Previous Posts

  • How to set up your Gravatar October 20, 2018Teocalli1496

    Hiya, The site is configured to generate a Gravatar for you. To configure your own – 1. Hover your mouse over your logged in name (to right) 2. Click on Edit My Profile 3. Scroll down the screen to Profile Image 4. Click on Gravatar and follow their instructions Cheers, Teocalli

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  • Strade Bianche October 19, 2018Teocalli1486

    Photo by Sportograph

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  • The Butler by Teocalli – (from 2014) October 19, 2018Teocalli1444

     

    First published in 2014 in another place, the story of The Butler is reproduced here as much for testing site updates as for the content.

    As the younger brother many of my early possessions were hand-me-downs.  The first bike I recollect was red with stabilisers.  I was a lazy starter and would just ride on the stabilisers till they bent.  Eventually my Dad simply removed them out of frustration.  The next was a trike, green with a boot (trunk) between the rear wheels and rod brakes.  Quite how we ended up with a trike I can’t remember – but I do remember it was lethal and turning the thing over quite a few times.  Then there was the blue sit up and beg, again with rod brakes.  I had a major crash on that one chasing my brother down a hill on his first racing bike.  Much Red Sauce involved and I still have the scar on my head.

    Finally came the day, the first major item that was to be all mine from new, my first Racing Bike.  I still remember coming home from school in the summer of 1967 “There’s something for you in your bedroom”.  Rushing upstairs there it was, a gleaming Moss Green, 5 Gear, Claud Butler.  From that day bicycles had a name, identity and purpose – to look great and to go fast.

    After the obligatory period sitting on my bed staring at it, I simply had to take it out for a ride.  It was mine so I couldn’t ask for help and that was nearly my (first) undoing. I was struggling halfway down the stairs and on the verge of loosing it and falling in a tumbling mess, which would have had pretty disastrous results for the bike, the staircase, the door at the bottom and me (in that order in my thoughts), when my Dad appeared through the door in the nick of time and saved the day, just as Dads are meant to do.

    I’m not exactly tall now and I was even smaller for my age in those days, so the setup must have been “dual slammed”, both stem and seat post slammed.  Looking at the bike now I’m surprised I could reach the pedals and/or the bars at that age. I must have had a horizontal back just to reach the hoods.  It was definitely a bike to grow into.

    My next recollection regarding the bike was over the subject of mudguards. It came with full mudguards and according to Dad all bikes must have mudguards, “but Dad, Racing Bikes don’t have mudguards, I’ll be laughed at”.  Compromises have to be made and that is why the bike still has the stubbies that were agreed upon.  Do not quote any Rules at me over those mudguards, they stay in memory of my Dad and that compromise.

    Anyway, from that point I was independent and I could get out and see my friends without needing a lift – and I could also get into trouble in a whole new way by being late home for meals.  It’s only years later that you realise those silent glares and the blunt “Where do you think you have you been?” are a mix of anger and relief when “I’m just going out for a ride” leads to you being gone all day with no food till you come home late for dinner with blissful lack of comprehension as to how worried your parents have been.

    The first rite of passage for a cyclist is starting to clean and service your own machine.  I remember one day not long after getting the bike and not really knowing what I was doing, using my dog bone spanner I had taken apart all the bits that were easy to remove and clean, including removing the brake blocks and sliding the brake blocks out of the carriers to clean them.  On the following ride I applied the brakes, something hit me on the calf and suddenly – no brakes. I’d put the blocks back the wrong way round and they all came out.  40 odd years later I can still picture in fine detail the back end of the low loader (flatbed) lorry I narrowly missed at the road junction.

    At school we had a small cycling club and became proficient in servicing our bikes and every second weekend or so we’d strip them down completely.  Dismantle the hubs etc, clean all the bearings and get them “just so” so that the weight of the valve would turn the wheel to settle at the bottom of it’s own accord.

    After leaving school the bike sat in the garage for some years while I went through the rites of riding motorbikes and my first old banger car and the home servicing that came with motorbikes and old cars in those days.  Cycling was then chiefly for maintaining summer fitness for playing Rugby in the winter  – a game incidentally that also involved the study of copious quantities and types of Fine Malted Recovery Beverage.  The Claud Bulter received an upgrade to 10 Gears with a Huret front mech and Suntour Crankset and rear mech in place of the Campag Gran Sport 5 Gear mech that it came with.   After the early 80s the bike was essentially unused. There are many times I could so easily have got rid of it but somehow I never did.  It became one of those Old Friends that, while you don’t use them, neither can you part with them.

    My return to cycling in the early 90s was via Mountain Biking with a string of bikes from Big S, complemented by a couple of Bianchi Alu Road Bikes (the first was totalled by a car).  I was mainly a mountain biker wandering in the undergrowth of darkness until I upgraded the Bianchi for a Pinarello last spring, came out of the darkness of the undergrowth and saw the light and the path (well the road actually) and discovered the Velominati.

    Throughout all this time the Claud Butler was stuffed in a corner of our garage – or more latterly in my brother’s garden shed when he had an unfulfilled intention to take some exercise and get fit.

    It was on a ride one beautiful evening last summer on the Pinarello that I was doing a typical Rule V evening ride and I was thinking that it would be nice sometime to take it easy and cruise the lanes in a different style. Somehow a Carbon Pinarello demands to be gunned at warp speed at all times.  Around that time I was rooting around my office looking for something when I came across the original sales brochure for 1967 Claud Butler, I didn’t even know I had it.  At that point the plan to renovate it was born.  Thinking back to the school-day cycling club and all those magazine ads we used to browse and plan for upgrades we could not possibly afford, I decided to go for a period Gruppo upgrade that would have been the stuff of dreams for me as a schoolboy.

    Recovering the bike from my brother some of it was in a bit of a sorry state but it was basically solid and, most surprisingly, the wheels would still turn of their own accord to settle the valve at the bottom.

    After many hours mainly searching and biding on eBay and also via a couple of specialist period bicycle outfits, finding a few bargains and probably paying way too much for other items, I collected a box of Nuovo Record and other period components and the frame went off to Mercian cycles for re-spray and re-decal as near per original as possible.  It has been something quite special to have had the bike for so long and to be able to put it back to what would have been the bike of my dreams way back as a schoolboy in that cycling club in the early 70s.  I hope you like the result.  I’m very much looking forward to riding in some vintage events next summer.  It can’t be often one gets a chance to put a boyhood dream into reality in this manner. It has been a special experience for me.

    Since the original publication The Butler has done numerous local rides plus the Wiggle Le Revolution in France, Eroica Britannia twice (one ridden by my riding buddy) and Eroica Limburg.

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  • Strade Bianche October 15, 2018Teocalli1183
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    Early season target set to be fit for Strade Bianche. Entry submitted, just have to hope for a nice warm, dusty event. Would have been OK this year for the Sportif on Sunday had it not been that I could not get out of the UK due to snow causing my flight to be cancelled. Despite having a day in hand I could not find another flight at anything like and affordable price. So hoping for better next Spring. Anyone else going? Entries are still open. Plan is to get there a day early to chill out in Siena and then a few days in Florence post event before flying back.

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  • A TALE OF TWO TEAMS by Wiscot October 13, 2018Teocalli845

    Pictures: Renault by bike magazine.com  Raleigh by HetisKoers.nl 

    Of all the (many) negative aspects of the US Postal/Discovery dominance of the Tour de France, for me, the most egregious is that in seven tours, only one of Armstrong’s teammates, George Hincapie, won a stage while he won 21 individual stages. If it was not all about the bike, then it was certainly all about Lance; his teammates were simply serfs to the master. (Yes, I know they won team time trials, but my point still stands). It was an efficient modus operandi, but seriously lacking in what might be termed “esprit des corps.”

    In more recent years Sky have been accused of adopting the same approach in service of a particular team leader, but have generally shared the spoils more generously.Modern cycling seems to have increasingly adopted a monocular approach to the Grand Tours: teams line up with specific aspirations: targeting a particular jersey or maybe just looking for a stage win or two.
    Race radios and team tactics have profoundly affected the sport for better and for worse. Barodeurs are few and far between and usually found in the ranks of the smaller teams. Gone are the days of an almost casual approach team hierarchies, take-it-as-it-comes strategies and riders seemingly having carte-blanche to take their chances.
    Historically, two teams standout as examples of a more freewheeling approach (pardon the pun), where wins were widely shared and the sense of camaraderie must have been (pardon the pun once more) sky high. Let’s start in 1980 with the Tour de France. 13 teams of 10 lined up for 22 stages which included two days of split stages. (In 1981 Bernard Hinault led a famous protest against this practice at Valence d’Agen and they magically disappeared in future editions. The Tour learned early that the Badger was not to be trifled with). Stages 1A and 1B were a 133kms road stage and a 46kms TTT; stages 7A and 7B were a 65 kms TTT and a 92 kms road stage. – impossible to conceive of today. The Raleigh team, led by no-nonsense Dutch boss Peter Post, had a viable yellow jersey contender in Joop Zoetemelk, the dogged Dutch veteran who had finished second in the Tour 5 times between 1970 and 79. As a supporting cast they had Jan Raas, Henk Lubberding, Bert Oosterbosch, Gerrie Knetemann, Cees Priem, Leo van Vliet, Paul Wellens, Bert Pronk and Johan van de Velde on the roster; frankly, this was an embarrassment of riches. By the time the race reached Paris, Zoetemelk was in yellow and Van de Velde in white as best young rider. Raas had won three stages, Zoetemelk two and individual wins were secured for Lubberding, Oosterbosch, Priem, and Knetemann. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough they won both team time trials, setting a new standard for preparation and discipline in that event. A total of 11 stages or half of what was on offer. Dominance, but not just with one rider reaping the glory.
    In 1984, Laurent Fignon, returning from his 1983 Tour triumph, led the Renault-Elf team. (Hinault had skedaddled in the off-season for Bernard Tapie’s new La Vie Claire team). The bespectacled Frenchman was undisputed leader of his merry band of young professionals and as the new superstar of cycling might have been expected to demand total subservience in pursuit of another Tour crown. Not quite. Twenty-three stages and a prologue lay ahead for the 170 riders – quite a rise from just four years earlier – as the race left the outskirts of Paris at Montreuil. Renault dominated throughout, winning stages 2, 3, 7, 8, 12, 16, 18, 20 and 22.  Fignon won five, Marc Madiot, Pascal Jules and Pascal Poisson each got one and the team claimed the team time trial. Vincent Barteau spent 12 days in yellow, Fignon seven. By Paris, the team had 9 stages in the bag, overall victory plus the team classification, 2ndin the team points competition and the white jersey for best young rider being won by a fresh-faced American kid called Greg Lemond. By any standards it was a performance of stunning team work. One can only imagine the sense of camaraderie at meal times as the successes kept coming for both teams and each rider fully feeling that they were not just true contenders, but setting the standard for others to beat.
    What makes these two teams exceptional is that both had legit yellow jersey aspirants (who were ultimately successful) yet did not metaphorically put all their eggs in one basket. Both squads were led by wily ex-pros who were tactical geniuses: Peter Post and Cyrille Guimard, and both were strong in depth with a great mix of specialists and all-rounders.
    Appropriately, given that we’re discussing the Tour, I’d like to close by quoting the great French novelist Alexandre Dumas, whose Three Musketeers had a motto of “all for one and one for all.” Raleigh and Renault didn’t just enter cyclists, they sent musketeers with attitudes that could be described as “swashbuckling” – taking advantage of all opportunities and chances. While dominance can get a tad predictable and boring, we should be so lucky as to see their likes again.

     

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  • Track start October 12, 2018ChrisO700
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    The first of many pieces… Building up a track bike. My first time doing a bike from scratch so it seems a good project to document here. And you can all laugh when it goes horribly wrong.

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  • Dad’s Bike October 12, 2018davidlhill698
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    My dad’s bike needs another outing…….

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  • Eroica Hispania October 12, 2018davidlhill615

    In the interest of a) testing the new site, b) vanity, here’s a picture of my and my dad’s Raleigh (c 1972) at last year’s Eroica Hispania

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  • The Beginning October 11, 2018Teocalli599

    In The Beginning (by Graeme Edge)
    First Man:
    I think…
    I think I am.
    Therefore I am!
    I think…

    Establishment:
    Of course you are, my bright little star…
    I’ve miles and miles of files
    Pretty files of your forefather’s fruit
    And now to suit our great computer
    You’re magnetic ink!

    First Man:
    I’m more than that
    I know I am…
    At least, I think I must be

    Inner Man:
    There you go, man
    Keep as cool as you can
    Face piles of trials with smiles
    It riles them to believe
    That you perceive
    The web they weave…
    And keep on thinking free

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