America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

America's #1 Balance Bike Destination
America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

Friday, December 15, 2006

A New Beginning

My stick-to-it-ive-ness has dissipated completely and I find myself with no reasons left to name this blog anything other than what I want to name it, so I've selected the Turkish word for "bicyclist".
Being the sole contributor requires me to take complete ownership and make this change.
You can't push a wet noodle uphill..
So to my handful of regular visitors, I express my sincere and eternal gratitude.. Many thanks.
I hope you will continue to check in at 'Bisikletci' from time to time. The address remains unchanged.
PS: the 'c' is pronounced 'ch'.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Albert Ranieri: Racing with the Devil

Cross-posted at American Turk..
As promised, here is a story dating back to summer of 1986. Our family relocated to Rochester, NY for reasons I might explain later.. I was 15 years old, and showing more interest than ever in bicycling. Trouble is, I was a young kid in a new city with few friends and no connections in the cycling scene. Late one Thursday afternoon, I was riding my stolen TREK touring bike (which was really a touring bike, and a few sizes too small for me), from Penfield into Brighton on route 441, where it meets East Avenue. As I approached the corner, four super-fit elite bike racers, all wearing the same team kit (GELATO FRESCO!), whizzed through the intersection in front of me. I remember how they appeared to be connected at the hip, riding two abreast in perfect unison. Like an image out of a cycling magazine... I was awestruck by the sight of them. I wanted to BE one of them. I decided then and there that this would be so, inevitably. When I snapped out of this trance, I immediately turned the corner in pursuit of the four Gelatos. With my tongue hanging out, lungs burning and legs scorched from the lactic acid, I managed to catch up to them within a couple of miles... and to meet Steve Paulini, Scott Hollenbeck, Kieran Dunne and Albert Ranieri.
"Hi! Can I ride with you guys? Where are you headed?" I blurted with a mouthful of phlegm..
These monotone words, delivered to me with an arrogance which I believed to be completely justified, changed me forever: "Training race.. every Thursday... this week it's in Victor.. follow us there."
That I did, and for the first time in my short life, I had the chance to join a club and race regularly with a great group of people, known as the Genesee Valley Cycling Club (GVCC). Needless to say, I was blown out the back of these training races about 6 or 8 weeks in a row, completely demoralized and spent, before I gained enough form to eventually finish with the main field, and later, to become a contender for the win. I did the 'A' races from day one, punishing myself mercilessly to become a better bicyclist. A couple of years later, I was an officer of the GVCC, and in the following year, at the tender age of 18, I was elected as it's president (by default because no one else wanted it).. It was during that same year that I found myself racing at an elite level, on the same racing team with two of the four original Gelatos, Scott and Kieran, who I met by chance and followed to my first race only 3 years earlier.. I have a team photo which I'll post one day..
I raced a few times with Steve Paulini, but didn't have much exposure to Albert, the undisputed leader of the old Gelato team. He was known to be a fierce competitor, with a distinguished list of results earned competing in regional and national events.. A google search did not yield any results from 20 years ago, but I believe that Albert was a podium finisher in a junior national road race during the early to mid 1980s.. Having only heard of his legendary ability, it was a treat for me to race with him for the first time in 1990, at the UB Classic Criterium (a real bloodbath of an event, known for being dangerous and filled with crashes) I loved this race, having placed well there the previous two years (4th in 1988, 3rd in 1989) The year 1990 was different though- I was on an elite amateur team, as a category two contender, and this was not an 18 and under event like the previous years. This was the big boy's race.
Our team had not less than five or six of us at the start line, and so was Albert. I made it my mission to mark him closely and not let anything develop into a breakaway. It ws fortunate that I kept a little bit of distance between us, I would later realize.. Early in the 25 lap event, which wound it's way around the bumpy, sinuous roads of the University of Buffalo campus, a prime lap was announced, the bell was rung announcing a prize fore the first to cross the finish line of the following lap. Finding myself in a favorable position in the final corner, I had thoughts of surprising everyone with a sprint to the line to claim the prize.. But he who hesitates, is lost.. because Albert was aleady out of the saddle, opening a gap on all of us about 150 meters from the finish. The rest of us gave chase, but the result was sealed.. until Albert, the perennial favorite at this event for years, hit the deck at full speed, just 20 meters from the line, and skidded in a mangled heap to the curb.. The race was neutralized until his bloody and broken body could be cleared from the course..In the end, I take credit for sprinting to a 7th place finish at the 1990 UB Classic, better than any of my more seasoned, more experienced team mates. And several years later, during a time when I had hung my bike up so that I could get my life and career in order, I was stunned when I read the first developments of this news
..And to borrow Paul Harvey's famous line, now you know the rest of the story..
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

LikeABike KOKUA Jumper: I'm in love

Saw this thing at the Caster's Grand Prix of Cyclocross today, where we went as a family to see the course and watch middle aged guys in tights hump their bikes through sand pits, carry them over wooden barriers and crash them in off-camber corners.. We were headed back to the car when we spy a toddler, much younger than Reis, straddling an eight pound dream machine of a training bicycle- look! no pedals to bugger up balancing skills. Some friends of ours recently bought Reis a kid's bike, bless their hearts- they meant well.. but it weighs 25-30 pounds and doesn't track a straight line. LOOK at this thing though- the KOKUA is made in Germany with the same precision and quality as an entry level race bike. I drooled at the sight of it while I had flash-backs to the time when I learned to ride a two wheeler... in Kew Gardens, Queens. Our apartment building had a sweeping downhill driveway which led under the building and into the parking lot out back... Without bothering to pedal, I learned to balance myself by coasting down this driveway repeatedly, around the age of 4, unsupervised, no helmet. Reis is one lucky kid, and I'm happily $245 poorer..

15th Asian Games Doha 2006

Cross posted at American Turk..
Focusing my visit to the official site on cycling, I give you the following:
Happy to see that Iraq was able to send athletes to the road race, but why were Farkad Mohammad and Reauf Mihsien disqualified? Hey at least they won't be tortured or killed..
Award for the most unique name goes to a Phillipino named "Bitbit"
And I thought I was too old to get good results.. Is Mongolian Jamsran Ulzii Orshikh the next Andre Tchmil? (Check his birth date and salute his 4th place in the road race)
Noor Azian Alias of Malaysia is simply the cutest of them all.
While Syria's Kenaz Hamchou looks like she was plucked from a remote village.
Try to tell me that Ali Dilsher of Pakistan doesn't remind you of Borat.
Here's the page where you can find all of the results of the cycling events.
I wish I could have been there to see them compete.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Stedman and Casters Cross Dec 9-10

I'm on the fence about this weekend, and I'm favoring Sunday's event over Saturday's. But I think I will know in the AM whether I want to do the S.K. race. Fields for both seem close to being full (What's the limit? 100?) Being that I had my ass handed to me at the Canton Cup, it didn't come without learning a few lessons.. Such as.. DON'T BE A PUSSY IF YOU WANT TO RACE CROSS. Regrettably, I've already packed on some pounds and stand to have a miserable time, but then again, the guys being lapped aren't suffering any more than the guys doing the lapping, right? Everyone's at their limit, and everyone's every weakness is suddenly revealed completely.. Sunday's weather will be a touch warmer too. We'll see how I feel in the AM. If I leap out of bed like a gazelle, you might see me both tomorrow and Sunday.. Good luck to all.
PS: Tonight I just changed my rear derailleur, replaced the bent hanger and added brand new bar tape. The RD was ripped off the bike last weekend by what appeared to be a twig, stranding me in the middle of the woods at Big River. Rear wheel is a bit wobbly too, but I think it will carry me..