Saturday, February 24, 2007

What's That Taste in my Mouth?

What's that awful taste in my mouth? Kimchee?

No...that's too easy.
Nuoc Mam, you might alternatively suggest? The fermented fish paste from Vietnam?

No--although you would get points for international food awareness.

Would that the taste in my mouth be as sweet as a heaping tablespoon of nuoc mam.

Let me give you a hint by means of the following progression:

Bianchi
Bianchi/Liquigas
Liquigas/Bianchi
Liquigas

Do you see the pattern?

Now consider this:



Now this, I want to tell you, is a bicycle. This might--and I say this without a trace of my usual load of bullshit--be the most beautiful bicycle in the world. Ever. You can see more pictures of it here--at some Japanese guy's website homage (or fromage...whichever isn't the cheese) to Bianchi bicycles. Bianchi bicycles are to this guy what pictures of Brittney Spears getting out of a limo are to an entirely different sort of pervert. I would urge you to visit his site.

Anyway, I'm getting off track--which is odd since we're talking about road bikes. But while we are, consider this:



This guy has more pictures of Campagnolo deraillieurs than you could possibly imagine. This one is a Record, circa 1966. I must also tell you that if you have ever held one of these babies in your hand, rolled it around, felt the perfect coolness of the aluminum, the perfect proportion of the casting, the majesty of the thing...well it helps you understand why people lay down several grand for state-of-the-art bicycles.

As if a mere several grand would actually buy a state-of-the-art bicycle. But you get my drift.

Anyway, imagine the bitter taste in my mouth when, upon finally seeing a Liquigas rider roll past the camera during this week's television coverage of the Tour of California, I discover that the Liquigas team (pronounced, by the way, as Leaky Gas...which, honestly, here in the States, is a lousy name for a natural gas company), formerly the Liquigas/Bianchi team, formerly the Bianchi team, is now riding Cannondale bicycles.

Cannondales!

Would that the taste in my mouth would be so sweet as a heaping tablespoon of nuoc mam.

Fausto Coppi, who (pre-Lance) was generally considered the greatest bicyclist of all time, must be rolling over in his grave. This, of course, would be him:



I have but one hope. That being the return of the actual Bianchi Team to the Tour de France. Let those bastards at Liquigas do what they want. Because without the celeste green flash on the roads of France this July, I honestly don't know what I'm going to do.

Let's go back to the picture of the bicycle.



This is a Bianchi Tour de France bicycle from exactly ten years ago. It is, if I do say so, a work of art. Look at the polka-dots on the chain and top stays. Polka-dots! If you look closely at the yellow part of the downtube, you can see that the artist has painted the actual route of that year's Tour.

It features Campagnolo Record running gear. See above.

I have two announcements:

First, it isn't a Tour de France without a team riding Bianchi bicycles.
Second, I've decided, after much pussy-footing around, to relocate to Leesburg for the next year.

And, since it is getting warmer here in the south and because I find it almost impossible to consider extended periods of warm weather without the comfort of my Bianchi (Veloce 10), I will be traveling to New York tomorrow to pick it, plus some othe stuff up and bring it back down. I do plan on making a public appearance at the Peter McManus Cafe on Monday in the late afternoon, so don't hesitate to come by, introduce yourself, buy me a beer.

Back to Cannondales: I've always felt that although Cannondale, and likewise Trek, make fine bicycles, owning one shows a distinct lack of imagination.

This would be Fausto, riding in the Tour de France about 14 months prior to day I was born:



I love how he didn't wear a helmet (which is a bad idea, but those were different times) and he carried spare tubes over his shoulder.

He is, of course, riding a Bianchi.

To paraphrase Bob Dylan: "Nuoc mam...I'm only bleeding."

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