Beauty or beast?

There’s some good here, that big flake metallic paint, the groupset, the wheels and the stem and bars. But a lot of wrong too… that top tube, the rear triangle and the seat tube 😬🙈

What do you think? Masterpiece or monstrosity?

Mystery solved!

A few weeks back, I posted some photos from a local classified ad that caught my attention.

The carbon lugged mid 90s road bike in question, without any decals or head badge, was unusual to me as it had rear stays made of three separate tubes, with a metal bridge in the middle. Something I hadn’t seen before.

Some detective work followed… 🕵️‍♂️ and friend suggested a few pointers:

A 1990 Giant cadex 980C, which indeed does have a (larger) metal piece in the rear stays. But the head tube is clearly different.

A 1992 Koga Miyata Full Pro Carbolite, with the same head tube but clearly different rear triangle.

Then a tangent onto horrible early 90s cycling fashion (look away! 😳😱)

A 1990 Lemond TVT, again different rear stays and seat lug.

A 1989 Centurion Carbon-R, never saw one of these before, again with a different rear stay bridge piece and seat lug.

Still none the wiser… then another similar ad came up locally which confirmed it is indeed a Koga Miyata Full pro carbolite frame!

No doubt about it, this is the frame, and really nice anodised aluminium pieces too.

A further catalogue search confirmed it as a 1993 model year, and my curiosity can rest at ease.

Until the next unusual frame comes up!

Don Quixote riding against the windwills

Who doesn’t like a David and Goliath story. And if you’ve ever experienced Milan traffic, you’ll know what a champ this guy is. Triple parking anyone? 😆

Golden Wonder

Another amazing bike for sale locally. For a moment I wondered whether I was looking at the famous golden Colnago donated to the pope. Apparently fully plated in 24 karat gold.

Yours for a paltry CHF 47k (USD 47k) buy-it-now, or only CHF 30k if you fancy an auction. The mind boggles.

Truly eccentric

After a little hiatus, another bizarre bike for sale locally. This one’s perfect for the circus, or a street performer. Apart from the crazy wheels, why is it that saddles are so often at bizarre angles? 🙈🤡🤣

Mystery frame…

This bike, for sale locally, caught my eye.

At a first glance it’s just a lugged carbon frame, likely early 90s.

But look at that rear triangle, in particular the seat stays.

I’ve never seen a TVT, Vitus or Alan seat stay composed of 3 carbon tubes, with an aluminium piece in the middle.

Any ideas??

Spain, Mallorca, Coll de l’Orient and Coll de Soller

A very close family friend lives on Mallorca, and during our last trip to visit her, though it wasn’t the main objective of the trip, it would be a mighty shame not to try a little cycling there.

No planning, no bike brought from home. A quick google search identified a bike shop with road bike rental in a town nearby. My friend is a local artist, and had a small van, which was mighty handy to go and pick up the bike. 

I never hired a “proper” bike before, but the experience was pretty good. Comparable I guess to renting ski or snowboard gear. As I arrived somewhat late in the season, many of their bikes were already rented and choice was a little limited.

I got a generic carbon frame, branded with the shop name. No idea what brand is hiding under the paintwork, but I assume it’s pretty new. The bike was quite light, with a compact frame. At a first glance it looked small for me, but fit fine. In terms of groupset, the bike was fitted with Shimano 105, which I always assumed would be functionally identical to Ultegra (especially from a newer generation), but these looked cheap to me. Do Shimano do that on purpose to justify the higher prices for the top range bling? The bike had Mavic Ksyrium wheels and Aksium tyres. I was looking forward to this!

The next morning I got up early. I’ve always been a morning rider. I love the quiet, fresh morning air, and the reduced road traffic. Leaving the village (Alaró) it was cold and quiet with a couple of local runners but no-one else around. Sunrise was just starting, the day is beginning, let’s see how far we can go.

I had quickly looked at a map the night before to have an idea what’s around, but had no clear target, no plan. A great basis for an adventure!

The nearest climb to Alaró was a gentle one, Coll d’Orient. Super nice in the early morning. Olive trees, stone walls, citrus trees. I would periodically ride through clouds of citrus scent, like perfume being sprayed from the trees. That’s something I never experienced before on the bike.

As I reached the top of the first hill, the scenery changed. Now imagine a cowboy movie. Smallholdings located in dry valleys. The bike felt quick and climbing was effortless. This was feeling like it would turn out to be a good ride!

I then passed goats, and sheep wandering the the road as well as a Finca with peacocks!

It took 30mins before I saw any other cyclists, and we greeted each other, always nice.

As I passed the Coll d’Orient, the temperature dropped and I felt frozen in the cold valley, shielded from the early morning sun. Passing through a small village I climbed up the other side of the valley, on a set of small switchbacks in the forest before reaching the first of the day’s descents. 

I arrived fresh and perky in Bunyola and had to take a decision. How far can I reasonably go without bonking today. Play it safe, or throw caution to the wind?

I decided to go for it and tackle one of the Mallorca’s classic climbs, the Col de Soller!

To get there I had to pass a fairly flat open section, and as I started the climb, I had still not passed any other cyclists. I quickly found a rhythm and climbed effortlessly through olive trees to the top. “This is easy” I thought. Is that the holiday talking? Is this bike really so much better than mine back home? Is my gearing different? Did some of my training pay off? If I’m honest, I’d done more eating burgers and drinking beer in the last months than sport… but still, the riding felt good.

In fact, the climb was genuinely a breeze compared to what I am used to back home. So much so that, reaching the top I had to make another decision. Double back, or keep going? No way out over that descent. Only one way back. Up!

If there’s one thing I absolutely hate on the bike, it’s “the wall” or “bonking”. Consequently, I’m usually quite conservative on any new routes, especially far from home (without spare tire/pump etc.) and I tend to stay within my comfort zone. Still, I went for it.

I started descending and here the switchbacks were great, and numerous. Super fun, but all the while thinking “I’m going to have to climb back up all this to get home!” 

At the end of the switchbacks, the road joined the main traffic route (cas tend to use the tunnel, leaving the mountain road essentialy free for cyclists), and descended towards Soller.

I headed into town and enjoyed a couple of cups of coffee, and a large slice of chocolate cake (purely medicinal, to avoid the bonk of course!). Very pleasant, and I also warmed up in the sunshine, as yet the only cyclist in the square. 

By this time it was approaching 10:00 and on the ride back out of town, there were noticeably more cyclists than earlier.

The ride back up was not alone, and I was overtaken by a couple of cyclists heading south. The weather was now warming up and the climb had some steeper sections, but was otherwise, like the northward climb, not too strenuous.

By this point I had climbed 1,500m (4,400ft) so it’s pretty surprising that I wasn’t completely wiped out. Must be the beautiful scenery driving me along! 

I headed back to Alaró, under the midday sun, through various long, flat and uninteresting sections, with suddenly tired legs.

Back at the flat, I took a little rest and got to planning my next Mallorcan ride… watch this space (spoiler alert, it’s a good one!).

2020 TdF stage 20, Lure-La Planche des Belles Filles (on a Lemond Chambery)

What a day! A Tour was lost and won, a historic Tour deciding time trial climb results in a new young Slovenian cycling champion, who truly earned that yellow (and white, and spotted climbing) jersey.

So a couple of days ago a friend suggested we head out to the Tour de France, as it was passing close to Basel. Apparently it’s possible to ride the same route as the pros, only a few hours before they do it. Wait, what? You can’t turn up at Wimbledon and play with a friend just before Federer, or drive your Volkswagen round the Singapore F1 track before Lewis Hamilton. This sounds intriguing!

We headed out to Lure, parked up in the forest, campers already getting settled in at 8:30 for a long day cheering by the side of the road. For the ride I had to choose my Lemond Chambery, Greg being a three-time Tour winner it seemed most fitting.

On the ride to La Planche des Belles Filles the crowd was already excited, kids and adults cheering us all the way, two amateur cyclists 😁. We even got a big band playing for us at one point. We rode through Melisey, the home town of Thibaut Pinot. LOTS of support for hime today, with his name painted all over the roads.

The main climb at the end of the ride had some pretty tough sections for my 39/25 gearing, but I made it up! Lemond again at the finish line 😆. A pilgrimage of sorts.

Check out our ride here:

We spent the day around the finish line, where face masks were obligatory due to covid. They even had some TdF branded masks I wasn’t able to get… Amazing views of the podium, TV interviews, the finish line and a fantastic atmosphere.

An unforgettable experience even without the epic events resulting in Roglic (probably) losing the Tour and Pogacar delivering a blistering performance to snatch almost all the jerseys on a single day. A feat only previously achieved by Eddy Mercx in 1969.

Here’s a selection of photos from the day, enjoy!

Peter Sagan
Roglic on the ground after getting off his bike. I feel so bad for him here…
The man of the day. Pogacar!

Principia TSC (update)

Since picking up the bike, we gave it a good clean and visual inspection. Overall it’s in reasonably good shape. Good bones.

The first thing is to get rid of those stickers, and the (nicely done, but why?) yoga hindi symbol thing on the head tube.

Found a few gremlins of course. Large chainring was bent (see photo below), such that it would scrape when pedalling and derail when backpedaling. Fixed relatively quickly and easily.

Then gave it a good overhaul, degreasing, retensioning, regreasing. Reglued a little detached leather on the saddle, looks good as new.

The front shifter wouldn’t change gear, usually simply due to old grease. However this one needed a little more internal adjustment. Now working fine.

Then we removed the natty bar tape and oxidation underneath it and replaced with some smart white bar tape, to match the logo on the down tube.

Unfortunately the wheel is too bent to true, so I’m on the lookout for a new wheel!

Still, it’s already looking pretty good I think, and if someone has a spare rear wheel lying around, it would make a smart little ride.

Principia TSC (late 90s?)

I recently picked this up, as a “we’re not going anywhere this summer due to covid” project to complete with my son.

Hopefully it’ll get him interested in bikes and repairing stuff, and we’ll have some fun in the process.

Nice (matt?) blue paint and Shimano 600 tricolor groupset

I don’t know a great deal about these bikes other than they’re Danish, and have been around since the 90s. Apparently Principia at one point made the lightest aluminium bike ever.

This one seems to be a triathlon frame, with 26”/650c wheels. I’m interested in what difference triathlon geometry makes to a frame as I’ve never ridden one before.

I haven’t picked it up yet, so these are the ad photos only, but watch this space for updates!

A bit of peeling paint, not a problem for an aluminium frame
Nice 3TTT handlebars. The bell will have to go 😁
The reason I got it cheap. Trueable? We’ll see…