy in the PNW so a warm, dry and well lit refuge will be welcome.

It also nicely eliminates the argument about not having enough space for that new project!

Information on Oregon City.

A sporty all roads rider!

 

Sometimes it takes a while to get where you are going, and so it was with this build. I had gathered all of the parts that I wanted to use on the bike pretty quickly but the time to put it all together just never materialized. Finally over this past winter I was able to get a start on it and by Spring it was ready to go!

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I was back again this year to attend one of my favorite cycling events, Eroica California. This year the event shifted to a new venue on the coast in the little town of Cambria California. For those of you not familiar with the Eroica concept it is a gathering of vintage cycling enthusiasts who then ride their classic bikes on a challenging mixed surface route. It is the original gravel grinder type of event!

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I don’t really shop for bike projects anymore. I have several underway currently and others seems to just appear out of thin air. This frame came to me from an individual who had visited a page that I maintain, “The Girardengo Barn.” He was apparently in a similar situation and needed to offload this project to someone else. Call me a sucker but I took on the challenge!

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A 1973 Lygie came to me recently in pretty decent shape. It is just the frame and fork but it has the makings of a modern classic, as soon as I figure out what to do with it! This new acquisition does raise the question of how many bicycles one person needs but I will not attempt settle that issue now. I will just put this one in the queue and think about silly questions later!

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This is a bike that you dont see everyday! The frame was built by Lino Messori of Modena Italy in 1984. Examples of his bikes are hard to come by as is information on the marque. Only about 150 bikes exhibiting his name were ever built! I acquired this bike as a frame and fork about 10 years ago. It languished in my bike room for several years before I decided to get it back into riding shape. In addition to the restoration work it has become a bit of a research project for me. I have some leads to follow and hope to be able to provide more information on the builder in the future.

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Sunday September 30, 2018

This morning was the annual California Triple Crown awards breakfast. The CTC recognizes the accomplishments of riders participating in a series of double century events held in California over the years. The CTC began tracking riders results in 1990 and has kept a tally of those results. Those riders who complete 50 of these events are eligible to be inducted into the CTC Hall of Fame. Initially there were only 4 double century rides in California which counted towards the Triple Crown. Now in 2018 there are 27 qualifying double centuries in the series!

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AKA: The rolling hills from hell ride!

I try to ride the Portland Century each year if I can because it is generally a well supported and nicely designed route. It usually follows a different course each year and takes in new scenery around the Portland area. This years event held little similarity to previous years however!

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Innovation

The “freehub” is one of the great inventions of modern cycling, providing the key elements necessary for multi-speed drive-trains on bicycles. It’s mechanical function allows a cyclist to not only “freewheel” or coast their bicycle without pedaling, re-engaging the drive when pedaling is resumed, but to independently change the cogs to meet gearing requirements or address wear issues.

Many people believe that the freehub was invented by Suntour in 1969 (failed) or Shimano in 1978 (successful). While Shimano certainly did a lot to refine and popularize the technology, the freehub has been around for longer than many people realize. The first maker to invent the “freewheel unit hub” is open to debate but Bayliss-Wiley was one of the first manufacturers to bring the product to market.

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Left to right, Joe, Lonnie, Roland, ?, ?, Bob, ?

Our good group of riders for much of the day at this years Grand Tour, on June 23, 2018.

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Feeling pretty good at mile 150 along Cache Creek.

I’m back in Davis California after a couple of years away. This is the 49th annual Davis Double Century and coincidentally will be my 49th double century as well! After riding all of those doubles you would think that I would start to get good at it at some point! My only goal this year was to finish before dark but I wasn’t sure that it was in the cards. (more…)

 

Percy Thornley Stallard was literally born into cycling, being delivered in the back of his fathers bicycle shop in Wolverhampton England in 1910. Surrounded by a life of cycling, he began competitive racing at the age of 17 and rapidly made a name for himself with the Wolverhampton Wheelers Cycling Club. By 1933 he was selected for the World Road Race Championships in Montherly France, and again in 1934-1938 by which time he was Captain of the team. In 1939 the race was cancelled due to the outbreak of war in Europe and this early chapter of his life ended.

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This year I again rode the 89 mile coastal route which features most of the best elements of the event. It is challenging, scenic and well supported, and this year we were going to experience and added element, one that is every riders dream! This would be the biggest year yet with around 1100 riders!

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20 plus riders rolled out at 9:00 am from the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse in Hillsboro on a loop to the west. It was 42 degrees at the start with a 90% chance of rain later in the day. Just how much later was the question! (more…)

This event, the first Double Century of the year is a ride that I have done 6 times previously. It has perhaps the most unpredictable weather of all the double centuries on the calendar due to it’s early in the year position on the schedule. What will it be like this year?

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