Archive for June 9th, 2021

New Outside Column, Old Bikes!

06/9/2021 14:03

Hey, we can argue about what is and isn’t hypocritical all day long–but we can all at least agree that nothing’s more hypocritical than a bike blogger who’s gotten like five new bikes in the last few months writing a column about how old bikes are better than new bikes:

…though in my defense I’ve also gotten a whole bunch of old bikes recently thanks to Classic Cycle, so there is that. Plus, my “new” bikes are mostly just pretending to be old bikes anyway, and I think every bike I’ve gotten in the last year or so has had a threaded headset–such as this one, which looks like at some point in its life someone terrorized it with a Vise-Grip:

Who knows? Maybe it was me. After a few beers anything’s possible…


Categories:Bike Snob NYC

Purple Prose

06/9/2021 14:03

As I mentioned some time ago, Grant Petersen of Rivendell recently sent me some Soma chainstay kickstands, one of which I put on my RockCombo:

Well, this past weekend I received a parcel from Classic Cycle:

In which Paul excoriated me for defiling an important piece of cycling history with a non-period correct component:

I shall of course install it as soon as I have a moment, and maybe I can convince Outside to run the Ultimate Kickstand Shootout. After all, my bicycles do seem to be sprouting the things at an alarming rate, and at this rate I’ll soon by cycledom’s foremost Kickstand Fred.

Speaking of the RockCombo, last week I facetiously pointed out that I’ve single-handedly made them cool again (if they ever were in the first place)–and now hey would you look at that, one of those tribute bikes has won the big race:

I take full credit of course, and I also await acknowledgement that said tribute bike is, above all, a tribute to me.

One bike of mine that won’t be getting a kickstand is my Midlife Crisis Fixie Mark II (aka my Soma Rush), upon which I surveyed Upper Manhattan and the Bronx early this morning:

I will say that riding a fixed-gear bicycle in an urban environment is quite satisfying–not because it’s a “zen thing,” but because the whole point of riding one is to stop and take pictures of it in front of stuff. Here it is in front of the High Bridge:

Here it is in front of the dungeon in which they keep the troll who lives under the High Bridge:

Here it is in front of the delightful water feature meant to evoke the fact that the High Bridge was once an aqueduct that carried clean drinking water to the growing City of New York:

And here it is in front of some flowers:

I did change one of the badly aging Specialized Armadillo tires before heading out (it was flat and I took that as a sign that I should finally decommission it, which was confirmed when I removed it and it basically fell apart), and I changed the other one after getting home, replacing both with less-worn specimens from my formidable Tire Pile. Indeed, if nothing else, everyone should have a fixed-gear bicycle to serve as sort of a tire waystation–a bike that gets the tires that aren’t quite worthy of service on the geared bike anymore, but are not yet worn enough to be consigned to the trash. Given that I don’t skid (never really understood the appeal) I figure at this rate I’ll churn through my entire Tire Pile within the next 30-35 years–though unfortunately between this bike and my Artisanal Singlespeed I’ll probably have churned through both my knees by this coming fall, even without the skidding.


Categories:Bike Snob NYC

New Outside Column!

06/9/2021 14:03

Parenting is hard work. For example, when you fill a cooler full of beverages on a hot day, you’ve got to make sure they don’t accidentally drink the hard seltzer instead of the soda. (They really should make the labeling more obvious.) Also, you’ve got to prepare them to earn a living and make their own way, and avoid pitfalls such as falling into a life of pro cycling:

You’ve heard of “keeping them off the pole,” but it may be even more important to keep them off the crabon.

Speaking of coolers full of drinks both soft and hard, it’s hot here in New York, which means you should be sitting upright and riding slowly:

Actually, you can’t go wrong following that protocol regardless of the conditions. It’s a great way to avoid unwittingly becoming a pro cyclist.

Also, watch out for dangerous wildlife, like this obviously satanic deer I saw lurking behind the Son of Sam gates the other day:

And yes, that red stuff on the gate is the blood of innocents, at least until I hear differently.

Sadly, yesterday, I missed out on the urban nature photography opportunity of a lifetime, when I was set upon in Van Cortlandt Park by what was almost certainly a snapping turtle:

Alas, the above photo is not mine, as if you couldn’t tell by the excellent quality. Furthermore, I’m not sure the beast I saw was quite so spiky. I’ll also cop to the fact that it didn’t attack me so much as it sat listlessly beside the bike path. Still, it was a vicious-looking creature, and I’ve little doubt it could easily have torn my Bruce Gordons from my Atlas rims with its formidable maw had it been so inclined. Actually a trained snapping turtle could make a useful tire removal tool, and would probably live happily in my Sackville Bagboy were I to line it with grass:

The only problem is you might forget it’s in there, then go for you flannel and lose a digit:

But yeah, my phone was broken, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.


Categories:Bike Snob NYC

The In Crowd

06/9/2021 14:03

In addition to being a Cool Mom, I’m also a trendsetter:

For example, since last November, I’ve been riding a 1989 Specialized RockCombo:

Now look:

Did I even know there was such a bike as a RockCombo before Paul from Classic Cycle sent one to me? I did not. Nevertheless, I take 100% credit for placing this bicycle squarely in the middle of the popular cycling consciousness and single-handedly making it fashionable again.

In fact, given my innate ability to serve as an unwitting zeitgeist bellwether, we can also logically conclude that fixies are poised to make yet another comeback:

And that step-thru frames are about to become all the rage:

It’s hard to be this cool, but somehow I manage.

And let’s not forget about that other deeply-uncool bicycle, namely the rim-brake road bike. Between the gravel bike and the aero road bike, good old-fashioned skinny-tired road bikes made out of metal have been consigned to the office wastebasket of history:

Despite this, I’ve spend the last two days astride such a bicycle, so given my unerring compass for bike fashion direction you can bet that they too are on the ascendant:

While I’ve been increasingly drawn to be-jorted sneaker rides of late, I generally favor the road bike in wet conditions for the following reasons:

–It’s not like I’m going to be riding on dirt when it’s raining, so I might as well enjoy the skinny tires

–I generally prefer riding in “regular” clothes these days, but if I’m going to get stuck in the rain I’d still rather be wearing stretchy clothes and cycling shoes

–Road bikes are fast, so if conditions really deteriorate I’ll get home that much faster

Fortunately that last scenario was not the case today, and in fact the sun broke through and dried out the roads, which obviated the need for fenders. Nevertheless, I was quite pleased to be on the Milwaukee, which has served me extremely well as a true workhorse in the six years that I’ve owned it. Perhaps its best feature is that it takes medium-reach brakes, a component that is sadly going extinct in the Age of Discs:

Yes, it does have some rust spots (I credit my extremely corrosive perspiration as well as my penchant for extreme neglect), but overall it has proven to be quite robust–and that includes the components. Apart from the obvious consumables (chains, tires, brake pads, that sort of thing), and the derailleur pulleys (which, while not obvious, one can argue are still consumables) I’ve only changed the crank–and the only reason I did that was because the chainring was worn out, and while I didn’t have any replacement chainrings in that size I did happen to have a whole crank, so on it went:

Oh, also note the pedals, which Paul sent along with one of the bikes he’s graced me with over the years:

I like to think the “Test Me” is meant either to taunt competitors or to urge the rider on, but I think they’re quite literally test pedals meant to lure unsuspecting Shimano riders to the strange and exotic world of Time.

I’m even using the wheels that originally came with the bike, though the braking surface is displaying considerable concavity. Indeed, the wear indicator is long gone, and so I conducted the old straight-edge test:

I have no idea how to interpret these results, but I’m guessing it means I’m about to die:

When I do, feel free to ridicule me for not using life-saving disc brake technology.

Anyway, on that note, I’ll bid you a hairy farewell (hairwell?):

Now go ride your bike or something.


Categories:Bike Snob NYC

Act Your Age, Not Your Cog Size

06/9/2021 14:03

With my Midlife Crisis Fixie Mark II now complete I embarked this morning upon its maiden voyage. I wanted a flat route, for obvious reasons, and so I headed east towards Pelham Bay Park. There are some beguiling stretches of greenway here:

One of which leads right out of the Bronx into Westchester County, which begins right after that yellow bollard:

If the Bronx were a giant cat, then I’d be the hairball it coughed up on the front lawn of this giant Tudor home:

So before they could turn the hose on me, I turned around and made for Orchard Beach, a crescent-shaped stretch of sand on the Long Island sound. Upon my arrival I looked left:

I looked straight ahead:

Then I looked right:

Then I strolled along the promenade and basked in the faded Robert Moses grandeur as gunshots from the NYPD shooting range at Rodman’s Neck crackled in the distance:

As for the bike, it’s a jaunty little number:

So far I’m pleased, and I daresay it looks pretty good both coming…

…and going:

Of course in order to justify a new bike I don’t need I have to convince myself I’m reusing a bunch of old parts. In this case, recycled components include the pedals from the Craigslist Univega I rode in L’Eroica California:

And this hodgepodge of a headset:

[I can’t believe I had enough spare 1-inch headset spacers for both this bike and the Platypus!]

Which originally came with this:

If you think a purple Soma is lacking in subtlety, just wait until I get the pink Faggin rolling again!

Other items I found while rummaging in my storage unit include this handy hinged brake lever:

It allows me to shred New York City in my signature polite style, though I can easily remove it should I ever find myself in a situation where brakes are not allowed, such as high tea with a certain Nobr Akes:

[For additional street cred he appears to have Krazy Glued his fingers together.]

Plus, as we all know, brakes are for woosies:

Pretty much everything else on the bike is recycled too, with the exception of this lovely stem:

As well as the crank, chainring, chainring bolts, and bottom bracket:

Obviously I could have just used the crank and sundries from Midlife Crisis Fixie Mark I, but what kind of midlife crisis bike project would this be if I didn’t use a fancy vanity crank that pretty much forces me to go with a large chainring that’s too hard on my aging knees?

Anyway, I did at least use recycled crank arm bolts. (In fact I scavenged them from the Electra, just like I did the kickstand for the Platypus!) Also, in an even bolder act of thrift, I pieced the chain together from my Random Used Chain Drawer–and in a positively transcendent display of laziness, even though it was all grimy, I didn’t even bother to clean it! Instead, I just doused it with Prolink and wiped it off, then I rode around until the grinding sound went away.

So what kind of a person springs for an unnecessarily expensive crank and bottom bracket yet pairs them with rusty old bolts and a grimy re-joined chain of unknown provenance that cold fail at any moment?

Jörs Trüli, that’s who!

(I also think I deserve at least a little credit for using Specialized Armadillo tires that are probably over 15 years old.)

Crank aside, since most of the parts came directly over from Midlife Crisis Fixie Mark I, I can say with conviction that the Soma Rush frame rides much more smoothly than the budget high-tensile frame it replaced–and that’s despite the steep angles and track bike geometry:

It also has some nifty touches, such as the crimped-and-curved chainstays since The Kids Today want lots of tire clearance:

Remember the erstwhile days of Peak Fixie when people were really into “tight clearance porn” like this?

[Picture found here, it’s not actually from the days of “Peak Fixie” nor is it “bike portn” but whatever.]

Well now skinny tires rubbing your frame is out, and aggressive tube-crimping so you can use fatter ones is in, go figure:

[Crimping ain’t easy.]

I did worry the bowed portion of the chainstays towards the rear axle would result in heel strike, but so far it hasn’t been an issue. (Though this is probably not the frame to use if you plan to ride it with flat pedals and Timberlands.)

The fork is also quite a bit nicer to look at than your standard unicrown number:

And overall the new frame makes the old parts (not to mention the old rider) look even older:

But it wouldn’t be a midlife crisis bike without rusty nuts, now would it?


Categories:Bike Snob NYC

Hot Weather Cycling – Top Tips To Keep Yourself Cool

06/9/2021 13:55
Riding in the heat can feel like an uphill battle. Far harder than the cool British conditions we’re used to. We’ve outlined some top tips to keep you cool in the heat and riding for longer. Swapping the sun for the cold British winter often seems like a no brainer. But it’s not without it’s […]

Categories:Cyclestore Blog

8 Ways To Make Your Bike More Comfortable

06/9/2021 13:55
Cycling isn’t often the most comfortable sport, the average cyclist will boast their prowess over the average member of the public. A little bit of pain and suffering, lots of miles in saddle, we like to convince others it’s for the tougher bred. However not all pain is good pain, there are certain things that […]

Categories:Cyclestore Blog

Which is best, Cycling or Running?

06/9/2021 13:55
It’s a common dilemma, the weather is improving, people are looking to get fit through summer and spend more time outdoors, so which really is best? Cycling or running? Both come with their pros & cons, so we’ve looked at which sport really is best for those starting out, and considered all of the options. […]

Categories:Cyclestore Blog

On the scene at the Criterium du Dauphine

06/9/2021 13:52

After almost two years away from the races, I was thrilled to be at the start of the Criterium du Dauphine in Issoire.

Stage one winner, Brent Van Moer:

Stage two winner Lukas Pöstlberger was whooping and hollering as he crossed the finish line, and then it was hugs all around.

Pöstlberger spotted his countryman Sebastian Schonberger in the finishing straight and threw his arms wide for a hug:

When his breakaway companion, Shane Archbold, finished 11 minutes later, Pöstlberger interrupted his tv interviews to come and embrace him:

And even the podium lion got a hug.

The verdant countryside provided a lovely background for Sonny Colbrelli’s stage three win ahead of Alex Aranburu and Brandon McNulty.

For the stage four time trial, I tried out a few different viewing spots along the final kilometer.

Shane Archbold:

Lawson Craddock:

Michal Kwiatkowski:

Anthony Perez:

Brandon McNulty:

Sander Armée:

Ion Izaguirre, about to catch his minute man, Enric Mas:

Wilco Kelderman:

Alex Aranburu:

Lukas Pöstlberger:

The old man’s still got it! Alejandro Valverde showed the youngsters a clean pair of heels in the stage six finish at Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse.

Jack Haig, Steven Kruijswijk, and Geraint Thomas:

Richie Porte and David Gaudu:

Chris Froome finished with Sean Bennett and Greg Van Avermaet, 2’43” down on Valverde.


Categories:Podium Cafe - All Posts

Giro d’Italia Final Week Stage Previews

06/9/2021 13:52
San Bernardino Pass. Switzerland
Photo by Giovanni Mereghetti/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Mountains, mountains, and more mountains!

As the 2021 Giro d’Italia rests up for its final act and Egan Bernal looks like a near-certain winner of the overall title, the question is, what’s left to fight for? Plenty, of course — this is cycling, there’s always another fight starting. Even if we assume pink and white are gone, here’s a short list of major prizes remaining.

Points Jersey: Peter Sagan leads Davide Cimolai with 135 points to the Italian’s 113. Sagan is a favorite to hang on over Cimolai (and Fernando Gaviria at 110). The climbers could creep up on these guys, but Bernal is the best with a mere 55 points, despite his exploits. So with one more sprint stage I’d guess these three are the riders to watch.

Mountains Jersey: Geoffrey Bouchard is in control with 136 points to Bernal’s 107, and Bernal focusing on other things. Bauke Mollema leads the bunch at 55, so unless he gets super interested, Bouchard may run away with this one.

Stages: Self-explanatory, although to win a stage in the Alps is something extra. Look for guys in the break with real climbing chops. Also if any of the GC guys can hang with Bernal to the finish, a stage win and lesser GC place might be nice consolation. So far Bernal looks pretty greedy though. Sin regalos senores!

Time trial: The Great Game Within the Game of Cycling is the year-long time trial championship, settled amid the longer stage races and occasionally at national team comps. Obviously Filippo Ganna is the world champ and is expected to win here on home soil, so maybe the battle for second is where the real action is at. But even if Ganna holds serve, his title will be on the line for real at the Tour, Olympics (maybe) and Worlds. So this is an opening salvo.

Podium Places: Sadly, Damiano Caruso has frittered away most of his career riding the Tour de France, and has only two appearances in the last six years (8th on GC in 2015) on his record. But he is set to right the wrongs with a Giro podium place that he will cherish, no doubt, for his many years to come. Hugh Carthy currently sits third, and after taking third at the Vuelta he has a chance to cement himself into a real contender’s role for years to come (he’s 26). Alexander Vlasov and Giulio Ciccone have different reps to cement or enhance with a podium here, and Simon Yates could stand to save some face after yesterday’s bummer.

Breakout performances: The kids climbing up on GC, in addition to Vlasov, include Dani Martinez, 8th overall despite working for Bernal, plus Tobias Foss (9th) and Joao Almeida (10th). Almeida in particular is succeeding despite the somewhat chaotic experience inside his team — is he riding for himself or isn’t he? — and for a 22 year old, this might do more for him than last year’s dream ride around Italy in pink. Remco Evenepoel and Atilla Valter are still hanging in there. Also watch some of the other kids sitting further back on GC who might have a point left to prove about their future, including Alessandro Covi, Einer Rubio, Jefferson Cepeda, and the Astana trio of Tejada, Sobrero and Pronsky.

View toward the summits of Langkofel Group, Gruppo del...Photo by Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images

Stage 17: Canazei — Sega di Ala, 193km

What Is It? An odd trip seemingly out of the Dolomite mountains, only to circle back and hit a couple major climbs anyway. It’s a bit lower down in elevation from Monday’s (original) stage, so it might not seem as dramatic, but the battle for pink will definitely rage on at the first of three final week MTFs.

Detailed Description: This stage departs from the resort town of Canazei, deep in the northeastern Italian Dolomites we know and love so well. The peloton can look back at the Pordoi, wave to the Marmolada, Monte Bondone, and countless other passes mercifully excluded from this stage. But it’s not all sweetness and light, as they eventually encounter two hefty climbs in succession to finish the stage. And they take fully 193km to do so albeit some 85km of descending/false flat.

Mappa

Profile

Climbs

Passo di San Valentino
Sega di Ala

The final climb to Sega di Ala is nasty, brutish, and not all that short, coming in at 11+km and averaging nearly 10%, with long double-digit gradients. This is an odd stage, so many easy km with such a bitter ending.

Giro-ness Factor: I want to circle back on borders for a brief moment. In my last set of previews, I went a little easy on the Gorizia story. I have now come to understand that Gorizia was the scene of many bloody battles and even ethnic cleansing, with a wall in the center of town to boot. [Actually it was more like a double fence with razor wire, but you get the point.] Yes, these borders are not contested anymore, but multiculturalism is rampant,, which is great but also probably sometimes a bit delicate, particularly for anyone who remembers the history.

So this area. Along with Gorizia, the Alto Adige region was part of, I don’t even know, medieval counties of some sort, but then the Habsburgs took over in 1803. By then the area was fairly German culturally and linguistically. Only in 1805 Napoleon won the Battle of Austerlitz and gave the area to Bavaria, his ally. Then after the Treaty of Paris in 1810 he ceded the area to the Kingdom of Italy, only for it to revert to Austria after Napoleon’s defeat in 1815.

Recruits swearing-in-ceremony. meran. ItalyPhoto by: BlueRed/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A century later, the region was the scene of ferocious fighting during WWI between the Austro-Hungarians and the Italian Alpini, famous for their feathered caps and their exploits which are probably the subject of several excellent books (and yes, I am totally fishing for recommendations here). No doubt the Austrian side has its own alpine legends associated with military battles fought on skis. Long story short, Italy won and the region went back into Italian hands where it has mostly stayed. The Italianization of the region is apparently more of a 20th century phenomenon than any previous era.

A lot of this has to do with Mussolini, who rose to power in 1922 and who went around regions like this and Gorizia insisting on a program of Italianization — rather than letting the natural interplay of cultures just settle in, this story is one of ethnic expulsion, or worse. Although unlike the Slovenian border areas, Mussolini couldn’t just kill off people without repercussion, and later he and Hitler more peacefully moved people back to the German side. Germany reoccupied the area after Mussolini’s downfall but by the end of WWII the area was officially part of Italy, where it remains. German-speaking citizens who had been moved out were left to find their way back over the border to return home, and I’m sure many did, but the matter was hardly settled.

Post-war Italy agreed with Austria to the Gruber-DeGasperi Agreement, which made the area officially bilingual and rather autonomous within the Italian Republic. It didn’t go great, and a fresh set of negotiations resulted in a new treaty in 1971, thanks to complaints from Austria and German-speakers in Italy, some of whom waged a campaign of sabotage and bombings to make their point. The new agreement allowed for greater autonomy, and the hostilities ended, becoming even less an issue after the EU’s creation in 1995 minimized the significance of European borders. There was a separatist political campaign in 2006 whereby people could have voted to move their region to Austria, but it was voted down. Alles schläft; einsam wacht. [For some reason my Dad taught us the German version of Silent Night.]

Pofiteers: Everyone who can climb. The descent should have already caused every breakaway stage hopeful to circle this one, and the weather should be vastly improved, so there will be no holds barred. Also the riders hoping to put some pressure on the podium places will see this quick 1-2 set of major climbs as a chance to maybe go long and do something special. Although the final climb is so hard that everyone might just save themselves for the last hour. Excellent stage design here by the Giro, they are mixing up the climbing stages brilliantly in terms of the type and shape of the climbs, which is especially important after the Queen Stage got chopped up by bad weather Monday.

Stage 18: Rovereto — Stradella, 231km

What Is It? Flat exit from the Dolomites as the race moves west toward the Alps. One for the sprinters, although maybe not all of them.

Detailed Description: From the valley east of Lake Garda, the Giro starts off at low altitude and stays there, entering the Po Valley once more, whisking past the area where stage 13 ended, and circling south of Milan to line up for the race’s final mountain phase.

Mappa

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Finish

With three small climbs close to the finish, it’s possible the sprint teams won’t be able to hold the pack in place for a bunch gallop, although the climbers will offer no resistance to whatever Bora and UAE feel like doing here. The end of the race is flat and straight for nearly 3km, so the possibility of a sprint is there.

Giro-ness Factor: You’ve heard of the Major Leagues. The Premier League, La Liga, the National Hockey League. How about the Lombard League?

Northern Italian history is complex AF. Basically, after the Romans came the Byzantines, the Ostrogoths, and finally the Lombards, who migrated (rather authoritatively) from Scandinavia before settling in the Po Valley and instituting their own kingdom, the Regnum Italicum, in the 8th Century. But the Holy Roman Empire came to prominence after the start of the Crusades, or maybe at the same time? Anyway, this powerful state was centered in France and Germany, I think (topic for another post) and extended down into modern day northern Italy.

But the Lombards didn’t roll over for anyone, apparently, and their resistance to the encroachment of the Holy Roman Empire was carried out by the Lombard League, an alliance of all the jurisdictions we have been talking about — the Po cities, Emilia-Romagna, Bergamo, Brescia, Milan, etc.

The basic takeaway, as far as I can tell, is that the Holy Roman Empire had thrived by attacking smaller cities and sacking them. But when the Lombard League united forces to stop the incursion, it was a game changer. The cities had previously been played off each other, but this time they banded together in one of the world’s first successful confederations. So the Lombard League was both a military and political benchmark.

Stradella was part of Pavia, which in the 14th century was home to battles in the War of the Guelphs and Ghibellines. The Ghibellines were basically the empire and the Guelphs were the name given the Lombard League partisans. The Guelfi can probably be traced all over the region, I’d guess. Once again, we are wandering innocently into graduate-level course work here…

Pofiteers: The sprinters, I think. Since UAE and Bora have no other objectives to save themselves for, I would think they would go all in for points and a stage sprint here. Sagan and a few others won’t be troubled by the short climbs that lead to the long straight sprint.

Stage 19: Abbiategrasso — Alpe di Mera, 166km (Altered)

What Is It? Another MTF, but it has been altered from its original form, due to a horrible tragedy that happened Sunday when a car on the Stresa-Mottarone cable line broke free and killed 14 people. This incident happened right where the Giro was supposed to pass on the north/western slopes of the Mottarone, following the ascent from the south. Due to the accident and the need to avoid ongoing investigations, the Giro has moved around the area and swapped in a shorter climb.

Detailed Description: I’ve included both the original maps and profiles plus the updated ones below so you can see how the Giro has changed the stage. It’s not that big of a deal for the race.

Mappe: Originale

Updated Version

Profile: Originale

Updated Version:

Climbs:

This is the Mottarone climb which has now been removed.

Mottarone

The two remaining climbs are:

Passo della Colma
Alpe di Mera

And there is an earlier climb called Alpe Agogna which is a cat-4 of little consequence. Alpe di Mera is really the whole show now. And while I wouldn’t hardly scoff at it, it’s not likely to be an overly hard stage for the GC guys. A 9% climb for almost 10k is hard, but the stage is only 166km now with some long breaks between efforts.

Giro-ness Factor: Well Verbania is on the course and is bound to get some attention since it’s Filippo Ganna’s hometown, but the real sight is Lake Maggiore, the westernmost of Italy’s three Great Lakes, the subalpine lakes of Garda, Maggiore and Como. It’s also partly in Ticino, the southern Canton of Switzerland with Italian roots, and is one of a few lakes up there including Lake Lugano.

I’m always a little dubious of these long, thin lakes, but as far as I can tell none of them are man-made. It was formed by glaciers, which carved out a valley that reached 193 meters below sea level before melting and forming the lake. More recently, the lake has been a mass grave for Jews from Italy and Greece murdered by the German Army in 1943, and the dumping spot for a Bugatti that seems to have its own interesting tale. Here’s the cut-and-paste from Wikipedia:

In 1936, a Bugatti Type 22 Brescia Roadster, built 1925, was sunk in the lake by employees of Zürich architect Marco Schmucklerski, when Swiss customs officials investigated whether he had paid taxes on the car. The Bugatti was attached to an iron chain making it possible to recover it once the investigation was over, yet that never happened. When the chain corroded, the car sunk to the lake bed, where it was rediscovered on 18 August 1967 by local diver Ugo Pillon and became a favourite target for divers thereafter. When one of the divers, Damiano Tamagni, was killed in a hold-up on 1 February 2008, his friends from the Ascona divers’ club decided to lift and sell the car wreck to raise funds for a yet to be created foundation named after the victim. The remains of the Bugatti were recovered on 12 July 2009. The sale took place at the Retro Mobile classic car exhibition in Paris on 23 January 2010. It was sold for €260,500.

Pofiteers: The climbers will climb, but the ease of the stage and the threat looming on the next day should put this in the hands of the breakaway.

Cycling: 81st Tour of Switzerland 2017 / Stage 6Photo by Tim de Waele/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images
Passo San Bernardino

Stage 20: Verbania — Valle Spluga, 164km

What Is It? A glorious day in the Swiss Alps, at least if the weather cooperates, in which case it will be 1) a miracle and 2) the Queen Stage of the Giro.

Detailed Description: Let’s get right down to business: this is a Tour de France style day in the Alps, with soaring majestic peaks and wide green meadows, and roads that the Tour would agree to use, as far as I can tell, as opposed to some of the other surfaces you find at the Giro.

Mappa

Profile

Climbs

Passo San Bernardino
Spluga Pass
Alpe Motta

The Passo San Bernardino (which is nowhere near the Grand Saint Bernard and Little Saint Bernard passes) is just a long, middling grind of a pass that will wear out the riders but not the viewers, who can drink in the glory of the Swiss countryside for a couple hours. The last two climbs around the Spluga valley take us back into Italy and then up one more slope for the finish. They might feel like the main events if they are raced that way, but the San Bernardino will have done much of the heavy lifting.

Giro-ness Factor: I think I have hit the wall here. It’s the Giro, it’s Switzerland, there is too much to say. Just delight in the natural beauty of Switzerland’s Ticino Canton.

Pofiteers: The last great climbers’ stage, probably to be won by a great climber. Whoever is leading, probably Bernal, will not hesitate to put their final stamp on the race and take the last day ITT out of the works. Or face the consequences.

Stage 21: Senago — Milano ITT, 30.3km

What Is It? A final-day ITT to Milan. Sound familiar?

Detailed Description: Barely anything to say that isn’t painfully obvious. This one has its share of corners early on, but the final 10+km are arrow-straight, a pure power course intended to benefit, oh, I dunno… Filippo Ganna?

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Giro-ness Factor: Final time trials are a Giro specialty. The Tour de France shied away from them after 1989’s drama overload, but not the Giro, and they have been rewarded with their share of memorable conclusions. In 2012, Ryder Hesjedal overturned his deficit to Purito Rodriguez, while in 2017 it was Tom Dumoulin turning the tables on Nairo Quintana. Then, just last year, Tao Hart took the pink off Jai Hindley, although technically they were tied on GC, so it doesn’t count as a reversal of standings. Still, that’s a lot of drama in Milan in a short time.

Pofiteers: Filippo Ganna, and people who like Filippo Ganna.


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