[CR]Italy and the 2005 Eroica

Topics: Events:Eroica

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Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2005 15:38:38 -0400
From: Edward Albert <ealbert@bellatlantic.net>
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR]Italy and the 2005 Eroica

I know this list is not a travel site so I will try to keep my posts on topic. Even so....I think it will take me two or three long winded postings to cover all that was of CR interest. I just returned from 16 days in Tuscany and the Piedmont (Coppi land) area of Italy with the Eroica Grand Fondo being the centerpiece of a vintage biker dream. As many of you know I was trying to arrange a bike tour made up of all vintage bike fans culminating in the Eroica. The tour happened but, as it turns out, I was the only one on a vintage bike. So, for 6+ days I rode my 1965 Bianchi Speciallisima while the rest of the group rode bikes weighing 15lbs give or take. with carbon wheels, carbon compact cranks, and ergo shifters. It was, to say the least, a challenge. In order to acquaint the rest of the riders with what it is like to ride the strada bianca that makes up many of the Eroica kilometers we rode perhaps 30 or so kms of it during the week. Man that Speciallisima handled like a dream. I could descend on my 21mm Clement tubulars at top speed and, with the exception of this ex cat 2+ racer and cyclocrosser from Connecticut who used to race for Richie Sachs named Doug Day (husband of the tour companies co-owner), no one could stay with me. The bike tracked like a dream......even I, who swears by the new technologies, was just ecstatic. And, when we descended the long paved switchbacks of Tuscany well, the bike was as good or better than my prized C-40 carbon Colnago. Climbing was another story but, as they say, what doesnt kill you makes you stronger. A real highlight of the week was a visit to the store and factory of Irio Tommasini. What a wonderful man. His daughter, who speaks perfect Texas English having lived there for a year or so, gave us a tour of the factory. But, for me, the highlight, was sitting down and talking vintage bikes with Irio. My Italian is poor at best, but somehow we communicated. I showed him pics of my collection and he helped in dating where I was unsure. I was over the top when he told me he thought the collection was impressive. Then, off to the back room to see his own collection. Several old bikes of his own manufacture under the name of Thomas (because he thought they might sell better in the US market were just exquisite. A Pela, a Legnano, a Maina, and on and on. One bike he was given by a friend he said had on it a saddle given to his friend by, none other than, il Campionissimo Fausto Coppi. I just rested my hand on it for awhile. He then pulled out a set of rims with the non tire side grooved like the inside of a clincher. Never saw such a thing. He had no idea who had produced them. In his office he carefully pulled out a box which contained an NOS Campy Cambio Corsa derailleur. From what I could understand, he planned to build a bike for it when he found the time. Soon, my friend Mark (tour guide and owner) came in saying the rest of the crew were mad as hell at me for staying so long and that I should get my A** out to the van. Reluctantly I left, agreeing that we would see each other again at the Eroica were he serves a judge. Anyway, enough for now......stage two the Eroica perhaps tomorrow.
Edward Albert
Chappaqua, NY